Racehorses? Sea Monkeys?


 

Van Heflin I knew as a kid from Airport: the pathetic loser who wanted to blow up Dean Martin’s plane. Ever since then he’s seemed a sad-sack who stumbles along in a state of morose confusion. So it was a surprise to see him in his early days:

 

He’s ogling the gams of this frail:

 

 

Except she ain’t no frail, chum; she’s Liz Scott, one of the more chilly and brittle women in noir. Whether she’s telling a sad tale or deploying her wiles on Van Heflin or Dan Duryea, it’s just not convincing. I don’t know if that has to do with her performance, or because it’s assumed now that she played for the other team.

 

Is she Martha Ivers? No. Martha is Barbara Stanwick, a rich girl who killed her mean old aunt as a kid. Oh, she had her reasons. The biatch caned the girl’s cat. She’s okay with that. But she’s married to a weak, miserable, empty drunk - Kirk Douglas, in his first role. He knows the secret. He’s haunted on her behalf, because he’s aiming for high political office, and can’t bear the fact that it’s built on a lie. As the movie begins, you think it’s going to be about them, but it’s mostly Van in two-fisted Private Dick mode.

I thought it was a bit of a weeper when I first saw it, but now it seems like a smart semi-noir, complete with a fate-drenched score. I’m surprised it’s in the public domain; this is a big-ticket high-quality number. It can be had, for free, right here. It has an ending I don't think modern movies could match.

But, you ask, is there a Star Trek connection?

Oh my yes:

 

Dame Judith Anderson. Star Trek III.