Strange Love Of Martha Ivers, The

1944. THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS (1946-usa). With Barbara stanwyck, van heflin, kirk douglas, lizabeth scott, judith anderson, darryl hickman. Directed by lewis milestone. Music score by miklos rozsa. The tension is unrelenting in this vivid, suspenseful melodrama, featuring a standout performance by Barbara Stanwyck in one of her most villainous roles: the vain, evil title character. The Ivers family is the wealthiest and most powerful in the small town in which Martha resides. However, she has long- suppressed a dark, dirty secret from her past. As a young girl, she murdered her tyrannical aunt. The crime was witnessed by Walter O’Neill, the wimpy son of her opportunistic tutor; the pair blamed the deed on a prowler. Eighteen years have passed, Martha and Walter are now husband and wife, and her connections have resulted in his becoming the local district attorney. The sceÂnario heats up upon the arrival of Martha’s childhood friend, Sam Masterson, who has not been in town since his youth. Sam’s appearance alarms Martha and Walter, who dread the thought that he may know the truth about her aunt’s death. Another key character is Toni Maracek, a hard-luck dame befriended by Sam, who is shamelessly manipulated by Martha and Walter. The result of all this is Grade-A entertainment, highlighted by an eye-popping finale. The performances-Van Heflin as Sam, Judith Anderson as the aunt, and sultry Lizabeth Scott as ToniÑall are first-rate, as is that of Kirk Douglas, who plays Walter. This is Douglas’ screen debut and, ironically, his role is that of a neurotic weakling: a character unlike the stalwart heroes he was to go on to play after becoming one of his generation’s great movie stars. 116 minutes. Drama