For Reel

Ivy (1947)
September 2, 2015, 1:21 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Sam Wood
3.5 Stars
Ivy“Pity the men in her life!”, reads the poster for this 1947 Edwardian noir which casts Joan Fontaine as a woman who puts three men through hell as a result of her selfish ambitions. She has grown tired of her husband (Richard Ney) now that he has run through his money, she is harassed by her obsessive ex-lover (Patric Knowles), and there’s a promise of extravagance with the appearance of a wealthy suitor (Herbert Marshall). Naturally, she soon plots to make herself a widow. Fontaine’s performance has been heralded as a fatale, but actually she’s too smart an actress to simply play Ivy as an icy villain. She poisons her husband with great panic instead of ruthlessness. It’s a sympathetic performance, which perhaps makes the murder all the more vile–she fully understands the ramifications of her actions. Cinematographer Russell Metty and production designer William Cameron Menzies render the world of Ivy an atmospheric, dreamy one. The clouds are exaggerated and unusually low, the lights from fireworks become apocalyptic explosions. This nightmarish quality is accentuated further by a haunting tune that plays at the mere suggestion of poison, taunting Ivy with her guilt. If the picture falters in its tedious final act, Ivy is visually striking throughout, with Fontaine looking as beautiful as ever and giving one of her most challenging performances.

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