For Reel

The Blue Gardenia (1953)
October 16, 2015, 9:39 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Fritz Lang
4 Stars
The Blue GardeniaThe mistreatment of Fritz Lang by Hollywood had perhaps reached its apex with The Blue Gardenia, affording him a micro-budget and a rushed production schedule to match it. Regardless, the picture is an often fascinating variant on Lang’s themes of rituals and obsessions. The song that gives the film its title (first appearing in a performance by Nat King Cole) is repeated frequently throughout, eventually becoming inextricably linked with the murderess herself. Later, Norah Larkin (Ann Baxter) receives parallel letters–one, from a boyfriend who has left her; and the other, from a newspaper columnist (Richard Conte) reaching out to the anonymous killer. This sense of reproduction is further exemplified by Norah’s physical resemblance to her roommates, concluding with Crystal (Ann Sothern) actually posing as Norah and vice versa. For the most part, ace RKO cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca tones down his usual insistence on high contrast images. While a centerpiece sequence involves the massive, imposing shadows of the letters of the Chronicle headquarters, more often than not the lighting comes from above and is rather flat, having the look of a television broadcast. Regardless, this visual style serves as an interesting metaphor considering the way that the film is obsessed with reproduction and various forms of homogenization.

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