Hal Wallis Productions
Starring: Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin, Kirk Douglas, Lizabeth Scott
Directed by: Fritz Lang
Cat Out of the Bag Alert! This review contains some spoilers for this movie!
Synopsis: Martha Ivers (Barbara Stanwyck) is a ruthless woman who marries her meek childhood friend, Walter O’Neil (Kirk Douglas) who happens to have witnessed a violent act which took place in their young lives. The other witness that night is Sam Masterson (Van Heflin) the boy she intended to run away with that same night. When Sam returns to the town as an adult, he finds himself being drawn back into the chaos of Martha’s life and that of her now alcoholic D.A. husband where fear of blackmail, jealousy and deep-seated anger abound. Thrown into the mix is a vivacious blonde, Toni Marachek (Lizabeth Scott), an ex-con with whom Sam forms a connection.
Featured Feline: The beginning of the film focuses on a pivotal night in the life of Martha Ivers (played as a teenager by Janis Wilson) and much of the action is based around her kitten (either named Bundles or Buttons, as different characters call it by different names.) Martha tries once again to run away from her unhappy home, taking with her the young cat she loves.
Martha is caught hopping a train car.
When she is brought back home, the butler suggests taking Buttons up to her room for her since it is known her domineering aunt doesn’t like the animal. Walter (played as a teen by Mickey Kuhn) is the one who takes the cat to her room and the cat is present throughout the rest of these early scenes, eventually playing a huge part in the dark and frightening events that happen that night.
Kitty Carnage Warning! It’s the violent act Martha’s aunt does to Buttons that drives Martha into doing the unthinkable. It’s a gruesome scenario as we can hear the cat screaming, but violence against the kitten is not actually shown on the screen.
Final Mewsings: Murdering someone who is killing a kitten? Justifiable homocide.