Crime of Passion


1h 25m 1957
Crime of Passion

Brief Synopsis

An executive's wife barters sex for her husband's business success.

Film Details

Also Known As
Love Story, The Deadly Triangle
Genre
Drama
Crime
Film Noir
Release Date
Feb 1957
Premiere Information
New York opening: 9 Jan 1957
Production Company
B. G. Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 25m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Synopsis

After San Francisco newspaper reporter Kathy Ferguson helps two Los Angeles homicide detectives, Capt. Charles Alidos and Lt. Bill Doyle, capture a woman who has killed her husband and fled to San Francisco, her coverage of the event brings her an excellent offer from a New York newspaper. She declines it, however, as she and Bill have fallen in love and she relocates to Los Angeles, where they marry and move into Bill's San Fernando Valley house. Kathy quickly becomes bored with her role as a housewife and begins to view the regular card games with Bill's colleagues and the inane conversation of their vacuous wives as a form of torture and comes to despise their mediocrity. Although Kathy is anxious for Bill to advance in the police department, he lacks ambition, so Kathy decides to elevate their social circle within the department by contriving a meeting with Alice Pope, wife of the all-powerful Inspector Tony Pope. After Kathy persuades Alice to let her organize a surprise birthday party for Tony, she drives a wedge between Tony and Alidos when he and his wife Sara miss the successful event, due to Kathy not inviting them. Later, Kathy visits Tony in his office and begins to insinuate herself into his life. In a calculated move, Kathy persuades Bill to leave the LAPD and join the Beverly Hills force, although he will lose his seniority. Tony refuses Bill's resignation, however, and informs him that he is planning to make changes within the division. As Kathy believes that Alidos is impeding Bill's promotion, she claims that Sara is gossiping about her and Tony, causing Bill to go to police headquarters and beat up Alidos. Neither Bill nor Alidos choose to involve Tony in their dispute, but he has to resolve it nevertheless and eventually transfers Alidos to another division and promotes Bill to acting captain. One night, when Bill is out of town, Tony comes to tell Kathy that Alice has been hospitalized, in need of complete rest, as she can no longer stand the tensions and pressures of his job. Tony is contemplating retirement and Kathy seizes the opportunity to suggest that Bill might replace him. Tony grabs Kathy and they embrace. Later, when Kathy finds out that the Popes are moving to Honolulu, she insists upon meeting Tony and learns from him that he regards their very brief affair as having ended. Tony also tells her that he has decided not to nominate Bill for his job, as he thinks Bill is "not good enough," and plans to retransfer and promote Alidos. Bill and Kathy's marriage begins to crumble as a result of her obsession to see him promoted. One night, while waiting for Bill at police headquarters, Kathy steals a gun from the evidence desk and goes to Tony's house, where she begs for Bill to be promoted, as she needs to justify her adultery somehow. After Tony tells her that he has always seen through her scheming ways, a distraught Kathy shoots and kills him. When the murder is discovered, Bill is appointed to take charge of the investigation. After Bill discovers that the gun, which was used in another killing, is missing and realizes that Kathy had the opportunity to take it, he returns home and confronts her. Kathy admits everything and, ever ambitious for Bill, tells him that as he is now a "good enough cop" to have solved his boss's murder, he can advance within the department. Bill tells her that he is the "same cop" he always was and, resignedly, drives her to police headquarters where he books her for questioning in the killing.

Film Details

Also Known As
Love Story, The Deadly Triangle
Genre
Drama
Crime
Film Noir
Release Date
Feb 1957
Premiere Information
New York opening: 9 Jan 1957
Production Company
B. G. Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 25m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Articles

Crime of Passion


During the 1940's and '50's, Barbara Stanwyck created a vivid gallery of vicious, cold-blooded, sociopathic film noir dames: Phyllis Dietrichson in Double Indemnity (1944), perhaps her finest performance; Martha Ivers (The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, 1946); Thelma Jordon (The File on Thelma Jordon, 1950); and Mae Doyle (Clash by Night, 1952). The final portrait in that gallery was Kathy Ferguson Doyle in Crime of Passion (1957).

When the film begins, Kathy is a San Francisco newspaper advice columnist, a "sob sister," in the jargon of the era. In short order, Kathy convinces a murderess to give herself up, falls in love with the policeman working on the case, played by Sterling Hayden, and abandons her career to marry him and become a suburban Los Angeles housewife. But she soon grows bored with that life, and channels the ruthless ambition she had previously used to advance her career to try to advance her husband's. She does so by scheming, lying, betraying her husband's colleague, and having an affair with the husband's boss. Finally, Kathy's perfidy escalates to an even worse crime.

Besides Stanwyck, Crime of Passion had several participants with superb noir credentials. It was written by Jo Eisinger, who also wrote two of the most psychologically complex film noirs, Gilda (1946), and Night and the City (1950). Director Gerd Oswald had recently directed his first feature film, which would become a noir classic, A Kiss Before Dying (1956). Co-star Sterling Hayden's credits included The Asphalt Jungle (1950) and a noir Western, Johnny Guitar (1954). And Raymond Burr had been a stellar villain in Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954). The same year that Crime of Passion was released, Burr began his long stint as TV's Perry Mason, and Oswald would direct some episodes of the series.

Dismissed as a routine crime melodrama when it opened in early 1957, Crime of Passion resonates much more deeply nearly fifty years later. From a post-feminist perspective, it seems to be a strikingly modern commentary about how women were driven mad by the limitations imposed on them in the postwar period. It's also interesting to look at how the film noir style had evolved from the 1940's to the 1950's. The light-and-shadow look of 40's noir had given way to what's been called "darkness in daylight," and in Crime of Passion, the bright, harsh light of southern California was particularly effective, almost suffocating in its brightness. The bland suburban atmosphere becomes as menacing as the urban shadows of the previous decade.

Stanwyck was nearly fifty when she made Crime of Passion, and though she was still slim and elegant, she made no effort to hide her age. The unflattering hairdos and makeup of the period didn't do her any favors either, so the specter of being an aging career woman at a time of cozy domesticity added another layer of desperation to her characterization. But ultimately, it's Stanwyck's characteristic fierceness and intensity that propels her character, and the film, and makes Crime of Passion a worthy farewell to film noir from Stanwyck.

Director: Gerd Oswald
Producer: Herman Cohen
Screenplay: Jo Eisinger
Cinematography: Joseph LaShelle
Editor: Francis J. Scheid
Costume Design: Grace Houston
Art Direction: Leslie Thomas
Music: Paul Dunlap
Cast: Barbara Stanwyck (Kathy Ferguson Doyle), Sterling Hayden (Bill Doyle), Raymond Burr (Tony Pope), Fay Wray (Alice Pope), Virginia Grey (Sara Alidos), Royal Dano (Charlie Alidos), Stuart Whitman (Laboratory Technician).
BW-86m. Letterboxed.

by Margarita Landazuri
Crime Of Passion

Crime of Passion

During the 1940's and '50's, Barbara Stanwyck created a vivid gallery of vicious, cold-blooded, sociopathic film noir dames: Phyllis Dietrichson in Double Indemnity (1944), perhaps her finest performance; Martha Ivers (The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, 1946); Thelma Jordon (The File on Thelma Jordon, 1950); and Mae Doyle (Clash by Night, 1952). The final portrait in that gallery was Kathy Ferguson Doyle in Crime of Passion (1957). When the film begins, Kathy is a San Francisco newspaper advice columnist, a "sob sister," in the jargon of the era. In short order, Kathy convinces a murderess to give herself up, falls in love with the policeman working on the case, played by Sterling Hayden, and abandons her career to marry him and become a suburban Los Angeles housewife. But she soon grows bored with that life, and channels the ruthless ambition she had previously used to advance her career to try to advance her husband's. She does so by scheming, lying, betraying her husband's colleague, and having an affair with the husband's boss. Finally, Kathy's perfidy escalates to an even worse crime. Besides Stanwyck, Crime of Passion had several participants with superb noir credentials. It was written by Jo Eisinger, who also wrote two of the most psychologically complex film noirs, Gilda (1946), and Night and the City (1950). Director Gerd Oswald had recently directed his first feature film, which would become a noir classic, A Kiss Before Dying (1956). Co-star Sterling Hayden's credits included The Asphalt Jungle (1950) and a noir Western, Johnny Guitar (1954). And Raymond Burr had been a stellar villain in Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954). The same year that Crime of Passion was released, Burr began his long stint as TV's Perry Mason, and Oswald would direct some episodes of the series. Dismissed as a routine crime melodrama when it opened in early 1957, Crime of Passion resonates much more deeply nearly fifty years later. From a post-feminist perspective, it seems to be a strikingly modern commentary about how women were driven mad by the limitations imposed on them in the postwar period. It's also interesting to look at how the film noir style had evolved from the 1940's to the 1950's. The light-and-shadow look of 40's noir had given way to what's been called "darkness in daylight," and in Crime of Passion, the bright, harsh light of southern California was particularly effective, almost suffocating in its brightness. The bland suburban atmosphere becomes as menacing as the urban shadows of the previous decade. Stanwyck was nearly fifty when she made Crime of Passion, and though she was still slim and elegant, she made no effort to hide her age. The unflattering hairdos and makeup of the period didn't do her any favors either, so the specter of being an aging career woman at a time of cozy domesticity added another layer of desperation to her characterization. But ultimately, it's Stanwyck's characteristic fierceness and intensity that propels her character, and the film, and makes Crime of Passion a worthy farewell to film noir from Stanwyck. Director: Gerd Oswald Producer: Herman Cohen Screenplay: Jo Eisinger Cinematography: Joseph LaShelle Editor: Francis J. Scheid Costume Design: Grace Houston Art Direction: Leslie Thomas Music: Paul Dunlap Cast: Barbara Stanwyck (Kathy Ferguson Doyle), Sterling Hayden (Bill Doyle), Raymond Burr (Tony Pope), Fay Wray (Alice Pope), Virginia Grey (Sara Alidos), Royal Dano (Charlie Alidos), Stuart Whitman (Laboratory Technician). BW-86m. Letterboxed. by Margarita Landazuri

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

This film's working titles were Love Story and The Deadly Triangle. The film's pressbook indicates that certain sequences were filmed in Los Angeles Police Department headquarters.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter January 9, 1957

Completed shooting July 1956.

Released in United States Winter January 9, 1957