2018 Critiques: Movie Critique – Crime of Passion

Stars: 4 / 5

Recommendation: A crime plot filled not just with passion and much more that reins in the viewer to it, excellent performance by Barbara Stanwyck adds the cherry on top.

Crime of Passion is a 1957 American crime film noir starring Barbara Stanwyck, Sterling Hayden and Raymond Burr. I had seen Raymond Burr only as Perry Mason on TV other than just one more film Rear Window (My review of the movie here). So when I came across this film on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) with him as one of the actor, I couldn’t resist watch it. And hence my review.

Crime of Passion is a tale about a successful newspaper advice columnist turned housewife, who after getting bored of being a housewife, resorts to criminal actions in order to further her husband's career in Los Angeles Police Department. And when her criminal actions lead to murder, it leaves to her husband to investigate.

Barbara Stanwyck is known for her powerful female oriented films. I believe the first time I saw her in a movie was the 1948 American crime film noir Sorry Wrong Number (My review of that movie that I posted quite a few years after) and I felt that she had created an impact on the screen. 11 years later she still gave the same impressive performance in this film. This was her last of the film noirs as well.

The story shows the inner workings of a human mind, how when bored with life resort to extreme actions that they justify that they are committing them for a greater good. Barbara Stanwyck depicts that character, of Kathy Ferguson Doyle who has a mind always working on doing something no matter how cruel it might be, to the dot. 

Raymond Burr as Police Inspector Anthony Pope exudes the same charm as he does as Perry Mason. I guess no matter what role he plays, one cannot stop to think of his Perry Mason days, although the series Perry Mason doesn’t start until 9 months after this film was released. Well, one can say that he was grooming for Perry Mason all along.

Sterling Hayden as Police Lieutenant Bill Doyle, acted the role just as he is supposed to me, a cop through and through with no ambition other than to catch the bad guys. Sterling and Barbaral's characters in the film are poles apart, and no wonder they were attracted. However that was all that was there between them, at least for Barbara's role Kathy. It amazed me that Sterling's character Bill failed to see how shallow Kathy's nature was, and how vindictive she could become for the sake of ambition. Proving again that all he wanted in life was to play cop and catch bad guys.

The two detectives - Lieutenant Bill Doyle and Captain Charlie Alidos - both are tall men sporting hats and coats, which seemed to be a common getup for most detectives and  investigators for the film noir genre of movies.

Royal Dano who plays the character Captain Charlie Alidos, reminded me of me seeing him in some other movie, but it failed to come to me. He must have done quite an act in that movie for me to remember him so clearly.

Although it was titled a crime of passion, I didn’t think it was so. Barbara's character Kathy's mind is so twisted that her plans begin at the very early stages of her romance with Sterling's Bill. In the end the film was not just a crime of passion, but one that was pre-meditated. It was filled with all elements needed and much more for just that - romance, ambition, jealousy, infidelity and murder. A perfect crime film noir to be watched again anytime during any era. 

Spoiler Alerts:

1) On the door to the Press Room, someone comically writes "Do Not Feed The Animals. Ha Ha!". Even then Press was considered animals I suppose. Now perhaps they would be considered ferocious animals.

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