The Blue Gardenia (Lang, 1953)

A solid Noir with all the dark and shadowy trimmings, but surprisingly timid compared to the Lang masterpieces of the same era. The Blue Gardenia takes a romantic, softer and in turn more forgettable look at guilt and trauma than Woman in the Window or Lang’s best film, The Big Heat. Maybe if Raymond Burr’s character had been dirtier, a real creep to Ann Baxter’s woman in distress, the situation would have gathered more steam. Instead he’s just a liquored up fool looking for a kiss, so his demise is regular and uninspired. Baxter’s moral conundrum that follows never really reaches meltdown status so her melodramatic turns respectively come off safe. One brilliant scene in Richard Conte’s ace newspaperman’s office does signify the danger Lang’s so good at achieving through mise-en-scene. The Blue Gardenia offers a tight, well planned coup of an ending, but leaves little else to be desired in terms of complexity through genre or character.

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