A note from Lindsey: This is the 33rd film I’ve watched which stars Barbara Stanwyck. Follow the progress of TMP’s Barbara Stanwyck Filmography Project at Listography.
Kathy Ferguson (Barbara Stanwyck) is a big-time advice columnist who loves her job and has many adoring readers.
But when homicide detective Bill Doyle (Sterling Hayden) walks into her office, she’s instantly drawn to him. Kathy decides to give up her career for what she hopes will be a blissful marriage with Bill.
After the wedding, Kathy finds that married life isn’t all she hoped it would be. Frustrated by her dull life as a housewife and her husband’s lack of ambition, Kathy turns to drastic measures in order to force the advancement of her husband’s career.
Gerd Oswald directs 1957’s Crime of Passion, written by Jo Eisinger. Starring alongside Stanwyck and Hayden are Raymond Burr, Fay Wray, Virginia Grey and Royal Dano.
With such a solid cast and since the film is billed as film noir, I went into it with high expectations. Unfortunately, it didn’t come close to living up to them.
Crime of Passion starts out slowly and has trouble getting a grip on the viewer in the beginning, which made it difficult for me to care about the characters or story as the film progressed.
The premise gives the potential for a strong social commentary about life as a working woman versus life as a housewife, and how being a housewife can lead to a case of “unhappy 1950s homemaker pushed to the brink” syndrome. Instead of meeting that potential, the story is nearly lifeless.
Even Stanwyck’s talent couldn’t save this one, though she does give one of her usual strong performances.
The lack of chemistry between Stanwyck and Hayden does nothing to help the film, and the viewer is left wondering why she would leave a career she loved for a relationship that has no spark.
Crime of Passion is far from a winner and lands near the bottom (if not at the very bottom) of my ranking of Stanwyck’s films. It’s the only film that I’ve seen so far in the project that I haven’t enjoyed, though I do acknowledge that I have a bias because my expectations were so high going in.
I’ve seen it described as “bold” and “brilliant” in other reviews, but just as with Storm Warning, Crime of Passion is a film that could have provided a strong social commentary but didn’t push the envelope enough. If they were willing to take on the controversial subject matter of how housewifery can be a personal hell, they should have gone at it full-force. The score: 1/5