Claire Cummings (Leslie Brooks), a society reporter living in San Francisco, is giving up her career in favor of marriage. Her groom is Carl Hanneman (John Holland), a wealthy businessman.
Claire isn’t in love with Carl. She’s actually in love with Les Burns (Robert Paige), a sports writer from the paper where she worked, who hoped he’d be the one to marry her.
After the ceremony, Carl sees Claire kissing Les, but she assures him it was just a “friendly goodbye kiss.” Her assurance of faithfulness is proven wrong on the honeymoon, when Carl finds a letter she’s written to Les.
The situation gets more complicated when Carl turns up dead. Has he taken his own life, depressed by his quickly-failed marriage, or has the love triangle taken a violent turn?
Jack Bernhard directs 1948’s Blonde Ice. The film is based on the novel Once Too Many by Whitman Chambers, published ten years prior to the film’s release.
The shining star of Blonde Ice is the dame the title refers to: Leslie Brooks as Claire, the femme fatale of this criminal melodrama. She’s a scheming, manipulative person — evil through and through. She has very few redeeming qualities, as she proves with every turn of the story, not always through evil acts but often through her eerie ability to control others so effortlessly.
When Claire lies, Brooks makes her sound disingenuous enough to clue to the viewer in to her intentions, while not so disingenuous as to evoke suspicion from whichever man she happens to be conversing with. One stellar scene occurs when Carl’s body is found. She’s all shock and sadness when she and Les discover Carl… but as Les walks away to phone the police department, she delivers a sly smirk.
The plot is formulaic and at times a bit slow-moving, but then the film was never intended to be an award-winner. It was produced as a second feature, not the main attraction. There’s some quality dialogue (again, with the best of it coming from Leslie Brooks as Claire) and a couple of great scenes near the end.
If you like B-level noir, this film will feel very familiar but will also be an enjoyable watch. I liked it well enough, particularly the performance/character of miss “blonde ice” herself. The score: 3/5
Note: If you’re interested in watching this film, it is in the public domain. You can download it for free at the Internet Archive.