The Blue Gardenia (1953)

90 mins | Mystery, Melodrama | 28 March 1953

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HISTORY

According to a Sep 1952 HR news item, Alex Gottlieb, who produced The Blue Gardenia , bought the property from producer Howard Welsch and planned to release it independently. Although their appearances in the completed picture have not been confirmed, Dec 1952 HR news items add Victor Sen Yung, Charles Victor and Ron Kennedy to the cast, and a Dec 1952 HR news item adds Bo Ling, Esther Lee and Shirley Lew as telephone operators. According to a Dec 1952 HR news item, actress Anne Baxter, who played "Norah Larkin," suffered a torn ligament while filming the fight scene with Raymond Burr. Ruth Storey, who played "Rose," was the real-life wife of Richard Conte.
       The Blue Gardenia marked Sothern's return to films after a two-year absence. The LADN review noted that the film's title was reminiscent of a 1947 Los Angeles murder case, in which the victim was dubbed "The Black Dahlia" by the press. However, the still officially unsolved case and the film's plot bear little similarity to each other. A Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the film was aired on 30 Nov 1954, starred Dana Andrews and Ruth ... More Less

According to a Sep 1952 HR news item, Alex Gottlieb, who produced The Blue Gardenia , bought the property from producer Howard Welsch and planned to release it independently. Although their appearances in the completed picture have not been confirmed, Dec 1952 HR news items add Victor Sen Yung, Charles Victor and Ron Kennedy to the cast, and a Dec 1952 HR news item adds Bo Ling, Esther Lee and Shirley Lew as telephone operators. According to a Dec 1952 HR news item, actress Anne Baxter, who played "Norah Larkin," suffered a torn ligament while filming the fight scene with Raymond Burr. Ruth Storey, who played "Rose," was the real-life wife of Richard Conte.
       The Blue Gardenia marked Sothern's return to films after a two-year absence. The LADN review noted that the film's title was reminiscent of a 1947 Los Angeles murder case, in which the victim was dubbed "The Black Dahlia" by the press. However, the still officially unsolved case and the film's plot bear little similarity to each other. A Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of the film was aired on 30 Nov 1954, starred Dana Andrews and Ruth Roman. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
14 Mar 1953.
---
Daily Variety
16 Oct 1952.
---
Daily Variety
12 Mar 53
p. 3.
Film Daily
23 Mar 53
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Sep 1952.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Nov 52
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Dec 1952
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Dec 52
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Dec 52
p. 5, 11
Hollywood Reporter
23 Dec 52
p. 2, 8
Hollywood Reporter
26 Dec 52
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Mar 53
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Mar 53
p. 6.
Los Angeles Daily News
29 Mar 1953.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
14 Mar 53
p. 1758.
New York Times
28 Apr 53
p. 31.
Variety
18 Mar 53
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Ladies' ward
Men's ward
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Scr supv
SOURCES
SONGS
"Blue Gardenia," music and lyrics by Bob Russell and Lester Lee, arranged by Nelson Riddle.
DETAILS
Release Date:
28 March 1953
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 27 March 1953
Production Date:
late November--24 December 1952 at the Motion Picture Center
Copyright Claimant:
Blue Gardenia Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
26 March 1953
Copyright Number:
LP2441
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
90
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16317
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Los Angeles, while writing a feature story about telephone operators, columnist Casey Mayo sees calendar girl artist Harry Prebble sketching the operators. In vain, Prebble tries to make a date with one of the women, divorcée Crystal Carpenter, but she leaves with her two roommates and fellow operators, Norah Larkin and Sally Ellis. Prebble then cuts short a phone call from Rose, a woman he has been dating, who is almost hysterical in her need to talk to him. That night, Norah spends her birthday alone and reads a letter from her fiancé, a soldier fighting in Korea. After she reads that he is breaking their engagement, the telephone rings, and still in shock, she answers and agrees to have dinner at the Blue Gardenia Restaurant with Prebble, who thinks he is talking to Crystal. At the restaurant, as Norah drinks too much, Prebble buys her a gardenia corsage from a blind flower vendor and the restaurant entertainer sings "Blue Gardenia." Later, after taking the drunken Norah to his apartment and putting on a recording of "Blue Gardenia," Prebble tries to force himself on her. As Norah struggles, she hits him with a fireplace poker and breaks a mirror, but then faints. She runs out in haste after she awakens, leaving her shoes behind. Norah suffers a hangover the next day and can recall little of the previous evening, but after reading about Prebble's murder in the newspaper, she fears that she killed him. Police captain Sam Haynes's investigation has been stymied by Prebble's housekeeper, who has wiped off fingerprints and tidied Prebble's apartment. Haynes's only clues to the murder are a pair of women's shoes, a ... +


In Los Angeles, while writing a feature story about telephone operators, columnist Casey Mayo sees calendar girl artist Harry Prebble sketching the operators. In vain, Prebble tries to make a date with one of the women, divorcée Crystal Carpenter, but she leaves with her two roommates and fellow operators, Norah Larkin and Sally Ellis. Prebble then cuts short a phone call from Rose, a woman he has been dating, who is almost hysterical in her need to talk to him. That night, Norah spends her birthday alone and reads a letter from her fiancé, a soldier fighting in Korea. After she reads that he is breaking their engagement, the telephone rings, and still in shock, she answers and agrees to have dinner at the Blue Gardenia Restaurant with Prebble, who thinks he is talking to Crystal. At the restaurant, as Norah drinks too much, Prebble buys her a gardenia corsage from a blind flower vendor and the restaurant entertainer sings "Blue Gardenia." Later, after taking the drunken Norah to his apartment and putting on a recording of "Blue Gardenia," Prebble tries to force himself on her. As Norah struggles, she hits him with a fireplace poker and breaks a mirror, but then faints. She runs out in haste after she awakens, leaving her shoes behind. Norah suffers a hangover the next day and can recall little of the previous evening, but after reading about Prebble's murder in the newspaper, she fears that she killed him. Police captain Sam Haynes's investigation has been stymied by Prebble's housekeeper, who has wiped off fingerprints and tidied Prebble's apartment. Haynes's only clues to the murder are a pair of women's shoes, a gardenia corsage, a lacy handkerchief and the record on the phonograph turntable, which was still spinning when the housekeeper arrived. While the police proceed with a manhunt, Casey takes an interest and shows up at Prebble's apartment, where Haynes plays the record for him. After tracing the corsage to the restaurant, Casey nicknames the killer, "The Blue Gardenia," and writes her an open letter, promising the newspaper's help in hiring the best legal defense, if she will come to him with her story. Casey is harangued by crank calls and dismisses a call from Rose, because she does not identify the shoes found by the police. Meanwhile, Norah's tension is noticed by Crystal and Sally, who assume she is grieving for her ex-boyfriend. Tormented by memory flashes, Norah tries to piece together events of the terrifying night. During his own investigation, Casey learns from the Blue Gardenia staff that Prebble was with a blonde in black satin on the night of his death. Reading the description in Casey's column, Norah burns her dress, but then, late one night, decides to contact Casey from a pay phone. After claiming to be calling for a friend, she agrees to meet him at an all-night diner, where she explains that her "friend" can only remember swinging the poker in self-defense while "Blue Gardenia" played on the phonograph. Casey finds himself attracted to Norah, but hides his feelings and urges her to have the friend meet him the next day at the diner. When Norah returns home, Crystal is waiting, having connected Norah to the now famous murder case, and the next day, accompanies her to the diner. After surprising Casey with the revelation that she is the "Blue Gardenia," Norah realizes that Casey's offer to help was a trick to get a story. Norah leaves, but is arrested by Haynes and his men, who were tipped off by the diner staff. As Norah, who now believes that Casey set a trap, is booked, Casey proceeds to the airport with his photographer, Al, for an overseas assignment. Waiting for the plane, Casey recognizes music being piped into the lounge as that found on Prebble's phonograph, then remembers Norah saying that Prebble played a different song, "Blue Gardenia," when she was there. He contacts Haynes and together they go to the record shop where Prebble bought the record found by the police. Rose, who works there, thinks they have come for her and attempts suicide. Later, at the hospital, Rose confesses that she showed up at Prebble's to talk that night and seeing Norah's corsage and handkerchief, realized he was seeing someone else. Rose explains that Prebble tried to calm her by playing the song that he bought at the record store when they first met, but she killed him in a jealous rage. Norah is released, but remains distant from Casey, who wants to make amends. However, Crystal advises him not to give up, and he feels sure that he and Norah have a future together. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.