The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) Review


A fateful night in their childhood would scar their lives forever. Sam Masterson left that night and on his return many years later he becomes drawn towards Martha Ivers and her husband Walter O’Neil.


The film opens with Martha attempting to run away from home, where she lives with her Aunt. She claims that she is a horrible woman and wants nothing more than to get away from her. She is helped by her friend Sam, but they are quickly found by the police. He manages to escape and Martha is taken back home, Mr O’Neil and his son Walter are at the house. Then an event occurs which would change everything as Martha kills her Aunt but makes it appear that she fell down the stairs, with Walter as a witness he covers for Martha but it was something that his father didn’t really seem to believe somehow knowing the truth. Sam had also been in the house and after this night he disappeared for a very long time.

Seventeen years later Martha is married to Walter who is working as Iverstown’s district attorney. It is very much a one sided marriage she does not love him at all and he is very much in love with her. Sam driving through the town by chance decided to have a look around after an accident waiting for his car to be repaired, he had been a soldier and now had a gambling problem. He meets Antonia also known as Toni who had just been released from jail. It doesn’t take long before Walter and Sam see each other and eh is convinced blackmail is going to be on his mind.

Martha is overjoyed to see Sam again which drives Walter mad with jealously knowing that she had always preferred him even as teenagers. This then actually leads Sam into confusion as he becomes torn between Toni and his old love Martha. It certainly comes to a dramatic conclusion and it could really go many different ways.

I found the film to have a very good and nice pace to it which was essential for the story to pan out nicely. With plenty of twists and turns to go along with it, you will always be wondering what crazy event is going to happen next. Barbara Stanwyck has incredible screen presence and is given such a great character. I really feel anyone claiming women have never had good and interesting roles have not seen enough films. Van Heflin certainly had so much charm and that was enjoyable to watch, working so well with Stanwyck. This was Kirk Douglas’ screen debut and I thought he took a very good part, the jealously put across very well and I have to admit I never really realised that he was actually quite handsome! Lizabeth Scott was given a good role as well with Toni and completes the four bigger roles within the cast.

Something I have noticed with older films is that they never really have a big ensemble and at times that really is a very good thing. This film is enjoyable enough from start to finish with a rather interesting take on that you can never really get away with murder.

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