AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
The Strange Love of Martha Ivers
Alternate Title: Love Lies Bleeding
Director: Lewis Milestone (Dir)
Release Date:   13 Sep 1946
Premiere Information:   New York opening: week of 25 Jul 1946
Production Date:   2 Oct--early Dec 1945
Duration (in mins):   117
Print this page
Display Movie Summary

Cast:   Barbara Stanwyck (Martha Ivers)  
    Van Heflin (Sam Masterson)  
    Lizabeth Scott (Toni Maracek)  
    Kirk Douglas (Walter O'Neill)  
    Judith Anderson (Miss Ivers)  
    Roman Bohnen (Mr. O'Neill)  
    Darryl Hickman (Sam, as a child)  
    Janis Wilson (Martha, as a child)  
    Ann Doran (Secretary)  
    Frank Orth (Hotel clerk)  
    James Flavin (Detective)  
    Mickey Kuhn (Walter, as a child)  
    Charles D. Brown (Detective)  
    Matt McHugh (Bus driver)  
    Walter Baldwin (Dempsey, garage owner)  
    Catherine Craig (French maid)  
    Sayre Dearing (Crap shooter)  
    Harry Leonard (Crap shooter)  
    William Duray (Waiter)  
    Al Murphy (Waiter)  
    Payne Johnson (Bellboy)  
    Max Wagner (Detective #2)  
    Tom Fadden (Taxi driver)  
    Gladden James (John O. Butler)  
    John Kellogg (Plainclothesman)  
    Tom Dillon (Plainclothesman)  
    Kay Deslys (Jail matron)  
    Bob Perry (Bartender)  
    Olin Howlin (Newspaper clerk)  
    Blake Edwards (Sailor)  
    Betty Hill (Waitress)  
    Tom Schamp (Cop)  
    Robert Homans Cripps (Cop Cop)  
    Thomas Louden (Lynch, butler)  
    Bert Roach    
    Ricky Riccardi    
    Billy Burt    
    Gene Ashley    

Summary: In 1928, young Martha Ivers is returned by the police to Iverstown, Pennsylvania after running away for the fourth time to escape the tyranny of her aunt. When her aunt insults her dead father, then attacks her pet cat with a cane, the child kills her aunt with the cane. Martha's friend, Sam Masterson, with whom she was trying to run away, flees the scene and joins the circus. Mr. O'Neill, Martha's greedy tutor, and his weak-minded son Walter, support Martha's story that the murderer was a strange intruder. In 1946, Sam inadvertently returns to Iverstown when he wrecks his car. He meets Toni Maraceck, who was let out on parole that night on a theft charge of which she is innocent. Walter, now a dipsomaniacal district attorney, is running for political office at the urging of Martha, who is now his wife and runs the family mill, which she has built into a considerable fortune. Although Walter loves Martha, they have a passionless marriage because she has never stopped loving Sam. When Toni is picked up by the police for violating her parole, Sam goes to Walter's office and appeals to him for help, and Walter assumes that Sam is in town to blackmail him and Martha. When Martha enters, Sam realizes she and Walter are married. He later visits Martha at the Ivers home, where she confesses her love for him. Walter forces Toni to make a deal with him or be sent back to prison, and she sets Sam up, unaware that Walter's men are going to beat him. Sam awakens from the assault to find himself in a ditch. He then confronts Walter, who accuses him of blackmail. Sam investigates Martha's aunt's death in archival newspapers and learns that the case had remained unsolved for years until a man who used to work for the Ivers family was picked up on a small holdup charge and accused of the murder. Walter, who was engaged to Martha at the time, handled the prosecution of the man. Armed with new information, Sam demands half-ownership in Martha's factory. She later takes him for a drive, and at a hillside campfire, inadvertently confesses to the murder, unaware that Sam never knew. Terrified that Sam will use her confession against her, Martha tries to burn him with an ember, but he kisses her, turning her rage into passion. She then blames Walter for sending an innocent man to die. Later, a drunken Walter orders Sam to the Ivers house and claims that it was Martha's idea to hang an innocent man. Sick with the knowledge of what they have become, Walter begs Martha for help, then falls down the stairs. Martha tries to seduce Sam into killing Walter while he is knocked out, but Sam gently carries Walter to a chair. Although she pulls a gun on Sam, he walks out. As Martha and Walter watch Sam from the window, he tells her she will always love Sam, but she swears that now she loves only Walter. Walter then presses the gun into Martha's ribs, and she puts her hand on his, and together they pull the trigger. Walter then shoots himself. Toni and Sam drive out of town, planning to marry and vowing to never look back. 

Production Company: Hal Wallis Productions, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Paramount Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Lewis Milestone (Dir)
  Richard McWhorter (Asst dir)
Writer: Robert Rossen (Scr)
  Jack Patrick (Orig story by)
Photography: Victor Milner (Dir of photog)
  Neal Beckner (2d cam)
Art Direction: Hans Dreier (Art dir)
  John Meehan (Art dir)
Film Editor: Archie Marshek (Ed)
Set Decoration: Sam Comer (Set dec)
  Jerry Welch (Set dec)
Costumes: Edith Head (Cost)
Music: Miklos Rozsa (Mus score)
Sound: Harold Lewis (Sd rec)
  Walter Oberst (Sd rec)
  Phil G. Wisdom (Mus mixer)
Special Effects: Farciot Edouart (Process photog)
  Gordon Jennings (Spec optical eff)
  Paul Lerpae (Spec optical eff asst)
  Jan Domela (Matte paintings asst)
  Irmin Roberts (Matte paintings asst)
  Wallace Kelley (Transparency projection)
Make Up: Wally Westmore (Makeup supv)
Country: United States

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Hal Wallis Productions, Inc. 7/3/1946 dd/mm/yyyy LP131 Yes

PCA NO: 11254
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Recording

Genre: Film noir
Subjects (Major): Greed
  Marriage--Forced by circumstances
  Romantic rivalry
  Small town life
Subjects (Minor): Alcoholics
  Automobile accidents
  Childhood sweethearts
  Class distinction
  District attorneys
  Fathers and sons
  Gas stations
  Mill owners
  Political campaigns
  Staffs (Sticks, canes, etc.)
  Tutors and tutoring
  Women in business

Note: The film's working titles were Love Lies Bleeding and Strange Love . This film marked the motion picture debut of Broadway actor Kirk Douglas. In her comments on the film, columnist Louella Parsons said that Paramount had "unearthed themselves another wonder boy," and the LADN review said that Douglas' part "should establish [him] in Hollywood permanently." the HR reviewer remarked that Douglas' "acting has qualities of more than passing interest, but there is a danger that he may be typed," while the DV review stated, he "evinces high promise for future as a dramatic actor." Van Heflin was on loan from M-G-M for this film, which marked his return to the screen after serving three years in the U.S. Army Air Corps.
       Director Lewis Milestone is quoted in an article in the Los Angeles Sun Mirror on 8 Dec 1946 as having said that he would never make another picture with producer Hal Wallis because Wallis wanted to reshoot scenes in this film for more close-ups of Lizabeth Scott; Milestone reportedly told Wallis to shoot them himself--which he did. Portions of the film were shot at the Southern Pacific Railroad yard in Los Angeles, CA. Jack Patrick was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing (Original Story). According to modern sources, Robert Aldrich replaced assistant director Dick McWhorter when filming was three-fourths completed. Modern sources also list Lorne Netten as electrician and Art Kamp as prop man. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   16 Mar 1946.   
Daily Variety   13 Mar 46   p. 3.
Film Daily   14 Mar 46   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Oct 45   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Oct 1945.   
Hollywood Reporter   19 Nov 45   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Dec 45   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Dec 45   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Mar 46   p. 3.
LA Sun Mirror   8 Dec 1946.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   2 Mar 46   p. 2870.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   23 Mar 46   p. 2907.
New Yorker   3 Aug 1946.   
New York Times   25 Jul 46   p. 18.
Variety   13 Mar 46   p. 10.

Display Movie Summary
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.
Advanced Search
Support our efforts to preserve hisotory of film
Help AFI Preserve Film History

© 2017 American Film Institute.
All rights reserved.
Terms of use.