When Ivy, an Edwardian belle, begins to like Miles, a wealthy gentleman, she is unsure of what to do with her husband, Jervis, and lover, Dr. Roger. She hatches a plan to get rid of them both.
Evil influences are gathering. Ivy is directed by Sam Wood and adapted to screenplay by Charles Bennett from the novel The Story of Ivy written by Marie Belloc Lowndes. It stars Joan Fontaine, Patric Knowles, Herbert Marshall, Richard Ney, Cedric Hardwicke and Lucile Watson. Music is by Daniele Amfitheatrof and cinematography by Russell Metty. Ivy Lexton (Fontaine) has a hunger to be wealthy, and setting her sights on well-to-do Miles Rushworth (Marshall), Ivy plots a fiendish plan that spells trouble for her husband Jervis (Ney) and her lover Roger (Knowles). Well worth discovering, Ivy showcases the dark side of Fontaine’s acting prowess for great entertainment rewards. The beautiful Madame Fontaine actually disowned the movie, and this after she stepped in to the role of Ivy Lexton after her sister Olivia de Havilland turned it down. Her lack of affection for the picture goes some way to explaining why it has remained largely forgotten, which is a shame because it’s a high end gaslight noir propelled by a femme fatale of some considerable substance. The budget was high, and it shows, in the cast list, the costuming and the stunning turn of the century production design by William Cameron Menzies. Metty’s low-key photography cloaks the Edwardian settings with atmospheric snugness, while Amfitheatrof underscores the drama with music that is appropriately tinged with chills. Thematically the piece is focusing on obsessions, by way of man’s ignorant lust and woman’s pursuit of wealth above all else. All characters are defined not by fate here, but by their actions, making for a hornet’s nest of murder and adultery. 1947 was a stellar year for film noir, with big hitting movies like Out of the Past, Nightmare Alley, Kiss of Death, Odd Man Out and Brighton Rock further cementing the growing popularity of noir as a style of film making. As is often the case with the great noir years from the classic cycle, there’s still little gems hidden away waiting to be brought out into the open, Ivy is one such film. Fontaine and the sumptuous noir visual style ensure this to be the case. 8/10