Crime of Passion (1957)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama, Crime Drama, Film Noir  |   Release Date - Jan 9, 1957 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 85 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Crime of Passion is more murder melodrama than legitimate film noir, but it does have at its center that noir staple, the dangerous femme fatale -- played by Barbara Stanwyck, arguably the most important female figure in noir films. Stanwyck is absolutely aces in Crime, and irreplaceable -- there's probably no other actress that could pull off her character's incredible shift from hard-driving go-getter to middle-class suburban wife (and back again). In a better written film, this shift could have come about from an incisive exploration of women's roles in 1950s society and the damaging and ultimately tragic effect that over-conformity can have upon a person. In Crime, unfortunately, it's just a plot device, and even with Stanwyck giving it her all, it damages the film's credibility. There are a lot of other flaws in Joe Eisinger's screenplay; too often it feels as if characters are being manipulated to behave in a particular manner because that's what is most convenient for the plot, rather than because that is the way the characters would really behave. Gerd Oswald tries to make sense of all this, and he succeeds to a large degree, helped not only by Stanwyck's powerhouse performance, but also by the more nuanced turns of Raymond Burr and Sterling Hayden. Ultimately, the film doesn't work, but it does have enough of interest to make it worth watching.