Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The File on Thelma Jordon

The Remembering Barbara Stanwyck Blogathon is exactly what it says on the tin, hosted by In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. For a complete list of participating blogs, visit the link at the host site.

The File on Thelma Jordon (AKA Thelma Jordon)
YouTube viewing

It took me awhile to really get into The File on Thelma Jordon. For one thing, I was expecting a noir and it started out as a romance - and with a drunk man who was not that great looking to begin with. I would've thought Barbara Stanwyck had had better taste! In a nutshell, Stany's the prime suspect in a murder case, and her lover, Wendell Corey as an assistant district attorney, is the one who must prosecute her. The two of them also appear together in The Furies, from the same year, 1950.

She meets Corey under false pretenses, where he leads her to believe he's the DA when he's not. He's drunk out of his mind and tries to hit on her (he's married), even going so far as to chase her out of the building and to her car. But when he kisses her, wouldn't you know it, she kinda likes it a little. 

Stany's not riffing on Phyllis Dietrichson here; in her opening scene, she comes across as a fairly normal woman, so why she would find Corey anything but repulsive is beyond me. Still, once he sobers up the next day, he's not as bad, so I guess I could buy her giving him a second chance. Maybe.

I would've skipped the courtship between the two and started the film on the night of the murder, because that's when things start to get interesting. Corey thinks he can protect Stany, even when it comes time for the trial, but there's something he doesn't know that turns out to make all the difference in the world.

Stany's Thelma doesn't come across as your typical femme fatale anti-heroine at first. We slowly get hints that she may not be as innocent as she seems, but she doesn't quite come across as the type to commit murder, either. In movies like The Strange Love of Martha Ivers or Crime of Passion, we see her ambition, her willingness to manipulate her men into doing her bidding, but here it's the reverse. It's Corey who's pushing her to do this and that at every turn, especially on the night of the murder. I guess I'm just not used to seeing her in that kind of role.

I wish we could've seen more of this dog.

Thelma isn't bad overall, but it doesn't quite compare with those other Stany movies I mentioned. I liked Corey better in The Furies, where the creepiness of his character works for him. I didn't completely buy him as a leading man, and certainly not as one worthy of Stany.

All my Stany posts (so far!)
Baby Face
Night Nurse/Ladies They Talk About
Golden Boy
Sorry, Wrong Number
The Big Valley
Stella Dallas
The Lady Eve/Forty Guns
Barbara Stanwyck: The Miracle Woman (book review)
Banjo on My Knee/Remember the Night
Double Indemnity
Dynasty/The Colbys
My Reputation
The Furies
So Big!


  1. The movie doesn't feel cohesive. It is as if nobody working on it spoke to anyone else working on it and suddenly there it is - take it or leave it.

    I get the unexpectedness of Stanwyck's character here for you. I remember watching her get kicked around in one of her 30 pictures by the rich mother of her weak husband and my husband said "I wish this was the 40s when she'd just shoot the bitch." There are certain things we like more than others when it comes to Missy.

  2. LOL! That sounds more like it could be a Crawford movie. But yeah, this doesn't feel quite like vintage Stany. I guess they can't all be winners.

  3. One of the Stanwyck films I haven't seen yet, but I will hope to do so soon. From your review, it sounds worth seeing even if not one of her best.

  4. The second half is better than the first; I'll say that much.

  5. Hi Rich. Sorry for the late reply. I have only just returned to blogging after a long hiatus. I had the same thoughts as you for "Thelma Jordan". It got more intriguing towards the latter half of the movie, but it's still not one of my favorite Stannyy films. Thanks so much for joining in on the blogathon.

    I would also like to let you know that I've just announced another blogathon, and would love to invite you to participate. The link is below with more details.

  6. What the hey. They can't all be winners, I suppose, even when it's Stany.

  7. Hi Rich. I just thought I would drop by to invite you to join in on my next blogathon. The link is below with more details.


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