“I hope all your socks have holes in them.”
In the film Crime of Passion, tough, successful career woman Kathy Ferguson (Barbara Stanwyck) abandons her newspaper column and a prestigious new job to marry LA police detective Bill Doyle (Sterling Hayden). She imagines a life of domestic bliss, and soon she’s living in suburbia–along with all the other detectives’ wives. Doyle is happy plodding along in his career, but Kathy really can’t stand the life she finds herself in. The Doyle’s social life is composed of dreary evenings with Doyle’s co-workers. The men play card games, and the women chatter on about inane subjects. While no unpleasant words exit from the mouths of the detectives’ wives, it’s quite clear that a strict social hierarchy exists. In particular, one wife, Sara Alidos, is all too happy to carry on at length about her intimate friendship with the Police Commissioner Pope (Raymond Burr) and his wife. Kathy really doesn’t belong with these other wives. Try as she might, she just doesn’t fit in, and her own lack of conformity drives Kathy to the brink of a breakdown.
But then Kathy has an idea. In Kathy’s mind, her husband is superior to the other detectives, and she is cleverer than the rest of the wives. And so Kathy sets out to use her brain to promote her dullard of a husband through whatever means are necessary.
Barbara Stanwyck is excellent in the role of Kathy–a woman who gives up her career and lives to regret it. Kathy is hard and tough, but when she meets Bill, she gives into romance, and in her case, this is a big mistake. Bill Doyle is a good, hard-working man, but Kathy doesn’t respect him. Raymond Burr as Pope is the man who sees past Kathy’s persona and sees the conniving woman underneath.
From director Gert Oswald, Crime of Passion contains some extremely interesting comments especially about the roles of women in the 50s. For film noir/Stanwyck fans, this is a film well worth watching.