Martha Beck (Shirley Stoler) is a lonely nurse who takes care of her invalid mother in Mobile, Alabama. Starved for affection, she places an ad in a lonely hearts column and soon receives a letter from Ray Fernandez (Tony LoBianco). He meets her and runs off with her dowry to New York City. Martha puts her mother in a nursing home and follows the handsome con artist. She agrees to pose as his sister as the two fleece lonely, unsuspecting women out of their money. Martha's jealousies of Ray's victims leads to murder. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, an elderly matron is killed and her child is drowned in a washing machine. Martha considers confessing to the police when she finally realizes Ray will never be true to her or any other woman. The story was taken from actual events, and the real-life couple were eventually executed in Sing Sing prison in 1951. The black-and-white photography adds an aura of authenticity to the documentary-style production. ~ Dan Pavlides, Rovi
I first came across this film while channel surfing. It was on showtime, and at the scene where Ray is walking down the cellar stairs with the bare, light bulb swinging behind him with an evil grin on his face, reassuring a nervous old woman behind the locked door that him and Martha would be just fine. I had of course heard about this film, but it was never available to rent: Only for purchase. The rest of the film had me glued to the screen, and the murder of the elderly widow was grisly and ruthless. I was familiar with Shirley Stoler in Seven Beauties and other films. This was her first film, but at the age of 40 she was, and had been making a living as an actress on the stage and a very good one. Shirley and Tony make a chilling, and mesmerizing couple of Martha and Ray that keeps this film out of the Âcamp with excellent acting. Martha is both evil and tragic with some outrageous dialog at times. Ray and Martha's Mother have some memorable lines as well. Great DVD.
I first became aware of this gem when I had cable. Dark and working well in black-and-white and so gruesome it's hard to watch -- but I couldn't stop -- it's a tribute to the desperation some feel to "be loved" sans scruples and character. Dialogue a bit exaggerated at times but believable just the same (and true according to the credits), I would recommend to anyone who enjoys murder plots and the types who carry them off.