Ivy (1947): Sam Wood’s Crime Film Noir, Starring Joan Fontaine, Patric Knowles, Herbert Marshall Richard Ney (Cannes Film Fest 1947)

Sam Wood directed Ivy, a crime film noir written by Charles Bennett, based on Marie Adelaide Belloc Lowndes’s 1927 novel, “The Story of Ivy.”



Joan Fontaine plays the desired femme fatale, and Patric Knowles, Herbert Marshall and Richard Ney as the various males in her entangled romantic life.

The film played at the second Cannes Film Fest, held in fall f 1947.

The song “Ivy,” written to promote the film by Hoagy Carmichael but not included in the soundtrack, has become jazz standard.

The film was adapted in 1951 for radio version of the NBC anthology, Screen Directors’ Playhouse, with George Marshall directing, and Fontaine reprising the title role as Ivy Lexton.

The original director, Wood, had died two years after the film’s completion in 1949.

In Edwardian England, Ivy Lexton (Joan Fontaine) is a woman with an expensive taste. Despairing of poor prospects of husband Jervis’ (Richard Ney), Ivy sees opportunities for upward mobility in engaging with the wealthy Miles Rushworth (Herbert Marshall).

She becomes determined to possess him, despite being married and also involved in an affair with Dr. Roger Gretorex (Patric Knowles).

As she is already married, Miles shows no interest. As a result, Ivy tries to persuade her husband to divorce her, then plans to poison him and pin the blame on Roger, thus clearing the way for a relationship with Miles.

Inspector Orpington (Cedric Hardwicke) is called in to investigate Jervis’ mysterious death.

Variety gave the film a mixed review: “William Cameron Menzies’ production has an off-the-beaten path design that helps generate the melodramatic mood desired. Sets are small and players and settings are lensed from close range. Cast performances are good, but reflect directorial obviousness.”

Joan Fontaine as Ivy Lexton
Patric Knowles as Roger Gretorex
Herbert Marshall as Miles Rushworth
Richard Ney as Jervis Lexton
Cedric Hardwicke as Inspector Orpington
Lucile Watson as Mrs. Gretorex
Sara Allgood as Martha Huntley
Henry Stephenson as Judge
Rosalind Ivan as Emily
Lillian Fontaine as Lady Flora
Molly Lamont as Bella Crail
Una O’Connor as Mrs. Thrawn
Isobel Elsom as Miss Chattle
Alan Napier as Sir Jonathan Wright
Paul Cavanagh as Doctor Berwick
Lumsden Hare as Doctor Lanchester
Norma Varden as Joan Rodney
C. Montague Shaw as Stevens


Directed by Sam Wood
Written by Marie Belloc Lowndes, screenplay by Charles Bennett, based on The Story of Ivy by Marie Belloc Lowndes
Produced by W. Cameron Menzies
Cinematography Russell Metty
Edited by Ralph Dawson
Music by Daniele Amfitheatrof

Production companies: Sam Wood Productions, Inter-Wood Productions

Distributed by Universal Pictures

Release date: June 26, 1947 (NYC)

Running time: 99 minutes