Siren Song – Ladies of Film Noir, Part 10: Ava Gardner in The Bribe (1949)

Ava Gardner first played a film noir seductress in Robert Siodmak’s The Killers (1946), huskily singing “The More I Know of Love” in her first scene. Capitalizing on Gardner’s appeal as a femme fatale, she was cast as more bad girls and “other women” in The Hucksters (1947, dir. Jack Conway), in which she was dubbed while singing “Don’t Tell Me,” Singapore (1947, dir. John Brahm) and then in The Bribe (1949, dir. Robert Z. Leonard), which is the focus of today’s post. In The Bribe, Gardner yet again plays a temptress, balancing her affections and teasing between Robert Taylor, Charles Laughton, Vincent Price and John Hodiak. In the clip posted above, Gardner performs “Situation Wanted,” dubbed by Eileen Wilson (who was interviewed two years ago about her experience with dubbing Gardner’s vocals). The film is kind of like a second-run Gilda, with Gardner as a dissatisfied wife who makes a living as a nightclub singer in a somewhat seedy South American joint while her hubby takes part in shady criminal activities. In another reference to earlier noir hits Gardner wears a black gown with cutouts designed by Irene, an outfit that is similar to the Vera West-designed dress Gardner wore in The Killers. And speaking of “shady,” the cinematography by Joseph Ruttenberg, particularly the lighting, adds a very noir-style dimension to the film.


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