Cast and Crew: Doris Roberts
What It’s About: Martha Beck (Shirley Stoer) and Ray Fernandez (Tony Lo Bianco), meet via a “lonely hearts” club in the 1940s. Ray is a con man who uses the clubs to meet and rip-off lonely women; Martha is a nurse who lives under the thumb of her domineering mother (Dortha Duckworth). When Ray leaves Martha, Martha tracks him down and threatens to kill herself. Ray and Martha begin a strange love affair, continuing in Ray’s work with Martha posing as Ray’s sister. Eventually her jealousy leads to a series of brutal murders….
Why Watch it Today?: Martha and Ray were executed today in 1951. Writer/director Leonard Kastle created this low-budget cult favorite from the real Lonelyhearts Murders case, which was a media sensation in the early 1950s both due to the prurient nature of the crimes and Martha Beck’s weight. You can read our full review here.
Why don’t I know anything about this?
This sounds fascinating. The movie poster is more than a little disturbing…
I hadn’t heard of the case until I read books about cult films. This semester I even recommended the case to a student looking for a paper topic. The film itself isn’t perfect, but it is unique, and has some real moments of horror as well as just plain creepiness. They’ve since made another movie on the case-staring, of all people, Salma Hayek, which tells you everything you need to know about media attitudes about the female body and how different filmmaking was in the 70s. Of course, this was a low budget independent film, but that one was direct to DVD…
Of the posters, I thought this one was the best.