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The File on Thelma Jordan


The File on Thelma Jordan Barbara Stanwyck 1950

Thelma Jordon is in love with a jewel thief, Tony Laredo, and he persuades her to go live with her rich aunt, and steal her jewels. During the robbery, she shoots her formerly rich aunt, but makes it look like an outside job. Cleve Marshall, an assistant district attorney, is assigned the case, promptly falls in love with Thelma (and she with him), and he maneuvers and presents the state’s case against her in such a manner that she wins an acquittal. And, then, Tony shows up. And nothing, from this point, works out favorable for Thelma, Clive or Tony.  Director: Robert Siodmak, Writers: Marty Holland (story), Ketti Frings (screenplay) Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Wendell Corey and Paul Kelly.

220px-ThelmaJordonPosterTheatrical release poster

The File on Thelma Jordon is a 1950 film noir directed by Robert Siodmak from a screenplay by Ketti Frings. It stars Barbara Stanwyck and Wendell Corey.


Stanwyck plays Thelma Jordon, a woman who late one night shows up in the office of married Assistant district attorney Cleve Marshall (Wendell Corey) with a story about prowlers and burglars. Before Cleve can stop himself, he and Thelma are involved in a love affair. But Thelma is a mysterious woman, and Cleve can’t help wondering if she is hiding something.

When her rich aunt is found shot, Jordon calls not the police but Marshall, who helps her cover up evidence that may incriminate her. When she emerges as the prime suspect, he sabotages the prosecution. Thelma Jordon is acquitted. Her past, however, has begun to catch up with her.


Reception – Critical response

When the film was released, the staff at Variety magazine praised the film, and wrote, “Thelma Jordon unfolds as an interesting, femme-slanted melodrama, told with a lot of restrained excitement. Scripting [from a story by Marty Holland] is very forthright, up to the contrived conclusion, and even that is carried off successfully because of the sympathy developed for the misguided and misused character played by Wendell Corey … Robert Siodmak’s direction pinpoints many scenes of extreme tension.”

Time Out film guide notes, “A fine film noir which works an ingenious, intricate variation on the situation in Double Indemnity, but which takes its tone, unlike Wilder’s film, not from Stanwyck’s glittering siren who courts her own comeuppance (“Judgement day, Jordon!”), but from the nondescript assistant DA she drives to the brink of destruction.”

The New York Times, in a 1950 review, gave a mixed review and noted “Thelma Jordon is, for all of its production polish, adult dialogue and intelligent acting, a strangely halting and sometimes confusing work.”

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