A deadly duo and classic of ’70s noir: ‘Honeymoon Killers’

The Honeymoon Killers/1970/107 min.

Shirley Stoler and Tony Lo Bianco star in "The Honeymoon Killers."

Based on a notorious real-life murder case, shot in striking black-and-white, and scored to the ominous strains of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 (“Tragic”), this is one of the true classics of ’70s neo noir: a low-budget masterpiece about a couple of ruthless killers who make the murderous lovers of “Double Indemnity” look almost normal.

Hefty Shirley Stoler unforgettably plays Martha Beck, a deadly nurse who joins with sleazy Lothario Ray Fernandez (the equally unforgettable Tony Lo Bianco) to seduce, kill and rob her wealthy women patients. Crime doesn’t play, but not before your blood is thoroughly chilled.

The movie was both written and directed by Leonard D. Kastle, and despite consistent rave reviews for “The Honeymoon Killers“ from François Truffaut and many others, Kastle never made another movie. A young director who was fired from the project earlier on did slightly better. His name was Martin Scorsese.

– Michael Wilmington

“The Honeymoon Killers” plays at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 21, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), 5905 Wilshire Blvd.

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