The up-front reels spin off somewhat slowly as the plot groundwork is laid but, once the business of murder is gotten down to, Black Widow takes a firm and unrelenting grip on audience attention.
Flashbacks are worked in smoothly in relating how Nanny, a young girl (Peggy Ann Garner), comes to Gotham with a yen to break into the bigtime and winds up the murder victim. Brought into the web are: Lottie (Ginger Rogers), a top-rung legit actress and shallow character who finds evil delight in meddling into others’ lives; Peter (Van Heflin), producer of Lottie’s current play, whose assistance to Nanny backfires into odious involvement in her murder; Gene Tierney, as Heflin’s wife and also a prominent stage actress; and Bruce (George Raft), the detective on the prowl for a murderer.
Under Nunnally Johnson’s direction, Widow plays out plausibly and with some solid tense moments. The audience is kept properly confused as to who the actual murderer really is.
Music nicely underscores the dramatic high points and Chales G. Clarke’s camera work manages to achieve intimacy despite the big screen. There are a few instances, though, wherein closeup lensing of dialog exchanges between the story’s characters must be followed in a fashion somewhat akin to watching a tennis match.