The Eternal Truth of The Big Bluff — Guest Post by Gaudia Certaminis

The Eternal Truth of The Big Bluff — Guest Post by Gaudia Certaminis

Note: In this essay, some points will indicate plot development, but the head-spinning twist at the end will not be divulged.

While browsing on Open Culture’s Free Film Noir page, I came across The Big Bluff (1955). The movie is out of copyright and can be found easily on YouTube. Sometimes what enhances enjoyment of a film is complete ignorance of the main players. They aren’t carrying the baggage of their past roles, and they don’t need to fulfill some expectation of the viewer.

Martha Vickers plays Valerie Bancroft, a young widow of means. Eva Miller assumed the role of her nurse-companion, Marsha Jordan. Neither actress rates a bio in the IMDB. The male lead is John Bromfield as Ricardo De Ville. Bromfield, who may ring a bell for science fiction or Western devotees, retired from acting in 1960 and became a commercial fisherman. The supporting male was Robert Hutton as Dr. Peter Kirk. Mr. Hutton similarly does not rate a bio in the IMDB.

The plot is that our young, wealthy, pretty widow Bancroft has been diagnosed with terminal heart trouble. The exact condition is not specified, but she is prescribed a regime of pills that have to taken every four hours. Her primary doctor is of the opinion that it is better that she not know that she will likely die in a matter of months; and, for the moment, this information is kept from her.

In addition, in her course of treatment, she is to avoid alcohol, refrain from staying out late and hanging out with her old crew. Thus bored with her perceived prison, the good doctor agrees that she travel from New York City to California for a change of pace. He puts her in the care of his protegee, Dr. Kirk.

The widow Bancroft and Marsha Jordan are lodged in nice hotel, and there is a chance encounter with Ricardo De Ville. De Ville is down on his luck. He is running out of money. He cannot (allegedly) contact his South American business partners for reimbursement of expenses. He has a girlfriend who is a nightclub songstress in a bad marriage. After a case of mistaken identity is sorted out, Mr. De Ville starts to pursue Bancroft.

He does everything that is supposed to be bad for her. He encourages her drinking. He takes her out after midnight. She is given new life with this new man.

After wining and dining Mrs Bancroft into the night, De Ville is confronted by Dr. Kirk and Marsha who tell him about Valerie’s condition—that she has already received the invitation from the Grim Reaper, but the date is not yet set.

After hearing this, De Ville redoubles his efforts to charm the wealthy Mrs. Bancroft. The couple marry, and Ricardo puts himself in charge of her medication. He has two matching pill boxes that he uses to swap out the real pills with fake. He shakes out the contents of the real pills and refills them with sodium bicarbonate.

Dr. Kirk, not knowing about the swap, examines Mrs. De Ville after this, and is surprised how she has improved. He doesn’t know she is no longer taking the pharma poison, and she is enjoying her life with the new husband. However, Marsha Jordan suspects that something is up the pills. She refilled the box herself and later finds that there are fewer pills than expected, and notices the dust from the sodium bicarbonate. She steals a pill and gives it to Dr. Kirk for analysis, where, lo and behold, the sodium bicarbonate is discovered.

Marsha gets the idea that Ricardo has murder on the mind, and the police are enlisted, but they say they can do nothing.

By now, the medication is sorted out, and Mrs. De Ville is again being administered the real deal at regular intervals and—you can see this coming—experiencing some of the old symptoms.

After a gun fired in the wee hours, waking the house, and Mrs. De Ville is found dead. It is thought she was murdered. The coroner comes to investigate, and concludes the “rather curious” development that Mrs. De Ville died of “a pulmonary embolism due to a heart attack”—and was not killed by a firearm.

The unintended lesson is that it is better to keep away from big pharma and that a placebo (and love) can have life-giving effects.

In the end, the gunshot is explained, the denouement breaks outside the standard story line, and the last three or four minutes of the piece are shocking. If one is looking for a way to spend a little more than an hour on a cozy afternoon, the film is warmly recommended.

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  1. PaulH

    Looks like a cool film noir. I’ll check it out.

  2. Hagfish Bagpipe

    I would have the movie end with all the murderous medical poisoners sentenced to long prison terms after a speedy trial where the whole sordid truth is revealed. And they all lived happily ever after… reading Briggs’ new book.

  3. brad tittle

    Someone awhile ago told me that he would not be one of the many people he saw in the doctor’s office with bags of bottles of pills that they take.

    I am slowly becoming a tinfoil hat guy. I may have to go buy a slightly bigger hat so I can line the inside with tinfoil. Science sort of tells me that this is the right way.

    Heinlein had a character that never left home without a leaded overcoat and a leaded hat. In Heinleins future, power was being transmitted through the air. The lead was to block the transmissions from hitting his body. I am not that worried about 5g. Your head will block the signal. But then I realize WHY DOES THE HEAD BLOCK SIGNAL…

    And ionized radiation training comes back to haunt me. Did the signal die in my dead skin cells (as is the case with Alpha and most of Beta.). Or did the signal die inside.

    “Honey, We need to buy some of the heavy duty tin foil!”

  4. Anon Regular Poster

    I honestly think that Antifa and progressives should be checked for anti-depressant use. Here is my story:

    My wife was sad so she went to our (female) doctor who prescribed Prozak. My wife went bat-shit crazy. Super fun some nights, screaming insane others; slept most of the day. I sent the doctor emails from her literally ranting about nothing. I finally got her off the Prozak after about 15 months.

    Some years later she was having other mental issues. We went to the same doctors office, different (female) doctor. Doctor convinced her – even against my advice – to go onto prozak again. The doctor made a note about controlling husband apparently. Wife went bat-shit crazy again. She ramped up the crazy and we had a huge fight. She claimed to some ‘counselor’ that I shoved her (counselling is pushed as part of the medical scam). I was ARRESTED. My wife did not want me arrested, but in BC Canada it’s automatic. After a month the charges were dropped because there was nothing.

    FINALLY my wife was feeling terrible and I convinced her to come off the drugs. Months of up and down but she is stable again. Now she sees what the doctors have done. She is convinced the whole thing is a huge misandry industry of women trying to destroy families. Those are her words. Every step of the way they drugged her and tried to convince her to divorce me.

    We have a strong marriage so they failed, but what about others? More importantly: How much of this woke insanity is actually caused by Prozak and other SSRI based drugs?

  5. From Butchered by “Healthcare” by Robert Yoho and available on Amazon at:

    Prescribing guidelines now command physicians to treat every symptom or lab abnormality with another drug. Is this a net harm?
    Polypharmacy, the use of many medicines at once, is often worse than using no drugs. Interactions occurring between several medications used together are frequent and may be severe. We know little about this because the FDA only requires the study of one at a time. Combinations never get formally tested.
    One survey of 7,904 people in Swedish nursing homes found that 65 percent were on ten or more medications. The authors thought seventy percent were potentially inappropriate. Eighty-six percent of the patients were on a psychiatric drug. In Los Angeles, nursing home aides that I interviewed say that the use of twenty (20) medications per patient is commonplace.
    Doron Garfinkel studied 119 disabled patients in six geriatric nursing departments and a control group of 71 comparable patients. He stopped 332 different drugs that the 119 patients were taking and made no changes in the control group. Forty-five percent of the control group died but only 21 percent of the study group. The emergency hospital admissions were 30 percent in the control group and only 11.8 percent for the study group. Getting our elders off these useless, harmful pills is a specialty. There are articles about how to do it.
    Outpatients sensibly do not bother to fill many prescriptions. Even kidney transplant patients, who need drugs to live, do not take about a third of them. A World Health Organization report claimed that half of those with chronic illnesses do not use their medications as prescribed. Doctors do a lot of hand-wringing about this in journals.
    Here are some last words about overprescribing by a street-wise Registered Nurse: “I don’t think most of our elders would tolerate taking ten to twenty powerful patented medications. It would kill them. Fortunately, under most circumstances, Medicare and insurance companies only pay for generics. Many of these are weak or ineffective. This is the only reason doctors cannot poison our grandmothers.”

    See for more.

  6. Uncle Mike

    A lovely movie review. Nicely done.

    I think we’re all living in a film noir. Perhaps the rich widow symbolizes the good ol’ USA, and the rest of the characters, greedheads with murderous intent, are poisoning her by various means.

    Sadly, she does not survive the assaults, and not all the assassins get the hammer of justice they deserve. Big Pharma comes out unscathed.

    I’m trying not to live in that movie, but it’s a struggle. Maybe the Poet Laureate said it best:

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