Zooey Deschanel better get to working on her ‘50s femme fatale voice for her next role. She and Jon Hamm will star in the narrative podcast Love Is A Crime, which will examine the romance and professional partnership between Hollywood couple Joan Bennett and Walter Wanger.
Love is a Crime comes from You Must Remember This creator Karina Longworth, filmmaker Vanessa Hope—the granddaughter of Wanger and Bennett—as well as Vanity Fair. Longworth and Hope will co-host the podcast.
“Why would my grandfather, a successful movie producer, a liberal thinker, a man who helped Jewish emigres escape Hitler, take a gun to confront his wife?” Hope says of her grandfather. “Why would my grandmother, a beautiful movie star who had all but invented the archetype of the film noir femme fatale, and was then starring in a hit franchise of family films, risk everything to sneak around with her agent?”
Wanger made his name as the producer of films such as Stagecoach, Foreign Correspondent, Trade Winds, and Cleopatra (1963). Actor Joan Bennett was one of the early femme fatales, starring in noir film director Fritz Lang’s Man Hunt (1941), The Woman in the Window (1944) and Scarlet Street (1945). Her other films credits include Amy March in the 1933 adaptation of Little Women and Madame Blanc in Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977). The two married in 1940.
This crime of passion centers around Wanger’s belief that Bennett was having an affair with her agent, MCA’s Jennings Lang (who will be voiced by Griffin Dunne). In a fit of jealousy, Wanger shot Lang in the groin as the two exited his Cadillac in the parking lot of MCA. After pleading insanity, Wanger ultimately served only four months in prison and went on to continue a fruitful career. Bennett was the one who ended up paying the price for her husband’s crime, as she was blacklisted and slut-shamed through the rest of her acting career despite adamantly denying that her and Lang were entangled in an affair. Wanger and Bennett somehow remained married until 1965. Love Is A Crime will premiere on August 17.