12 episodes

It’s one of the wildest scandals in Hollywood history: In 1951, major Hollywood producer Walter Wanger (Jon Hamm) went to prison for shooting an agent who he suspected was having an affair with Joan Bennett (Zooey Deschanel), Wanger’s actress wife. When the dust settled, Wanger was accepted back into Hollywood’s inner circle with open arms, while a puritan panic virtually ended Bennett’s career in movies and her family would never be the same. How did Joan — the youngest member of one of America’s most famous acting families, and one of the key femme fatales of 1940s film noir — end up a real-life fallen woman, paying a public price for her husband’s crimes? In this limited podcast series, Joan and Walter’s granddaughter/filmmaker Vanessa Hope, and film historian/podcaster Karina Longworth (You Must Remember This), tell the untold story of the Bennett/Wanger romance and professional partnership — a film noir played out in real life.

Love is a Crime Vanity Fair

    • TV & Film
    • 4.1 • 459 Ratings

It’s one of the wildest scandals in Hollywood history: In 1951, major Hollywood producer Walter Wanger (Jon Hamm) went to prison for shooting an agent who he suspected was having an affair with Joan Bennett (Zooey Deschanel), Wanger’s actress wife. When the dust settled, Wanger was accepted back into Hollywood’s inner circle with open arms, while a puritan panic virtually ended Bennett’s career in movies and her family would never be the same. How did Joan — the youngest member of one of America’s most famous acting families, and one of the key femme fatales of 1940s film noir — end up a real-life fallen woman, paying a public price for her husband’s crimes? In this limited podcast series, Joan and Walter’s granddaughter/filmmaker Vanessa Hope, and film historian/podcaster Karina Longworth (You Must Remember This), tell the untold story of the Bennett/Wanger romance and professional partnership — a film noir played out in real life.

    Introducing: The Run-Through

    Introducing: The Run-Through

    You can listen & follow The Run-Through with this link, with new episodes airing weekly.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 11 min
    Episode 10: The Woman in the Window

    Episode 10: The Woman in the Window

    In one last noir twist, Joan marries for a fourth and final time to a man with a secret life. The last chapter of our story takes us from the Greenwich Village cross-dressing scene of the 1960s, to the set of Dario Argento’s giallo classic, Suspiria (Joan’s last film), to post-reunification Berlin, where Bennett’s legacy as a key face of film noir is solidified. What are the lasting reverberations of the violent act Walter Wanger committed in 1951 -- on Joan Bennett’s family, on film culture, politics and society? What, if anything, would be different today?
    Listen and subscribe at http://listen.vanityfair.com/loveisacrime or wherever you get your podcasts: http://listen.vanityfair.com/liac

    Apple Podcasts: http://listen.vanityfair.com/loveisacrime


    Spotify: http://listen.vanityfair.com/liac-spotify


    Stitcher: http://listen.vanityfair.com/liac-google



    For a transcript of this episode, please follow this link.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 48 min
    Episode 9: Dark Shadows

    Episode 9: Dark Shadows

    While the shooting seems to enhance Wanger’s reputation in Hollywood’s eyes, the media frenzy that follows enacts a sharp price on the lives of Joan Bennett (Zooey Deschanel) and her children. Joan is forced to make a living largely through grueling touring theater. By the mid-1950s, Joan is essentially blacklisted from Hollywood movies, but her acting career gets a final boost, when Joan is cast in the legendary daytime supernatural soap, Dark Shadows, and acquires a whole new generation of fans. 
    Listen and subscribe at http://listen.vanityfair.com/loveisacrime or wherever you get your podcasts: http://listen.vanityfair.com/liac

    Apple Podcasts: http://listen.vanityfair.com/loveisacrime


    Spotify: http://listen.vanityfair.com/liac-spotify


    Stitcher: http://listen.vanityfair.com/liac-google



    For a transcript of this episode, please follow this link.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 47 min
    Episode 8: I Want to Live!

    Episode 8: I Want to Live!

    Walter Wanger (Jon Hamm) emerges from prison, and relaunches his career by producing several important films inspired by his experience, including the Oscar-winning I Want to Live!, and the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers. He sinks his newly re-acquired power into one final, major folly: Cleopatra. Working with Elizabeth Taylor as she and Richard Burton are in the midst of one of the 20th century’s biggest adultery scandals gives Walter a newfound understanding of what he went through with Joan. Also featuring Lili Anolik from the podcast Once Upon a Time in the Valley.
    Listen and subscribe at http://listen.vanityfair.com/loveisacrime or wherever you get your podcasts: http://listen.vanityfair.com/liac

    Apple Podcasts: http://listen.vanityfair.com/loveisacrime


    Spotify: http://listen.vanityfair.com/liac-spotify


    Stitcher: http://listen.vanityfair.com/liac-google



    For a transcript of this episode, please follow this link.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 54 min
    Episode 7: The Shooting

    Episode 7: The Shooting

    In December 1951, Walter Wanger (Jon Hamm) points his gun at Jennings Lang’s (Griffin Dunne) groin and fires -- and Joan Bennett’s (Zooey Deschanel) life and that of her family will never be the same. Though it’s her husband who commits a shocking act of violence, and it’s he who is actually sent to jail, Joan finds herself painted in the press as the perpetrator. As Hollywood and America rally around the gun-toting man, the adulterous woman is thrown to the wolves to fend for herself and her family. Also featuring Brian Comstock as Police Chief. 
    Listen and subscribe at http://listen.vanityfair.com/loveisacrime or wherever you get your podcasts: http://listen.vanityfair.com/liac

    Apple Podcasts: http://listen.vanityfair.com/loveisacrime


    Spotify: http://listen.vanityfair.com/liac-spotify


    Stitcher: http://listen.vanityfair.com/liac-google



    For a transcript of this episode, please follow this link.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 40 min
    Episode 6: Man Hunt

    Episode 6: Man Hunt

    In the years after World War II, the political climate abruptly shifts, and Walter Wanger’s (Jon Hamm) history of using movies to promote progressive causes makes him a target for persecution. Wanger’s personal and professional lives are thrown into chaos thanks to a conspiracy involving the FBI, the Bank of America and some of the same anti-communist organizations enforcing the Hollywood Blacklist. With Walter in crisis, Joan’s (Zooey Deschanel) career is revived thanks to her agent and lover Jennings Lang. Afraid of losing his wife, Walter contemplates desperate action. Also featuring Bobby Finger from the podcast Who Weekly as Eric Johnston, Nate DiMeo from The Memory Palace as Samuel Goldwyn, and John August from Scriptnotes as Dore Schary.
    Listen and subscribe at http://listen.vanityfair.com/loveisacrime or wherever you get your podcasts: http://listen.vanityfair.com/liac

    Apple Podcasts: http://listen.vanityfair.com/loveisacrime


    Spotify: http://listen.vanityfair.com/liac-spotify


    Stitcher: http://listen.vanityfair.com/liac-google



    For a transcript of this episode, please follow this link.
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    • 41 min

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5
459 Ratings

459 Ratings

BBinCali ,

Fascinating Podcast

The story is entertaining and I enjoy the journey through Hollywood history. The narrators aren’t always the most jovial and can feel flat at times (usually it all sounds like de facto script reading, which makes sense, but could still do with some personality!)!but the fascinating history makes up for it, for the most part. But I’d still recommend listening to it on 1 1/4x lol.

Enjoyed the small bits from Jon Hamm and Zooey Deschanel, as well as the snippets from the real Joan and Walter.

Cozy222 ,

No Improvement Necessary

I was surprised by the negativity of the other two reviews. For one, I thought the “narration” and the “inserts” of tapings and interviews were spot on. The objection to the “feminism” stuff was ridiculous as that was such an important part of the history. Beautifully written and presented, this is an important piece of American and Hollywood history, interestingly done by people with strong connections to the people involved. Could not be better!

Mir Clay ,

Interesting story but annoying add-on opinions

Great story about a crime/ event I had never heard about. I did enjoy the story and the dramatization of it. The difficult part to deal with was the feminist agenda repeatedly discussed between the story. I wish I had known I would have to trudge through that part, I probably wouldn’t have listened to this podcast at all. However it was great to hear them contradict themselves when they reported Joan’s resentment of Wanger leaving her to fend for herself in the beginning of their marriage. Joan said Wanger thought she could take care of herself but that doesn’t mean she wanted to have to take care of herself. Then later in the podcast (a reckless moment) the hosts explain that Joan never needed a man at all and she resented Walter for his misogyny and sexism. Eye roll. Men need women and women need men. We are two halves of a whole. That is the reason we exist. To be different yet both essential. It was comical to see them prove their own feminist ideals wrong. Overall interesting story though so 3 stars.

Top Podcasts In TV & Film

Apple TV+
Dear Media
iHeartPodcasts
101 Studios & Paramount Network
iHeartPodcasts
Quentin Tarantino & Roger Avary, Stitcher

You Might Also Like

Adam Roche
Karina Longworth
TCM
Vanity Fair
Double Elvis | Amazon Music
Rachel Fisher and Desi Jedeikin