Love is a Crime


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.

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Recent Reviews
  • PeteS Ohio
    Listen and enjoy
    Wow, what a life journey she had. As a fan of Dark Shadows, somehow I always found Joan Bennett fascinating. I wrote a fan letter once and she wrote back! Who knew that backstory was so intriguing as well. Kudos to the podcast writers, cast and crew for making listening so enjoyable and educational. While much of her life was outlined contentiously, I feel the podcast reveals the strength she exhibited throughout and garners posthumous, well-deserved appreciation.
  • Demanda Retraction
    2 Much
    Fascinating story and good writing and acting but OMG they needed an editor. It’s 10 chapters. It feels so tightly stretched and added to and propped to fill 10 episodes.
  • trashflower
    One little thing…
    I’m a huge fan of Karina’s work and this was a wonderful project that taught so much film history throughout! My only complaint was with the voice acting from Zooey Deschanel and John Hamm. I love both of these actors but their performances here are old-Hollywood stereotypes rather than embodying these real people.
  • 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.
  • ani.w.w
    Karina, pay attention to your listeners!
    Your content is great. Your affected, over pronunciation is painful and distracting. Your flat-out MIS-pronunciation of the names of actors, directors, and well-known places is disrespectful to both your listeners and your subject matter—and it really calls your credibility into question. This is both sad and preventable. I know for a fact that you didn’t start out this affected and fake-sounding. The early episodes of You Must Remember This were like a breath of fresh air—great content, well-researched, and presented in an imaginative way. Then for some reason you decided to have a “style” and make yourself distinctive. Well, it backfired and instead you annoy and alienate more and more listeners with every episode. That can’t be your intent. . .can it?
  • 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.
  • lkulm
    Karina long worth
    I will absolutely listen to anything katina puts out! She is awesome
  • Jean game
    A podcast in desperate need of an editor
    I had very high hopes when I read the summary, as I had never heard this story before but couldn’t make it past the first two episodes. Needlessly drawn out storytelling and the slowest and, sorry to the women who I am sure worked very hard, but unappealing and stilted narration. Could have made this into about six 30-minute episodes. Might have saved it, but not sure.
  • Constanza from NY
    Wonderful like a Classic movie
    The story of Joann Bennett was fascinating and heartbreaking.
  • jimnanbo
    Love is a Crime
    This is preposterous. The 2 narrators come off as ludicrous, pretentious idiots. It is insult to modern women. Please abandon this drivel. Many episodes about a story that has been well covered over decades. Whole story is in description. Is this part of the “dumbing down of America”? Episode after another repetitive, ridiculous dragged out reference to a well known scandal. Not relevant. STOP
  • Joe boos rum
    Hoping for a radio drama and you get this.
    Utterly pertinacious. These things happened to my family, so. Has Vanessa Hope ever made a good movie? The definition of nepotism.
  • Lululabonte
    Longworth & Hope
    I really wanted to like this. In fact, I really want to like “You Must Remember This” but I can’t get through an episode without having to turn it off because of Longworth’s voice. When I read “Love & Crime” features Vanessa Hope (including the fabulous Zooey), it piqued my interest. Unfortunately Hope is as equally awful. Longworth has always done an excellent job of narrating as if her audience were 12 year olds, now it is even more punctuated. Hope is the granddaughter of the subjects and it sounds like she is reading from a scratch pad. It is sad because this story is fascinating and goes down in the Hollywood books as one of the greatest. Aside from the voice overs, poorly executed. Skip this and stream “Root of Evil” - that’s a family that can tell a story.
  • fubt56
    An interesting story made boring.
    The narration is agonizingly slow, as if the narrator is addressing an intellectually challenged audience. She makes long unnecessary pauses in every sentence. The ads are annoying and way too loud. Takes an interesting story and makes it boring.
  • FrankieInLove
    Great Show, Some Technical Issues
    Karina Longworth is absolutely amazing, her research is impeccable and I love listening to her. Echoing what others said about the volume of the ads (why! Just adjust the volume Vanity Fair!) and I think when you have a relative providing commentary, you sometimes lose a historical perspective in favor of what someone remembers about their family. Which isn’t to say that isn’t a true perspective but it lessens the historical nature of it a bit.
  • sasmay15
    Narration killed an interesting premise
    I was very interested by the premise, as it was a story I vaguely recalled hearing about, but I could NOT make it through the first episode. Karina Longworth’s speech affectations made it unbearable to listen to. Every syllable is excruciatingly drawn out it sounds like a farce. It’s not an ode to the inflections of the past - people spoke quickly and very crisply and in a higher register so the sound equipment could pick them up. If she just spoke in a more conversational manner it would have been 4 stars easy!
  • BlueLenses
    So well balanced: specific historic intentions and great storytelling
    I so much enjoy the orchestration between the two hosts: I very much like the particularity, or maybe granularity is the better word, in the point of view of the authors/hosts. This is an ethically lucid, feminist history which regards the people who lived and worked within historically dynamic Hollywood social worlds as laborers and artists. The authors are also attentive to the needs of the listener for a coherent story-telling form for audio broadcast. They are clever and skillful in this genre of literary journalism/history.
  • ReneeL.
    Love the story - but the ads almost ruin the experience
    The ads are WAY too loud, frequent, repetitive and annoying. Seriously, the show is fantastic - why not offer a paid ad-free version?
  • CharlesC54
    Love Is A Crime
    Absolutely Fantastic! I wish that I could add five more stars to my rating. From start to finish, the story was interesting and compelling. As a huge fan of classic movies (especially film noir), Joan Bennett is right up there with the greats. The idea of building a story before and after the shooting was ingenious. What a life Joan has led. The various events, coupled with interviews from those who remember Joan was so terrific. Thank you so much for creating this fabulous piece of work. I’m re-watching Joan’s movies and tuning in to ‘Dark Shadows’ as I type this. Bravo!
  • charlsey303
    Turn down the volume on the ads!
    Great story, love love Karina Longworth but can’t listen to it because THE ADS SHOUT AT YOU AND ARE WAY TOO LOUD. Ridiculous.
  • Terry82252
    Could not stop listening
    I love Karina Longworth’s “You Must Remember This” podcast, and was excited for and hoping that this podcast would be as good. I was not disappointed! If anything, this particular one topic story exceeded all of my expectations. It is exceptionally compelling, well researched, and fascinating. I have been anxiously awaiting each new episode each week. Great job!
  • Lotalivin
    Karina Longworth is the best podcaster in the business. This collaboration with Vanity Fair and Vanessa Hope is so well-researched and expertly told that I am glad I waited for all 10 episode to binge over a couple of days. I was intrigued and grew so fond of all the figures that I wouldn’t have wanted to wait a week to learn the next twist or turn. The vignettes - which I was skeptical of - weren’t the distraction I feared, but added depth and personality to this incredible story. Hats off to all involved, highly recommend.
  • Rheddrose
    Fascinating take on Old Hollywood
    As always, Katrina does an amazing job researching and presenting Joan Bennett’s career and accompanying challenges. Joan’s granddaughter offers thoughtful insights to the legacy of her grandparents. I hope you continue with podcasts like this, but please dispense with the stilted re-enactments They add nothing to what is otherwise a superior podcast.
  • Harpoon 95
    Nice story - needs a better narrator
    This is a fun story about Hollywood’s Golden Age but Karina Longworth is not a good narrator. Her articulation is exaggerated and grating in her insistence on pronouncing every single syllable to an extreme. She knows a lot about movies but it would be better to have her as the producer and not the narrator of similarly produced stories.
  • dwdp
    Ok, too drawn out
    Interesting enough narrative but 10 episodes was excessive. Longworth’s slow with exaggerated emphasis speaking style reminds me of a person trying to communicate with one who speaks a different language.
  • Sunny Wunder
    Love as a Crime E. 10
    Love the series and I want more!
  • TooBusy67
    Love Hollywood’s Golden Age
    Huge fan of old movies and the 1930s thru 1960s… And I want MORE! Please consider giving more real-life stories of the stars from this era. Everyone knows about beloved Hepburn & Tracy and Bogey & Bacall and Taylor & Burton, of course. Consider Claudette Colbert, Billie Burke, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Blondell, Ginger Rogers, Greer Garson, Rosalind Russell, Walter Pidgeon, Errol Flynn, Gary Cooper, Tyrone Power, James Cagney, Fred MacMurray, and Gregory Peck? Knowing more about the real lives of these larger-than-life figures brings a richness to their performances.
  • Sapph-hime
    Well researched but fails to engage
    Love Ms Longworth, so I’m listening to this out of fondness for her meticulous research. Aside from that, the content itself is pretty dull and the ads are too long. Check this out only if you’re enamored of You Must Remember This and want more content.
  • GayTimothy
    Karina Longworth ruins what is otherwise a great story
    I hope that Longworth listens to this and hears just how ridiculous her verbal affectations sound. Her delivery takes you out of the story and makes it nearly impossible to enjoy this really interesting story. All the other vocal talents featured in this production are wonderfully intriguing and keep the listener engrossed. But Longworth is so over the top and exaggerated (to the point of lunacy), that she distracts beyond words. I have tried to listen to other pods cast featuring Longworth, and she just as ridiculous on those as well. I couldn’t finish this pod cast.
  • cathyeide
    I love this show
    I am a movie buff and have always loved Joan Bennett’s work. It was great fun hearing these real life stories. The story behind the movie “ the apartment “ was a kick. This podcast is all about a strong woman trying to do her art in a world that gave her little freedom. Very well done and very entertaining.
  • AmaDonna
    Throughly enjoying with 1 complaint
    Well researched and interesting The one complaint is that the volume for the ads is much louder than the rest of the podcast. It’s not pleasant if you are listening through AirPods.
  • Roger Collins, Esq
    “Love is a Crime” Shatters Preconceptions
    Karina Longworth and Vanessa Hope have excavated and illuminated an old scandal in ways that refract into our own time. With the compelling narrative and insight that we expect from Longworth in her “You Must Remember This” podcast episodes, we are further engrossed by Hope’s personal insights and family revelations. The fact that, of the three participants in this triangle, only Bennett is punished by Hollywood underscores the patriarchal system in which they lived, and raises the awkward but necessary question: Has anything really changed? Hearing Walter Wanger’s voice from his personal tapes adds immediacy and enables us to empathize with the man despite his crime. Jon Hamm excels as the debonair-to-despairing Wanger. But it’s Joan Bennett (Zooey Deschanel) who captivates in this tale; her violence-soaked childhood, her personal struggles for autonomy and security, are captured for us, and she holds our sympathy. Deschanel captures the late actress’s aristocratic cadences and her terse minimizing of unpleasantness. The snippets from interviews with Bennett are a highlight, and verify how well Deschanel captures her subject. Highly recommended for film buffs, those interested in a gripping true crime story, and in seeing a less tilted society. This review is current as of Ep. 7; Episodes 8-10 are to come
  • Krimema
    Pretty good
    I’m a longtime listener of Karina’s “You Must Remember This” podcast and for the most part, this podcast is on par with the former’s quality. Well researched and many interesting tidbits about the subjects and Hollywood during that time. I really could do without the actors playing Joan and Walter—Zooey Deschanel and Jon Hamm don’t really add anything and I get what they’re going for, but their exaggerated dramatizations feel over the top and silly. Also, Vanessa Hope is so clearly biased in her take on the events since she is Joan and Walter’s granddaughter—she excuses away or spins many actions of her grandparents. I don’t blame her, but it doesn’t make for a good narrator. Lastly, I have to echo the complaint of many other reviewers—the volume of the ads is INSANE!! I was listening while driving once and I legit jumped from the volume of the first ad, which was very scary. The podcast itself is much too soft in comparison. This is probably my biggest gripe. Please, PLEASE fix this. It’s ridiculous.
  • Cat9er
    Fascinating Story/ annoying narrator
    The subject is really engaging. But the narrator is the most annoying I have ever heard. That makes it very hard to listen to.
  • therealJCAP
    Bad sound editing, great show
    There’s an ad for another podcast (on fashion) that the sound levels are about double the sound levels of Love Is a Crime podcast. It was an assault on the ears every time that ad ran. Truly frustrating every single time (like twice per episode) Also regarding sound: the use of the historical audio of Joan Bennett interview was so bad it shouldn’t have been included. Sadly, you couldn’t make out what she was saying. Either find a way to edit it to make the sound better (it also had a loud hissing sound in background) or skip it. I’d love to hear from Joan Bennett—fascinating woman—but you simply couldn’t hear what she was saying. The podcast is an excellent piece of reporting on an interesting story so I hope you can fix these sound issues and more people can enjoy it.
  • Jumoz
    I was gonna listen…
    But between the complaints about the host’s pronunciation tics and the complaints about the ad volume - no thanks! Too bad, I need a good podcast to distract me…
  • Glitzc212223
    I love Old Hollywood, but this just isn’t it. I will finish it, but this doesn’t need to be 10 episodes to get the story told. The voice acting is bad. Zooey’s voice acting makes me physically wince. Karina, I love her other podcast, but her over enunciation is especially grating. I’m not sure why Vanessa Hope is there other than to be a tie from the past to the present. Read an article instead. You aren’t missing much.
  • stphn7217
    Great content, horrible production
    Fun Hollywood trivia and storytelling but with the worst production values on any podcast I’ve ever listen to. I’m surprised that Condé Nast/Vanity Fair had anything to do with it; give the New Yorker a call they seem to have gotten the production down pat.
  • Attorney Daniels
    Good. Not great.
    Please stop over enunciating. It’s very distracting & takes away from the very fascinating material.
  • Davero123
    Pump up the Volume
    An interesting podcast, a fascinating story well presented. You learn a considerable lesson about Hollywood. Unfortunately it has the common media habit of increasing the volume on commercials. It is difficult to listen to on any type of earbud or headphone.
  • Mizmaia
    Pros and cons
    Pros: fascinating story, good interviews and it’s not saturated with dramatizations - just enough to be fun. There’s a lot of film history to be learned and it’s engaging. Cons: One, Ms Longworth’s painstaking attention to every vowel and consonant in her speech make her portions of the pod very difficult to listen to. If she could relax and speak in a conversational voice this would have been 4.5 stars. Two, sound balance PLEASE. The ads blare at top volume while the podcast itself is at a whisper. Constant volume fluctuations are unnecessary with tech available. Correcting this would bring to 5 stars.
  • TamTamTammyNYC
    The voice
    I want to listen so badly but the narrator’s voice is so annoying! Why is she speaking like a slow spy who’s hissing? I can’t!!! 🤯
  • bg038
    some minor issues, but enjoyable overall
    I love Karina Longworth’s other podcast You Must Remember This, and generally enjoy her style of narration, and though I do agree that she has tends to over-enunciate her words, it doesn’t really bother me. I think that the idea of having Joan Bennett’s granddaughter as one of the hosts is interesting in theory, but Hope’s asides always either a) repeat whatever Longworth just finished saying, or b) offer a kind of shallow pop-psychology commentary on the events of the story (the phrase “I think” always prefaces these observations, and they range from sort-of insightful to downright asinine). They bog the story down, ultimately, and I think the podcast would have been more effective if Longworth had interviewed Hope in one episode near the end of the series, and just done the rest on her own. I also wasn’t crazy about the celebrity voice actors, but I think it was a fun idea. Everyone complaining about how “political” Longworth and Hope’s take on the story is needs to calm down, and maybe go back to rotting their brains with Fox News. :)
  • Tytheomans
    Hissing is for snakes!
    While I am enjoying this podcast about Hollywood in its heyday, with its baggage of good and very awful qualities, I bemoan the distracting vocal tics of Ms. Longworth. While she’s tamed the exaggerated enunciation of her prior podcast, she still can’t seem to let go off her hissing ‘s’ and the forceful ‘t’ of her tic lexicon. I say this in kindness, but I wish someone would tell her to speak naturally. The audience will hear these poor letters and they don’t need any lingering or attack. The ‘s’ in particular is hissed by the host and we know hissing is for snakes. The topic is fascinating but it’s hard to relax amidst such unnatural speech. Besides the bizarre enunciation and tics, the podcast is ace.
  • Piendoria
    Rethink the SOUND LEVELS on Your Ads!!!
    It’s a bad strategy to crank your ads up by 10 dB beyond the conversational levels on the podcast itself. It has the exact opposite effect that you want it to have. I can’t run to my phone fast enough to skip over the ads because I’m afraid it will blow out my speakers or cause PERMANENT EAR DAMAGE. Your podcast isn’t worth that. It’s positively ridiculous!!! I won’t even finish this series because of the EARDRUM BURSTING sound levels of your ads. It ought to be illegal. I hope it becomes so. Shame on you. The irony is, I couldn’t even tell you what one of those ads are about! How do you like THAT, Sponsers?
  • BreOks
    I tried. But I guess the overdramatized music felt like it was poking fun at a serious story… I just couldn’t get into it.
  • mdarrenbailey
    Love, love, love this series. Knew vague details about this incident. This podcast provides the context for what actually happened. Mesmerizing and very well done.
  • Rae Ray Rachel
    Content is great; ads are so loud I had to stop listening
    Please, please fix the ad volume so I can keep listening. The story is compelling, and I’m a fan of Karina Longworth’s work, but the (first?) ad break in the middle of Episode 1 was so loud it hurt my ears before I could manage to skip it. I hope this gets fixed quickly.
  • My Sister's Ex-Husband
    Wooden narration and a loose respect for historical fact, served with a hot heapin’ side of leftover #metoo gravy! What’s not to love?
  • Uberchicpolish
    Really a videography
    For the love of god we don’t need to know about every movie she made and didn’t make!!! As another reviewer said “ move on with the story” this could have been the starting point at episode 4. Get on with it!!!
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