Archive for the ‘Directed by Ida Lupino’ Category

The Bigamist

29 Apr

The Bigamist — directed by Ida Lupino. Drama. A man falls into marriage with two quite different sorts of women. 80 minutes Black and White 1953.


The story is told as voice-over, rather than as drama, which means that the scenes which the actors engage in do not reach beneath a conflicting narrative mode. The story is just a Hollywoodization of the subject of Bigamy anyway, which means the subject has no recognizable human content, only an approval rating. We are supposed to see that these are all just very nice people in a pickle. The only female director of her era, why was Lupino involved? Maybe because the movie is anti-heroic for the male. It’s her penultimate picture as a director; she does a beautiful job with The Trouble With Angels, but that’s it. As an actress Lupino was common without having the common touch, unlike, say, Stanwyck. As wife # 2, she is by turns hard-bitten and sentimental in her choices, and never less than neurotic. So, as an audience, we are supposed to believe what is said about her here rather than how she really appears to be, and we feel cheated. “Damaged goods” is a good description of her ambiance. And true enough, no one could make the romantic utterance, “Ya kill me,” and actually land the line without making one laugh. As an actress, she’s an odd presence in films. Confine your attention to her brilliant performance in Roadhouse or in High Sierra. As wife #1, Joan Fontaine, who once won an Oscar in a leading role, is a sympathetic performer — or, perhaps one should say a pathetic performer. One usually pities her rather than one feels for her, but here she is asked to play the part of a competent, smart, business woman, very much in charge of herself, and she does a pretty fair job. Two more Oscar Winners star here: Edmond O’Brien, who walks through the part, and Edmund Gwenn who overacts the inspector sadly – but then he is given dismal lines. We are supposed to approve of his disapproval of the bigamist, and I don’t, for I do not accept Santa Claus as my moral compass. So it is a B-picture without the energy of vulgarity that often gives B-pictures vitality. One hoped for more, but this is the era of studio collapse; they move towards competing with the lowest common denominator TV had to offer, and it finished them.


The Hitchhiker

07 Mar

The Hitchhiker — directed by Ida Lupino. Drama. Two men are abducted into the desert of Mexico by a deranged killer. 71 minutes Black and White 1953.


This is thrust, as so many others are, into the category of film noir, with which it has nothing to do. That’s just a sales strategy. But it is just as well, for, because of the interest of folk in noir, attention is then paid to a picture which otherwise is uncategorisable. Ida Lupino was a very gifted director; any film she set her hand to is worth seeing. In this case, one can imagine the influence of the long association she had with the great Raoul Walsh, who directed her in a number of films, and who became a like-minded friend and mentor. Like him, she moves the action along licketty-split; the pace never lets up; her sense of camera position is superb. Her sense of human frailty is superb. She even gives us one small scene in which two actors speak Spanish, and it is not translated. You have to lean forward into that scene, and wake up your silent film eyes, to interpret its value. The two kidnapped men are played by Frank Lovejoy and Edmund O’Brien, middle class guys with thickening waists and probably buddies from The War, eight years before. The sizzling live-wire at the center of the film, however, is William Talman, as the madman with the gun. He’ll scare the liver out of you. The Hitchhiker was famous in its day and has come down as a classic. What that means is that you are supposed to take a visit to the museum. But of course, with The Hitchhiker you’ll be thrilled by what you find there. In its day, it would have been programmed as a B-picture, the lower half of a double bill. It’s a pity they don’t make B-pictures any more. All we get is Important Films straining to be blockbusters, instead the B-film strove only to provide proficient entertainment, and sometimes, as in this case, surpassed that really admirable aim.



The Trouble With Angels

08 Mar

The Trouble With Angels – Directed by Ida Lupino. Low Comedy. The mother superior of a Catholic girls boarding school meets her nemesis in the person of a recalcitrant young miss. 110 minutes Color 1966.

* * * * *

A beautifully directed, conceived, and written film by Ida Lupino. She strikes exactly the right balance throughout. It’s such a treat to see this sort of young adult picture made without stretches of dumb dim sentimentality. Haley Mills is super as the naughty young boarding school student. Marge Redmond is excellent as the chum of the Mother Superior, and the great Mary Wickes is in there pitching for all she’s worth, as usual. What a lot of fun she always was! Of course, as the patient, all-knowing Mother Superior we have Madame Mischief herself, Rosalind Russell. What an inspired piece of casting! We see always beneath her demeanor the possibility of the young rapscallion she herself once was. A treat without treacle. I gave  it a shot thinking it was going to be gooey with goodness, but I was pleasantly surprised. A director’s picture if ever there was one. Lupino knows exactly how not to over-milk a scene. Thanks Ida.


Rss Feed Tweeter button Facebook button Technorati button Reddit button Myspace button Linkedin button Webonews button Delicious button Digg button Flickr button Stumbleupon button Newsvine button