Contents of Issue #5 Contents of Issue #5 [Welcome] [Features] [In Focus] [Reviews] [Info]

video series review by Gary Johnson

Throughout the '40s and '50s, women directors were virtually unheard of in Hollywood. Ida Lupino was the exception. She gave strong performances in movies such as High Sierra and They Drive By Night, but in the late '40s, she searched for greater creative control and formed a production company, The Filmakers, with her then husband Collier Young. They shot their films on location with small budgets, often tackling subjects that Hollywood rarely dared touch, such as unwed motherhood and bigamy.

After producing two melodramas, Young Widow and The Judge (both 1948), The Filmakers began production on a script by Lupino titled Not Wanted; however, director Elmer Clifton suffered a heart attack on just the third day of filming. Ida Lupino immediately took his place behind the camera and filming continued. Although she declined directorial credit on Not Wanted, it is her vision that shaped the movie.

Almost all of Lupino's films give us central characters who are too paralyzed to act. In Not Wanted, for example, Lupino gives us an unmarried young woman who initially does act--but only to chase after a shiftless musician who doesn't love her--and then, after she's pregnant, she fails to see a good thing when it comes along, in the person of a caring, gas station manager who loves her and wants to take care of her. She ends up running from him, so afraid of rejection that she refuses to give their love a chance.

Sally Forrest in Not Wanted.
(©1997 Kino on Video. All rights reserved.)

A similar inability to act would play an important role in The Bigamist, where once again, the lead character initially does take an action--to pursue an extra-marital affair; but then, once he is embroiled in two relationships, he plans to talk to his first wife about getting a divorce, but his sensitivity paralyzes him. And in The Hitch-Hiker this inability to act is quite literally embodied by two fishing buddies who are frozen in fear as a hitchhiker turns his gun on them. As they lie down to sleep, huddled on the ground as the hitchhiker looks over them with a lazy eye that always remains open--even when he's asleep--should they rush the hitchhiker and risk getting shot? Or should they remain paralyzed in fear and simply wait him out?

From 1949 through 1953, Ida Lupino directed six movies for The Filmakers, a tough, emotionally powerful group of films that make up for their meager budgets by providing gritty, uncompromising stories and imaginative, occasionally stunning camerawork. Comparisons with directors Robert Aldrich and Samuel Fuller are apt, for Lupino's movies are filled with strong pitches of near melodramatic intensity recorded in stark, unflattering terms. Lupino wasn't interested in typical Hollywood glamour, for her characters were common people--salesmen, waitresses, gas station attendants, and fishermen. And her empathy for the characters was revealed in the finely-honed characterizations that made us care about these people that Hollywood would typically ignore.

Now, thanks to Kino on Video, three Ida Lupino-directed films are now available on video as part of their "Ida Lupino--Queen of the B's" series. These movies include Not Wanted (1949), The Hitch-Hiker (1953), and The Bigamist (1953). For more information on each movie in the series, select the titles below:

Not Wanted

The Bigamist

The Hitch-Hiker


"Ida Lupino--Queen of the B's" is a new three-cassette video series from Kino on Video. These videos include Not Wanted (1949), The Bigamist (1953), and The Hitch-Hiker (1953). Suggested retail price: $24.95 each. For more information, we suggest you check out the Kino Web site:


Top Welcome Features In Focus Reviews Info