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FOFF Programs

Mar 8, 2009
Pacific Film Archive
2575 Bancroft Way

in the series Film Gods Shoot Back
Tough as a leather purse-strap, hard as nail polish, Ida Lupino broke new ground in mid-century Hollywood. It was no place for a woman.

The English Jean Harlowe

In the 1930's, Ida Lupino earned her bread as the innocent girl in a string of mostly forgotten pictures. But the beautiful bottle-blonde was as world-wise as the characters she was destined to play, and soon tired of this rut. She knew what she wanted and she knew how to get it. Minus the bleach and the baby fat, she barged into William Wellman's office armed only with determination and a stolen script. Thus captivated by her audition for The Light That Failed, Wellman cast her as her first prostitute. This is the Ida Lupino we know and love.

A poor man's Bette Davis

In the '40's, Lupino specialized in hard-luck noir dames in such movies as They Drive by Night, High Sierra, and Road House. A born malcontent, she grew frustrated working in the shadow of the likes of Bette Davis, being offered parts they turned down. Warners suspended her for rejecting these table-scrap roles, and in her free time she studied the workings on the other side of the camera. After her contract was up, she turned freelance, and soon formed a production company with her husband: Filmakers.

A poor man's Don Siegel

Lupino produced, wrote, and acted, and when the director of Not Wanted took ill three days into shooting, she took up directing as well. Low-budget issue pictures, the savage forebears of today's TV movies, were Filmakers' specialty. They did pure social melodrama (Hard, Fast and Beautiful) and straight noir (Private Hell 36), but most of their output was a volatile mixture of the two, cemented by a woman's touch. In this program, we dive headfirst into these murky waters.

at 7:30pm
The Bigamist (1953) by Ida Lupino 80 min. BW 35mm
When Harry and Eve (Joan Fontaine) decide to adopt a baby, the man at the agency senses something amiss and looks into Harry's background. Instead of murder or armed robbery he finds... another woman. Similar in structure to Double Indemnity, The Bigamist musters compassion for its tragic characters while chipping away at the myth of the ideal post-war family.
at 9:15pm
Outrage (1950) by Ida Lupino 75 min. BW 16mm
On her way home from work, soon-to-be-married Mala Powers is attacked and.... The staging of the crime is a masterpiece of expressionism, but the true horror is revealed in the aftermath, in the social and psychological fallout. Lupino's treatment of this ultimate taboo transcends exploitation, showing real understanding and sympathy.