Not a wasted moment in its 79 minute running time. Everything is so economical, taking great advantage of the layered flashbacks to slowly reveal characters' motivations and emotions. It seems that some people feel that Lupino lets the bigamist of the title off the hook, but I don't think that is the case. Everybody has grown up problems, and everybody acts like a grown-up about them. I cared for everybody.
Ida Lupino delivers a powerful and understated film that plays like suburban film noir. Edmond O' Brien is brilliant as the title character, who has such an expressive face that we can practically feel the anguish and torture on his face as he digs himself deeper into his own despair. Lupino and Fontaine are on point as the wives and that end scene is simply heartbreaking. Lupino was definitely a powerhouse filmmaker
Men can not say no, that's what LUPINO describes without judgment or cliché, almost affectionately. A Collier YOUNG + Ida LUPINO production (The FilmMakers, Collier being Ida's husband). === Les hommes ne peuvent pas dire non, c'est ce que LUPINO décrit sans jugement ni cliché, presque affectueusement. Une production Collier YOUNG + Ida LUPINO (The FilmMakers, Collier étant le mari de Ida).
While Ida Lupino is rightly celebrated as a pioneering director, a female voice within a very male genre, this film does not hold up as well as The Hitch-Hiker. The tone is uneven, veering from the overly moralistic (backed by booming orchestral noise) to a more poignant drama. Joan Fontaine and Lupino are both great, but O'Brien was not one of the period's best leading men - it's hard to see the (double) attraction.
It’s not surprising to me that this gets a lukewarm response here: movie buffs, film fanboys, hip and old school auteur kool-aid drinkers, everybody is overinvested in genre, and this implodes the whole structure to fabulous moral effect. Thank you, MUBI, for bravely showing something important in film history yet so likely to be “misunderestimated.”
Taut, relentless in pitch, and, in the end, deeply thought-provoking--even meditative--about a little-understood phenomenon called "human nature." Don't let its noirish hue and meant-to-shock-in-its-time title mislead: the film is as nuanced as the day is long, marked by Lupino's always-steely direction and acting--she's its spine. Far beyond the sum of its apparent parts, and with a brilliant Leith Stevens score.
However touching, Lupino's prodigal compassion for interpersonal weakness is slippery. She normalizes irresponsibility, tragic relationship dynamics, and weak communication. Worse, I suspect she blames these issues on the feminine heart; she's far more interested in Harry's right to clemency than the experiences of the women he hurt, as if their feelings were too cumbersome and predictable to attend to.
What’s clear about Lupino was that not only was she attempting to break the gender barrier in cinema from a who gets to do what, she also was interested in subverting the melodramatic form. In the hands of other Directors this film would end much differently, not as complicated with the central character not redeemed and everything seemingly unsolvable, it is what it is.
Great actors but a terrible script. We see O'Brien is a bigamist within 10 minutes of the opening, so any suspense that might have existed in the film is gone. It's a credit to the acting prowess of Lupino and Fontaine that the female characters are interesting enough to keep watching. O'Brien walks around like he's in a deep freeze. Lots of 3-strand pearl necklaces to symbolize the love triangle.
It seems telling that the broad moments drawing laughter in my screening were all linked to the movie explicating bigamy as bad. Though reading as a PSA there is equal sentiment that social structures are what’s keeping Harry in shame. Both romances are compelling thanks to the performers, and the bizarre structure means we are consistently surprised. The compromise it suggests is still rich today.
35mm, rewatched. Two moments, linked to Joan Fontaine, are magnificent: when she knows by telephone her husband's bigamy situation and the end in court. In both, the camera does a backward traveling, delivering the character to a spatiality of (her) anguish. The rest is a classic film about an unusual theme in the time of Hays code, made by an alternative studio. Ida Lupino is my favorite actress of this period.