This week’s pick for my overlooked film features two of my favorite ladies in classic film – Ida Lupino and Joan Fontaine. The film’s title is The Bigamist, directed by Lupino (who also co-starred in it) and written/adapted by Collier Young. Also starring in this drama are Edmund Gwenn and Edmond O’Brien.
Married couple Harry and Eve (O’Brien and Fontaine) want to adopt a child but must they must pass muster with adoption investigator Jordan (Gwenn).
During his investigation, Jordan discovers that Harry’s frequent trips out of town are a consequence of another relationship he is maintaining with Phyllis (Lupino), who has a child by him. Before Jordan is about to call the police to arrest Harry on a charge of ‘bigamy,’ Harry tells Jordan and us, in the form of flashback, how he got himself into this precarious situation. The climax to the proceedings is a courtroom scene, which leaves the audience wondering what will come of the key players.
This film definitely had noir-ish feel to it – I suppose that is mainly down to the low production values and Gwenn’s investigative angle; however, The Bigamist mostly played like a rather complicated romantic drama. I also liked the ambiguous ending. Principally my point in highlighting this film, like I did with Lupino’s The Hitch-Hiker, I always like to call attention to the female creative force that was Lupino, a woman who was producing films at a time when this was basically unheard of.
Now for a bit of trivia – the writer Collier Young was married to Fontaine at the time of this film; he was previously married to Lupino. Go figure.
If you enjoyed finding out about this title, be sure to visit Todd Mason’s blog, Sweet Freedom, for additional titles.
Todd Mason says
Wow…such a perfect still, that top one, that I just have to replicate (that is, swipe) it…one would’ve hoped Lupino’s impressive career would’ve kicked open more doors for women directors in Hollywood. One’s hopes would not’ve been fulfilled.
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Patti Abbott says
Would love to see this one.
There are some copies on Amazon (other retailers are available). But I am quite certain that it is available on the public domain.
Thanks for this review, Iba! I’ve been slowly working through Lupino’s work and haven’t seen this one yet. I have similar thoughts to Todd above, why didn’t more women begin directing/producing after Lupino blazed the trail?
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Just throwing this one out there – maybe the studio system constraints?
Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) says
Lupino’s small run of films in the 50s as producer/director remains a great little collection of social conscience films, really worth celebrating. The best may actually be OUTRAGE, about rape, which may unfortunately the hardest to get hold. Got to see a rep screening of it aound 20 years ago and I still remember. Great Tuesday choice as always.
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I need to see that one. Another random one of hers I caught on Netflix was Hard Fast and Beautiful about a tennis prodigy caught between pursuing her tennis career and falling in love.