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.