Nationality: American. Born: London, England, 4 February 1918, daughter of the actor Stanley Lupino and the actress Connie Emerald; became U.S. citizen in 1948. Education: Attended Clarence House School, Hove, Sussex; Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London. Family: Married 1) the actor Louis Hayward, 1938 (divorced 1945); 2) the writer Collier Young, 1948 (divorced 1951); 3) the actor Howard Duff, 1951 (divorced 1972), daughter: Bridget. Career: Stage debut at Tom Thumb Theatre, London, at age 12; late 1920s—extra in films for British International Studios; 1932—first lead role in Her First Affaire; 1933–37—contract with Paramount; 1939—success in The Light that Failed: contract with Warner Brothers; 1949—co-founder, with Anson Bond, Emerald Productions: producer, co-director, and co-scriptwriter of Not Wanted; 1950—director of the film Never Fear, 1950–80—co-owner, with Collier Young, Film-makers Company; 1952—co-founder, with Dick Powell, Charles Boyer, and David Niven, Four Star Productions for television; 1956—director for TV series On Trial; 1957–58—in TV series Mr. Adams and Eve; 1957–66—worked exclusively in television. Awards: Best Actress, New York Film Critics, for The Hard Way, 1943. Died: Of cancer, in Burbank, California, 3 August 1995.
Films as Actress:
Her First Affaire (Dwan) (as Anne)
Money for Speed (Vorhaus) (as Jane); High Finance (George King) (as Jill); The Ghost Camera (Vorhaus) (as Mary Elton); I Lived with You (Elvey) (as Ada Wallis); Prince of Arcadia (Schwartz) (as Princess)
Search for Beauty (Kenton) (as Barbara Hilton); Come on, Marines! (Hathaway) (as Esther Cabot); Ready for Love (Gering) (as Marigold Tate)
Paris in Spring (Milestone) (as Mignon De Charelle); Smart Girl (Scotto) (as Pat Reynolds); Peter Ibbetson (Hathaway) (as Agnes)
Anything Goes (Tops Is the Limit) (Milestone) (as Hope Harcourt); One Rainy Afternoon (Matinee Scandal) (Rowland V. Lee) (as Monique Pelerin); Yours for the Asking (Hall) (as Gert Malloy); The Gay Desperado (Mamoulian) (as Jane)
Sea Devils (Stoloff) (as Doris Malone); Let's Get Married (Alfred E. Green) (as Paula Quinn); Artists and Models (Walsh) (as Paula Sewell); Fight for Your Lady (Stoloff) (as Marietta)
The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt (Godfrey) (as Val Carson); The Lady and the Mob (Stoloff) (as Lila Thorne); The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Werker) (as Ann Brandon); The Light That Failed (Wellman) (as Bessie Broke)
They Drive by Night (Walsh) (as Lana Carlsen)
High Sierra (Walsh) (as Marie Garson); The Sea Wolf (Curtiz) (as Ruth Webster); Out of the Fog (Litvak) (as Stella Goodwin); Ladies in Retirement (Charles Vidor) (as Ellen Creed)
Moontide (Mayo) (as Ada); The Hard Way (Sherman) (as Helen Chernen); Life Begins at 8:30 (The Light of Heart) (Pichel) (as Kathi Thomas)
Forever and a Day (Clair and others) (as Jenny); Thank Your Lucky Stars (David Butler) (appearance)
In Our Time (Sherman) (as Jennifer Whittredge); Hollywood Canteen (Daves) (appearance)
Pillow to Post (Sherman) (as Jean Howard)
Devotion (Bernhardt) (as Emily Brontë); The Man I Love (Walsh) (as Petey Brown)
Deep Valley (Negulesco) (as Libby); Escape Me Never (God-frey) (as Gemma Smith)
Road House (Negulesco) (as Lily Stevens)
Lust for Gold (Simon) (as Julia Thomas); Woman in Hiding (Gordon) (as Deborah Chandler Clark)
On Dangerous Ground (Nicholas Ray) (as Mary Malden)
Beware, My Lovely (Horner) (as Mrs. Helen Gordon)
Jennifer (Newton) (as Agnes)
Private Hell 36 (Siegel) (as Lilli Marlowe, + co-sc)
Women's Prison (Seiler) (as Amelia Van Zant); The Big Knife (Aldrich) (as Marion Castle)
While the City Sleeps (Fritz Lang) (as Mildred); Strange Intruder (Rapper) (as Alice)
Backtrack (Bellamy) (as Mama Delores)
Junior Bonner (Peckinpah) (as Elvira Bonner); Deadhead Miles (Zimmerman) (as herself); Women in Chains (Kowalski—for TV) (as Tyson); The Strangers in 7A (Wendkos—for TV) (as Iris Sawyer)
Female Artillery (Chomsky—for TV) (as Martha Lindstrom); I Love a Mystery (Leslie Stevens—for TV) (as Randolph Cheyne); "Dear Karen" ep. of The Letters (Krasny—for TV) (as Mrs. Forrester)
The Devil's Rain (Fuest) (as Mrs. Preston)
Food of the Gods (Bert I. Gordon) (as Mrs. Skinner)
My Boys Are Good Boys (Buckalew)
Films as Director:
Not Wanted (co-d with Clifton, + co-pr, co-sc)
Never Fear (The Young Lovers) (+ pr, co-sc); Outrage (+ co-pr, co-sc)
Hard, Fast, and Beautiful (+ co-pr)
The Hitch-Hiker (+ co-pr, co-sc); The Bigamist (+ co-pr, ro as Phyllis Martin)
The Trouble with Angels (+ co-pr)
By LUPINO: articles—
"The Trouble with Men Is Women," in Silver Screen, April 1947.
"Who Says Men Are People?," in Silver Screen, October 1948.
"I Cannot Be Good," in Silver Screen, June 1949.
"Me, Mother Directress," in Action (Los Angeles), May/June 1967.
"This Was My Favorite Role," in Movie Digest, November 1972.
Interview with Graham Fuller, in Interview (New York), October 1990.
On LUPINO: books—
Vermilye, Jerry, Ida Lupino, New York, 1977.
Stewart, Lucy, and Ann Liggett, Ida Lupino as Film Director, 1949–1953: An Auteur Approach, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1979.
Kowalski, Rosemary, A Vision of One's Own: Four Women Film Directors, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1980.
Parish, James, and Don Stanke, The Forties Gals, Westport, Connecticut, 1980.
Heck-Rabi, Louise, Women Filmmakers: A Critical Reception, Metuchen, New Jersey, 1984.
Kuhn, Annette, editor, Queen of the 'B's: Ida Lupino behind the Camera, Westport, Connecticut, 1995.
Donati, William, Ida Lupino: A Biography, Lexington, Kentucky, 1996.
On LUPINO: articles—
Current Biography 1943, New York, 1943.
"Director Only?," in Films and Filming (London), January 1955.
Vermilye, Jerry, "Ida Lupino," in Films in Review (New York), May 1959.
Parker, F., "Discovering Ida Lupino," in Action (Los Angeles), July/August 1973.
Siclier, J., and O. Eyquem, "Le Cinéma feminin d'Ida Lupino," in Cahiers de la Cinémathèque (Perpignan, France), no. 28, 1979.
Scheib, R., "Ida Lupino: Auteuress," in Film Comment (New York), January/February 1980.
"Newsreel: Lost Lupino," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), June 1981.
Films in Review (New York), October 1982.
Interim, L., "Une Femme dangereuse," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), May 1983.
Nacache, J., "Sur six films d'Ida Lupino," in Cinéma (Paris), October 1983.
Ida Lupino section of Positif (Paris), March 1986.
Ciacchiari, F., "Ida Lupino," in Cineforum (Bergamo, Italy), May 1991.
Hallensleben, S., "Ida Lupino," in EPD Film (Frankfurt), April 1993.
Mallory, M., "Ida Lupino," in Scarlet Street, Winter 1994.
Flint, Peter B., obituary, in New York Times, 5 August 1995.
Obituary in Variety (New York), 14 August 1995.
Scorsese, Martin, "Behind the Camera, a Feminist," in New York Times Magazine, 31 December 1995.
Obituary, in DGA Magazine (Los Angeles), January-February 1996.
"About the Cover," in DGA Magazine (Los Angeles), no. 6, 1996.
Dixon, W.W., "Ida Lupino: Director," in Classic Images (Muscatine), February 1996.
Scorsese, Martin, "Ida Lupino, John Cassavetes, Glauber Rocha: trois portraits en forme d'hommage," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), March 1996.
Landrot, Marine, "L'aplomb d'Ida," in Télérama (Paris), 23 October 1996.
Thomas, J.D., "Shelf Life," in Village Voice (New York), 21 October 1997.
* * *
A heart-shaped face, bowed lips, and large clear eyes gave her a Bo-Peepish quality, but Ida Lupino's strongest screen characterizations would make any self-respecting nursery-rhyme shepherdess blush! Lupino excelled in playing vixens and society's cast-offs. After spending six teenaged years appearing in mediocre parts, she attained stardom in the role of the selfish Cockney prostitute who is driven to madness after posing as a model for an obsessive artist (Ronald Colman) in The Light That Failed. She followed that role with an equally strong interpretation of a brazen lowlife in They Drive by Night. In that film, she dazzled critics as a bitch who kills her husband, goes after a man who spurns her, and then goes mad when things do not go her way.
Lupino once allegedly called herself "a poor man's Bette Davis." This is a cheapening remark, because Lupino had a screen presence unlike Davis or any other Hollywood leading lady. Like Davis, she was able to show backbone and ingenuity, especially when her character was up against the wall. What made her unique, however, was her ability to utilize soft, refined good looks and delicate mannerisms to play tough, unsympathetic women. In High Sierra, Lupino is at her best as a young thing who latches onto mobster Humphrey Bogart. What might have been no more than a onedimensional helpless female role becomes a vivid characterization. She is like a stray cat, a rootless little-girl-lost who begs Bogart not to make her go back to the seedy "nightspot" where she used to work. At the same time she is determined and womanly, a warm beacon of sorts for a mobster who craves to retire to home and hearth.
In the films that are among the high points of her career, Lupino worked for William Wellman and several times for Raoul Walsh—two directors noted for creating pictures with rough, sometimes gritty brush strokes. When Lupino formed her own production company in 1949, she chose to produce motion pictures dealing with social themes, films reflecting the toughness of Wellman and Walsh. But these films presented social dramas with a new frankness. Lupino may have been influenced by the postwar Italian neorealist films, or perhaps she simply saw the power the genre of social drama could have when it renounced Hollywood glitz. In any case, Not Wanted, Outrage, and The Bigamist deal with, respectively, unwed mothers, rape, and bigamy. These are topics that were considered taboo by the major studios. At a time when no other woman was directing Hollywood feature films, Lupino was directing—and her films were not feminine powder-puff drivel. She paid detailed attention to the miseries women-as-victims were encountering as underdogs in society. Her success in directing these low-budget but effective and durable films is linked to her prior experience of acting troubled female characters. By then, she knew what worked, and what did not.
As a feminist film theory developed, it was ironic that Lupino actually was scoffed at for presenting women as victims rather than aggressors. Then, the tide turned and she was properly lauded as a significant pioneer among women directors.
From the mid-1950s on, Lupino practically disappeared from the screen. Of her scant celluloid roles during her last years, by far the best is Elvira Bonner, the estranged wife of Ace Bonner (Robert Preston), in Junior Bonner. Here she is acting with an intensity reminiscent of her strongest Hollywood roles. Age, however, had added a craggy naturalism to her looks and moves. Once again, critics hailed her acting achievement. Rather than catapult her into another round of first-rate parts, it turned out to be her last important role.
—Audrey E. Kupferberg