Saturday, August 3, 2019
ACTRESS Ida Lupino = DIRECTOR Ida Lupino
Ida Lupino (February 4, 1918 – August 3, 1995) was an English-American actress, singer, director, and producer. She is widely regarded as one of the most prominent, and one of the only, female filmmakers working during the 1950s in the Hollywood studio system. With her independent production company, she co-wrote and co-produced several social-message films and became the first woman to direct a film noir with The Hitch-Hiker in 1953.
Throughout her 48-year career, she made acting appearances in 59 films and directed eight others, working primarily in the United States, where she became a citizen in 1948.
Ida Lupino also directed more than 100 episodes of television productions in a variety of genres including westerns, supernatural tales, situation comedies, murder mysteries, and gangster stories.
She was the only woman to direct episodes of the original The Twilight Zone series, as well as the only director to have starred in the show.
Director, producer and writer
While on suspension, Lupino had ample time to observe filming and editing processes, and she became interested in directing. She described how bored she was on set while "someone else seemed to be doing all the interesting work."
She and her husband Collier Young formed an independent company, The Filmakers [sic], to produce, direct, and write low-budget, issue-oriented films.
Her first directing job came unexpectedly in 1949 when director Elmer Clifton suffered a mild heart attack and could not finish Not Wanted, a film Lupino co-produced and co-wrote. Lupino stepped in to finish the film, but did not take directorial credit out of respect for Clifton. Although the film's subject of out-of-wedlock pregnancy was controversial, it received a vast amount of publicity, and she was invited to discuss the film with Eleanor Roosevelt on a national radio program.
Never Fear (1949) was her first director's credit. After producing four more films about social issues, including Outrage (1950), a film about rape (while this word is never used in the movie), Lupino directed her first hard-paced, all-male-cast film, The Hitch-Hiker (1953), making her the first woman to direct a film noir. The Filmakers [sic] went on to produce 12 feature films, six of which Lupino directed or co-directed, five of which she wrote or co-wrote, three of which she acted in, and one of which she co-produced.
Lupino once called herself a "bulldozer" to secure financing for her production company, but she referred to herself as "mother" while on set. On set, the back of her director's chair was labeled "Mother of Us All..." Her studio emphasized her femininity, often at the urging of Lupino herself. She credited her refusal to renew her contract with Warner Bros. under the pretenses of domesticity, claiming "I had decided that nothing lay ahead of me but the life of the neurotic star with no family and no home." She made a point to seem nonthreatening in a male-dominated environment, stating, "That's where being a man makes a great deal of difference. I don't suppose the men particularly care about leaving their wives and children. During the vacation period, the wife can always fly over and be with him. It's difficult for a wife to say to her husband, come sit on the set and watch."
Although directing became Lupino's passion, the drive for money kept her on camera, so she could acquire the funds to make her own productions. She became a wily low-budget filmmaker, reusing sets from other studio productions and talking her physician into appearing as a doctor in the delivery scene of Not Wanted. She used what is now called product placement, placing Coke, Cadillac, and other brands in her films. She shot in public places to avoid set-rental costs and planned scenes in pre-production to avoid technical mistakes and retakes. She joked that if she had been the "poor man's Bette Davis" as an actress, she had now become the "poor man's Don Siegel" as a director.
The Filmakers [sic] production company closed shop in 1955 and Lupino's last director's credit on a feature film was in 1965 for the Catholic schoolgirl comedy The Trouble With Angels, starring Hayley Mills and Rosalind Russell. She did not stop acting and directing, however, going on to a successful television career throughout the 1960s and '70s.
Ida Lupino died from a stroke while undergoing treatment for colon cancer in Los Angeles on
August 3, 1995, at the age of 77. Her memoirs, Ida Lupino: Beyond the Camera, were edited after her death and published by Mary Ann Anderson.
Ida Lupino is interred at Forest Lawn Glendale Cemetery. There exist two different theories as to how and where she is interred. The first theory is that her ashes were scattered on her mother, Constance G. Lupino's grave (or nearby). The other theory is that her ashes are buried in the unmarked grave between her mother on the left and actor Errol Flynn on the right.