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Never Fear - Carol Williams (Sally Forrest, Not Wanted) is a beautiful young dancer whose body, and promising career, is suddenly crippled by polio. Carol's dance partner and fiancé, Guy Richards (Keefe Brasselle, A Place in the Sun), wants to see her through her illness, but the angry, self-pitying Carol prefers to go it alone. Her father (Herb Butterfield, Shield for Murder) takes her to the Kabat-Kaiser Institute for rehabilitation, where she meets fellow patients like Len Randall (Hugh O'Brian, Ambush Bay) on her tough road to recovery. The second feature directed by Ida Lupino (The Hitch-Hiker), who herself had been stricken with polio as an adolescent, Never Fear is a psychologically probing look at coping with chronic illness. Co-written and co-produced by Lupino and her partner Collier Young (The Bigamist) and wonderfully shot in black-and-white by Archie Stout (Fort Apache).
The Bigamist - The Bigamist is an amazingly sympathetic portrait of a figure historically given very short shrift: the title character is not only a two-timer—he's a traveling salesman as well. But, as embodied by that perpetually pressured everyman of the 1950s, Edmond O'Brien, the bigamist comes across as a victim of his own sensitivity. Caught between two complementary spouses, O'Brien's dazed indecisiveness dominates the narrative. As always in Ida Lupino's directorial efforts, a strong social consciousness informs all choices: Joan Fontaine is an upper-crust "lady," reverently attached to her dying father, while Lupino herself plays a tough-talking working woman, waitressing in a cheap Chinese restaurant. But no on-screen triangle could beat the one behind the camera—The Bigamist was produced and written by Collier Young, Lupino's longtime collaborator and recently divorced husband, whose new wife was none other than Joan Fontaine. The wonderful cast includes Edmund Gwenn, Kenneth Tobey and Jane Darwell.
The Hitch-Hiker - Beyond its cultural significance as the only classic film noir directed by a woman (screen legend Ida Lupino), The Hitch-Hiker is perhaps better remembered as simply one of the most nightmarish motion pictures of the 1950s. Inspired by the true-life murder spree of Billy Cook, The Hitch-Hiker is the tension-laden saga of two men (Edmond O'Brien and Frank Lovejoy) on a camping trip who are held captive by a homicidal drifter (the great William Talman). He forces them, at gunpoint, to embark on a grim joyride across the Mexican desert. Renegade filmmaking at its finest, The Hitch-Hiker was independently produced, which allowed Lupino and ex-husband/producer Collier Young to work from a treatment by blacklisted writer Daniel Mainwaring, and tackle an incident that was too brutal for the major studios to even consider.
Not Wanted - In Ida Lupino's directorial debut Not Wanted, young and naive "unwed mother" Sally Forrest's life spirals out of control after her musician beau (Leo Penn) ditches her for an out-of-town gig, despite the presence of another man (Keefe Brasselle) determined to win her heart. After leaving Warner Brothers, legendary screen actress Ida Lupino co-founded The Filmakers, an independent production company conceived as an alternative to the dominant aesthetics of Hollywood. With the low-key, intimate Not Wanted, Lupino tackled the "taboo" topic of out-of-wedlock pregnancy, immediately venturing into terrain where big-budget mainstream fantasy-spinners feared to tread. In many ways this extraordinary first directorial effort, while uncredited, already bears the stamp of Lupino's unique vision: the remarkable empathy felt for the lead character (Sally Forrest as the dazed, traumatized young waitress thrust into the world of unwed motherhood), the hallucinatory moments (note the amazing subjective camerawork of the childbirth sequence), and the deft location shooting (as Forrest wanders through the bus stations and boarding houses of small-town America).