February 4, 2012
Between August 1940 and June 1941, following a decade of accomplished but rarely great roles, IDA LUPINO (1915-88), starred in four films that made her a noir icon: They Drive By Night, High Sierra, The Sea Wolf and Out Of The Fog (below). The last is especially interesting and — because long unavailable — by far the least known. The story comes from Irwin Shaw’s play The Gentle People: A Brooklyn Fable, produced by the Group Theatre in 1939, with Elia Kazan and — in Lupino’s future part — Sylvia Sidney among its cast. Whether Shaw’s work has allegorical meanings matters not. Like Daniel Fuchs’ 1937 novel Low Company, whose waterfront setting it shares, The Gentle People was first a superior, nuanced gangster tale; thus Warner Brothers’ interest. While Anatol Litvak’s taut direction is superb, its Lupino’s conflicted ingenue who holds Out Of The Fog’s protagonists together: her immigrant father (Thomas Mitchell); her well-intentioned boyfriend (Eddie Albert); the suave racketeer (John Garfield). Lupino starred in other remarkable movies — Nicholas Ray’s On Dangerous Ground (1952) and Don Siegel’s Private Hell 36 (1954) most notably — and as Hollywood’s first female auteur, she directed six lean, often downbeat films from 1949-1953, including The Hitch-Hiker (below). Through the 1970s, Lupino directed numerous television shows, and took what parts an older actress could. Some, like Sam Peckinpah’s Junior Bonner (1972), respected her great talent, while in the ecological horror movie, Food Of The Gods (1975), she was attacked by a giant worm.
On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: George A. Romero.
READ MORE about members of the New Gods Generation (1914-23).