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THE BIGAMIST

USA, 1953 (MIFF 1996, Ida Lupino - Director)

Director: Ida Lupino

Lupino's last two Filmmakers outings dealt not with adolescent girls but with middle-aged men. In Edmond O'Brien, the perpetually pressured 'middleman' of the 50's, Lupino found the perfect embodiment of another form of passivity.The Bigamist finds himself caught between two complementary spouses: Joan Fontaine, sterile wife of eight years, who sublimated her desire for children into a full-time career in her husband's business; and Ida Lupino, a lonely woman whom he meets, has a child by and marries. As always in Lupino, there is a strong sense of class difference. Fontaine is a 'lady' from an upper-crust, patrician family, reverently attached to her dying pater and all he represents (shades of Suspicion) Lupino, on the other hand, is a working woman, waitressing in a joke Chinese restaurant and wryly enjoying the joke, with a lived-in self-possession none of the Lupino-directed child-women could hope to attain Fontaine is seen in multi-room, large. open, light-filled places, while Lupino is seen in much smaller, more darkly intimate and somewhat shabby surroundings (Lupino reputedly using two different cameramen for the two different women).

Despite the particular interest in the two spouses. The Bigamist is no more about two women than Daisy Kenyon is about two men. It is O'Brien's indecision that dominates the film, one woman representing his former driving, future-oriented ambition and the other woman offering the relaxed, domestic, take-it-as-it-comes intimacy that tempts him in middle age (the two psychological spaces further geo-graphically counterpointed by San Francisco's elegant verticaiity vs. Los Angeles' centerless urban sprawl). But the most fascinating triangles probably 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 (RS)

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