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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)

See also...

THE HITCH-HIKER

... ... The Hitch-Hiker, considered by many, including Lupino herself, to be her best film, is a classic, tension-packed tour de force thriller about two men (Edmond O'Brien and Frank Lovejoy) in ... More »

OUTRAGE

... ... For a film on the then taboo of rape, Lupino's| Outrage opens breezily enough. It's book­keeper heroine Ann (Mala Powers) has a fiance, whose raise assures her happy integration into the ... More »

No.5 Checked Out

In and of itself, No. 5 Checked Out constitutes a compelling case for the viability of the short form in film. Brilliantly acted, superbly crafted, it comes damn close to perfection-a state Lupino's ... More »

NEVER FEAR (AKA YOUNG LOVERS)

... ... Carol Williams is a dancer; Guy Richards, her partner/choreographer. The opening se­quences spotlight a series of professional and private celebrations by the about-to-be-married couple ... More »

THE TROUBLE WITH ANGELS

... ... The Trouble With Angels marked Lupino's return to feature-Film direction after a hiatus of 13 years. Beneath its somewhat dubious subject-a comedy about nuns-Angels, like many of Lupino's ... More »

The Masks

"Mr. Jason Foster, a tired ancient who on this particular Mardi Gras evening will. leave the earth. But before departing he has some things to do, some services to perform, s some debts to pay and ... More »

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