Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ida Lupino

For this blog I decided to go a little old school and pay homage to the incredibly significant yet depressingly seldom mentioned Ida Lupino.  Ida came from a family of performers who all were relatively well known in their respective fields.  She started as an actress and within 10 years was starring opposite Humphrey Bogart (most notably in a film that made them both household names).  Shortly after this Ida was suspended by the studio system for “turning down a role” and instead of quietly taking her timeout quietly, she started a production company with her then husband Collier Young.  Within this production company she put on the hats of screenwriter, producer, and then eventually film director when the original director had a heart attack mid-production on one of her company’s projects.  The film was relatively well received which, combined with her production company, allowed her to continue making films.

What I find significant about Ida Lupino is not just that she was the only female director of her time, but the films that she choose to make.  The film she took over was about a young girl who was manipulated by her worldly lover into giving up their child and then she is driven through grief to kidnap another child, the second project she directed is about an up-and-coming star dancer who finds out that she has contracted polio, Ida’s third project was about a newly engaged girl who gets raped on her way home from work and the psychological trauma that this rape causes.  All of these stories were incredibly atypical of 1940s. I feel that she epitomizes the auteur theory because Ida Lupino made movies centering around issues that the majority of the society she lived in never even acknowledged.

 2) Ware, Susan, and Radcliffe Institute. Notable American women: a biographical dictionary completing the twentieth century. Belknap Pr, 2004. Print.


  1. Thank you for shedding some light on this little known director. I will have to research some more about her. I want to now take some time to view her atypical films.

  2. I remember learning about Ida. Another woman of this time worth mentioning is Lois Weber. She was a director who also worked with her husband W. Phillip Smalley. Not only did she direct but she wrote scenario cards, acted, edited, designed sets and costumes and developed negatives. She was a power house women of the 1910s.

  3. Wow. I am dumbfounded at how amazing she was and what an impact she has made in the industry for other female screenwriters, directors, etc. I looked her up this past week, and was so surprised at her resilience, perserverance and strength. Good job selecting someone who was not as well known as others.