Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


IDA LUPINO: A BIOGRAPHY. William Donati. 1996; University Press of Kentucky.

Coming from a famous theatrical family, Ida Lupino had show biz in her blood, but according to this excellent biography, she got more fulfillment from directing than acting. This is not really a tell-all book -- Donati does look at Lupino's three marriages [to actor Louis Hayward, producer Collier Young, with whom she continued a working relationship even after their divorce, and finally the difficult Howard Duff], although there isn't that much on her estrangement from her only daughter. Donati doesn't go in for much in-depth analysis of Lupino's films [aside from the ones she directed] or acting technique, but he does deliver the basic facts in compelling fashion -- the book is a very good read. There is an examination of Lupino's often contradictory nature, her attitudes toward stardom, the Hollywood studio system and her pioneering efforts as director [she did not in any way she herself as a feminist], and her final days in which she wandered about in a disheveled house and grumbled at any one who came near her. Lupino had quite a life, and quite a career, and this book does justice to it, even if you wish at times there were a bit more about her major acting vehicles. Lupino was a star, but not quite of the front rank, never quite attaining the immortality of a Davis, Crawford or Stanwyck, although she was very talented. Of her directorial efforts they run the gamut from the poor [Outrage] to the decidedly memorable [The Bigamist]. Lupino also very ably directed one of the best ever episodes of the TV show Thriller, "Guillotine."

Verdict: Absorbing biography. ***1/2.


CavedogRob said...

I always felt Lupino was underrated (down right ignored actually) as a director. Nice to see her getting some attention at last!

William said...

Yes, she deserves a lot more attention as both actress and director. I have a feeling we'll be seeing more books about her in the future.

Thanks for your comment.