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Ida Lupino (1918-1995)


  1. Charlotte Henry, Alice in Wonderland, 1933.   Discovered at 14 by US  director Allan Dwan on London’s West End stage, the actress daughter of an almost royal Britsh showbiz (music-hall) dynasty, was brought to Hollywood by Paramount to be Lewis Carroll's heroine (Cary Grant was Mock Turtle, WC Fields was Humpty Dumpty) and promptly dropped in favour of Charlotte -   selected from the usual “more than 7,000 applicants” (yeah, sure), including Marge Champion, Paulette Goddard, Betty Grable, Anne Shirley. And Sue Kellog, who became Henry’s stand-in - her one and only movie credit.   Lupino sat around earning $600 a week for doing nothing until getting out of her contract (and over polio) to be welcomed at Warners where she was, typed as a hookers or tough broads  in the 30s/40s
  2. Maureen O’Sullivan, The Bishop Misbehaves, 1934.    London’s Lupino  was sought from Warner Bros for the English heroine - and then turned down  because she had lost her English  accent.  That was a bit quick, considering she had only lately arrived in Hollwood. And, anyway, she was an actress -  in 105 screen roles… and 41 directing gigs.  UK censors ordered a new title, The Bishop's Misadventures -  “because bishops do not misbehave.” Of course not!
  3. Maureen O’Sullivan, The Bishop Misbehaves, 1934.   
    London’s Lupino  was sought from Warner Bros for the English heroine - and then turned down because she had lost her English  accent.  That was a bit quick, considering she had only lately arrived in Hollwood. She preferrred being suspended  rather than  make much of the crap she was given. Fed up, she decided to direct. She is - even today - the most prolific woman director in history - mainly due to her TV work. Her films were so bold – Scorsese admits to being  influenced by her work - which often  tackled subjects the studios wouldn't sniff at: rape, abortion, mental illness, guysback from the  war wtih all their.problemd.  She had her own production company. Well, the'studios wouldn't touch her because she was not a a member of The Directors Guild. But of course she wasn't.The Guild refused to have any women members. They  finally gave in and  their meetingsbegan by the Chairman calling for order:  "Gentlemen - and Miss Lupino."  

  4. Dorothy Wilson, The Milky Way, 1936.     Lupino was ill and replaced by, the one-time RKO secretary with the most unique contract in Hollywood history. It assured her return, if her option was dropped, to  the studio's secretarial pool!
  5. Joan Bennett, Man Hunt, 1940.       Bennett’s “English”accent was about as rank as Dick Van Dyke’s lousy Cockney in Mary Poippins in a (thankfully) short role - opposite Walter Pidgeon, fleeing Nazis in London after trying to kill Hitler in Bavaria, no less.  Also seen for Jerry were  Anne Baxter, Greer Garson, Virginia Gilmore, Gene Tierney. And Lupino, the only real Londoner on the short list. 
  6. Betty Field, King's  Row, 1941.      For its third version (one silent) of the Joseph Cobrad novel sine 1919, Paramount wanted Lupino opposite Fredric March as the tropical island hermit called Hendrik Heyst. He wanted Ingrid Bergman. Other potential Marias included Barbara Britton, Frances Farmer,  Paulette Goddard, Susan Hayward, Luis Rainer  and  Barbara Stanwyck plus  the Austro-Hungarian French Annabella, Mexico’s Esther Fernández,  true Brit  Vivien Leigh and German Vera Zorina..In case Ingrid  changed her mind, producer-director Sam Wood had  the Austro-Hungarian Laure Aubert waiting in the wings.  The studio settled for Betty Field, always around but never a star. Cecil C De Mille rejected the Paramount project. “I managed to read it all…  Just not interesting enough to bother with a film.”  And yet the Harrison’s Reports called it “somewhat sordid… somewhat brutal.” So right up CB’s street!
  7. Veronica Lake, Sullivan’s Travels, 1941.   Jerry Seinfeld’s favourite film because of its content – the importance of fun and laughter. One story says after their Lady Eve, 1940, Barbara Stanwyck was Preston Sturges’ choice for The Girl.  Rubbish! He always had Ronny Lake in mind, since loving her in I Wanted Wings, 1940. Paramount suits preferred Lucille Ball, Frances Farmer, Ruby Keeler, Ida Lupino in the classic inspired by John Garfield’s hobo days. Sturgess remained resolute… Even though she never gelled with Joel McCrea (he refused to join her in I Married A Witch)and that her (ssh!) pregnancy went from six to eight months. She had her daughter, Elaine Detlie, exactly one month after shooting wrapped. McCrea relented five years later and they made the 1946 Western, Ramrod- helmed by her then husband, the eye-patched Hungarian director André De Toth.
  8. Frances Farmer, Son of Fury: The Story of Benjamin Blake, 1941.        Isabel was a jinxed role in Tyrone Power’s  thud ’n’ blunder romp. Lupino was chosen, then pushed into Moontide, replaced by Maureen O'Hara, hit by appendicitis, subbed by Cobina Wright, struck down with strep throat. This, then, was Farmer’s last film before being wrongfully declared mentally incompetent and committed to various asylums and mental hospitals for seven years.  She then tended the  very parents who had committed her and came back, with six roles, mainly on TV, during 1958-1959. She died  from throat cancer in 1970.  Jessica Lange played her tragic life in Frances, 1981.
  9. Brenda Marshall, Captains of the Clouds, 1941.      Will you/won’t you be our Emily, asked Director Michael Curtiz. She wouldn’t. ’Twas a guys’ movie: Flynn, Gable, Brent, Massey. What chance did a gal have in a tribute to the RCAF: Royal Canadian Air Force…  Marshall wed William Holden that year; they divorced 30 years later. 
  10. Ann Sheridan, Juke Girl, 1942.        By now, Hal Wallis was pondering litigation over Ida’s complaints about her  roles.  As  Ann added her Oomph, Ida was loaned out for a year  and never caught up with Joan Crawford, Bette Davis or  Ann Sheridan.

  11. Betty Field, Kings Row, 1942.    Stellar soap opera…  But Lupino had to quit Cassie Turner (and her intended guy, Robert Cummings) when ordered by Warner Bros to  report to Fox for a brace of films. Life Begins at Eiight-Thirty and the better Moontide with French superstar Jean Gabin.
  12. Eleanor Parker, The Very Thought of You, 1943.   Lupino fell ill.  Hmm, yes, well, maybe…  Then again, Parker had just signed a Warner  contract and this was her first star rôle at the studio. Before shipping out for WWII, GIs Dennis Morgan and Dane Clark have quickie romances with Parker and Faye Emerson. Quickie marriages, too. And just  - really - to have someone to write home  to. To come back to.
  13. Joan Lorring, The Corn Is Green, 1944.  For the film of Welsh playwright Emlyn Williams’ Broadway play about how he was aided by his schoolmistress (Bette Davis), the most difficult role to fill was that of Besssie Watty, a scheming unwed mother, a “ hay-rick temptress” as New York Times critic Bosley Crowther described her. Lupino was seen and considered too old – at 26! Then one of the imported stage cast, Rhys Williams suggested (or his agent suggested another of his clients) the  Hong Kong born Lorring, at sweet 18.  
  14. Jeanne Crain, Leave Her To Heaven, 1944.   A trashy pulp soap opera… despite its Shakesperean title. (Via Hamlet).   Lupino and Faye Marlowe were passed over, leaving us with what New York Times critic Bosley Crowther called the “colourless and wooden” Crain.
  15. Alice Faye, Fallen Angel, 1945.      In September 1944, Hollywood Reporter said Joan Fontaine won the lead. By Febriary ’45, it was Lupino or Anne Baxter. They did not stand a chance when top Fox star, Faye, searching through 30 scripts for her first movie in two years, decided this was the one. A new Laura! Not what she saw in the rough-cut wherein the (Laura) director Otto Preminger cut Faye’s impact (and single song), throwing the picture to Linda Darnell - on studio chief Darryl Zanuck’s orders. Faye sped off the “Penitentiary Fox” lot, chucking her dressingrom key at the gate guard, and never worked for Fox agan until she was begged to head State Fair in… 1962!  
  16. Jane Russell, Young Widow, 1945  The first timre Americans would see what Bob Hope would call “the two and only Jane Russell.” Her debut, The Outlaw, was still in censorship jail. Lupino was the titular Joan for two weeks. Joan Fontaine was suspended for refusing to replace her. That’s when Howard Hughes loaned two of his latest finds, Russell and Faith Domergue to his producer pal Hunt Stromberg… who re-released the film in 1952 as The Naughty Widow. Said Russell: “Young Widow should have died with her husband.”
  17. Ann Savage, Detour, 1945.        Lupino and John Garfield were keen. So was Warners.  For a wee while.
  18. Gene Tierney, Leave Her To Heaven, 1945.      Fox thought of Lupino and Tallulah Bankhead as step-sisters in the perfect John M Stahl melo. Now there’s volatility to the max! Tierney and Crain, not so much. Despite. Teierney’s Oscar nomination.
  19. Bette Davis, Of Human Bondage, 1945.   Warner Bros obtained the re-make rights by  loaning RKO John Garfield for The Fallen Sparrow and Joan Leslie  for The Sky’s the Limit.  However, Irene Dunne, Katharine Hepburn and Ann Sheridan  all refused to walk the streets…. and Lupino lost out to Bette Davis finally achieving stardom as the Cockney prostitute opposite, she said, a “very frosty” Leslie Howard.  Of course, he was. She was stealing the entire movie from under his carpet
  20. Joan Crawford, Possessed, 1946.      Lupino turned  director because she was fed up of rotten roles. Not this one. Except it was taken from her  and given to LaCrawford, fresh from her Mildred Pierce Oscar. And immediately up for another. Crawford made two movies with this title. The first was with Clark Gable, the second was not.

  21. Nancy Guild, The Brasher Doubloon, 1946.     This time Fox gave the case back to Philip Marlowe - having first adapted Raymond Chandler’s The High Window in 1941 as Lloyd Nolan’s seventh and final outing as Brett Halliday’s shamus, Michael Shayne. Akin to Batman borrowing a Superman story.
  22. Rita Hayworth, The Lady From Shanghai, 1947.     Needing money for his Around The World In 80 Days stage venture, Orson Welles got $25,000  from Columbia czar Harry Cohn  by promising to make him a  movie.  Welles always said he took the title from a paperback he saw at a railway station while calling King Cohn. (Actually the title was Before I Die - by Sherwood King).  The femme fatale role of Elsa Bannister hovered betweenLupino  and Orson’s French actress lover, Barbara Laage, before Rita took it as  glue for her marriage to Welles.  Didn’t stick.
  23. Celeste Holm, A Letter To Three Wives, 1948.     Voice off…  Who’s voice?  That’s Addie’s voice. Who is Addie’s voice?   Ah!  When writing to the wives to say she was running off with one of their spouses, Addie was heard but never seen.  Lupino and Joan Crawford were considered for the voice-of.  Holm’s name as kept secret. At the time.
  24. Patricia Neal, The Fountainhead, 1948.      First, Mervyn LeRoy was to direct Barbara Stanwyck opposite Humphrey Bogart. By ’48, director King Vidor switched Bogie to join - of course - Bacall.  Next, Gary Cooper and Bacall.  Except Betty quit. After rejecting Lupino, Bette Davis, Greta Garbo and Alexis Smith, head brother Jack Warner took a chance on the young Neal. Cooper objected. Warner insisted. Result:  Cooper and Neal had an affair. 
  25. Claudette Colbert, The Secret Fury, 1949.    If anyone knows why these two may not be joined... Yes, someone shouts, she’s already married. No, I’m not. Yes, you are… In July, Lupino was to be the bride. By September, Colbert agreed to take over if actor Mel Ferrer directed. Why? Maybe she meant José…
  26. Judy Holliday, Born Yesterday, 1950.       Columbia chief Harry Cohn stubbornly wanted anyone but the Broadway star. He relented. She won an Oscar. He did not applaud.
  27. Claire Trevor, The High and the Mighty, 1953.    All aboard the flying Grand Hotel - a DC-4 piloted by John Wayne and Robert Stack and stuffed to the flaps with the kind of mixed cliché bag of passengers that continued into the Airport films and was torn to shreds by the Airplane comedies. Tasty or not, the roles were basically cameos. And, therefore, beneath the high and mighty Lupino, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Dorothy McGuire, Ginger Rogers and Barbara Stanwyck. They all rejected the sassy old broad, described by New York Times critic Bosley Crowther as a gallant lady of much circulation. Trevor won an Oscar nod.
  28. Joan Fontaine, Beyond A Reasonable Doubt, 1955.     Lupino and her husband, actor Howard Duff, and writer Douglas Morrow formed a company to film Morrow’s tale of a novelist fighting the flaws of capital punishment by framing himself for murder. Ultimately, Bert Friedlob produced it as director Fritz Lang’s last US movie.
  29. Jane Wyman, Miracle in  the Rain, 1955.      Ben Hecht scripted his weepie novel  and intended directing it. Benedict Bogeaus took it over for his and Lupino’s  Arcadia Productions  - for her to star in - beforeItalian producer Alfred Guarini bought it for his wife, Miranda.  Finally,  producer Frank P Rosenberg  brought the rights back to Hollywood - with Audrey Hepburn in mind for the lonely woman meeting a lonelier Van Johnson in a rainy New York. Problem was every producer had Audrey Hepburn in mind.
















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