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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

A Centenary Celebration of Director Ida Lupino First Female Member of the Directors Guild of America

An evening honoring the 100th anniversary of the birth of legendary filmmaker Ida Lupino, featuring screenings of two of her most acclaimed films, The Hitch-Hiker and The Bigamist, will take place at the Directors Guild of America. But it's not the only celebration in town for this groundbreaking film icon. Virtually every film society across the country is celebrating this remarkable woman and her achievements in breaking barriers that previously restricted women to old-fashioned roles dictated by society.

In an industry full of self-described multi-hyphenates, Ida Lupino truly defined the word. She was a director, actress, writer and producer. Her acting career spanned over 100 film and television projects, and very successful ones at that. Her features included High Sierra with Humphrey Bogart, The Hard Way with Dennis Morgan and Ladies in Retirement with Louis Hayward. Her role in the TV series Mr. Adams and Eve even earned her a well-deserved Emmy nomination. Amazingly enough, the success she received on screen wasn't enough for the talented actress. By chance, she found she had a knack behind the camera as well.

Lupino's directing career began with uncredited work on and , and This opportunity only came about because the original director suffered a heart attack and the picture was threatened with shutting down if someone didn't step up immediately and take over. After the studio recognized her abilities she was handed more projects. All low-budget, social issue films, but she sat in the director's chair non-the-less. Lupino's followed up films included Not Wanted, Never Fear,Outrage, Hard, Fast and Beautiful, The Bigamist, The Trouble with Angels, and The Hitch-Hiker (which was the first film noir directed by a woman).

Lupino's episodic television directing career was even more prolific, with episodes of such popular series as Bewitched, Gilligan's Island, The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, and The Twilight Zone (where she was the only female director in its original 156-episode run). The lady sure blazed a trail for future female directors. Although her impact upon the role of women in the film industry was not immediate, the impact was made, and today's women behind the lens are dutifully grateful.

1953's, The Hitch-Hiker, is all about a fishing trip that goes horribly wrong. Ray and Gilbert's weekend outing takes a terrifying turn when the hitchhiker they pick up turns out to be a sociopath on the run from the law. He’s killed before, and he lets the two know that as soon as they’re no longer useful, he'll kill again. The two friends plot an escape, but the hitchhiker’s peculiar physical affliction, an eye that never closes even when he sleeps, makes it impossible for them to tell when they can make a break for it. In 1998, The Hitch-Hiker was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Made the same year, The Bigamist takes place in San Francisco. A businessman and his wife and business partner, Eve, are in the process of adopting a child. When a private investigator uncovers the fact that Graham has another wife, as well as a small child in Los Angeles. He confesses everything and tells in flashback of the strains in his marriage and how he found himself falling for a kind-hearted waitress while on a business trip.

Be sure to check you local film and arts societies for special presentations of these remarkable films directed by a truly remarkable woman.

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