After a beautiful but unsophisticated girl is seduced by a worldly piano player and gives up her out-of-wedlock baby, her guilt compels her to kidnap another child.


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(screenplay), (story) | 2 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Leo Penn ...
Steve Ryan
Mrs. Aggie Kelton
Wheaton Chambers ...
Mr. Kelton
Rita Lupino ...
Audrey Farr ...
Carole Donne ...
Mrs. Elizabeth Stone
Ruthelma Stevens ...
Miss James
Virginia Mullen ...
Mrs. Banning, Infant's mother (as Virginia Mullin)
Marie Harmon ...
Roger Anderson ...
Bill Aikens
Charles Seel ...
Dr. Williams


Twentyish Sally Kelton is unhappy at home and in the drab town in which she lives, until she meets roving musician Steve Ryan. Sally falls for Steve, but to Steve, she's just another fling before he heads to another town. Sally decides to "pull up stakes" and heads on a bus to Steve's next stop. On the road, she meets Drew Baxter, owner of a gaseteria in the town where she's heading. Drew sets Sally up with a room at a local boarding house and a job at his business. Try as he might, Drew can't win Sally's heart from Steve, who has remained indifferent to Sally since her arrival. When Steve heads off to South America, Sally is even more despondent--especially after she learns that she's pregnant with his child. Written by Daniel Bubbeo <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


UNWED MOTHER ...her story-the nations's problem See more »




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Release Date:

24 June 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Wrong Rut  »

Box Office


$153,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Ida Lupino took over directing chores after original director Elmer Clifton suffered a serious heart attack and was unable to complete the picture. Clifton, in fact, died shortly after the film's release. Several films he had directed before this one were not released until after his death, causing some confusion as to exactly what his final directorial effort was, but this film is it. See more »


Featured in Red Hollywood (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

Powerful drama about a socially taboo subject of the time
15 May 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This was the first of Ida Lupino's magnificent efforts to use the power of the screen to tackle desperately important but socially taboo social issues between 1949 and 1953. Although Elmer Clifton is credited as director, he had a heart attack during production, and most of the film was directed by Ida Lupino herself, who also produced and co-wrote this powerful drama. It was her first directorial effort, was completely successful, and launched her brilliant directing career. The 'social films' which she made during this period dealt with unwed mothers (a totally taboo issue at that time), rape, physically handicapped people, and even the extraordinary subject of bigamy ('The Bigamist', 1953). Ida Lupino pulled no punches, she was right in there, and got straight to the point, with the most overwhelming scenes of intense drama. The choice of Sally Forrest for the lead in this film about an unwed mother was perfect. The feckless fellow she falls in love with is played by Leo Penn, father of Sean Penn, and the likeness of father and son is clear, but then so is the type of character played! Leo Penn is very good, and plays the piano extraordinarily well in the film, where he is an emotionally disturbed and embittered failed pianist (but Sally Forrest does not know that, as she is only 19 and thinks he is Vladimir Ashkenazy.) Keefe Brasselle is superb in the touching role of the man who loves Sally despite all, the 'really nice guy', from whom she must run away because she is 'fallen'. Younger people today may find all of this incomprehensible, but that shows how quickly everyone forgets. If we think the Muslims are strange for killing their daughters for falling in love, try 1950s America. It was only better in that they didn't actually kill them, they merely disowned them and left them on the streets. Lest we think we are morally superior, we should remember that Ida Lupino did not make her films for their shock value. She was no sensationalist. She was addressing serious social wrongs being done by the majority of the population to unfortunates who strayed, and she took her social compassion far enough actually to make a film about a perfectly nice man who merely happened to have two wives. Shocking? Well, how about the hypocrisy then: in Utah there are admitted to be thousands of practising polygamists. Where's the shock? If only Ida Lupino were with us now, what would she be showing us about ourselves? She was a heroic figure, and this film was merely the first of a series of dramas that will tear your heart out, if you have one.

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