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A young girl is raped while coming home from work. The trauma of the attack turns her away from her parents and her fiancé, and, unable to face society, she runs away and, using an assumed name, takes a job on an orange ranch. A young clergyman takes an interest in her, although she won't confide in him. When a ranch hand tries to kiss her, she relives her terrifying experience and nearly kills him. She is arrested but when her identity is established and the facts of her case are brought forth, the clergyman convinces the court that it is society that should shoulder the blame. He helps rebuild her faith and send her back to her parents and fiancé. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
American Film Institute Catalog of Feature Films 1941-1950 claims Tod Andrews made his screen debut in this film; actually, he has at least a dozen and a half previous credits while under contract to Warner Bros. as Michael Ames. See more »
Introducing Mala Powers and Tod Andrews See more »
A fairly accurate portrayal of how a rape victim would react...
... and a fairly accurate depiction of how people in 1950 would have reacted to her. Too many people - then and now - believe in "the just world syndrome " in which they believe that a completely innocent person going about their business could never be victim of such a brutal crime, because if they did believe this was possible, then it could happen to them, and that is just too upsetting to people who think they have a good bead on the world and how it runs.
It's interesting that director Ida Lupino tackled this difficult subject with as much reality as was possible with the production code in force, and that she also picked as the protagonist of the film a girl that looked very much like herself as a young woman - Mala Powers, only 19 when this film was made.
The basic framework is that Mala's character, Ann Walton, is attacked by a complete stranger late at night in a small town while walking home from work. The whole town thus knows what happened to her, she is subject to staring and whispering, and then her boyfriend thinks the answer is to get married right away. But Ann feels dirty and doesn't want any man to touch her, and halfway thinks her beau is proposing - and wanting a quick wedding out of town - out of pity for her and to make an honest woman of her, but without the curiosity seekers that a big wedding might attract.
A real telling scene is when she goes around her house, touching objects, as though she is a ghost of herself trying to remember what things were like before, and comes across a picture of herself at her first communion all decked out in white and smashes the picture, as though any purity in her died with the rape.
She runs away from home - she is a grown woman so she is missing more than she is truant - and tries to pick up the pieces of her life, but still with the image of the man who attacked her haunting her. Big doses of Christianity are injected as to the cure to everything - after all this is 1950 - but I also objected to the implication of all of society's ills as being psychiatric in nature. The preacher at the end is basically saying that Ann is as mentally sick as the rapist! This was decades before society had to admit that some people are just evil and want what they want when they want it and we just need to throw away the key for the sake of the rest of us.
No, I don't agree with every little thing Lupino said here, or maybe was forced to say due to the times, but it is worth watching and not that far off, at least from what victims go through in this kind of crime.
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