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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 <email@example.com>
A courageous, if cautious and dated, attempt to start talking about rape and its aftermath
Ida Lupino was one of the few women to break through the directorial glass ceiling in Hollywood under the studio system. Not surprisingly, she also tackled proto-feminist themes that, when touched at all, were approached in so gingerly a manner that it was seldom quite clear what was being talked about. In Outrage, she treats rape and its aftermath, and though throughout the short movie it's referred to as `criminal assault,' she leaves, for once, no doubt about what happened.
Mala Powers (in her official debut) plays a secretary-bookkeeper at a big industrial plant; she lives with her parents but is engaged to a swell guy (Robert Clarke), who just got a raise and now makes $90 a week. Leaving the plant after working late one night, she finds herself being stalked. In the ensuing scene the best in the movie she tries to escape her pursuer in a forbidding maze of buildings and alleys but fails.
When she returns home, disheveled and in shock, the police can't get much out of her; she claims she never saw her attacker (who manned a snack truck outside the factory). Trying to pretend that nothing happened, she returns to her job but falls apart, thinking that everybody is staring at her, judging her. She goes into a fugue state, running away to Los Angeles on a bus but stumbling off at a rest stop.
Waking up in a strange ranch house, she learns that she's been rescued by Tod Andrews, a young minister in a California agricultural town. She lies about her identity and takes a job packing oranges. The two fall vaguely in love, but it's clear to Andrews that Powers is keeping dire secrets. When, at a company picnic, she seizes a wrench and cracks the skull of Jerry Paris, who was trying to steal a kiss, the truth about her past comes out....
It was a courageous movie to come out in 1950, and that may explain and excuse some of its shortcomings. Lupino never recaptures the verve of the early assault scene, and the movie wanders off into the bucolic and sentimental, ending up talky and didactic. Yes, Lupino had important information to impart, but she didn't trust the narrative to speak for itself. Her cast, pleasant but bland and generic, weren't much help, either, reverting to melodramatic postures or homespun reassurance. But Outrage was a breakthrough, blazing a trail for later discourse on what the crime of rape really is, and what it really means to its victims.
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