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 <DanNGM@aol.com>
Final film of director Elmer Clifton. NOTE: Ida Lupino took over directing chores after Clifton suffered a serious heart attack and was unable to complete the picture and, in fact, died shortly after its 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 »
This is the first of Ida Lupino's social conscience films that also includes Outrage (1950) and The Bigamist (1953). Here she deals with the problems that a wedlock baby presents to a young mother (Forrest). It's a topic studios at the time were loathe to touch because of the tricky moral implications. Fortunately, Lupino deals with the topic in realistic and affecting fashion, and from the girl's pov.
Forrest shines as Sally the wedlock mother. As the innocent young woman, Forrest has to act out the many changes in the unwed mother's life, which she does in sympathetic fashion. Then too, Forrest looks the everyday part, petite, pretty, but hardly glamorous. Her hollow look as she roams the forlorn city streets remains unforgettable. (Note the use of ordinary downtown locations as background that helps identify Sally as an everyday person. Then, for contrast, catch how Sally's abruptly thrust into an urban jail cell, which comes across like an urban shark tank.)
Still, I'm really impressed with Leo Penn as Steve the moody pianist who can't seem to find himself. Sally's enthralled with his tempestuous music that suggests a darkly romantic soul underneath. At first, Steve resists her too youthful advances. But then he succumbs, leaving her pregnant (a word never used). Note too how carefully that romantic night is finessed, a Code requirement for the time. Anyway, Steve's not so much a selfish villain as a lost soul. This is an interesting twist since it's really she who presses the relationship instead of the man. And even though he terminates it rather cruelly, Sally is really the author of her own situation. This first part is handled extremely well and in generally non-Hollywood fashion.
The second part involves Sally leaving home and trying to deal with independence in a new town, while coping with a pregnancy that only emerges over time. However, Keefe Brasselle's gas station owner, where she goes to work, smacks of Hollywood contrivance. In short, he's an attractive, idealized bachelor, which means from that point on, we know how the story will end. I guess that even for the gutsy Lupino, the offbeat could only go so far. This second part, though affecting, comes across more conventionally. For me, the high point comes in the unwed mothers home. There a real pathos emerges between Joan and Sally as they ponder what the future holds for them.
Still and all, it's unfortunate actress-producer-director Lupino never got her due from the industry. She should be remembered as a pioneering woman on the production end as well as also being a fine performer. Too bad her gutsy social conscience films, such as this, were ill-timed. As early TV took over popular viewing habits, audiences for these small b&w's dwindled, soon causing them to drift into obscurity. At the same time was the cultural chill set off by HUAC and the McCarthy hearings of the early 50's. As a result, flirtation with touchy topics like this one gave way to the safe entertainment of I Love Lucy and The Ten Commandments. At the same time, screenwriters such as Not Wanted's Paul Jarrico would be blacklisted.
Nonetheless, Outrage remains a sensitively affecting story with continuing relevance even to our own more free-wheeling day. It also remains a lasting tribute to the boldly enterprising Ida Lupino.
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