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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>
Still of vital importance to cinematic and cultural representations of rape in modern society.
The didacticism and sheer sweetness (a function of film score as well as script and direction) of the cinematic action following the deft direction of a traumatic rape scene will strike many of today's viewers as dated. But upon closer inspection "Outrage" is subtle where least expected--both in terms of its understandings of rape and its expression of a feminine point of view in cinema.
Lupino will not allow a male finance's hasty and almost violent insistence on marriage immediately following the rape of the protagonist (played by Mala Powers) to become separated in the victim's--and by extension the viewer's--mind from the central theme, and plot-motivating device, of rape itself. The villainy of rape cannot be solved by the seemingly heroic gesture of the male, whose "sacrifice" places as much emphasis on the woman's exceptional circumstances as do the violation committed by the rapist. Such attempts to deny the reality of rape simply serve to ensure its persistence. The attempt to erase part of victim's past is another way of treating her as less than human.
The scene in which Powers' character hits an overly aggressive playboy with a wrench lacks the semblance of realism because Lupino shoots it from the point of view of the victim whose action in the present is dictated by the emotions triggered by her remembrance of the past. It's doubtful that any male director would have captured the scene in such non-violent, non-realistic detail and yet enabled us to see the action for what it is--an attempt by the character to erase the impression that the initial criminal act has left on her emotion-mental being.
Some modern viewers will no doubt accuse Lupino of being overly idealistic in portraying the rapist less as a criminal than himself the victim of an illness--one that would be curable, moreover, in a more socially aware and progressive culture. Unfortunately, the sheer logistics of psychological treatment leading to cures of those guilty of such heinous criminal acts will make Lupino's sentiments seem hopelessly naive to today's viewers. But is that sufficient reason to fault the director for acknowledging the gender divide as a two-way street?
Aside: Notice the scene in which the empowering new male friend is shown playing the piano from a camera POV just opposite his hands. In a subsequent scene, the piano is shown placed against the wall, which would make such a shot impossible.
As first I couldn't help but marvel at the similarity of a heavy detective to Hal March, host of the the highly popular "60,000 Question," prior to its exposure. Looking at the credits will reveal that it IS Hal March (the loss of 15-20 pounds obviously didn't hurt his career as much as the downfall of the popular quiz show).
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