Whereupon, at the tender age of thirteen, I set upon the path of playing nothing but hookers.
Is it any wonder she turned to directing? In an era, I might add, when that was a nearly impossible career choice for a woman. Have times changed? Not much. The percentage of women directing films and TV now is under 10 percent. Will times change? Darlings, that is inevitable.
Back to glorious Ida Lupino, born of a long line of entertainers in London 1918, she was called to Hollywood in 1933. Two years later Ms. Lupino — becoming more and more canny about the studio system and the art of filmmaking, and desirous of something a little more pithy to do than wave a fan over Claudette Colbert’s head in Cleopatra — received her first studio rebuke, and her first suspension. She was often suspended from her contract in her long acting career. During one of these times in 1948, she decided to start working behind the lens. She wrote, she produced, and on her first independent feature the director was struck ill, and she took over.
“If Hollywood is to remain on the top of the film world, I know one thing for sure — there must be more experimentation with out-of-the-way film subjects,” declared Ida Lupino, the DGA’s second female director member and one of its most prolific. In her day, she “tackled subjects that were pretty daring at the time – unwed mothers, under the table payoffs in amateur tennis, a hitchhiker’s cross-country crime spree, bigamy and polio.” In the early 1950s, this was no small feat, especially under the constant scrutiny of the Production Code Administration. A pioneer of independent, low-budget films, she later made the transition to television, directing episodes for 56 different series. On the set, she preferred being called “mother” and avoided ordering her crew around. “I’d say, ‘Darlings, mother has a problem. I’d love to do this. Can you do it? It sounds kooky, but I want to do it. Now can you do it for me?’ And they do it – they just do it.” Her director’s chair read: “Mother of all of us.”
via The Director’s Guild of America: Ida Lupino.
If you read along on the blog you will know I am near completion on a novel about a Hollywood babysitter’s unlikely rise to studio boss. I’ve toyed with the idea of calling it Snowball in Hell, settled on You Don’t Own Me, and recently (and since it centers on the longstanding relationships of five women, who meet young and stand together) I’m toying with calling it You and I are Certainly Simpatico. Here’s to the pioneering spirit of Ida Lupino.