Ida Lupino's Never Fear Film Report
Ida Lupino was an actress, director and producer, born in London in 1918 to a comedian and an actress family. By 1930s she was already a popular actress: after closing a contract with Paramount, she moved to Hollywood in 1934. In most of her movies, Ida was playing the tough, but sympathetic characters from “the wrong side of the tracks”. (Biography.com) Ida is known as a trailblazing female director and producer: within the 1950s she was the only woman in Hollywood directing. With her own independent film production studio, Ida co-wrote and co-produced several of her films on controversial social themes, for example: Not Wanted (1949). The film uncovered the struggle of an unwed mother. Other films addressed such topics as rape and bigamy. The most part of her later acting, writing, and directing career was in television: Ida directed over 100 episodes of various genres: Westerns, situation comedies, tales, gangster stories and murder mysteries. (IMDb) After fighting cancer, Lupino died in 1995, in Burbank, California. (Biography.com)
Never Fear, released in 1949, is a drama movie, directed and co-written by Ida Lupino. The work is also known as The Young Lovers. Never Fear became Ida's first official directing credit, she wrote it together with Collier Young, her then-husband. The film tells the story of a dancer Carol (Sally Forrest), who fights a crippling disease – polio. (Graham, Pat) Like the lead character, Ida Lupino also got polio at her young years. (IMDb) The film expresses Lupino's gaze on female strength and resourcefulness: the stricken dancer refuses to give up on her career and romantic goals, even though the situation seemed hopeless at first. (Graham, Pat)
Reviews characterized Never Fear as a “strange mix of melodrama and realism”. (Marie, Anne) Lupino had a small budget for the filming so she shot scenes on inside of a polio clinic in Los Angeles, and used paralyzed polio patients as actors and extras. A lot of scenes are showing the physical therapy procedures that patients undergo. (Marie, Anne) As the story develops and Carol fails to stand, she seems to have given up, slips into depression and gets in a fight with her fiancé, Guy (Keefe Brasselle), leaving him heart-broken. The patient Len, whom Carol meets at the clinic, as well as charismatic and very honest doctor Middleton help her through the hardest moments of a struggle while love for Guy keeps her motivated to get well after all.
To my observation, Never Fear film does not pass the Bechdel test. Carol, the lead character engages in only two conversations with other female heroines. The first one – a short chat with her physiotherapist – about how long would it take her to recover. The second one – a bit longer – with another patient named Josie: they discussed how polio affected Josie’s relationships with her husband, which, she said, only got better with this common battle. Conversation with Josie certainly helped Carol to understand her own feelings in relation …