Saturday, 8 July 2017

OUTRAGE - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Ida Lupino's Groundbreaking 1950 Film About Sexual Assault and Its Aftermath on 35mm at TIFF Bell Lightbox

If you're rich, you can attend a special "Patrons Circle Silver + Event" at TIFF Bell Lightbox (July 10) of Ida Lupino's Outrage, the groundbreaking 1950 film about a woman's sexual assault and its aftermath. According to the TIFF bumph:

"In our continuing mission to transform the way people see the world through film, we are pleased to invite Patron Circle Members at the Silver Level and above to attend Outrage..."


So, what this means is that you can come to this special event IF you are a Silver+ patron of TIFF. So pull out your cheque book and feel free to shell out: $4000 for a Silver Membership or $6000 for a Gold Membership or $8000 for a Platinum Membership or, if you're especially well-heeled, please cough up $12000 for a Leadership Membership.

Here's what you'll get:

"The evening begins with a cocktail reception on the stunning TIFF Bell Lightbox rooftop terrace overlooking Toronto's skyline. Continuing in-cinema, the courageous activist, author, and educator Jane Doe will join us to delve into the film's subject matter through the lens of her expertise on sexual violence and its systemic connections. Be a part of the change you want to see in the world, and join us for what is sure to be an engaging, informative, and inspiring event."


If you can cough up $4K to $12K, you'll have the opportunity - just BEFORE a movie about RAPE - to slosh back cocktails whilst gazing upon TIFF's "stunning" view of the Toronto Skyline. If you can cough up $4K to $12K, you'll have the opportunity to join "the courageous activist, author, and educator Jane Doe" as she delves into film... "through the lens of her expertise on sexual violence and its systemic connections." If you can pull $4K to $12K out of your keister, you can "Be a part of the change you want to see in the world." (If you can manage to dredge up $2K for a Bronze Membership, you are welcome to attend, but alas, you will NOT be allowed to slosh back cocktails whilst gazing upon TIFF's "stunning" view of the Toronto Skyline just BEFORE a movie about RAPE.)

If you CAN'T cough up $4K to $12K to attend the July 10 event, you can STILL see Outrage on Thursday, August 24 during the TIFF Cinematheque retrospective "Ida Lupino: Independent Woman". There will be no cocktail party and, thus far, no word on a special presentation from Jane Doe. You will, however, eventually get to see this important film on 35mm, even IF you aren't loaded.

Lovely! The film, as always, should be the thing.

In 1950 Ida Lupino directed this important film
about sexual assault and its aftermath.

Outrage (1950)
Dir. Ida Lupino
Scr. Lupino, Malvin Wald, Collier Young
Starring: Mala Powers, Tod Andrews, Robert Clarke

Review By Greg Klymkiw

The grim stocky lunch counter clerk has had a long hard day serving up joe and burgers to a steady stream of warehouse district workers. Night is falling and though he tries to wipe the dank sweat from his pudgy face and hideously scarred neck, the stink of standing for hours on end has, no doubt, permeated into his grubby clothes and sticks to him like flies to shit.

Yeah, he's dirty, but not just in body. He's foul to the depths of his soul. And he needs to blow off some steam. He deserves it. He's a man, after all. But he is a man alone and has little more amidst the ennui of post-War America than to slink home to whatever squalid digs await him.

But hark! Opportunity comes sidling round the corner.

Whistling happily, striding along the empty alleyways after staying late at work, is pretty, young bookkeeper Ann Walton (Mala Powers). She's happy and confident. Why wouldn't she be? She's a strong, independent woman, heading home and infused with happiness that she's soon to be married to Jim Owens (Robert Clarke), a sweet young man who has just got a raise. Both of them are looking forward to an upwardly mobile life, eventually creating hearth, home and family - together.

Ah, if only life was so easy. Ann is about to be raped and everything she holds sacred is about to come crashing down upon her.

Welcome to the stunning, groundbreaking portrait of sexual assault and its aftermath from director Ida Lupino. Outrage was released in 1950 by RKO. It was only the second film ever made in Hollywood (the first was 1948's Johnny Belinda) to deal with this subject matter and though the themes and content would be enough to solidify its historical significance, it's an astonishing achievement of film art.

Lupino was a great director. She made six films (including Outrage, The Hitch-Hiker and The Bigamist) through the independent company she founded with her then-husband Collier Young and they stand as a testament to her commitment to presenting films about social issues - often about women and from a decidedly female standpoint. Here she brings all her vision to bear. It's a truly dazzling picture.

Lupino's eye is impeccable. Though this is clearly a product of its time (the word "rape", nor the phrase "sexual assault" are ever used), the universal properties of the film's perspective are, sadly and powerfully, as relevant today as they were in 1950.

When we first see the rapist and his initial encounter with Ann, his macho swagger is unmistakeable. There's a strange "innocence" to his flirting, at least initially. After all, she's a pretty lady patronizing his lunch counter and he notes that she's purchasing two takeout containers of cake to bring as a lunchtime treat for her "boyfriend".

He seems friendly at first, a bit of good-natured joshing about her dumping the dude and dating him instead. But ultimately, it's not good-natured at all. He's a fucking creep. He even begins to brag about his manly prowess. Brilliantly, Lupino allows the scene to play almost matter-of-factly, at least from Ann's perspective. She politely ignores his entreaties. She's a woman, after all, and must surely be hit on by most guys with a dick twixt their legs. Her response seems innocently a matter of course. What's not right is the way the clerk stares at her. She's a sex object - pure and simple.

During a seemingly sweet moment when she sits on a crowded park bench with Jim as he proposes marriage to her, Lupino focuses upon prying eyes. This time, it's not a guy who looks disapprovingly about the couple's open expression of love, but a woman. Society's disapproval is everywhere. Even after Ann is raped, disapproval comes under the guise of caring.

The rape scene, as directed by Lupino, still packs a punch - maybe even more now than it did in 1950. Conjuring every available filmmaking tool, she creates a visual and aural assault upon us as Ann is stalked through the labyrinthine warehouse district - canted angles, expressionistic shadows, eerily unsettling God-shots and the sounds of clicking heels on the pavement, leering wolf-whistles, the clatter of a tin can smashing on the pavement and a faulty blaring truck horn to drown out the sounds of her whimpering as the hulking mass of male dominance looms above her - to take from her what he wants.

Much later on in the film, after Ann's been assaulted and left town, there's a sequence almost more powerful than the harrowing rape scene Lupino previously depicts. Here Ann has tried to escape the "shame" and whispers her assault has engendered. She lives peacefully in a rural California enclave, surrounded by good, decent people, including Rev. Bruce Ferguson (Tod Andrews), a veteran haunted by the horrors of war who seeks his own escape by offering compassion, solace and ministry to those in need.

Under sunny skies, an outdoor harvest dance ensues. Ann is among friends and for the first time in a long time, she has some peace, some much-needed solace and company. What she doesn't need is a handsome predator, demanding a dance, insisting upon her attention. Yes, this man's pursuit is "innocent", but Lupino infuses his desires with a creepy, almost matter-of-fact predatory tone.

He wants what he wants.

He thinks he can take it.

And he doesn't understand the meaning of the word "No."

Outrage doesn't let up. Nor, it seems, do predators.


Outrage plays in 35mm in the TIFF Bell Lightbox series "Ida Lupino: Independent Woman".