Few noir films feature happy endings, even when a romantic couple is at their center. But then, why would we want to watch something mushy like that for a #BNoirDetour Valentine’s Day live tweet?
Instead, let’s tackle a film about love that was deemed so controversial that RKO pulled out, leaving the filmmakers to distribute it on their own. The topic was considered “sordid,” despite the film’s avoidance of sensationalism and its morally ambiguous and relatively sympathetic portrayal of a man torn between two women. Or, well, two wives.
You know how that is, right? You live in SF with an uptight infertile wife, but you don’t want to leave her. And then you work in LA and fall in love with a working-class gal who isn’t uptight or infertile. And suddenly it’s you and me and baby makes three. What’s a guy to do?
Edmond O’Brien, the big lug, is our protagonist in this “revealing! tense!” film that, apparently, “every woman should see!” (Ladies, is your Valentine raising a baby with another woman?!) You’ll have to decide for yourself the plausibility of the scenario and the appeal of O’Brien as the man who’s landed both glamorous Joan Fontaine and earthy Ida Lupino. And then you can decide whether this is a social issue film, a melodrama, film noir, or all three.
Meanwhile, do enjoy Edmund Gwenn as the adoption agent for O’Brien and Wife 1, a determined man who won’t stop until he’s uncovered the hidden truth!! (Particularly delightful are the in-jokes referencing Gwenn’s portrayal of Santa Claus in Miracle on 34th Street.)
Finally, with Ida Lupino in the director’s chair for this unique picture, I get to help you keep up with the #52FilmsByWomen commitment I hope you’ve made!
Whatever your reasons, do join us for this very B, strangely Noir experience on Sunday, February 14 at 9pm et.
The Bigamist is in the public domain, so you can download it at archive.org or similar sites or watch it on YouTube: