Cast & Crew
After her boyfriend, Jim Owens, announces that he has gotten a raise and is now ready to marry, Ann Walton, a bookkeeper at a Capital City factory, eagerly accepts his proposal. Although Ann's father, a high school teacher, feels that she is too young to marry, he nonetheless gives the happy couple his blessing. The next evening, Ann is the last one to leave the office and quickly becomes aware that a man is following her. The man, who works at the company's lunch stand, chases Ann into a truck parking lot and corners her. Terrified, Ann slips on some steps, hitting her head, and is unable to defend herself against her pursuer's subsequent assault. Later, when a shocked and bruised Ann returns home, her outraged parents notify the police, who immediately question Ann about the rape. Ann cannot remember anything about the attack, however, except that the man had a scar on his neck and wore a leather jacket. Though fearful, Ann soon returns to work and is treated with a mixture of compassion and curiosity that she finds unnerving. Ann is then asked to observe a police line-up, but cannot identify anyone. When a confused but supportive Jim tells Ann that he still loves her and wants to marry her right away, she announces that she will never marry as she now "feels dirty." Unable to go on with her life in Capital City, Ann leaves home without a word and boards a bus for Los Angeles. While at a rest stop in northern California, Ann hears a radio report about her disappearance, and fearing she will be recognized, takes off on foot. After walking for miles, Ann sprains her ankle and collapses on the side of the road, exhausted. Seeing her there, a passing stranger, Dr. Bruce Ferguson, stops to help and takes her to the nearby Harrison orange ranch. Ann is at first frightened of Bruce, but soon realizes that he and Tom Harrison and his wife are caring people. Later, Ann, who now calls herself Ann Blake, learns that Tom's Santa Paula orange packing plant is shorthanded and volunteers to work there as a packer. When Bruce stops by the plant to check up on her, Ann avoids answering his questions, especially after she learns that he is a minister. Though curious about Ann, Bruce respects her silences and arranges for her to work as Tom's bookkeeper. One day, Bruce talks Ann into going with him to his "peaceful" spot, which overlooks the Santa Paula valley. Ann is awed by the beauty of the place and listens thoughtfully as Bruce tells her about his difficult wartime experiences and his subsequent loss of faith. Although Bruce reassures her that, just as he rediscovered his faith, so will she, Ann is still unable to talk about the rape. Later, Sheriff Charlie Hanlon stops by the plant and, in front of Ann, asks Tom if he has recently hired any new workers. Sure that the sheriff is after her, Ann runs off, but later shows up at Bruce's house. Bruce, who is falling in love with Ann, reassures her that the sheriff was not looking for her and advises her to stop running. Bruce then invites Ann to the upcoming harvest dance, and though nervous, she attends. When plant worker Frank Marini flirts forcefully with her and tries to kiss her, however, Ann panics and hits him over the head with a heavy wrench. Terrified and confused, Ann flees the dance and is later found by Bruce. Ann is arrested, and Bruce finally learns about the rape from the sheriff. After talking with the still-delusional Ann in her jail cell, Bruce is convinced of her essential innocence. Later, in Judge McKenzie's chambers, Bruce produces an affidavit from Frank absolving Ann of blame, and pleads with prosecuting attorney Porter to dismiss the charges against her. Although Porter reluctantly agrees, McKenzie insists that Ann be examined by a psychiatrist. Once satisfied that Ann is not a threat to society, the judge officially drops the charges, but orders that Ann receive psychiatric treatment for one year. Later, Bruce tells Ann that he has spoken with her parents and advises her to return to them and to the still-faithful Jim. Ann is at first frightened at the prospect of returning but, inspired by Bruce's faith and selflessness, agrees to go. As a grateful Ann boards an east-bound bus, Bruce wishes her well, then looks heavenward for solace.
But film noir is not characterized strictly by armed robbery and spousal murder. Its essence lies more in the psychological fabric of the story, and the visual techniques with which the story is told. And few films captured the post-WWII zeitgeist of noir more effectively than Outrage.
Working late to earn extra money for her upcoming marriage, Ann Walton (Mala Powers) is stalked one night by the proprietor of a snack wagon (Albert Mellen), whose previous efforts to flirt with Ann had been unsuccessful. Unable to identify her attacker, Ann attempts to resume a life of normalcy, but is unable to endure the curious stares of her neighbors and co-workers. Utterly alone in her psychological pain, she flees Capital City and wanders to an orange grove community. Finding temporary work as a fruit-packer, she befriends Bruce Ferguson (Tod Andrews), a soft-spoken minister who has suffered his own crises of faith, and who recognizes the need to delicately heal Ann's emotional wounds.
In some ways, Outrage clearly bears the earmarks of noir. The stalking sequence is filled with the angular compositions and encroaching shadows that define the genre's visual form, yet Lupino avoids some of the typical methods of generating suspense. Instead of burying the scene under an overwrought orchestral score, the scene is largely silent, which only compounds the tension. At first we hear Ann whistling pleasantly, absent-mindedly... but this is countered by the wolf-like whistle of the rapist, who taunts her from the shadows. The sexual predator at last corners his prey, and the assault occurs amid the nerve-grating drone of a truck horn that Ann accidentally jams during her attempted escape. When the camera cranes skyward to reveal an annoyed neighbor closing his window to block out the truck horn (and any sound of the rape along with it), the steadily-mounting tension of Outrage reaches its zenith.
Once Ann is attempting to start her life anew, there is very little attention paid to the search for the culprit. In some ways this is another diversion from the conventions of noir, which tend to focus upon the machinations of crime and punishment. But equally important to the genre is the psychological torment and confusion that cloud its characters' perspectives. Ann's inner turmoil is just as engrossing as any criminal investigation would be, and Lupino clearly wants to show that capturing the rapist would do little to ease Ann's pain and confusion, which is likely to linger well after the closing credits have run.
Lupino's unwillingness to conclude the film with a trite happy ending that magically restores its characters to normalcy is one of Outrage's many special achievements. But escaping the conventionality of screen drama was one of Lupino's ongoing objectives as a writer/producer/director.
Beginning her career as an actress, British-born and educated Lupino made her American screen debut in 1934. In the 1940s she became a contract player at Warner Bros. and was (perhaps appropriately) typecast as a smart dame who could hold her own opposite such legendary tough guys as Humphrey Bogart (High Sierra, 1941), Edward G. Robinson (The Sea Wolf, 1941) or George Raft (They Drive by Night, 1940). She was once called "the poor man's Bette Davis" because the roles she often played were initially offered to the tart-tongued A-list actress. But Lupino was not content to accept roles cast off by the Warner Bros. star. Lupino's refusal to accept certain roles caused the studio to suspend her contract as punishment.
Rather than remain idle or accept ill-suited roles, Lupino took control of her own career and formed a production company with husband Collier Young, producing films outside the studio system.
Lupino named her production company Emerald Productions, after her mother, Connie Emerald. Her ambition was to produce films that broached subjects generally avoided by the Hollywood mainstream. In addition to Outrage's careful treatment of rape, Lupino's films addressed such unconventional topics as bigamy (The Bigamist, 1953), unwed motherhood (Not Wanted, 1949), polio (Never Fear, 1949) and even the corruption of sports (Hard, Fast and Beautiful, 1951).
Because these films were produced outside the system, they lack some of the technical polish of the typical studio film. Lupino was reliant upon actors who had not yet been signed by the studios, so her films are largely populated with unknowns. Likewise, the director of Emerald's first film was Elmer Clifton, a veteran of silent movies who was making a living as director-for-hire on low-grade westerns (The Whispering Skull, 1944). Clifton fell ill early in the shoot and Lupino, to keep the production alive, stepped behind the camera. The company was renamed The Filmakers Inc. and the twenty-year career of an influential woman director was begun.
The slightly ragtag feel of Lupino's films, coupled with their often sensational subject matter, has caused Lupino (the director) to be recently dubbed "Queen of the B's."
The nickname Lupino preferred was a throwback to her Warner Bros. moniker: "the poor man's Don Siegel." Siegel (Dirty Harry, 1971) was a director of hard-boiled dramas and was known for his strong work ethic and no-nonsense visual style. The parallel is perhaps nowhere more evident than in Lupino's noir classic The Hitch-Hiker (1953). As years passed, Lupino became recognized as a remarkably versatile and efficient director, working on a variety of television programs including Gilligan's Island (1964), Bewitched (1964) and the Boris Karloff series Thriller (1960).
Director: Ida Lupino
Producer: Collier Young
Screenplay: Collier Young, Malvin Wald, Ida Lupino
Cinematography: Archie Stout, Louis Clyde Stoumen
Production Design: Harry Horner
Music: Paul Sawtell
Cast: Mala Powers (Ann Walton), Tod Andrews (Bruce Ferguson), Robert Clarke (Jim Owens), Raymond Bond (Eric Walton), Lillian Hamilton (Mrs. Walton), Rita Lupino (Stella Carter).
by Bret Wood
The working titles of this film were Nice Girl and Nobody's Safe. Although the onscreen credit for Mala Powers (1931-2007)reads "introducing Mala Powers," she previously had appeared in Tough As They Come . Tod Andrews, however, did make his screen acting debut in the film. Rita Lupino, who was director Ida Lupino's sister, received onscreen credit for the role of "Stella Carter," but that character is only mentioned in the film's dialogue, and she did not appear in the completed film. Motion Picture Herald release charts list the film's release date as August 1950, but according to Hollywood Reporter, the film's "special pre-release" Boston premiere did not take place until September 27, 1950. Outrage marked the first of several co-productions between RKO and The Filmakers, a company headed by Ida Lupino, her then husband, producer Collier Young, and their partner, Malvin Wald. Some scenes in the film were shot in Marysville, CA, according to Hollywood Reporter.
Outrage was one of the first American films to deal at length with the topic of rape, and its content was at first rejected by the PCA. In a February 1, 1950 interoffice memo, found in the MPAA/PCA files at the AMPAS Library, the PCA deemed a late January 1950 draft of the script "unacceptable" according to the Code because it dealt "exclusively with rape." The PCA complained about the story's overemphasis on the "element of sex perversion," noting that the terms "sex maniac" and "sex fiend" were used "throughout" the script.
Although Young and Wald at first objected to the criticisms and threatened to appeal the rejection, they eventually reworked the script according to the PCA's suggestions. On February 8, 1950, PCA director Joseph I. Breen approved the revised script, commenting favorably on the removal of all references to the rapist's sexual nature. Breen cautioned the filmmakers against "sensationalizing" the story in the filming and advised eliminating the words "rape" and "rapist" from the script. Those words are never used in the film. Reviewers also commented on the film's provocative subject matter and, for the most part, praised Lupino's handling of it. While the New York Times reviewer lauded Lupino for being "forthright in her approach to rape and its tragic aftermath," the Los Angeles Examiner reviewer stated that "with courage and frankness within the limits of good taste, Outrage points up the serious consequences to society and to individuals inherent in the predatory actions of sex criminals."