Cast & Crew
Carleton G. Young
One day, while practicing tennis in her Santa Monica driveway, eighteen-year-old Florence Farley meets Gordon McKay, who works at a nearby country club. Attracted to the young man, Florence introduces Gordon to her mother Milly, a middle-class housewife, and Milly, realizing he comes from a socially prominent family, encourages his interest in Florence. Gordon invites Florence to play tennis with him at the club, and Florence easily bests him. Florence's reputation as a tennis player quickly grows, and after a few months, the country club's manager, J. R. Carpenter, honors her with a complimentary membership. Carpenter also reveals that members of the club have offered to pay her way to Philadelphia so that she can compete in the national junior tennis championship. Although her modest father Will is somewhat reluctant to accept the club's generosity, ambitious Milly grabs at the offer and finagles a free trip for herself. In Philadelphia, Milly encounters Fletcher Locke, a tennis coach and promoter who has taken an interest in Florence. Milly flirts with Fletcher and is thrilled when he suggests that Florence could become a major tennis star with proper training. Florence wins the junior championship and returns to California, where she enjoys her new celebrity. When she accepts fifty dollars to play tennis with a rich girl, however, Gordon denounces her for jeopardizing her amateur standing. Fletcher then shows up at the Farleys' and offers to sponsor her on an East Coast tennis tour that summer. Confused, Florence confides in her sympathetic father, who advises her to make up with Gordon and go on the tour. To Florence's relief, Gordon forgives her and proposes that they marry once the tour is over and he has a "real job." After an initial struggle, particularly with her backhand, Florence becomes a serious contender on the women's circuit. When Florence makes the finals at Forest Hills, Fletcher presents Milly with a check from the president of the Continental Hotel chain and promises many future endorsements and a European tour if her daughter should win. As Gordon watches from the stands and her now-invalid father listens to the radio broadcast from home, Florence bests her opponent in the final match. Milly and Fletcher's glee at her victory is short-lived, however, as Florence announces that she is retiring to marry Gordon. Desperate for Florence's success to continue, Milly, whose approval of Gordon has diminished since learning he is not wealthy, talks Florence into asking Gordon to marry her in Europe while she is on tour. Gordon angrily rejects the idea and breaks his engagement to Florence. In Europe, Florence gets drunk for the first time and reveals to Milly that she knows that she has been receiving gifts and payments in her name. Embittered, Florence then declares that she will now play the game the way that her mother does--for money. Triumphant at Wimbledon, Florence establishes herself as a world champion and returns to the United States, where her lavish lifestyle draws much suspicion and criticism. On the eve of an important match, however, Florence and Milly receive word that Will is seriously ill, and Florence insists on flying to his bedside. After Florence vows to win the match for her father, Will derides Milly for using Florence to fulfill her own selfish needs and for abandoning their marriage. Despite exhaustion and depression, Florence successfully defends her national title the next day. She then announces that she is retiring from tennis and leaves with Gordon at her side. Later, the abandoned Milly sits forlornly in the stands as night descends.
Carleton G. Young
Arthur Little Jr.
Albert S. D'agostino
George C. Shrader
Hard, Fast and Beautiful
Hard, Fast, and Beautiful (1951) is about a talented tennis player whose greedy, ambitious mother pushes the girl up the ranks in professional tennis. Lupino later said that the characters were based on fact, but would not reveal who the real-life models were for the tennis champ and her grasping mother. She did say that the daughter abandoned her career though.
Sally Forrest, who had starred in two previous Lupino films, Not Wanted as the unwed mother, and Never Fear (1949) as the polio-stricken heroine, played Florence, the young tennis champ. Most of the remaining cast was made up of lesser-known character actors and newcomers. (Lupino herself and actor Robert Ryan made unbilled cameo appearances in Hard, Fast, and Beautiful as audience members at a tennis match.) But Lupino was lucky to have the services of Oscar®-winning actress Claire Trevor as the mother, Millie Farley. Trevor was a veteran of the same kind of tough, world weary roles Lupino had played, and she resisted any attempt to soften Millie's hard edges, while making her pitiable in her ruthlessness and drive.
The Filmakers' films had been distributed by RKO. Eventually, Lupino's partners in the company decided to try distributing on their own, but the effort was unsuccessful, and the company folded after The Bigamist (1953). Lupino turned to the small screen, and had a long and successful career as a television director. She also acted sporadically, both in films and television. She directed one last (atypical) feature, The Trouble with Angels (1966).
With the advent of the women's movement, some feminists tried to claim Lupino as one of their own, a label which Lupino herself rejected. And indeed, her Filmaker films hew very closely to accepted 1950's conventions of the role of women. It may be more accurate to call her work "humanist." In an appreciation written after Lupino's death in 1995, director Martin Scorsese wrote of her films, "they addressed the wounded soul and traced the slow, painful process of women trying to wrestle with despair and reclaim their lives. Her work is resilient, with a remarkable empathy for the fragile and the heartbroken. It is essential."
Director: Ida Lupino
Producer: Collier Young
Screenplay: Martha Wilkerson, based on a novel by John R. Tunis
Cinematography: Archie Stout
Editor: George C. Shrader, William Ziegler
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino, Jack Okey; Set Decoration, Harley Miller, Darrell Silvera
Music: Roy Webb
Principal Cast: Claire Trevor (Millie Farley), Sally Forrest (Florence Farley), Carleton G. Young (Fletcher Locke), Robert Clarke (Gordon McKay), Kenneth Patterson (Will Farley), Marcella Cisney (Miss Martin).
by Margarita Landazuri
Hard, Fast and Beautiful
The working titles of this film were Mother of a Champion and Loving Cup. Voice-over narration, spoken by Claire Trevor as her character "Milly Farley," is heard intermittently throughout the picture. Sally Forrest was borrowed from M-G-M for the production. Eleanor Tennant, who is credited onscreen as a technical advisor, coached Forrest on her tennis-playing scenes, according to a Hollywood Reporter news item. Location shooting took place at Forest Hills Tennis Club in Queens, New York, and in North Hollywood, CA. As noted by a Hollywood Reporter news item and the Daily Variety review, footage of actual tennis matches at Forest Hills and Wimbledon were included in the picture. According to the Hollywood Reporter review, the film, which marked Ida Lupino's third official directing assignment and was co-produced by The Filmakers, the company she ran with her then-husband, producer Collier Young, cost less than $300,000 to produce. Lupino and actor Robert Ryan can be seen briefly in the film as tennis match spectators.