Directed by Ida Lupino and written by Lupino, Malvin Wald, and Collier Young, Outrage is the story of a woman whose life is shattered after she had been raped as she struggles to move on. The film is a study of a woman whose life was about to take a major step is suddenly traumatized by an act of rape just as she was returning home from work. Starring Mala Powers, Tod Andrews, and Robert Clarke. Outrage is a haunting and evocative film from Ida Lupino.
The film follows a young woman who is walking home from work where she is raped by a man with a scar on his neck as she struggles with what happened to her as she runs away from her life and home uncertain about what to do. It is a film that has a simple premise as it explores rape and trauma where a woman who just got engaged to another man is pursued and raped by another man whom she sees every day at work but never really knew. The film’s screenplay by Ida Lupino, Malvin Wald, and Collier Young is largely straightforward in its narrative yet it is really more of an exploration of trauma and how a woman’s life shatters by this event and how it would force her to run away but still haunted by what happened to her. The script largely follows its protagonist Ann Walton (Mala Powers) who had a lot going for her but being raped by a concession stand worker she sees everyday but is unaware that he was stalking her would change things.
The film’s first half is set in small town where Ann’s family and her fiancée Jim Owens (Robert Clarke) are concerned for her but there’s people gossiping and whispering around her as it added the carelessness she is dealing around her forcing her to leave. The film’s second half has her trying to go to Los Angeles but ended up in a small town when she learned she’s being searched as she finds refuge in a small town after she had been found by Reverend Bruce Ferguson (Tod Andrews) who is unaware of her real identity after she sprained her ankle. Ferguson is a man who also went through a lot following World War II as he returned to his home because he felt a peacefulness there and wants to help as he gets Ann a job while learning more about who she is and the trauma she is dealing with.
Lupino’s direction does bear elements of style yet much of her presentation is straightforward though the film opens with a view of Ann running as she is being chased by this unknown man. Shot on various locations in California including some sets in Hollywood, Lupino does maintain this air of suspense during this chase scene where her usage of close-ups and medium shots add to the terror where she doesn’t show the actual rape but rather use sound and bits of shadow to show what is happening. Since the word “rape” was taboo in the late 1940s/1950s and wasn’t considered a serious things back then. Lupino does showcase this sense of ignorance and lack of real understanding over what happened to Ann despite the concerns from her parents, Jim, and a few others including a police detective that is trying to understand what happened to her. Lupino’s direction also play into this air of claustrophobia into the shame that Ann is carrying as she thinks it’s her own fault. Lupino’s wide shots that includes the film’s opening sequence and another version of that same chase scene do play into that sense of fear but also in serene moments in the film’s second half where she meets Ferguson as he shows her his favorite place overlooking his hometown.
Lupino does calm things down for the film’s second half when Ann is in this new town where she is given a new job but there are these moments of a woman that is having a hard time opening herself to people with Ferguson being patient. Even during a scene that is about trauma and Ann completely losing it where Ferguson not only learns what happened to her but he is the one that is willing to say something. The film’s ending is an ambiguous one as it relates to Ann’s journey as it is clear that she’s still coping with what happened to her where Lupino keeps the camera away but knows when to shoot a close-up or a medium shot to play into Ann’s final decision. Overall, Lupino crafts a riveting yet terrifying film about woman who gets raped and deals with the trauma of what happened to her.
Cinematographers Louis Clyde Stoumen and Archie Stout do amazing work with the film’s black-and-white cinematography as it add to the film’s eerie presentation in its usage of shadows and light for the chase scene as well as aiming for something naturalistic in the daytime exterior scenes. Editor Harvey Manger does excellent work with the editing as it has some stylish montages and some rhythmic cuts that play into the suspense as well as the usage of dissolves as it help play into the drama. Production designer Harry Horner, with set decorators Harley Miller and Darrell Silvera, does brilliant work with the look of the Walton home as well as the look of the home that Ferguson lives in. The sound work of John L. Cass and Clem Portman is terrific for the atmosphere it creates in some of the film’s suspenseful moments as well as how sound effects add to the drama. The film’s music by Constantin Bakaleinikoff and Paul Satwell is wonderful for its orchestral score as it play into the drama with its lush strings and eerie arrangements for the film’s suspenseful moments.
The film’s superb cast featured some notable small roles from Tristram Coffin as a judge at a small town, Jerry Paris as a man at a gathering that pursues Ann at the small town, Roy Engel as the local sheriff, Kenneth Patterson and Angela Clarke in their respective roles as Tom and Madge Harrison who are friends of Ferguson, Hal March as Detective Sergeant Hendrix who is trying to help Ann find her attacker, and Raymond Bond and Lilian Hamilton as Ann’s parents who are troubled by what happened to Ann as well as try to understand her trauma. Robert Clarke is fantastic as Ann’s fiancée Jim as a man that is having a hard time coping with what happened to her while is hoping marriage will heal things. Tod Andrews is amazing as Reverend Bruce Ferguson as a kind-hearted man from a small town who helps Ann in finding a job and solace while being patient in trying to understand what happened to her. Finally, there’s Mala Powers in an incredible performance as Ann Walton as a woman who suffered a traumatic event in her life where Powers displays the anguish and turmoil of a woman that is suffering while being unsure in how to cope with what happened to her as it is a mesmerizing performance from Powers.
Outrage is a phenomenal film from Ida Lupino that features a haunting performance from Mala Powers. Along with its ensemble cast, striking visuals, and its themes of trauma and anguish following the act of rape. The film is definitely a look into a then-taboo subject matter and how it is told as it is a film that was ahead of its time when the subject of rape wasn’t in the discussion. In the end, Outrage is an incredible film from Ida Lupino.
Ida Lupino Films: (Not Wanted) – (Never Fear) – (Hard, Fast, and Beautiful) – The Hitch-Hiker - The Bigamist – (The Trouble with Angels)
© thevoid99 2021