B Movie Classic - 'The Bigamist'

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'The Bigamist.' The first time I encountered this title, I thought, "What the....? I gotta see this!" The director and cast are major selling points and may even persuade those put off by the title. Would a movie of this nature ever be made today? Nope. This was a true 50's classic b-movie, the kind of movie that will rarely be shown at any theaters today (the ones that show retrospectives and have real live film projectors), won't get too much tv time, and probably won't be cleaned up and repackaged any time soon. I bought the DVD about 10 years ago as part of a 10 for $50 deal out of an old movie catalog. I've seen it 5 or 6 times over the years and the only thing catchy about it for me is the title. Otherwise, 'The Bigamist' is an example of one of the many good 50's b-movies in the crime/film noir genres.

The film's director and co-lead actress is Ida Lupino. Ida Lupino acted in many films but she also directed 5 which she received credit for (out of a possible 7) between 1949-1953. One such film, another classic 50's B-movie with good cast is 'D.O.A.' which can also be seen here at  http://www.filmannex.com/webtv/baxter_martin/movie/doa/262.

It may seem completely innocuous to some but Ida Lupino was just about the only woman directing movies around Hollywood. We may be only left with a few but she made good solid movies. Later on she migrated to doing tons of tv work, even episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Speaking of Hitchcock, two veterans of said director, Joan Fontaine and Edmund Gwenn are 2 of the other actors in 'The Bigamist' along with Edmond O'Brien (star of D.O.A.). This quartet of actors is a really talented lot and fun to watch. Edmund Gwenn (Santa in 'Miracle on 34th Street') definitely got some laughs out of me. O'Brien's character may be the one living the double life in those far away cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles, but all four have their duplicitous natures. Ida's Phyllis is a jaded, sarcastic woman spurned by love who wants to, but is scared to fall in love again. Joan Fontaine's Eve is a strong corporate woman who transforms into a loving want-to-be mother and wife. Gwenn's adoption investigator Mr. Jordan (and despite O'Brien's narration is really the point of view the viewer takes) looks the part of a "santa who just wants to give babies away" as Eve describes is a very shrewd investigator motivated by some past mistake never divulged. And O'Brien's Los Angeles Harrison Graham and San Francisco's Harry Graham are both the same man: a hard boiled softy.

It may be a crime movie by nature but there's no malicious intent driving any plot matter. Our pov Mr. Jordan somes it up best at the end when he says he doesn't know how he feels about Mr. Graham. He's a schmuck for being a bigamist but he really was just trying to spread the love!

About the author


Baxter Martin has a B.A. in Cinema Studies from American University. Historian and scholar of international & American cinemas. Baxter Martin is contributing to Film Annex by researching silent films and other classics that should have a greater audience in the film world. Baxter is also an adviser for the…

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