Maddy Loves Her Classic Films is the blogging site for Maddy, a classic movie fan. When I saw she was hosting a blogathon set for today, I asked to participate and she kindly accepted my request. Maddy was wanting to honor an actress who also directed for tv shows and movies, Ida Lupino. Be sure […]
Maddy Loves Her Classic Films is the blogging site for Maddy, a classic movie fan. When I saw she was hosting a blogathon set for today, I asked to participate and she kindly accepted my request. Maddy was wanting to honor an actress who also directed for tv shows and movies, Ida Lupino. Be sure to visit Maddy's blog site to read more excellent posts about Ida Lupino and her career.
I didn't pay much attention to old movies when I was a kid. Sure I enjoyed watching reruns of The Three Stooges, The Little Rascals on tv afterschool, and late on Saturday nights one of the tv stations I could access would air the old Flash Gordon serial. When I was a college student, one summer, the PBS station out of Toledo, OH (Channel 30, I think?) would air old movies beginning at 1:00, M-F. I began tuning in and that is where I first met Ida Lupino, in a drama that whet my appetite for more of these old movies. I credit Lupino's performance in this film with giving me a reason to begin to try and find more old movies, turning me into a classic film fan. The Ida Lupino movie was Deep Valley made at Warner Brothers Studio hitting American movie theaters in 1947.
Deep Valley was based on a novel written by Dan Totheroh. The novel sold well enough with the reading public for Warner Brothers to take notice and acquire the rights to turn the novel into a film. Jean Negulescu was hired to direct, Salka Viertel, Stephen Morehouse Avery, and William Faulkner(yes, that William Faulkner!), were the screenwriters. The soaring music was by none other than Max Steiner. Cast: Ida Lupino, Dane Clark, Wayne Morris, Fay Bainter, Henry Hull, Willard Robertson.
Lupino plays Libby Saul, a young woman who lives with her parents north of Big Sur, California. Libbie and her parents(Fay Bainter, Henry Hull) are pretty isolated, working their small farm to make a living. We assume Libbie is a high school graduate but she doesn't leave the farm for a job in any town that may be nearby, and she's certainly not enrolled in any college. She is the “wall” between her parents. For some reason, her parents won't communicate with each other and use Libbie as their communication method. Married, but in name only, it's a miserable home to live in and to get away from this choking, negative environment, Libbie often likes to roam the nearby woods and a deep valley with her dog.
A highway construction engineer and his crew of workers, prisoners from San Quentin, come to the area near the Saul's farm, to continue working on a state road project. Libbie can watch the men working from the woods, and she notices one convict, Barry Burnette(Dane Clark). The engineer, Jed Barker(Wayne Morris) and the convicts come to the Saul's farm one day to ask for water. Libbie's father, at first seeing a chance to make some money, agrees to sell the men water. As Barker decides to walk away from this ridiculous offer, Saul changes his mind and lets them have the water for free. Noticing how Barker notices Libbie, Saul invites the engineer to their home for dinner. It is soon obvious that the Sauls want Libbie to strike up a relationship with Barker that will lead to marriage. Libbie is very shy, but does notice Barker's kindness towards her. However, at the dinner, she asks Barker questions about the convict Barry. As the story picks up some speed, Libbie does meet Barry, they fall in love, and to find out the rest of this film, you'll have to seek it out!
Some questions for you to ponder though: Will Libbie and Barry be able to be together? Barry does escape from the work gang(spoiler) so will Libbie help him? What of Barker, will he be able to convince Libbie to give up on Barry? Will the Saul's find a way to renew their marriage? Will Libbie ever find a happier existance?
Ida Lupino's performance is what held me entranced as I watched this movie for the first time in the mid-1980s. She absolutely makes one care about Libbie; sad, shy, simple Libbie. You root for her in her search for love, search for a better life than the one she has on that farm. Her performance touched me deeply and I still remember that aspect of her acting to this day. I truly feel I owe it to Ida Lupino for my becoming a fan of classic films.
Deep Valley is available to purchase via Amazon or TCM's Shop. If your local library offers dvds to rent, or if your community's local movie rental store has a decent classic film area, it may be there.