The Bigamist

THE BIGAMIST is played by a convincingly harried Edmond O’Brien in this unusual 1953 drama, with Joan Fontaine and Ida Lupino as his understandably upset wives. The last of five movies directed by Lupino, the presentation, rather than exploiting the subject matter, is thoughtfully handled, and earned good reviews and not bad box office, considering that RKO dropped plans to distribute it. That was left to Filmakers Releasing Organization, the company developed and run by Lupino and Collier Young, who wrote this one and produced it. The insider end of the production was that Lupino and Young were married from 1948 to 1951 (Lupino pregnant from an affair with Howard Duff, who she then married,also in ’51). The following year Young  married Fontaine. Anyway, they all worked it out with somewhat better results than the characters in this little film.

Running 80 minutes, it also stars Edmund Gwenn as the head of an adoption agency who runs a check on San Franciscan business owner ‘Harry Graham’ (O’Brien) and wife ‘Eve’ (Fontaine), finding that Harry is also ‘Harrison Graham’ , whose frequent trips to Los Angeles are part of his life with wife ‘Phyllis’ (Lupino) with whom he has a child. Conscience and the law step in.

A compact (and compassionate) 80 minutes, with Kenneth Tobey and Jane Darwell, Jerry Hausner and Lilian Fontaine (mother of Joan). The plot slips in an in-joke when Harrison and Phyllis meet: on a bus, touring movie star homes, the driver points out the residence of Edmund Gwenn, and Harry comments on the actor’s famous role in Miracle On 34th Street. A gross of $2,700,000 marked #138 on the slate from 1953.

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