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The Hard Way  /  Hard, Fast and Beautiful

The Hard Way
April 6, 2018 - 7:30 pm
Introduction by Alexandra Seros, screenwriter.

New 35mm print!

The Hard Way  (1943)

After years of accepting Bette Davis’ cast-off casting offers, under-utilized leading lady Ida Lupino has her chance to dazzle as the worldly, callous creature that would help define her legacy as an on-screen performer.  Her hardboiled turn as a pushy, stern “stage sister” to the moderately-talented, sequin-eyed Katie (Joan Leslie) substantiated Lupino’s nuanced talents to the critical elite, earning her the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress.  Based on a story by famed American playwright Irwin Shaw, The Hard Way features self-serving personalities who sink their heels deep into this drama’s malevolent core.  Unfolding as an elongated flashback, a narrative technique considered shockingly fresh in the early 1940s, the sisters’ dead-end mining town is quickly abandoned for a co-dependent, hollow life of ever-escalating fame—achieved by any means necessary. 

35mm, b/w, 109 min.  Production/Distribution: Warner Bros.  Director: Vincent Sherman.  Screenwriter: Daniel Fuchs, Peter Viertel.  Cinematographer: James Wong Howe.  Editor: Thomas Pratt.  Music: H. Roemheld.  Cast: Ida Lupino, Dennis Morgan, Joan Leslie, Jack Carson.

Hard, Fast and Beautiful  (1951)

Ida Lupino’s third assignment as a director for independent production company The Filmakers (founded by Lupino and her husband Collier Young) finds budding tennis star Florence (Sally Forrest) torn between her mother Millie (Claire Trevor), her fiance Gordon (Robert Clarke), and their diametrically-opposed dreams for her future.  Kinetic tennis matches are peppered between dirty little scenes unveiling the machinations of a brash, brazen “sports mother” whose designs for her daughter’s destiny lead her down corrupt, gnarled roads (similar in terrain in the toxic, codependent sibling relationship in The Hard Way).  Lupino’s tight tennis drama dabbles in the bleak, stark reality appropriate for the grit and honesty starting to grace the screen of post-War American cinema.

16mm, b/w, 76 min.  Production: The Filmakers, Inc.; RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  Distribution: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  Director: Ida Lupino.  Screenwriter: Martha Wilkerson.  Cinematographer: Archie Stout.  Editor: George C. Shrader, William Ziegler.  Music: Roy Webb.  Cast: Claire Trevor, Sally Forrest, Carleton G. Young, Robert Clarke, Kenneth Patterson.