Today’s distraction? A very melodramatic Film Noir that answers to the name Outrage.
According to IMDB.com, Outrage was directed by renowned industry mover-and-shaker Ida Lupino, a talented lady who got her start in front of the camera before going behind it. As a storyteller, she marshaled an incredible forty-two different projects to screens big and small while still managing to act in well over one hundred different ones. Outrage’s script is credited to Lupino along with Collier Young and Malvin Wald. Also, it bears mentioning that in 2020 the flick was inducted into the U.S.’s National Film Registry, the organization tasked with securing and maintaining prints of motion pictures deemed to have demonstrated cultural, historical, or aesthetic contributions to film. That alone speaks volumes about Outrage’s quality, though I’ll admit up front that I found this one a bit undercooked (in performances) so far as my particular sensibilities align.
As per my usual format, the film’s synopsis appears below. My two cents on its construction follow.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last few paragraphs for the final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the film’s IMDB.com page citation:
“A young woman who has just become engaged has her life completely shattered when she is raped while on her way home frow work.”
Full disclosure: I am not a woman. More to the point: I am a man.
Consequently, I’m also disclosing that – entirely because of my gender – I’ve been cautioned on more than a single occasion to (cough cough) watch what I say about women’s issues.
So … consider yourself warned. If a man talking about the subject of rape isn’t in your wheelhouse, then I’d encourage you one last time to go elsewhere.
Outrage is a slow-burning pressure cooker that deals surprisingly respectfully with the topic of rape, its aftermath, and its long-term consequences. Without a doubt, Ann Walton (as played by the great Mala Powers) never asked for what happened to her as well as what continues to affect her life and choices well after the original event; and kudos to all involved with spinning a compelling personal story while avoiding some of the typical cliches populating ‘issue pictures’ throughout the ages. Instead of succumbing to obvious and easy tearjerker antics, Director Lupino keeps the focus almost exclusively on Ann’s inner turmoil and just how it metastasizes outwardly no matter how big or small a trigger might appear. Given that a good deal of this rests of Powers’ shoulders, the film deserves a bit of praise for both sticking to the point as well as sticking its landing.
Still, a good deal of Outrage feels a bit too formulaic. Because the script from this era couldn’t get into all of the authentic details, Ann is a bit apt to see devils where there are none; and few (if any) of these folks are ever allowed to demonstrate that they – like the reverend – were simply trying to do what they thought was best for all concerned. As a consequence of this limited perspective, some in the viewing audience may suspect our leading lady went too frequently to that living with fear and/or shame when perhaps a victim’s emotions could’ve been something else, maybe frustration or downright anger. Alas, I suspect the moral codes shackling films of the bygone era may’ve kept this one from tackling our victim’s reality with the authenticity it deserved.
But none of those reservations should dismiss the potential of what’s done exceptional well in here. Lupino and her cast and crew manage to stage an event never deeply explored in such a way as to suggest a measure of detail as well as posit the psychology of both the hunted and the hunter. It’s the kind of picture that retains an educational quality, giving substance to a difficult topic in such a way as to make it relatable to anyone and perhaps even be used to start a complex discussion. Yes, it has some of the usual melodrama tied to its day; and yet I wouldn’t let that stand in the way of giving it a thumbs up.
Outrage (1950) was produced by The Filmakers (1950). DVD distribution (for this particular release) is being coordinated by the fine folks at Kino Lorber. As for the technical specifications? While I’m no trained video expert, I thought that the sights-and-sounds provided by this all-new 4K scan of the 35mm Fine Grain were very, very good; as usual, there are a few bits of grain here and there, but all-in-all it’s a very good remastering. Lastly, if you’re looking for special features? The disc boasts an audio commentary by film historian Sara Smith.
Though the performances of its players might seem a bit dated, there’s still no denying that Outrage’s message starts on point and stays there all the way to the bittersweet ending: trauma is very real, and it can lead a broken soul down many unpredictable paths. Such is the Ann Walton’s dilemma: her loss of identity – and the loss of control over her life – forces her to abandon all of those who loved her in favor of total strangers, and it’s in their company that she can ultimately confront the demon that troubles her waking mind. Love takes many shapes in this crazy world, but it’s only a mature and penitent heart that can set a spirit free and allow it to ultimately land where it rightfully should.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Kino Lorber provided me with a complimentary Blu-ray copy of Outrage (1950) by request for the expressed purpose of completing this review. Their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.