“The sex of a director doesn’t mean a hoot. The one all-important thing is talent. Somehow it has evolved that directing is a man’s profession. A woman has a tough, almost impossible time breaking down this case barrier. Miss Arzner managed it. Ida is doing it now.”
When Rosalind Russell said this to reporters on the set of The Trouble With Angels, neither she nor Ida Lupino could have predicted that this would actually be Ida’s last film. So how exactly did a writer/director who’d made her name on small budget social message pictures end up directing a Hayley Mills comedy co-starring Rosalind Russell as a mother superior? And who could have predicted that a noir director could do comedy?
When Ida Lupino’s production company The Filmmakers shuttered its windows in the mid-1950s, Lupino moved to the burgeoning world of television to continue directing. Then (as now), TV was a much more open to female creators, and so Lupino flourished. She directed in a variety of genres, from comedy (Gilligan’s Island) to thriller (Alfred Hitchcock Presents) to Westerns (Have Gun - Will Travel). In many ways, Lupino was already the ideal television director. TV shows were shot quickly, on a budget, and often on location - just like Lupino’s early pictures. What Lupino got from TV - besides creative control and consistent work - was a chance to expand and diversify her previously narrow (but successful) body of work. And all that new experience helped when her friend William Frye handed her the script to a Catholic schoolgirl comedy in early 1965.
Hijinks and nunsense after the jump.