Where: The Venue 1550 at the Daystar Center, 1550 S. State Street, Chicago, IL
When: November 26, 2016
Time: 6:45 p.m.
Hosted by Stephen Reginald
Road House is one of my favorite melodramas from the late 1940s. It stars Ida Lupino in her first role as a “freelance” movie star. After her contract with Warner Bros. ended, Twentieth Century Fox mogul, Darryl F. Zanuck hired Lupino for the lead role of Lily Stevens.
In the film, Lily is hired by Jefty Robbins (Richard Widmark) to sing at his road house near the Canadian border. Little does she know that Jefty has more on his mind than hiring a new singer. Enter Pete Morgan (Cornel Wilde), Jefty’s friend and road house manager. At first, Pete and Lily are at odds, but soon a romance develops between them, enraging Jefty. Jefty is so crazy with jealousy over Pete and Lily’s romance that he sets Pete up and has him arrested and tried for burglary. In a perverted twist, Jefty asks the judge to remand Pete to his custody so he can break him and Lily. Road House coworker Susie Smith (Celeste Holm) acts as a buffer between the two lovers and Jefty.
Lupino’s characterization as the hard-edged lounge singer is a hoot. She smokes, drinks, and plays the piano all at the same time, making it seem natural and easy. Not too many actresses could make this work, but Lupino does so with great skill, including giving Lily a voice that sounds like whiskey and gravel. The heat generated between Lupino and Wilde is pretty hot, even by today’s standards. Director Jean Negulesco keeps the action moving, building things toward the dramatic conclusion.
Road House may not be a classic in the truest sense of the word, but it’s a ton of fun and not to be missed.
|Cornel Wilde, Richard Widmark, Ida Lupino in Road House|
Stephen Reginald is a freelance writer and editor. He has worked at various positions within the publishing industry for over 25 years. Most recently he was executive editor for McGraw-Hill’s The Learning Group Division. A long-time amateur student of film, Reginald hosts “Chicago Film Club,” a monthly movie event held in the South Loop, for the past two years. Reginald has also taught several adult education film classes at Facets Film School, Chicago.