Friday, May 7, 2021

Ida Lupino and Glenn Ford have a “Lust for Gold”

Lust for Gold (1949) is an American western directed by S. Sylvan Simon and starring Ida Lupino and Glenn Ford. The supporting cast includes Gig Young, William Price, Will Geer, Edgar Buchanan, and Paul Ford. The movie is based on the book Thunder God’s Gold by Barry Storm. The cinematography was by Archie Stout who was the second unit director on several John Ford films including Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Rio Grande (1950), Wagon Master (1950), and The Quiet Man (1952).

The plot concerns the legend of the Lost Dutchman gold mine. Ford is Jacob “Dutchman” Waltz and Lupino is Julia Thomas. 

The film begins in the present (1949-present) with a descendent of Waltz trying to find the mine himself. Then the movie flashes back to 1880 when Waltz and Wiser discover the mine and how Waltz managed to keep the mine a secret from the people of Phoenix, Arizona. 

Julia Thomas wants to escape her dreary life as a baker and sees Waltz as her ticket to wealth and happiness. One problem, she’s married to Pete Thomas (Young) who objects to her plans. Will she manage to get a hold of the gold from the Dutchman’s mine or will Pete and circumstances out of her control keep that from happening.

S. Sylvan Simon (1910 - 1951) was an American stage and film director and producer. He directed many films during the 1930s and 1940s including These Glamour Girls (1939), Whistling in the Dark (1941), Son of Lassie (1945), Abbot and Costello in Hollywood (1945), and Bad Bascomb (1946). Simon produced the film Born Yesterday (1950). Lust for Gold was the last picture he directed. He died of a heart at age 41.

Ida Lupino and Glenn Ford in a publicity still from the film

Ida Lupino (1918 – 1995) was an English-American actress, director, and producer. She appeared in over 50 films and was one of Warner Bros.’s biggest contract players during the 1940s starring in High Sierra (1941), The Sea Wolf (1941), and The Man I Love (1947). After she left Warner Bros., Lupino formed her own production company, producing, writing, and directing films that tackled subjects the big studios wouldn’t touch. During the 1950s, Lupino was the only female director working in Hollywood. She directed several small independent films but really made a name for herself directing for television. Lupino directed episodes of The Twilight Zone (starred in one too), The Rifleman, Bonanza, Rifleman, Gilligan’s IslandIt Takes a ThiefFamily Affair, and Columbo. In 1966, she directed her one-and-only big-budget studio picture, The Trouble with Angels starring Rosalind Russell and Haley Mills.

Glenn Ford (1916 - 2006) was a Canadian-American actor who was one of the biggest box office draws for three decades. Ford acted on stage in California before being signed to a contract with Columbia Pictures. He appeared in mostly B movies until The Lady in Question (1940), the first time he was paired with fellow Columbia contracted, Rita Hayworth. After serving in the Coast Guard during World War II, Ford’s career began to take off. He and Hayworth had a huge hit with Gilda (1946) and A Stolen Life (1946) with Bette Davis. For came into his own in the 1950s with films like Blackboard Jungle (1955), Interrupted Melody (1955) with Eleanor Parker, Jubal (1956), and The Fastest Gun Alive (1956) with Jeanne Crain, all box office successes. By the end of the decade, Ford was one of the biggest stars in the world. Ford continued making movies in the 1960s but his successes were more uneven than in the previous decade but had hits with Experiment in Terror (1962) and The Courtship of Eddie’s Father  (1963). In 1978, he played Clark Kent’s adoptive father in Superman. His last film role was Raw Nerve (1991).

Lust for Gold  trivia
  • There are over 60 versions of the Lost Dutchman legend.
  • George Marshall was the original director but quit after four days.
  • One of the few films in movie history where the lead characters (Lupino and Ford) are shown in flashback.
  • Some of the film was shot on location in Arizona’s Superstition Mountains.

To watch the film on YouTube, please click on the link below.

Join us on Zoom May 11, 2021 for a discussion of Lust for Gold at 6:30 p.m. Central Time. Click here for details on how to participate. It’s free!

Questions for discussion
  1. What did you think of the film narrative? 
  2. Had you ever heard of the Lost Dutchman legend?
  3. Noir or not? Would you consider this a western film noir?
  4. Was Lupino’s character a femme fatale? 
  5. What did you think of Ford’s characterization?
Ida Lupino and Glenn Ford

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