Siren Song – Ladies of Film Noir, Part 6: Ida Lupino in The Man I Love (1947)

The song “The Man I Love,” written by composer George Gershwin and lyricist Ira Gershwin, narrates the archetypal “noir” tale: the protagonist wistfully imagines a life sometime in the future (it cannot happen right now because times are tough and she’s down on her luck, romantically and otherwise) when a man will sweep her off her feet and provide the intimacy and comfort that she seeks. This idea is embodied by the songstress “Petey Brown” as played by Ida Lupino in The Man I Love (1947, dir. Raoul Walsh). Lupino was no stranger to film noir, having already appeared in They Drive by Night (1940), High Sierra (1941), Moontide (1942) and The Hard Way (1943). Lupino’s singing voice was dubbed by Peg La Centra for The Man I Love – although as any great actress would be capable of doing, Lupino sells the performance so well that we believe it’s really her singing – but Lupino definitely had the ability to carry a tune since she supplied her own vocals for a noir she made the following year, Road House (1948, dir. Jean Negulesco), including for the song “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road).” Lupino continued to work in film noir, acting in one of my all-time favorites, On Dangerous Ground (1951, dir. Nicholas Ray), and directing The Hitch-Hiker (1953), a fast-paced, low-budget thrill ride that was added to the National Film Registry in 1998. The song “The Man I Love” has also continued its rich cinematic legacy, probably never better than when Liza Minnelli sang it in Martin Scorsese’s musical ode to the 1940s, New York, New York (1977).


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