Ida Lupino gets a job as the caretaker of an abandoned estate. The previous owner, Jennifer, according to her cousin, Howard Duff, simply vanished. Something, however, was going on, and Miss Lupino comes to believe that she was killed... and that Duff, whom she is growing fond of, did it.
It's one of the many projects that Mr. & Mrs. Duff acted in together, and they do a nice job, even if some of the production makes me wince, particularly Ernest Gold's "Lookit me, maw!" score. But with James Wong Howe as the cinematographer, you know you're in for a good time, and he uses his deep focus techniques to make miss Lupino look tiny and trapped in a house that looks Caligariesque.
Reviewed by ptb-87 / 10
I wish I could have met Ida Lupino. When people ask who you if you could have 6 extraordinary 20th century persons over for dinner, well, for me one person would be her. I think she is now one of the great unsung and unprofiled personalities in the film industry. Her life story would make a great tele movie (Hey, Mr Bogdanovich........). Ida Lupino has been the driving force in many fascinating noir films of the 40s and 50s. I can remember being saddened at seeing her reduced to a horrible part in a ghastly AIP film is the late 70s. She was bitten by a big worm at the kitchen sink. Ugh. I should have contacted her then as she died not long after.. more from the part than the worm too. From High Sierra, Roadhouse and the extraordinary RKO thriller On Dangerous Ground, Ida Lupino was often the producer and the lead actress. Later, with her husband Howard Duff they produced many now timeless noir dramas that are still very engrossing today. One of them is JENNIFER which I think is the last film with a Monogram Pictures copyright. Monogram changed the company name formally to Allied Artists in 1953 and JENNIFER has both company names on the opening credits. This is a superior haunted house thriller equally as scary as both The Innocents and The Haunting made 8 years later. Really chilling and very creepy, this tiny film is exactly the sort of really good film Ida Lupino made and was responsible for. Try and find it...you will always remember it and as I feel, much admiration for this great and almost forgotten actress/producer.
Reviewed by mark.waltz7 / 10
Sticking your nose in where it shouldn't be can be deadly.
Ida Lupino rarely gets her due other than a large cult following that sees her as being quite amazing, and in this film, she's a lonely woman who seems content to live alone, taking a job as caretaker of an old, abandoned mansion where the previous resident (the title character) simply disappeared. Lupino becomes very intrigued by the woman's life, finding her diary, interviewing those in the area who either knew of her or had small dealings with her. And what does Jennifer's cousin (Mary Shipp) have to do with it, seemingly scheming with the handsome Howard Duff who keeps paying Lupino frequent visits to "check" in on her?
There are many great visual moments of film noir style photography, particularly shots of Lupino standing in front of a four part mirror that reminds me of Hayworth in "The Lady From Shanghai". Lupino also keeps playing various records which have very dramatic piano music that adds to the suspense and insinuates that terror is about to strike. Is she a woman on the verge of madness by seeking information that she should just try to avoid, or is she a victim of a plot that began in the mansion long before she took over? Even on her way to the interview, she is warned not to stay there, and when she heads to the local convenience store, she is given all sorts of unsolicited information in regards to who this woman was. Ida comes to her own conclusions, but is she right or delusional? That's where the suspense comes in, leading you up to a chilling conclusion on a windy night where shadows take over, insinuating all kinds of horror.
While there isn't an exact "conclusion" (and some people might find the revelation to be a sort of letdown), it is an intriguing journey to the discovery of the truth even though there are insinuations that there's more to the story. Lupino is always fascinating, and it amazes me how forgotten she is beyond being one of the first women directors and the cult status she has for her melodramatic features. She's often played vulnerable characters as well, and this is one of her most superb portrayals of a woman who may be in jeopardy. Duff, one of the great film noir anti-heroes, is sturdy and excellent, and you never quite know what side of the fence he's really on. A mostly unknown cast fills out this independently made feature which is higher grade above most of the films made through Allied Artists (formerly Monogram) at the time.