“How can you call [your wife] and tell her that you must have a divorce? Worse than that, you’ve been unfaithful — you’re going to be a father. How can you hurt someone so much?”
It’s no wonder — in typical ’50s ideology — that O’Brien’s Harry is “forced” to turn to Lupino, a “real” woman able to give him a child from a single night of sex (though this is implied rather than depicted, naturally). Adding to the overall impression of Harry as someone steamrollered into bigamy, it’s made clear that marrying Lupino — while also saving Fontaine from the tragedy of divorce — is the only “right” thing to do.
Despite its clumsy script, however, The Bigamist remains oddly watchable, thanks in large part to the truly heartfelt performances by O’Brien (he’s perfectly cast), Lupino, and Fontaine. It’s fascinating to know that in real life, Fontaine had just married Lupino’s ex (Collier Young, the film’s screenwriter), thus eerily echoing the story’s marital love triangle. Much less impressive — in fact, downright annoying — is Edmund Gwenn as the head of the adoption agency; he’s a busybody snoop who may mean well but ultimately comes across as creepy. Fortunately, his presence merely bookends the film.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)