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Film / Never Fear

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Never Fear a.k.a. The Young Lovers (1949) is an Ida Lupino directed film starring Sally Forrest and Keefe Brasselle.

The film follows dancing duo Carol Williams (Forrest) and Guy Richards (Brasselle) who, after spending years scrapping by and working themselves to the bone, are finally on the road to stardom and plan to marry, too.

Tragedy strikes, however, when Carol contracts polio. Guy is supportive, but Carol is understandably devastated.

Even with all her negativity, Guy does everything he can to help with her recovery. Carol, on the other hand, has hit a mental brick wall; she's not sure if she ever wants to get well. This sudden change causes her to lash out at Guy and their life together seems uncertain.

At this time in history, polio was the number one communicative disease in the United States, causing permanent paralysis and death for thousands of children and adults.This film was not only topical but also biographical: Ida Lupino contracted polio at sixteen as an up-and-coming actor which not only informed her screenplay but added another layer of reality to it.

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Since 1994, Polio is currently one of the few eradicated diseases in the Western Hemisphere. Although it does live on in other parts of the world, it has been increasingly reduced due to vaccination.


Tropes:

  • Annoying Patient: Carol angrily lashes out at everyone, including her doctors and fellow patients in the polio facility. They keep telling her that her improvement depends mostly on her put in the effort and not giving up.
  • Bury Your Disabled: Averted: No one dies because of their disability.
  • Crapsack World: Carol contracts polio, can’t dance, and breaks things off with Guy.
  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: Averted: Polio is named out front and centre.
  • Determinator: Once Carol decides that she wants to get well and isn’t a “cripple” (her words), she devotes herself to her physiotherapy.
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  • Downer Beginning: Carol contracts polio and all her dreams seem lost.
  • Double Act: Carol and Guy are a dancing duo.
  • Dream-Crushing Handicap: Carol loses the mobility of her muscles and has to basically learn how to walk again. This is a dancer’s worst nightmare.
  • Flowers of Romance: Guy steals gardenias to give to Carol.
  • Ill Girl: Carol. It’s, however, not romanticized. Her recovery is slow, and by the end of the film, she's made progress but still has a long way to go.
  • Jerkass: Carol becomes depressed and lashes out against her loved ones. Guy, who has been an angel the whole, eventually decides to leave her when he realizes that she's pushing him aside out of anger.
  • Love Triangle: Carol loves Guy but Carol begins to fall for one of the polio patients in the ward. The patient, however, doesn't reciprocate.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Lupino’s own battle with polio informed her screenplay.
  • Stopped Caring: Carol completely gives up on her physiotherapy when she feels like there’s no point to her recovering if she can't dance again.

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