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Film / Not Wanted

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Not Wanted (1949) is a drama starring Sally Forrest, Keefe Brasselle, and Leo Penn. The film is credited to Elmer Clifton as director, but his heart attack, Ida Lupino took over directing.

The film follows Sally Kelton (Forrest) a young, naive girl who falls in love with a no-good pianist Steve (Penn). Her unsympathetic parents would never understand her love, so she runs away to the big city following Steve, but he crassly rejects her. In the city, she meets friendly, pragmatic Drew (Brasselle) who gives her a job, and they eventually fall in love.

But Sally soon finds out she’s pregnant with Steve’s baby. Deeply embarrassed about her unwanted pregnancy, she finds refuge in an institution for unwed mothers and decides to give it up for adoption, citing that although she loves her baby, she has no financial security to offer.

Although not an issue now, unwed mothers was a taboo topic in the late 40s and tackling this issue head-on in a film was extremely rare.

This film shows the following tropes:

  • Clean, Pretty Childbirth: There’s some sweating and obvious pain involved, but given that this is the 40s, it doesn’t get very graphic or realistic with its depiction of childbirth.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Steve is obviously no good for Sally and her mother is so strict and disapproving that it makes sense Sally ran away.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Not really a viable option for the everyday girl in the late 40s, so Sally has her baby. She decides to be responsible and give it up for adoption because she doesn't have the financial stability to take care of it.
  • In Medias Res: The film begins with Sally in a trance: she picks up a baby left outside a store and gets arrested for kidnapping. The film then tells her story in flashbacks.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Near the end, Sally is wretched after being released from custody that she runs away when Drew tries to reconnect. This leads to a chase between where she tries to jump off a bridge but Drew drags her away.
  • My Secret Pregnancy: Sally tells no one about her pregnancy, not even Drew. When he finds out, he’s deeply saddened and disappointed in her.
  • The Runaway: Infatuated with Steve, Sally runs away to be with him to only be coolly rejected.