Widely considered a pioneering female director, as well as a guiding hand in the gestation of American independent cinema, Lupino began her career as an actress in 1931 before branching off into producing and directing. Lupino crafted a string of mostly independent dramas with an emphasis on social issues, among them the unwed mother melodrama Not Wanted (1949) and Outrage (1950), which concerned the aftermath of a brutal rape. Though she was not Hollywood’s first female director, it was still novel for a woman to be calling the shots on a feature film and her reputation spread quickly through the studios. Lupino’s best-known film, The Hitch-Hiker (1952), the story of a dangerous madman who kidnaps two businessmen on a hunting trip, was at once a skewering of the fragile male psyche and an important entry in the suspense subgenre of film noir.
Lupino developed a reputation for understanding and anticipating the needs of actors and was famous for a punchy, unflinching directing style. Though she had finished directing feature films by the end of the 1960’s, Lupino continued to work in film and television and has been championed among film historians as an important figure in the development of American cinema in the second half of the 20th Century.