IDA LUPINO  took a chance and  decided to do her own  singing in ROAD HOUSE (1948). No dubbing as had been the case in THE MAN I LOVE, and as was the case for most actresses called on to sing who weren’t singers.

Was Ida brave or reckless. You have to judge that yourself. I know where I stand.  She’s terrific!


Carefully chosen songs  in the right key , and with great arrangements , made them a hit for Ida. In particular , “Again”, which was recorded by several other artists after the film’s release.




Sheet music for “Again.”


The lyrics of AGAIN.


Cornel Wilde, Celeste Holm

Pete, the road house manager and  Susie hear Lily for the first time. Their surprise is evident.

Celeste Holm as Susie, the club’s bookkeeper, describes Lily’s voice as “the sound of gravel.”



Jefty’s Road House, owned by Jefty (  Richard Widmark) but managed by his childhood pal Pete (Cornel Wilde.) Life has been easy for Jefty and he is used to getting whatever he wants. He often goes out of town and brings back singers for his club.


Lily listens to a nervous Jefty as he introduces  her to his patrons for the first time. She’s at the bar, having a drink and a cigarette.

She doesn’t acknowledge him or even smile. She takes her glass and cigarette and walks a few paces to the piano, puts  the glass down and infuriates the club manager Pete (Cornel Wilde) by putting the lit cigarette on the piano top.

Her attitude seems to be, like me or not, doesn’t matter. She knows exactly what’s she’s capable of. Her looks aren’t bad, she can play a mean piano and she’s chosen torch songs which don’t stretch her untrained voice.

Then  she accompanies herself on the classic ‘One for My Baby’ (Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer.) Lily admits later, “I got a small voice.” But, as Susie ( Celeste Holm) says, “She does more without a voice than anybody I’ve ever heard.”

But, oh, what Ida Lupino can do with the right song and arrangement ( musical arrangements by Earle Hagen.) She practically talks the songs, but her smoky, husky  delivery is spell binding.


Of the   three songs Ida sings in Road House, two were written specifically for the movie.

“Again” (music by Lionel Newman, lyrics by Dorcas Cochran), and “The Right Kind” ( Lionel Newman, Don George, Charles Henderson).

Amazing to think that the classic ‘One  for My Baby’ was first sung by Fred Astaire in 1943’s THE SKY’S THE LIMIT.

‘Again’ became a big hit for DORIS DAY in 1949, though I don’t think Doris’s version is anywhere near as good as Ida’s – maybe because ,seeing it performed by Ida in the film, has so much more impact.


Richard Widmark

The innocent looking Jefty ( Richard Widmark) looks on in court when  Pete ( Cornel Wilde) is found guilty of stealing the night’s takings from Jefty’s club. Pete hasnt stole anything – it’s a set up by Jefty.



Wilde, Widmark and Lupino.

Jefty’s Bar and Bowling Alley.

Scenes in the bowling alley ( where Wilde teaches Lupino to bowl) were filmed at a local bowling alley in Los Angeles.


Richard Allan, Susan Hayward

SUSAN HAYWARD ( dubbed by JANE FROMAN) sang  ‘The Right Kind’ in WITH A SONG IN MY HEART.


Ida Lupino

Ida ,as Lily , who seems to be never without a cigarette. In France, ROAD HOUSE was released as LA FEMME AUX CIGARETTES.


Ida Lupino, Richard Widmark.



“JEFTYS BAR”, the film’s title in Denmark.

The U.S. alternative title was DARK LOVE.


Richard Widmark, Ida Lupino

Jefty introduces his latest chanteuse from Chicago, Lily Stevens.

Lily’s only there in the backwoods  town near the Canadian border because Jefty offered her a 6 week engagement at more money that she earns in the big city. She knows Jefty is interested in her but she reckons she can hold him off for the 6 weeks. She’s wrong.

Jefty becomes unhinged as Lily rejects him and falls for Pete (Cornel Wilde) who runs the road house for Jefty.


Cornel Wilde, Ida Lupino, Celeste Holm.

Pete (Wilde ) has been found guilty of stealing money from Jefty’s road house – and the judge lets him escape jail by releasing him into Jefty’s custody. But it’s Jefty (Widmark) who has the money. He’s mad at Pete because Lily ( Lupino) prefers him.


Cornel Wilde, Ida Lupino


Ida Lupino, Cornel Wilde

A scene near the start of the film. Pete tries to usher Lily out of town. She reacts by slapping his face and saying, “Silly boy.”

Great scene which tells us so much about Lily. She’s a tough cookie.


Cornel Wilde, Ida Lupino, Richard Widmark

Watch that knife in Ida’s hand.

Jefty ( Richard Widmark) has Pete (Cornel Wilde) and Lily (Ida Lupino) just where he wants them. Twisting the knife is on his mind.



Of the four principals, Celeste  Holm has the smallest role. Not sure why she has billing above  Widmark.





I found this photo recently. Plaques commemorating Ida Lupino and her father Stanley. Ida was born in Ardbeg rd, Herne Hill , London in 1918.

In 1948, when ROAD HOUSE was made, Ida became an American citizen.

6 responses »

  1. Thrilled to read your excellent take on this fave flick. Ida, the setting, the songs, the story. Can’t get enough of Road House.

  2. Glad you feel the same. That piano Lily played on is as iconic to me as the one in Casablanca! Couldn’t find out who was playing for Ida.
    Wish we could all pay a visit to Jefty’s, with a little bowling on the side!

  3. I am a singer..Broadway…cabaret. What Ida Lapino does with only four notes to her name cannot be taught. It’s like listening to dialogue that happens to have music playing underneath. She owns a song by willingly exposing bits and pieces of her private life…and we are the better for it.

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