Lupino starred in over a dozen films in the mid-1930s, working with Columbia in a two-film deal, one of which, The Light That Failed (1939), was a role she acquired after running into the director's office unannounced, demanding an audition.
After this performance, she began to be taken seriously as a dramatic actress.
The Filmakers went on to produce 12 feature films, six of which Lupino directed or co-directed, five of which she wrote or co-wrote, three of which she acted in, and one of which she co-produced.
Her studio emphasized her femininity, often at the urging of Lupino herself.
She often incurred the ire of studio boss Jack Warner by objecting to her casting, refusing roles that she felt were "beneath her dignity as an actress," and making script revisions deemed unacceptable.
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She went on to excel in a number of "bad girl" film roles, often playing prostitutes.
Lupino made her first film appearance in The Love Race (1931) and the following year, aged 14, she worked under director Allan Dwan in Her First Affaire, in a role for which her mother had previously tested.