Pitting a hitchhiking serial killer against a truck driving serial killer is a great idea made better with the addition of a little Michael Moriarty. (8/10)
d. Larry Cohen
28 June 2009
27 June 2009
The Paradine Case (1947)
written by Alam Reville, David O. Selznick and an uncredited Ben Hecht and James Bridie, based on a novel by Robert Hichens
An Italian woman (Alida Valli), married to a blind, rich war hero, is accused of his murder. Keane (Gregory Peck) agrees to be her defense attorney. The film is split neatly into two halves, with the first featuring Keane's investigation into his client's past and the second presenting the trial.
This film felt like a large step backwards for Hitchcock. The story is unremarkable, the characters are pathetic and the hour-long trial is tedious. Keane immediately falls for his dark and mysterious client, despite his impending 11th wedding anniversary. His crush causes him to perceive the facts of the case in a manner not related to reality, which causes him to botch the trial. Maybe To Kill a Mockingbird ruined this movie for the ages. It's hard to buy Gregory Peck playing a lawyer who's acting like a love-sick teenager. The psychological depth of Keane, compared to past Hitchcock efforts, is shockingly shallow.
Hating Peck's character Keane so much makes the trial half of the film even worse. I wanted to see him lose. I wanted to see his crush convicted of murder. I wanted to see his far-too-accepting wife dump him after he lost the trial (the opposite, unfortunately, is what happens in the final scene).
There is some very nice photography in the movie and I think Charles Laughton turns in a surprisingly low-key performance. Still, as a follow-up to Notorious, this can't be considered anything other than a disappointment. (6/10)
Watched the region 1 DVD released by Fox in 2008 as a part of the Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection. The transfer's decent, though there is supposedly a longer cut in the Library of Congress.
26 June 2009
24 June 2009
23 June 2009
22 June 2009
written by Ben Hecht and an uncredited Alfred Hitchcock and Clifford Odets, based on a story by John Taintor Foote
Taking a step back to consider the plot, this spy film is filled with rather inept secret agents. Hitchcock loves to throw regular people into the shoes of a spy -- which is what he does he with Ingrid Bergman's Alicia -- but the ostensibly professional Devlin (Cary Grant) and Sebastian (Claude Rains) aren't much better than Alicia. Devlin leaves a complete mess in the wine cellar, which Sebastian detects almost immediately and causes him to suspect his wife. Sebastian and his mother's plan to poison Ingrid Bergman's Alicia begins to fall apart when they overreact to a guest accidentally picking up her poisoned coffee. Sebastian's inability to compose himself eventually leads to his (presumed) death at the end of the picture.
I like this. A film portraying spies (and the villains they chase) as real people is a nice change. I'm so used to the near-Superman levels of Connery's James Bond, it's interesting to see this character type with flaws. Grant's Devlin, in particular, is a complex mix of uncertainty, stubbornness and passion. Arguably a secondary character to Alicia, he changes just as much over the course of the film as she.
An great script, excellent performances and rock-solid directing make for one of Hitchcock's best. (9/10)
Watched the region 1 DVD released by Fox in 2008 as a part of the Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection. The transfer's fine and it has a set of good documentaries. I don't miss my old Criterion version at all.
21 June 2009
18 June 2009
17 June 2009
15 June 2009
13 June 2009
12 June 2009
06 June 2009
02 June 2009
written by Ben Hecht, Angus MacPhail and an uncredited May E. Romm, based on a n0vel by Hilary St. George Sanders and John Palmer
Hitchcock describes this film as "just another manhunt wrapped up in pseudo-psychoanalysis." That's pretty much it. It's sort of Young and Innocent, except with a less-chipper protagonist who requires his psychoanalyst girlfriend to prove his innocence.
For a film whose premise revolves around psychoanalysis, features dream interpretation and has a dream created by Salvador Dalí, it's surprisingly straight-forward. I suppose the movie dipped its toe into the pool of surrealism about as much as could be expected considering its studio and star. Although the dream sequence is great -- and I can see its influence all the way into 1990's Twin Peaks -- the interpretation of the dream feels disappointing. The wheel is the revolver, the angel refers to a ski lodge named after Gabriel, the bearded man is Edwardes... it's all rather "peg A into slot B." I guess this is about all you could do with this film in order to have it make sense to the audience.
I'm not sure I'm much of a fan of Gregory Peck's performance in this film. When he goes into his fugue state, he wears this wide-eyed look that screams "I'm trying my best to look disturbed!" It doesn't work for me. I don't know if I bought into his performance at all. His instant transformations into anger while Connies analyzed him came off kind of goofy. Or, maybe I just don't buy into psychoanalysis?
Other than minor complaints, it's solid Hitchcock effort with the psychoanalysis angle giving the old wrong man story a fresh spin. (7/10)
Watched the region 1 DVD released by Fox in 2008 as a part of the Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection. The transfer's great and it has a set of good documentaries.