Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hitchcock Films I've Seen: Day 4

SUSPICION (1941) - This is my least favorite of the four films Cary Grant made with Hitchcock. Apparently, in this story in which a wife (Joan Fontaine) is suspecious of her husband (Grant), there was much disagreement between Hitch and the about how bad of a guy the husband should be. This lack of clarity in the storytelling does hurt the film, but it is still entertaining. (Leo G. Carroll makes his second of six appearances in Hitchcock films. Perhaps more appearances of anyone beside Hitchcock?)

SABOTEUR (1942)- A rough draft for the far superior NORTH BY NORTHWEST, Hitch was reportedly very disappointed the studio forced Robert Cummings upon him. For as much as Hitchcock dispaged actors, he highly valued stars. He appeciated the shortcut that a Grant or Jimmy Stewart gave him in winning over audience sympathy allowing him to jump more quickly into the story. The Statue of Liberty makes a cameo and is replaced by Mt. Rushmore in NBNW.

SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943) - Hitchcock sited this as his favorite of his films, and it's one of mine as well. Partly because it is filmed in my hometown of Santa Rosa, California and it allows me to see the city as it existed before I was born. I also love Joseph Cotton's performance as the kindly/evil Uncle Charlie. Teresa Wright is very good as well as the niece Charlie. (Wright had an amazing streak as a new actress - THE LITTLE FOXES, MRS. MINIVER and THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES and than this film. And she did THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES just a couple of years after this.)Thorton Wilder brought some OUR TOWN flavor to the screenplay.

LIFEBOAT (1944) - Hitchcock made some films for the war effort (which I haven't seen) before going on to make this film little experiment of a film. After working with Wilder, the director turned to John Steinbeck for this World War story about a group of Americans and Brits stranded at sea with a nasty German. Hitch wanted to see if he could make a film that all takes place on a single location and yet make it cinematic rather than stage like. Over all, he succeeded wonderfully. He even comes up with a clever use solution to make his cameo.

SPELLBOUND (1945) - Alright, let me admit upfront that I am not a big Gregory Peck fan. Yes, I like some of his films (TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, ROMAN HOLIDAY), but there's just a smugness about the man that I find annoying. So for me, he is the weak link in this otherwise very fun film about a man who needs Ingrid Bergman's professional help to deal with his amnesia. The best thing about the film is the Freudian dream sequences designed by Salvador Dali (another example of Hitch looking to work with some of the most creative artists of his time.)

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