27 June 2009

Hitchcock | The Paradine Case (1947)

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.