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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Hitchcock Review: Stage Fright



I recently revisited one of my favorite Alfred Hitchcock movies, Stage Fright.

Stage Fright was made in 1950, and stars Jane Wyman (former wife of Ronald Reagan), Marlene Dietrich, Michael Wilding, Richard Todd, and Alastair Sim.

Stage Fright is also one of only a few Hitchcock films that features Alfred Hitchcock's daughter, Patricia Hitchcock, in a supporting role. I like her performances quite a lot, and wish she had done more acting. She is always very fun and charming.  In Stage Fright she plays Chubby Bannister. How's that for a name!

The cast of Stage Fright is probably its greatest strength. Everyone really shines.
I'm not much of a Marlene Dietrich fan, but even she is good in this.
Jane Wyman is absolutely delightful and classy in this film! After watching it, I kind of have a crush on her. She is really excellent, and quite pretty. I especially like her in the garden party scenes. She has a pretty amazing smile.

My absolute favorite character though, is Commodore Gill, played by Alastair Sim. He is so funny! He has some of the best lines, and totally steals the show! It is worth watching just for him.

As I said, Stage Fright is one of my favorite Hitchcock films. It is a really great example of the classic Hitchcock style.
If you pay attention to such things, it has some very impressive camera work, neat set trickery, and impressive lighting effects. The final scenes of the film really stand out and are incredibly suspenseful.

In addition to all of its great qualities, Stage Fright has one characteristic that really sets it apart from the rest of Hitchcock's films. It contains one of only two mistakes he ever admitted to making.
I'm not going to tell you what the mistake is. Actually I'm going to give you a challenge. If you haven't already seen Stage Fright, watch it, and see if you can pick out what the mistake is. After you have seen it, do an internet search to find out what the mistake was, and see what you think.

I actually really like the so-called "mistake". I think it creates a neat viewing experience. I do see Hitch's reasoning though. The funny thing is that modern directors make this same "mistake" all the time, but nobody seems to notice or complain. Hitchcock was definitely a perfectionist. I wish more directors were like him.

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