A French intelligence agent becomes embroiled in the Cold War politics first with uncovering the events leading up to the 1962 Cuban Missle Crisis, and then back to France to break up an international Russian spy ring.
The police find the actress, Diana Baring, near the body of her friend. All the circumstantial proofs seems to point to her and, at the end of the trial, she is condemned. Sir John Menier, a jury member, suspects Diana's boyfriend, who works as an acrobat wearing a dresses. Written by
Claudio Sandrini <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The scene where Sir John thinks out loud in front of a mirror had to be filmed with a recording of the lines and a thirty piece orchestra hidden behind the set as it was not possible to post-dub the soundtrack later. See more »
When Sir John interviews Diana in jail, they are shown sitting at opposite ends of a table in long-shot. The widths of the planks that make up the tabletop reveal that, in closeups, they are both seated at the same end of the table. See more »
People ought to be ashamed of themselves, kicking up all that racket at this time of night.
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In an early depiction of Hitchcock's fear and mistrust of the police and the legal system, we have a very legal thriller about a murder and it's subsequent trial. We are given the facts of the case, even a sort of a limited view of the murder itself taking place, followed by the prosecution and defense presenting their cases at the trial and a detailed look at the jury's discussion of the case. Sort of Hitchcock's version of 12 Angry Men.
There is a curious cast of characters involved in the film, and two of Hitch's biggest interests, the law and the arts, are on center stage. Sir John in the single character who takes the time to really look deeply into what really happened that night, even though someone's life is on the line based on the verdict that they reach, and his personal investigation is probably the best part of the film. One of the things that this movie is famous for is for being the first film where someone's thoughts are shown in a film, in the scene where he is looking at himself in the mirror, shaving. For this scene, a recording of him speaking was played off screen, since vocals could not be added to the film later.
There is a scene in the film where Mr. Marlowe goes to visit Sir John at his request, and as he approaches Sir John's desk there is a close up of his feet, which sink deeply into the rug as though it were laid over a soft mattress. This is never explained, although I am willing to accept that this is a spot of symbolism the meaning of which escaped me, since so much of the rest of the film is deeply layered, literally and figuratively, as well. There is an astonishing amount of technique and content to be seen here, impossible to catch all in one viewing, which is one sign of a great film.
Some editing and filming techniques I suspect were not as successful as they seemed in the writing stages, but the film is strong nonetheless. Consider, for example, the brave and highly successful technique of lingering on the empty jury room while the verdict is read offstage, and the shockingly effective technique of having the face of the victim hanging in the vision of the murderer. Incredibly, I think this is one of the single most haunting shots I have ever seen in a Hitchcock film. It has its slow moments and may be a bit longer than it's content can support, but this is a brilliant example of Hitch's early work.
Also keep your eye out for Hitchcock's cameo, which is a full hour into the film. This was long before he began putting all of his cameos in the beginnings of his films, knowing that the audience would be watching for him and not wanting this to distract from the stories.
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