The beautiful Mrs. Paradine is accused of poisoning her older, blind husband. She hires married Anthony Keane as her lawyer and when he begins to fall in love with her, she encourages him. Written by
Col Needham <email@example.com>
In opening credits scroll below Ethel Barrymore: "and two new / Selznick Stars / Louis Jourdan / and / Valli". Alida Valli's name is in script form, and Jourdan had been playing leading roles in French films for several years before making "The Paradine Case". See more »
More than a courtroom soap opera--a major Hitchcock work
I loved the film not because it of its courtroom drama but because of Hitchcock's ability to deal with the drama outside the courtroom.
First, take in the shots that lead up to Alida Valli's character being arrested and locked up in the cell. Hitchcock is at his best building up the positive and elegant side of the character by enhancing the details--the expensive jewelry, the lady ensuring her hair is in place before receiving visitors, the humanist care taken to inform the valet that she would not be having her dinner, etc., etc. The build-up of the character within a few minutes of reel time for the viewer is considerably intelligent right up to the loud slamming of the cell door and the effect it has on the inmate (Hitchcock's own phobia?).
The second sequence that is unforgettable for me is the camera zooming in on Ann Todd's naked shoulder followed by the lecherous Charles Laughton caressing Todd's hand hidden away from her husband's vision, leading up ultimately to Todd's rejection of Laughton's advances. What is of consequence is not the performance of Todd or Laughton, but Hitchcock's sequence of visuals deftly edited to enhance the effect.
A third unusual image of the film is the introductory shot of Louis Jordan. This is the only film in my memory where a character is introduced without the least shred of light falling upon his/her face--his legs and hands are quite visible, but not his face.
Finally, the meetings in the jail between Valli and Peck smolders without a kiss or a physical touch. In my view, the performance of Valli is outstanding. Her remarkable turns in films by Visconti ("Senso") and Bertolucci ("1900") proved her capability.
The film belongs to Hitchcock, Valli and the camera-work of Lee Garmes (shots within the courtroom--probably the angles were suggested by the director). It is an unusual Hitchcock film with an elegant turn by Alida Valli. It is a film that cries out loud for a reassessment among Hitch's body of work. It is a major film of the director--though it is not an obvious one. Hitchcock seems to ask the viewer at the end of the film a difficult question--who is the true heroine of the film? And he has a macguffin...
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