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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Greta Garbo turned down the role of Martha in "I Remember Mama" around the same time she also rejected the role of "Mrs. Paradine" in Alfred Hitchcock's The Paradine Case (1947). She is reputed to have commented, "No murderesses, no mamas." See more »
Latour is in shadow when he first meets Mr. Keane, but it is plain that his lips are not moving when he speaks. See more »
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 »
Often unjustly dismissed as one of director Alfred Hitchcock's `lesser works,' THE PARADINE CASE stands up as well as any 1940's courtroom drama when taken on its own terms. And the central theme: that of a lawyer passionately (and wrongly) convinced of a beautiful and intelligent client's innocence because he wants to trust his emotions and not the evidence, certainly seems to strike a chord with audiences. It has been used countless times from the silent era to the present day (e.g., MADAME X, GUILTY AS SIN, BODY OF EVIDENCE, etc..). Unlike reviewer stills-6, I found the central triangle-between lawyer Peck, his wife Ann Todd, and lovely client Alida Valli (whose motives are always kept nebulous until the end) believable and surprisingly complex. Each has his/her own agenda; with Peck wavering between the lovely, warm Todd and the beautiful, coldly mysterious and sensual Valli, who seemingly represents an attitude toward love and life he has presumably never known but finds appealing nevertheless. Valli has the most difficult role here, having to both woo Peck to her cause while keeping him emotionally at a distance, but Todd also acquits herself admirably by bringing depth and sensitivity to what could have been just a run-of-the-mill suffering wife role. She refuses to suffer in silence, and uses words to argue her cause passionately, saying wryly at the end: `That's what comes from being married to a lawyer.' Of course, a cynic could point out that when Todd insists Peck defend and acquit Valli she is being unjustly noble-but I think Todd's stoic suffering and her explanations to Peck quickly undercut this idea. (And in fact, if Peck did follow up on his offer to Todd to quit the case halfway through, this wouldn't be much of a movie!)
Indeed, the wordiness of this film seems to be one of its detractors' biggest complaints. But in this I think Hitchcock has (perhaps unintentionally) made a sly point: the characters talk circles around each other (particularly Peck and the always deliciously malevolent Laughton), but manage most of the time to completely miss the realities of the situation. Only the women--the silent Valli, the barely repressed Todd, and the caustic Joan Tetzel--recognize the truth. The men, doomed to arguing and finagling, miss the point-and the truth-completely, in their attempts to sacrifice each other to their own individual causes.
Even considered strictly within the Hitchcock pantheon, it's clear THE PARADINE CASE has many Hitchcockian trademarks: dazzling cameras moves, wonderful imagery, sweeping romantic themes, blurred triangles of love, desire and hate between all the principle characters, brutal men, devious women, an impending sense of doom, and even a character noted for her `masculine' interest in the legal technicalities of the case. (Clearly, Hitchcock found these women pursuing `masculine' interests fascinating, as they seem to pop up in many of his films (e.g., Patricia Hitchcock in STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, Barbara Bel Geddes in VERTIGO). But I also find in the women here a darker prelude of Hitchcockian things to come. No one in THE PARADINE CASE is entirely happy (or even, one might argue, happy at all), but each sticks firmly to her own emotional path, able to see the potential tragic outcome but unwilling to waver enough to change it. (Kim Novak's character follows a similarly torturous internal journey in VERTIGO, as does Tippi Hedren in MARNIE).
So if you have the time to be absorbed by this imperfect but still compelling drama, take another look at THE PARADINE CASE. You might be surprised.
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