Jonathan Cooper is wanted by the police who suspect him of killing his lover's husband. His besotted friend Eve Gill offers to hide him and Jonathan explains to her that his real lover, actress Charlotte Inwood is the real murderer. Eve decides to investigate for herself, but when she meets the detective in charge of the case, she truly falls in love.Written by
Col Needham <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Alfred Hitchcock has said that this film is more than a murder mystery, it is a critical examination of the acting craft. He said that this is a subject that long fascinated him, and this film provided him with the opportunity to explore it. See more »
Eve reports back to her father in a call box having been unable to gain entrance to the murder house. "Oh don't be ridiculous father, the police won't let anyone near the place" - she actually mouths "near the house". See more »
What a great flick. At times ill-paced, but the performances more than make up for it. What's not to love? Doe-eyed Jane Wyman shifts effortlessly between the roles of aspiring dramatist to lovestruck protectress of Richard Todd to infiltrating false maid of Marlene Dietrich. Managing also to string along Michael Wilding, as the ubercool Inspector "Ordinary" Smith, she might sound like some cold calculating wench who uses up people like Marlene goes through hats. But that wouldn't be strictly accurate. Her Eve Gill is sweet and naive, but her gentler qualities are tempered with a genuine acting talent that allows her to juggle identities with the slyness of a fox-chameleon hybrid. The scene at the garden party when she switches from Dietrich's cockney maid to Smith's innocent date with every turn is delightful.
It is the masterful presence of the great Alastair Sim, however, that makes Stage Fright one of Hitchock's most enjoyable to watch. Few actors have his ability of making the most average of dialouges sound like a powerful oration, and as Eve's doting father, he makes the movie. His Commodore Gill is always at the ready to harbor a fugitive, clip off a snappy witicism, or scrounge blackmail money for his beloved daughter. He is equally at home playing comic relief as he is to serving as the plot glue that makes Eve's capers possible. But live with his wife? Thank you, no! He is content to live on his boat. Whether he is staging an amusing diversion to aid Eve, dispensing sage bits of fatherly advice, or merely strolling out in public, the man bleeds coolness with every move.
Some can argue that Stage Fright gives but an average treatment to the usual whodunnit murder-suspense formula that Hitchcock (and countless others) have used. This is perhaps true. But compared to the whole lot of crappy facsimile suspense films made since 1950, Stage Fright is quicker to entertain than most.
Be sure to check it out if you want to see Hitch cast his own daughter Patricia in the supporting role of "Chubby Banister." Is that some kind of sick joke or was that name flattering in the fifties?
P.S.-- I can't watch Marlene Dietrich anymore and not be reminded of Madeline Kahn's Teutonic Titwillow. Is there some free therapy I can get for this?
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