A French intelligence agent becomes embroiled in the Cold War politics first with uncovering the events leading up to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and then back to France to break up an international Russian spy ring.
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>
The sets, cast, filming, and plot are all great--a full blooded success
Stage Fright (1950)
Offhand, Marlene Dietrich and Alfred Hitchcock seem like an unlikely pair. But it works! Even if you find Dietrich wooden as an actress, you have to appreciate her aura, which was legendary, and which Hitchcock incorporates, and bounces against, with real virtuosity. There are two or three long scenes, as when Dietrich is trying on her mourning clothes and smoking under her veil, where the filming, the fast dialog, the light, the movement of the characters, and the editing are breathtaking.
Taken in pieces like this, or seen as a whole, the film is a masterpiece of directing and construction. And at least three of the principle characters are just perfect--Jane Wyman as the innocent woman in the middle of it all, Alastair Sims as her father, and Dietrich. A fourth surprise performance is by Michael Wilding, who appears in many different scenes, and is charming, funny, and smart as a whip, playing a detective in love and in the dark.
The plot itself is classic Hitchcock, with seeming innocence and guilt shifting as you watch, and ordinary people getting too involved in the solving of the crime. Including the viewer. Even the use of the flashback that anchors the beginning of the film as two of them speed away gets a huge twist by the end, both a narrative thrill and a logical one, in terms of film-making. Talk about verisimilitude getting in the way of realism.
We know that the stage will play a large role throughout, and Hitchcock loved to include the theatre in his films. Christian Dior designed Dietrich's wardrobes, and the song is by none other than Cole Porter. The song is clever, but not his best, and Dietrich's performance, though supported by a fabulous set for a small time theater, is dull. The writing throughout is rather fabulous, partly thanks to Hitchcock's wife, who worked on it (and look for their daughter, by the way, at the lawn party).
There is so much going right here, what keeps it from quite becoming a masterpiece? I think the key thing is the startling disparity in acting styles. I mean, Wyman, Sim, and Dietrich are about as odd a threesome as you get in terms of acting style. Wilding is a kind of lubricant throughout (he appears in scenes with all of them and seems to make them sensible). The other noticeable flaw might be the last several minutes, when a climax is building, and yet there is an odd diffusion and a sudden end to it all, as if an opportunity was lost to wring us out a little.
But don't let this stand in your way. It's a terrific movie in all. I liked this more this time than any previous viewing, and I was left wondering why I had forgot so much about it. There is some really nice filming, it never gets boring, the sets and locations are fabulous, and some of the individual acting is a wonder. Including Dietrich.
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