Stage Fright (1950) Poster

(1950)

User Reviews

Review this title
103 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
8/10
Surpising and delightful
elceesanthu29 December 2004
I had never heard of this movie before and had low expectations. However, I was amazed at what a wonderful movie it is. Not only is it "Hitchcocky" and suspenseful, it is also humorous and touching. Jane Wyman and Richard Todd did particularly well in this film. I do not usually like Marlene Dietrich, but I have to admit that she did a splendid job as the flamboyant theater star. This movie is set in London, and Hitchcock did a wonderful job of picking out the crew's British actors and actresses such as Alistair Sim and Michael Wilding. Surprisingly he even gave his own daughter, Patricia Hitchcock, a bit part towards the end. It is too bad "Stage Fright" is not more well known, and I highly recommend it.
67 out of 74 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Superb..... Hitchcock's most underrated talkie
drednm23 June 2004
black comedy that boasts great performances from Jane Wyman, Marlene Dietrich, Michael Wilding, Alistair Sim, Sybil Thorndike, Joyce Grenfell, Kay Walsh & Richard Todd. Great use of silent sequences, close ups, slow motion, black humor, and mood lighting, Hitch's most underrated talkie (Easy Virtue is is most underrated silent film), this murder mystery offers all kinds of plot twists and sly humor even though you know the outcome long before it unspools. It's irrelevent. Fun all the way, including the opening theatre curtain and the closing one (thump). Dietrich is a splendid bitch, and this may be the best performance Wyman ever gave. Also look for Everley Gregg, Patricia Hitchcock, Miles Malleson and Ballard Berkeley. Dietrich's final close up and the coach scene with Wyman and Todd are gems. Sim and Thorndike are hilarious, as is the always wonderful Grenfell as "Lovely Ducks." A Must See.
53 out of 61 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Remember! The Curtain is there for your safety.
humbert-616 October 1999
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?
38 out of 43 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Performance Anxiety
laika-lives17 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Deep down, this is a film about the way people use each other. Whereas many films present us with love triangles, 'Stage Fright' explores the sharp edges of a love pentagon, in which all five characters are engaged in subterfuge and manipulation. At the heart of it lies Richard Todd's Jonathon Cooper, ruthlessly playing on Eve's affection for him in order to protect both himself and the woman he really loves, Charlotte. However, actress Charlotte is using him just as he uses Eve, whilst behind his back she's involved with her manager Freddy. And sweet little Eve, actress in training, is far from innocent - she lies to the charming 'Ordinary' Smith whilst concealing the man she thinks she loves - Jonathon.

Perhaps the most disappointing thing about 'Stage Fright' is that this daisy chain of betrayal is dismantled with barely a broken heart in sight. Unflinching insights into emotional cruelty and power imbalances in relationships are one of the most under-appreciated aspects of Hitchcock's films ('Rebecca', 'Notorious', 'Vertigo' and 'Marnie' in particular, although even the minor barbs James Stewart throws at Grace Kelly in 'Rear Window' hit the mark squarely), but here one of the most calculated betrayals in all of his work has absolutely no emotional resonance. Eve has already conveniently fallen into the arms of Smith, so there's no sting when she learns of Jonathon's deceit. Charlotte's betrayal of Jonathon carries no greater weight, because by this point the viewer has no empathy left for him. Only 'Ordinary' Smith's rather hurt reaction to learning the truth about Eve means anything, but it feels like a betrayal of a much slighter nature - she's a well-intentioned deceiver. Compare with the treachery of another Eve, in the similarly comic and 'lightweight' 'North by Northwest', and the sheer toothlessness of this film's emotional unravelling becomes apparent.

In fact, the only emotional impact made in the film's finale is by Marlene Dietrich's Charlotte Inwood, mulling over her actions in a beautifully shot scene. Dietrich's sheer luminosity can't help but draw the viewer in, and the direction certainly favours her here. The perversity of empathising with this great manipulator probably appealed to Hitchcock, who would later do the same with Robert Walker's Bruno Anthony and Anthony Perkins's Norman Bates, and I think it's possibly the one great scene in the film (if there's another, it would be Dietrich's self-choreographed rendition of 'The Laziest Gal in Town').

Mention of Walker and Perkins draws attention to the great failing of this film, which is the character of Jonathon Cooper. Richard Todd has been much criticised for his stiff portrayal, and I think it's fair to say he's rather a plodding performer, even if he's never truly bad - although his psychosis under the stage is tremendously effective. The real problem is the script, which denies the character a sense of humour. Almost all of Hitchcock's villains are witty and charming (certainly all his best ones are), but Jonathon is charmless. This is a real problem in a comedy thriller where almost every character has a comic appeal - even Kay Walsh's character has her own sour humour. By contrast, Jonathon seems repellent - he isn't entertaining in the way everyone else is, so we don't root for him. We should surely empathise with Eve's desperation to clear his name, but he doesn't seem worth the effort. Whilst Dietrich is appealing even at her most cruel (a true Hitchcockian villain), Todd is unappealing even in innocence.

The other performances range from the adequate (Wilding, just a little too lightweight as Smith) to the wonderful (Alistair Sim, it scarcely needs to be pointed out, shares the comic spoils with Dietrich, and both Sybil Thorndike and Kay Walsh do great things with limited roles. Joyce Grenfell, meanwhile, somehow turns an irrelevant bit of comic business into a transcendent piece of physical comedy). Jane Wyman seems a little uncertain in places, but funnily enough I think she's most effective in her 'Doris' guise, able to show off her comic skills, and sparking nicely with Dietrich.

The false flashback is a neat gambit, but unfortunately it unbalances the beginning of the film - Eve is sidelined for too long - and forces the script into some rather ugly expositional dialogue. However, the rising curtain is a lovely conceit.
10 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
Mavis or is it Phyllis?
BumpyRide19 April 2005
This movie gets a very much undeserved amount of flack for being a lessor work of Hitchcock. I can see why it might not appeal to some people, being character driven rather than having children being chased by rampant birds or someone being attacked by a serial killer in an old lady's wig. The performances here are all excellent especially Jane Wyman and Marlene Dietrich as Charlotte Inwood, perhaps the laziest girl in town but also the most flamboyant. The secondary characters are also in fine form and make memorable impressions that adds to the enjoyment factor of this film. I don't know why some people feel tricked after watching the movie, seeing and believing are two different things, especially in an Alfred Hitchcock movie!
29 out of 35 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
So Who Cares About Conventions?
theowinthrop11 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I like this film. It has gotten a bad reputation due to Hitchcock's daring to break another film convention about the truth of a flashback. Hitchcock had already broken other conventions over the years, some being of a technical variety (the nine minute uncut takes on ROPE for instance). Here the film begins with Richard Todd describing what he claims happened to the murdered man to ex-girl friend Jane Wyman. Subsequently we learn that the explanation is not totally true.

What I find interesting about this particular issue is that the same people who denounce Hitchcock for cheating on this probably have found other films acceptable despite similar "cheating". Take Billy Wilder's WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION. We hear Tyrone Power give Leonard Vole's version of what happened to the rich elderly woman (Norma Varden), about how they met, about what he was doing on the night she was murdered. We do not SEE the actual view of his activities for the night of the murder, but we accept his comments - until the end of the film shows what happened. Also check out Kurasawa's film classic RASHOMON, where we see flashbacks of five people who show "what happened" and at the conclusion we really don't know if we heard the truth or if everyone has lied. The same can be said of the American remake of RASHOMON, THE OUTRAGE. Even a musical comedy, LES GIRLS, leaves us all guessing at the end.

Yet Hitchcock was condemned for his cheating. I think he should be praised for his daring, for this film (of all Hitchcock's movies) develops in a unique way. Wyman is determined to prove the truth of Richard Todd's story, and keeps meeting criticism and common sense from her father, Alistair Sim, and from the police led by Michael Wilding, who don't believe him. And as a matter of fact, at the conclusion, it turns out that some, if not all of Todd's flashback has elements of truth in it.

Hitchcock told Francois Truffaud that he saw STAGE FRIGHT as an opportunity to work with some great British character actors (Sim, Joyce Grenville, Sybil Thorndyke, Kay Walsh). The film was definitely lower budgeted than other films (SPELLBOUND, even THE PARADINE CASE) that he had recently made. The most expensive aspect was working with Dietrich which was costly for her salary and her designer clothing. But Hitchcock wanted a chance to work with Dietrich here (just like he had made MR. AND MRS. SMITH to work with Carole Lombard in 1939). The results were quite good. The British character actors did the most with their parts (including Todd, who shows a nervousness and uncertainty in most of the film that is suggestive of possible insanity at the end). Dietrich also, in her closing moments on the screen, shows a bitterness and hatred that I don't think she ever showed in any other film role. Jane Wyman was criticized by Hitchcock for insisting on dressing up as the film progressed. However she does show a resourcefulness and pluck not usually seen in most of her movies. On the whole the film works pretty well to me.
25 out of 30 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
A solid, entertaining Hitch flick
boy-1317 October 1999
Often considered to be one of Alfred Hitchcock's lesser known films, "Stage Fright" has unfortunately gotten a bad wrap. Even mediocre Hitchcock is better than most movies ever get, though. And this one is a solid, entertaining picture. With an eclectic cast one doesn't expect to see together, each diverse actor provides a little something for everyone. And with Jane Wyman, Marlene Dietrich, Richard Todd and Michael Wilding how can you go wrong?

Wyman convincingly plays a drama student who gets involved over her head in a purely Hitchcockian case of murder. When her ex-lover Todd is suspected of killing Dietrich's husband, Wyman hides him and helps him allude the police. Meanwhile, Wyman disguises herself as Dietrich's maid to help find evidence to save Todd's freedom. Wyman falls into a dangerous trap, and danger surrounds her.

Disappointingly underdeveloped as it starts, "Stage Fright" eventually turns into a first-rate thriller. While Wyman has been better, Dietrich is hilariously catty and Todd is wickedly suspicious. This is undoubtedly a Hitchcock film all the way around, but adding a nice twist to the formula is a soaring, romantic soundtrack. A seriously satisfying film, "Stage Fright" hits most of the right notes.
27 out of 33 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Criminally undervalued
fletch525 December 2004
"Stage Fright" has become one of my favourite Hitchcock movies. Even though it's not in the same league as "Psycho" or "Rear Window", it's still an extremely delightful piece of film making.

What makes it so enjoyable is the wonderful cast, which was mostly unknown to me before. Jane Wyman makes a lovely heroine for the audience to care about, and Marlene Dietrich is a riot as the stage diva, although I was a bit skeptical toward her at first. The scenes between Alastair Sim and Sybil Thorndike as Wyman's eccentric parents are hilarious. Richard Todd is perhaps a bit weak as the suspected murderer, but not distractingly so.

All in all, I find this a far more preferable watching experience than some of his more acclaimed films like "Notorious" or "The Birds" which are kind of cold and sterile. See it if you have the chance.
28 out of 36 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
Excellent! One of Hitchcock's most underrated. 9/10
zetes16 March 2001
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS: Like any good film enthusiast, I consider Hitchcock one of the best directors who ever lived, right along with the likes of Fellini, Bergman, and Welles. Hitch consistently made films that were not only as entertaining as a film can possibly get, but also films that were extraordinarily intellectual and human. Films such as Lifeboat, Rear Window, and Vertigo work as art as much as any other films ever made, studying the human condition and utilizing the tools of cinema to the utmost.

Hitch was also the most prolific film artist of all time. He made over 50 films. He made more masterpieces than any other filmmaker, too. Several, such as Vertigo, Psycho, and Rear Window, are bona fide masterpieces. No one in their right mind would disagree with their status as some of the best films ever made. But everyone has that one Hitchcock film that they feel that they understand better than anyone else, and always claim that it deserves to belong in the same status as the more accepted masterpieces. I seem to have discovered several. In fact, every time I see one of his less popular films, I think that it has gotten a bum rap. Rope is my favorite underrated Hitchcock film, but I think that it is starting to be accepted by the masses more. Two other great ones that are less popular are Lifeboat and I Confess; Lifeboat is well respected by Hitchcock fanatics, but I Confess is usually dismissed. This sort of dismissal happens because of financial failure upon first release. Hitch certainly was an artist, but, if you've read the Truffaut interview book, you realize that he took a film's financial success or failure very personally.

Now we come to Stage Fright. I don't think that it was an enormous failure, but it was also not an enormous success. Truffaut says something like: "this film neither added to nor took away from your reputation." The main complaint is that the opening flashback is a lie, and that audiences could never accept that. I think that that technique works better now than it may have in 1950. It was sort of daring, but it failed at the time. Although most people still don't want to ever think that the characters in a film are lying, you still see it, especially in neo-noir (think Chinatown, Body Heat, etc, although those aren't flashbacks, per se). Truffaut also derides it for being a whodunit, which Hitch did not like. I don't think that Stage Fright is at all a whodunit. We assume through the entire film that Marlene Dietrich is unquestionably guilty in the crime.

There are just a few very minor problems in the film, most of them stemming from the trick ending: trick endings are in style right now, but they hardly ever work. This one does, mostly, but as soon as we realize we've been tricked, just as happens at the end of The Sixth Sense, a very good film otherwise, we begin to go over the earlier events to see if there was any cheating. There is in Stage Fright, and it loses a tiny bit of credibility from this. The other main problem is just how the police deal with the criminals at the end. It's hardly believable, and they kill the main criminal in a very gruesome way that I would think would get them reprimanded by their superiors (although it was cool). Anyway, it's nowhere near as bad as the way the police act at the end of Hitch's next film, Strangers on a Train, where a cop shoots randomly at a crowd (with the criminal in it) and accidentally kills an innocent man!

The gold of this film comes in the complex situations and characters. One reason why Hitch's films stand so far beyond the run-of-the-mill thriller is that his characters are so well developed. The actors in Stage Fright are also superb. Jane Wyman, the main character, has an extraordinarily complicated role, where she has to act at several different levels (she plays an actress who believes that her skills can help her learn more about a murder); she pretends that she's someone else, and as she meets more people, the more difficult it becomes to handle the situation. She also "switches horses in midstream," where she begins to doubt her relationship with the man whom she is helping and to fall for a detective on the murder case simultaneously. Richard Todd plays a man framed for murder. One excellent twist in the script is that his character is not intelligent. We're so used to characters being as astute as Sherlock Holmes in mystery films, but he's an illogical hothead who takes very stupid risks. Marlene Dietrich has a lot of fun here playing a demon-goddess. She's just hilarious, trying really hard to act depressed over her husband's death (and she's one of the most terrible singers you'll ever hear!). I love how she controls everyone in the film, even those who are trying to be her enemies. You just can't refuse Marlene! Possibly the most memorable and amusing performance in the film is that of Alastair Sim, most famous for playing Ebenezer Scrooge a year later. He's hilarious as Wyman's father. Micheal Wilding, playing the detective who is falling for Wyman, is also great, especially when he finds that she is betraying him and may have only been using him. There are a few very memorable cameos, too, including the "bibulous gent," a turtle-like man who offers Wyman comfort, and the shooting gallery matron (the whole shooting gallery scene is great).

Stage Fright has been trampled by the more outstanding Hitchcock pictures. It is a small gem, not boring in any way. It deserves to be rediscovered by more people.
26 out of 34 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
Frightfully good!
Christopher Evans17 May 2009
This superb film incredibly contains Marlene Dietrich and Alistair Sim among its great cast, in a blend of Hitchcock thrills and chills, humour and even musical interludes. It is mostly overlooked due to it's original 'failure' with fans and critics caused mainly by misguided hatred of a plot device used in the film. Also people fail to cope with the very different moods the film moves between. From whimsical British comedy to chilling psychological drama. It may not be one of Hitchcock's perfect 10/10 best but is easily 9 1/2 out of 10.

Hitchcock did something in the film, as he did in his classic Sabotage, which upset filmgoers and critics because it was 'not the done thing'. I wouldn't wish to spoil the film for a 1st time viewer by saying what this was but it is mentioned in the spoilers section of trivia on this films IMDb homepage. It is a mistake, I feel to overlook this film, especially due to this 'unconventional plot device'.

I find the 'unconventional plot device' in Sabotage one of a great many highlights of the film and it lifts it beyond what it would have been with the predictable/conventional resolution of that scene. The same is true in Stage Fright. Filmgoers who cannot cope with being confused by clever directorial choices are people I pity. The surprising, unusual aspects of this plot are terrific and Hitchcock was entirely correct in his choices which hugely add to the impact of the film.

Apart from all that Stage Fright is simply thoroughly entertaining. It is very very funny with Alistair Sim as brilliant and hilarious as ever in a great role for him as well as an entirely satisfying cast. Marlene Dietrich is superbly cold in a wonderful, striking addition to her acting career and sings a classic Dietrich style song. The twists from humour to chilling suspense make terrific enthralling moments.

A highly unusual and near perfectly executed film.
21 out of 27 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
How DID He Do That?
Holdjerhorses5 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Forget the shot in "Notorious" where the camera slowly descends from the second floor to Ingrid Bergman standing in the foyer and a tight closeup of the key in her hand.

Feast your eyes, instead (and try to figure out how cinematographer Wilkie Cooper shot it) on the sequence that begins outside Charlotte Inwood's residence, as Richard Todd gets out of his car, goes up the steps, opens the door, steps inside and . . . as the camera stays on his back, now inside the home . . . shuts the door behind him, starts up the stairs, reaches the second landing, crosses to Charlotte's bedroom door and enters. One continuous shot from exterior to interior and up the stairs. No cutaways. Amazing.

The shot was echoed years later in reverse, in "Frenzy," where the camera pulls back from a murder, goes down the stairs and out the door onto the street.

So why, one wonders, does Hitchcock settle for a cheap double-exposure shot of Dietrich in closeup in the foreground while Richard Todd is at the window in the background, when Gregg Toland had already achieved such "deep focus" shots without "trick photography" nine years earlier in "Citizen Kane?"

Yes, Jane Wyman's American accent is problematic. A glancing reference to her having been "educated" in America doesn't solve the fact that she's supposed to be British.

Marlene Dietrich is 50 and looks it. She actually looks younger seven years later in "Witness for the Prosecution." No matter.

The acting is superb all around.

The infamous "lying flashback" at the beginning seems far less troublesome to today's audiences than it did when the film was released, perhaps because we're more accustomed to films playing tricks with time, now.

The character development is exceptional -- particularly the relationship between Jane Wyman and Michael Wilding. (Quick: name another film starring Michael Wilding. You can't.) Hitchcock takes his time with the characters. Wyman and Wilding in the taxi on the way to the garden party are wonderful.

Is it necessary for Hitchcock to insist on superimposing a bloodstain on the doll's dress to let us know what Alastair Sim is thinking? No.

But then, when you've delivered a shot as spectacular as that long dolly of Richard Todd from exterior to interior and up the stairs, you can do anything you darn well please.
7 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A Somewhat Odd Combination That Works Most of the Time
Snow Leopard26 October 2004
With such an unusual set of components, it was probably inevitable that "Stage Fright" would be a little uneven, but most of it works well enough. By Hitchcock's standards, it's average at best, but it is still an entertaining movie with an interesting story and a number of good sequences.

Simply seeing the distinctive persona of Marlene Dietrich and the enjoyably unique style of Alastair Sim in an Alfred Hitchcock film would make for an interesting combination in itself. They are joined by a generally solid group of performers, with their own individual styles, and there are several characters who all get fairly sizable roles.

Hitchcock's own approach here is a somewhat surprising contrast from his usual style of story-telling, and some of the developments must have seemed even more unexpected to the movie's original viewers. Another aspect of this is that for much of the movie none of the characters really takes and holds the focus, and as a result there are times when it seems to lack some flow.

Yet there are a number of good points to it as well. There are plenty of the usual Hitchcock details that make things more interesting, and most of the cast members give good performances in themselves. Most of Hitchcock's movies are rather better than this one, but watching "Stage Fright" is still a better use of one's time than watching the weak present-day efforts in the genre.
25 out of 37 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Not a total Hitchcock misfire
Glenn Andreiev26 November 2001
STAGE FRIGHT (1950), whicch is usually dismissed as an Alfred Hitchcock failure, really has some fascinating things in it. As a whole, the film feels empty. The viewer knows they saw masterful construction work, but with lousy glue.

Richard Todd plays a Londoner wrongly accused of murdering his mistresses' husband. He is befriended by a young actress (Jane Wyman), her eccentric dad (Alister Sim, perfect as a daffy version of a Brit gentleman)

This film has arresting female characters (Marlene Dietrich is great as Todd's gal-pal. Patricia Hitchcock makes a top-grade debut in her father's films, and Kay Walsh is unforgettable as a blackmailer.)

The film begins in mid chase, has a terrific long take during a flashback, several other chases across and around stages and outdoor performances. The finale in a cluttered, noir-ish prop room is good stuff. What truly mars the film is the uninteresting sub-plot with detective Michael Wilding.
13 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
The sets, cast, filming, and plot are all great--a full blooded success
secondtake29 March 2010
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.
7 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Forgotten Hitchcock Movie
George Wright31 August 2011
This is a fine movie by Director Hitchcock in which Jane Wyman shines as the aspiring stage actor trying to get to the truth of a murder. It is usually overlooked or forgotten in evaluations of Hitchcock's overall work. Wyman's friend Richard Todd is on the run from the police. In an effort to out the guilty party, she enlists the help of her father, played by the great Alastair Sim. She worms her way into the household of a far more accomplished actor, Marlene Dietrich, impersonating a servant. She also wins the heart of a police inspector, Michael Wilding. She is at the forefront of this entertaining little film as she changes wardrobes and accents, going back and forth from London to her country home. The cast is strong all-round and, in addition to the above, are the talented Dame Sybil Thorndike, Joyce Grenfell and Kay Walsh, not to mention Patricia Hitchcock, the director's daughter, who often performed very capably in his movies. The movie is a black comedy that moves along at a great pace, with interesting vignettes and the long takes that Hitchcoock used so effectively. The on-location shooting in London gives the movie a reality missing in Hitchcock's earlier films. I liked this movie very much and with Wyman's acting and Hitchcock's direction, it works well.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Hope Diamond of Hitchcock -A Flawed Gem
DKosty12317 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Perfectionist Hitchcock did not like the opening flaw of this film story, where the initial flashback does not match the rest of the film. But this film is so much more than that once I viewed it. It might be the only film where Hitch does 2 Cameos - though one is so subtle that it is hard to catch while the other is very obvious.

The film does continue most of the themes of his prior work. Stairways are a central theme within the plot. Camera angles are used with very great care.

Mostly this is a great performance film. For whatever reason, the cast all have some of their best roles acting on film. Jane Wyman & Marlene Dietrich are both great. While Dietrich might have a better performance someplace, this is the best Wyman I have ever seen anywhere.

The male cast is fantastic, every one of them. In this film Alstair Sim (who would play Scrooge the next year) has his best performance in any film of his I have seen in addition to the classic as Wymans father. The support in this film is so strong that by the end, the viewer does not care about the beginning not making complete sense because Hitch & the actors have overcome that with a well made movie.

Hitchcocks next Warner film would be Dial M For Murder. While that one is more famous, this movie filmed in London with a strong British cast is worth while viewing.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
"Who knows what goes on in a woman's mind?"
ackstasis11 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
'Stage Fright (1950)' certainly isn't one of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest films, but I like it – quite a lot, in fact. From 1949-1950, the Master of Suspense took a temporary break from Hollywood film-making and produced two UK productions, the first being 'Under Capricorn (1949),' a fascinating but relatively unengaging melodrama with superb camera-work. The second, a return to his standard narrative form after two noticeably experimental pictures, was an adaptation of the story "Man Running" by Selwyn Jepson. With a wonderful British supporting cast, centred around Hollywood stars Jane Wyman and Marlene Dietrich, the film has a distinctly British feel to it, and not just because of the actors and setting. Hitchcock's whimsical sense of humour, evident in a great many of his pictures, is allowed to permeate the traditional drama/romance storyline, and the film would certainly have felt comfortable alongside the Ealing comedies of the late 1940s and early 1950s, many of which employed darkly comedic overtones.

There's something about Jane Wyman that immediately caught my eye while watching this film. Behind her rosy cheeks, timid eyes and soft voice, there's a certain innocence and vulnerability about her demeanour that really drew my sympathy. Her character, Eve Gill, is basically a petty schoolgirl, driven by silly but unwavering aspirations to uncover the truth, and her delicate personality is punctuated by moments of stubbornness, and, indeed, some occasional bravery. I've never really taken to actress Marlene Dietrich, and I find her distinct European accent and stunted line-delivery to be rather distracting; however, she does passably well as Charlotte Inwood, demonstrating an arrogant disposition that forms a strong contrast with the mild personality of Wyman's character. As far as the male actors are concerned, strong performances are given by Richard Todd as the wrongly-accused boyfriend {for some reason or another, the Irish actor reminded me of Joaquin Phoenix}, Michael Wilding as the honest and romantic detective with whom Eve inevitably falls in love, and Alastair Sim is a lot of fun as our leading lady's loving and playful father.

In comparing Alfred Hitchcock's films with those of his contemporaries, it's interesting to note how the director made stunning, dynamic use of the camera. Both 'Rope (1948)' and 'Under Capricorn (1949)' had made pioneering use of long-takes, sweeping the camera across the room with astonishing style and grace. For the first time, Hitchcock {and cinematographer Wilkie Cooper} integrated these techniques into a more traditional film-making style, and multiple sequences play out in a single take; my favourite shot follows Cooper (Richard Todd) through Charlotte's front door, and smoothly rises with him as he ascends the staircase. Another interesting element to the film, which met with much criticism upon its release, is the ingenious use of a false flashback, as Cooper's recount of past events is revealed to be little more than an elaborate lie. As the anecdote was explicitly treated as Cooper's own version of events, I see little "dishonesty" in Hitchcock's clever manipulation of the audience, and the final twist certainly succeeded in taking me by surprise – though I probably should have noticed something amiss when the romance between Eve and Smith began to develop.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Hitchcock movie about stars of the London stage.
Michael O'Keefe25 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Alfred Hitchcock directs a superb cast in this murder drama set in England. Drama student Eve Gill(Jane Wyman)pretends to be an aid to London theater star Charlotte Inwood(Marlene Dietrich) to prove that she murdered her husband. The proper Alastair Sim plays Eve's father. Inspector Wilfred Smith(Michael Wilding)is in shrewed pursuit of Jonathan Cooper(Richard Todd)to charge him for murder. The high society singer may find herself the victim of a double cross exposing her ill deed. Featured is the sultry Dietrich's version of Cole Porter's "The Laziest Gal In Town". Suspenseful and close to being predictable...but not. Other players: Kay Walsh, Miles Malleson, Ballard Berkeley and the debut of the director's daughter Patricia Hitchcock.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Modest but enjoyable Hitchcock flick
marissas7525 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"Stage Fright" is an entertaining and mostly lighthearted mystery; perhaps its themes are less consequential than in other Hitchcock films, but it still delivers a good time. It utilizes its theatrical setting well, contrasting truth with artifice, and acting with reality. And its characters are interesting and well-developed.

Musical-comedy star Charlotte Inwood's (Marlene Dietrich) husband has been murdered, and her lover Jonathan (Richard Todd) fears that she committed the crime and is trying to frame him for it. While he hides from the police, Eve (Jane Wyman), an aspiring actress who has a crush on Jonathan, poses as Charlotte's maid in order to get the evidence that will clear his name.

At least, that's how things seem—to us, and to Eve. But at the end of the movie, we learn that someone lied at the beginning, twisting the facts, and the real situation is different. Though this "lying flashback" is widely considered to have caused "Stage Fright"'s failure, it actually feels necessary to me. This movie needs a twist to distinguish it, or else it would be just an amusing but forgettable mystery.

Perhaps the title is misleading: there's not a lot of "fright" in "Stage Fright." It's a modest but enjoyable movie that feels more akin to Hitchcock's low-budget British movies than his Hollywood spectaculars. As in "The Lady Vanishes," the heroine is a spunky brunette instead of a cool blonde; the hero (Detective Smith, played by Michael Wilding) is likable but not stereotypically "heroic" or dashing; and there are some good comic roles for British character actors. Alastair Sim and Sybil Thorndike are hilarious as Eve's crazy parents.

Though Wyman is a bit too obviously American, she makes for an appealing heroine; it's especially fun when she has to switch between playing Eve and posing as the Cockney maid, Doris. There's a fascinating mash-up of talents at work when Charlotte sings "The Laziest Gal in Town": song by Cole Porter, husky vocals by Dietrich, costumes by Christian Dior, direction by Hitchcock. And though Dietrich's acting seems unconvincing at first—she's best as a cool and implacable diva, not a distraught widow—when you learn that the first scene was a lie, everything truly falls into place.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
7/10
Second-rate Hitchcock, but that's not such a bad thing
gridoon31 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The most famous thing about "Stage Fright" is without a doubt its final plot twist; having seen the film twice now, I can say that the twist almost holds up, but there is one scene, or more accurately one line, that cheats (Todd and Dietrich meet in her dressing room, alone, and she says the word "accident"). Two other characteristics of this movie are its brilliant camera work (especially at the start, when Todd goes into the house where the dead body is), and its well-written dialogue. Unfortunately, there is less of the former and more of the latter - the movie is overly talky. Jane Wyman appears to be bland at the start, but as the film goes on and she has to assume all these different identities, she gets better. Richard Todd is effective in his key scenes (the close-ups of his eyes at the finale). Michael Wilding is likable as the detective and Alastair Sim is delightfully dry as Wyman's father (at one point she says "I'll make her talk. It will be one woman to another". Sim's response: "Yes. An impressive situation at any time"). The one performance I didn't like was Marlene Dietrich's - it was old-fashioned even by 1950 standards. But maybe that's what Hitchcock had in mind. (**1/2)
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
One of Hitch's most underrated films
TexMetal4JC9 July 2001
Warning: Spoilers
--Minor Spoilers--

While reading user comments for other Hitchcock movies, I came across this phrase often, generally in association with TOPAZ:

"This is by far Hitchcock's worst since STAGE FRIGHT..." or something to that effect.

Maybe I'm just a hopeless blabbering Hitchcock fan, but I found Topaz and Stage Fright to be much better than the press they've gotten.

Stage Fright has been accused of being boring, although I suspect this is because there is no violence at all until the very end of the movie, and instead it deals quite a bit with dialogue and character development.

At first, I thought the acting was overdone, but 30 minutes into the movie, I didn't even notice. And of course, I can't say enough about Alisair Sim's performance as Eve (Jane Wyman)'s father. He was amazing in this movie.

I also thought Stage Fright contained quite a bit more of Hitchcock's dark sense of humor (note the bar and shooting gallery scenes, and Marlene Dietrich's comments while trying on her funeral gown). Absolute hilarious!

Overall the movie is a keeper. It certainly isn't as good as PSYCHO or THE BIRDS or any of his other 50s-60s classics, and Hitchcock doesn't do much of his fancy camerawork (although the mingling through the bar was very nice), but this movie is surely no worse than JUNO AND THE PAYCOCK or TORN CURTAIN. And the usual Hitchcockian plot twist is always a nice touch.

STAGE FRIGHT is probably one of Hitchcock's most forgotten and most underappreciated movies.

9/10
10 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
not classic Hitchcock, but still good.....
tripper010 July 2002
This movie plays more like something Hitchcock would have directed in the thirties. It also have the misfortune of being released while he was in his prime, so it comes off archaic for the master. I rather enjoyed it though. I thought Jane Wyman had considerable charm and innocence to play her character and make us care for her. Marlene Dietrich plays her part well, and Alastair Sim gives nice comic relief as the father to Wyman's character.

Its true that the movie cheats and gives us a surprise ending that really doesn't play with what we're given. This is a flaw and will forever keep this movie from being a masterpiece. However, it is lite viewing, and it has some excellent and charming scenes. The scene of Eve and the Inspector in the back of the taxi was rather nice, at least I thought so. Plus it has more humor than some of his other works. It certainly isn't rear window, but its worth watching for Wyman's fun and interesting performance. Its nice to see a heroine more so than a hero in something of Hitchcock's. Plus you can find out a hazard of the safety curtain that we hadn't thought of. 8 out of 10.
16 out of 27 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
The Master of Suspense's most overlooked film, and a great one it is too.
TheLittleSongbird7 September 2009
I don't think it is as good as North By Northwest and Rebecca, but Stage Fright was a great film, and this is coming from a Hitchcock fan. The photography is beautiful, and so is the music, making some scenes like the one in the taxi very touching. The script is well crafted, and while you think you know what's happening, the final solution is very unpredictable. My only complaint for the film was the last couple of minutes, the film just ended abruptly without a rounded finish or even a monologue. I liked the story, about a man who is accused of murder and a friend of his sets out to clear his name, it is well told, and doesn't have a sense of contrivance, and I did fear it would do. As for the acting, I had very little problem with it, Jane Wyman was perfectly alluring as Eve. Michael Wilding delights as "Ordinary Smith", and while he started off a tad wooden, Richard Todd was fine too. Two of the film's stars impressed me the most though. One was Marlene Dietrich, who was deliciously frosty as the stage actress and singer Mrs Winstead. I find Dietrich quite captivating, with her lovingly designed clothes, beautiful face and distinctive voice, I thought she was a great actress. The other was Alistair Sim, who I consider the best Scrooge ever, with George C. Scott close behind- he had some very funny moments, the most notable one being at the garden party and the doll stall. Even Hitchcock himself has a cameo 30 minutes into the film, as does his daughter Patricia. I didn't know until the end credits, that Kay Walsh, Nancy in Oliver Twist, played the maid. All in all, a very overlooked film, that is actually very clever. It isn't Hitchcock's best, but it is a very good film. 9/10 Bethany Cox
7 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
The master of movie mysteries does it again
SimonJack12 January 2014
My title may seem a little off-base since "Stage Fright" comes about in the middle of the nearly five decades that Alfred Hitchcock thrilled audiences with his films. But, whenever it was that one saw a Hitchcock film, we always had a sense of "Wow, he did it again." The again, of course, was his clever shooting, scripting, and direction that entertained and beguiled us while keeping us in the dark about many parts of the film and its outcome.

One could have fun with lots of "m's" – as in mayhem and murder -- to describe Hitchcock movies. But we should remember that Hitch also did some comedies and romance. While he wasn't known for those, I think they give us a little hint about the subtle humor that he likes to weave into some of his stories. Not all, but some. Including his cameo shots in almost all of his mystery films.

"Stage Fright" has a touch of comedy in the dialogue, and more in the mannerisms of one of the main characters – Commodore Gill, played by Alastair Sim (as the credits note, billed as "Alistair" Sim). Sim will forever be known to movie fans as Ebenezer Scrooge from the 1951 filming of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." And although he did have some serious roles in earlier mysteries and dramas, Sim was very successful the last half of his career with comedies.

In "Stage Fright," Commodore Gill's wit and light-hearted manner gives a sense of calm to contrast the high tension of Jane Wyman's Eve Gill. Wyman excels in her role, and the other main characters are all very good. Marlene Dietrich is not the star of this film, but she has a main role of suspicion that she carries us along with very nicely. Richard Todd's Jonathan Cooper is very good, and Michael Wilding, Sybil Thorndike and Kay Walsh are excellent as Ordinary Smith, Mrs. Gill and Nellie Goode, respectively.

I won't discuss the plot, because I think that reveals too much and the suspense is a big part of the enjoyment of these films. Suffice it to say that "Hitch has done it again." He dazzled movie goers for more than four decades with many of the best crime mysteries ever put on film. No one could do them better. And, while he did receive five Academy Award nominations, he never did win an Oscar. This is one of those uncanny things about Hollywood, the movie industry and the Oscars. Films that Hitch directed received nearly 50 Academy Award nominations. They won six Oscars and two Golden Globes – for others.

And, if nothing else, Hitchcock was one of the most successful movie directors in the U.S. and England. Most of his films from the 1930s through 1960s were huge box-office successes. Many big name stars appeared in Hitch films – some in more than one. Cary Grant, James Stewart, Gregory Peck, Laurence Olivier, Sean Connery, Peter Lorre, Charles Laughton, Claude Rains, Paul Newman, Henry Fonda, Rod Taylor, James Mason, Raymond Burr, Ray Milland, Robert Cummings, Montgomery Clift, Joel McCrea, Karl Malden, Joseph Cotton, George Sanders, and Robert Donat had some of the male leads. Ingrid Bergman, Julie Andrews, Janet Leigh, Carole Lombard, Maureen O'Hara, Joan Fontaine, Diane Baker, Doris Day, Anne Baxter, Kim Novak, Eva Marie Saint, Shirley MacLaine, Grace Kelly, and Laraine Day were among the female leads.

At the time of my writing this review in January, 2014, nine of Alfred Hitchcock's films are among the top 250 rated movies on the IMDb list. "Rear Window" from 1954 is IMDb number 30, followed by "Psycho" from 1960 at number 31. "North by Northwest" from 1959 is ranked 57; "Vertigo" from 1958 is 67; "Rebecca" from 1940 is 134; and "Dial M for Murder" from 1954 is 168. The last three are "Strangers on a Train," 1950, at number 186; "Notorious," 1946, at 191; and "Rope" from 1948 at number 240. Is there another director who has more than nine films in the top 250 IMDb list in early January, 2014?

Viewers may note that "Birds" from 1963 isn't on the IMDb top-250 list. Nor is "Lifeboat," long-considered one of the great movies of all time since it came out in 1944, smack dab at the height of World War II. Or, how about "Spellbound" from 1945? Or, "The 39 Steps" from 1935? Or, "Marnie" from 1964?

Indeed, the list of great films by Hitchcock goes on and on. Most are mysteries, but some are romance and comedies. I recommend the above films to younger viewers who may want to see more of Hitchcock. And, the following list is sure to provide many more hours of movie enjoyment. "The Man Who Knew Too Much," 1934; "Secret Agent," 1936; "Sabotage," 1936; "The Girl Was Young," 1937; "The Lady Vanishes," 1938; "Jamaica Inn," 1939; "Foreign Correspondent," 1930; "Suspicion," 1941; "Saboteur," 1942; "Shadow of a Doubt," 1943; "I Confess," 1953; "To Catch a Thief," 1955; "The Troubles with Harry," 1955; "The Wrong Man," 1956; "Torn Curtain," 1966; and "Frenzy," 1972.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
6/10
Entertaining, Gripping, Slightly Off-The-Wall, Mid-Period Hitchcock Thriller
ShootingShark14 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Eve is in love with Jonathan. When he tells her that the famous actress Charlotte Inwood has killed her husband and he has covered up the crime, Eve helps him hide and poses as Charlotte's dresser to try and prove his innocence. Things get complicated however when Eve falls for the detective investigating, and Jonathan's story starts to unravel …

Between his workman forties period and his fifties American masterpieces, Hitch briefly returned to Britain to make two good-but-not-great flicks, Under Capricorn and this film. Written by Whitfield Cook and Alma Reville, based on a book by Selwyn Jepson, it's a slightly over-involved tale with a large weak spot; Eve is hopelessly enough in love with Jonathan to be an accomplice to murder, but then suddenly drops him halfway through the plot in favour of Inspector Smith after knowing him for about ten minutes. However, it more than makes up for this with plenty of funny/sinister supporting characters, a great MacGuffin in the form of a bloody dress and a creepily psychotic twist in the tail. Most of all though what appeals about the film is the extremely strange cast; American Wyman somehow keeps a straight face, Sim and Thorndike are both hilarious as her loony-toon parents, Wilding and Todd are typical saps, and Walsh - one of the best British actresses of her day (This Happy Breed, Oliver Twist) - is fabulous as the chiselling Nellie Goode. Add to this strange brew the still fabulously smoking Dietrich doing her classic Lili Von Shtupp conniving femme fatale act and you have a truly unique mix. Even the bit parts are full of up-and-coming great players, notably iconic revue artist Grenfell as the lady running the duck-shooting sideshow. If one criticism can be levelled at the film, it's that the tone is a little uneven. The scenes with Todd are taut and gripping whilst the ones with Sim are quaint and ridiculous; Hitchcock often brings off this horror/humour combo well, but it drifts a little here. Nonetheless it's quality entertainment throughout, and if nothing else, watch this to see Dietrich singing I'm The Laziest Gal In Town, the closest thing to a musical number as Sir Alfred ever got in his illustrious career.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
loading
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews