Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Stage Fright is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G-!
Alfred Hitchcock's Stage Fright (1950) is quite frankly a masterpiece.
It's Hitchcock's tribute to his homeland (England) and it is a great suspense with a brilliant twist.
Now, before I begin this semi-semi-review I must warn you there is a large controversy surrounding part of this film. When I address it I will give you a spoiler alert, as it truly gives away the plot of the film!!!!
I was watching this movie with my mom and she saw the name Michael Wilding. I will now try to reconstruct as best as possible our conversation:
Her: Whoa, that's the husband [Elizabeth Taylor's] that died isn't it?
Me: No, it was Michael Todd who died...this is Michael Wilding.
*A few seconds later she sees Richard Todd's name*
Her: Wow, so two of her husbands are in this movie!
Me: No, one husband.
Her: I thought you said she was married to Michael Wilding?
Me: She was. But she was NOT married to Richard Todd...he is completely different.
*The movie gets paused because my dad was starting a fire and he always make A LOT of noise!*
Her: So Michael Wilding was the husband that died?
Me: No, Michael Todd died in a plane crash! She divorced Wilding.
*A little while later*
Her: So, Richard Todd died in a plane crash?
And this continued on throughout the whole movie. Hahaha, she isn't normally so slow or scatter-brained, but there is something about the Mr. Elizabeth Taylors that completely confuse her...LOL!
Anyways, I will start with the film's stars:
Marlene is fantastic in this film. She gives a complex and fascinating performance. Often hiding her character's emotions from view, until they suddenly pop up again (okay, that sounded strange...hahaha). It gives her performance many layers...completely mesmerizing!
First, the good news: this is definitely my favorite Jane Wyman performance. Now, the bad news: I don't like Jane Wyman very much. This is strictly as an actress. She often drives me bezerks! Her screen persona, just annoys me. And I really don't think she was right for this role (she is supposed to be born and raised and lives in England, also her parents are both English, yet she has an American accent)! However, she did great in this role. Maybe not the best choice, but still an alright choice for the part.
Genius. Pure genius. His performance was beyond perfection. The second best in the film (the best is coming up). His portrayal was amazing. To say anymore might give something away, so I won't. But, if you have seen this film, you know what I am talking about!
Wilding was excellent in this film! It is too bad his part wasn't bigger. And plus he's just adorable with his darling British accent.
The best performance in the whole film goes to Alastair Sim, who completely walks away with the entire movie. Sadly I could not find his own credit, so this still shot will have to do. It is from an absolutely hilarious scene, where Alastair needs a little blood for something...fast! He ends up stabbing a bit at his hand to get a little blood...it sounds morbid, but really it is hilarious! I could go on about his performance in this film forever that's how brilliant he is!
And, Patricia Hitchcock is delightful...as always, playing the bit part of Chubby Bannister. She seriously lightens and brightens up absolutely anything she is in!
Also, Sybil Thorndike is fantastic as the slightly dotty mother of Jane and wife of Alastair.
Plus, Joyce Grenfell is beyond hilarious in her one scene. A definite highlight in the film.
Now, unto the controversial scene.... SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!
I personally think Hitchcock was absolutely brilliant in putting the false flashback in! Hitchcock was forever experimenting and trying new things. He gave an amazing surprise to audiences then and now!
Those who say it was an error are completely wrong! It was fascinating. It was Richard Todd's side of the story. He was mentally unstable. Hitchcock even gives hints about his sanity (or lack thereof) throughout the film. And the shrewd viewer can easily discern them.
Sadly, Hitchcock himself thought that the false flashback was his #2 career mistake (following the bomb and child in Sabotage). I think it was amazing.
I think that Hitchcock was amazing. Period. And that is what I will be saying until the day I die.
Now, here are a few random shots from the film:
Jane and Richard, in what I think was her best scene in of the film. It was also beautifully shot by Mr. Hitchcock!
Jane making herself "plain".
Marlene and Richard.
Richard Todd and Kay Walsh.
Love this movie and I totally recommend it!