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.
Her: Oh.
*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.
Her: Oh.
*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.

-----------------------------------END SPOILER-------------------------------------------

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.

Hitchcock's cameo.

Love this movie and I totally recommend it!


Kate Gabrielle said...

You did a marvelous review!! I was just grinning ear to ear reading it, and remembering all the parts of the film. It's actually one of my favorite Hitchcock movies, and I think it's unbelievably underrated. I actually like the false flashback (and the child-bomb in Sabotage, while terrible and morbid, seemed to fit the story and was totally unexpected)

Don't you just love Alastair Sim? I think that part you singled out (with the blood) is my favorite scene in the movie!! I'm going to go add it to my Netflix queue now-- I'm so in the mood to see it again!!!!

Millie said...


It is totally a great Hitchcock and absolutely underrated. I think there are two main reasons it doesn't appeal to everyone: 1)everyone's heard about the false flashback, so the stay away from the film...or 2)people get slightly thrown off by the very British humor throughout the film. Needless to say, I adored both of those elements.

Yes, I like the flashback too, although the bomb in Sabotage I have never liked very much. I know it is brilliant and brilliantly done, but it always lets me down. Because he builds so much suspense until it finally explodes...it makes me kinda sad.

But, anyways, this comment is already too big, so I must stuff my last few remaining words in quickly...

I LOVE Alastair. I think he's stupendously amazingly cool. Yes, the blood scene is great, and I also love carnival shooting scene, and well every scene he's in turns out to be a masterpiece. And he's so witty!

Sarah said...

*adding to Netfilix queue*
I can understand why your mom would get her husbands mixed up. There were 8 of them, you know!

Millie said...

Hahaha, yeah, there were a lot.

The other day she made me think of Samuel Goldwyn. She was distracted and talking to my little brothers and said, "The next time I leave you, I'm gonna take you with me"...LOL! It's because her, my dad, and I are leaving for Sierra Leone on Saturday, so she is super busy getting everything ready. But, it did sound like a classic Goldwynism.

Nicole said...

I actually really liked this movie even though I had heard a lot of people say they didn't like it. How strange as it may be but I totally liked Richard Todd's character, he was so twisted.


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