Stage Fright (1983)
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[img]http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B0002HOES0.01.TZZZZZZZ.jpg[/img] If has even crossed your mind to look into the recent Warner 'Alfred Hitchcock Signature Collection' than it's probably something you really should get. Granted it is simply construced the way it is because these are the Hitchcock titles that Warner has DVD rights to, but every film has flashes of the master's brilliance and a unique take on his constant themes of guilt and mistaken identities. It's so hard to rate these films on their own because one has to compare them to his other films and create some kind of heirarchy. Each of these films is unquestionably worth a look and a few essential. Here's what I've yet to review in my journal, I'd love to eventually give each a decent, indivual spot, but better this than nothing. [b][u]Foreign Correspondent[/u][/b] This is the definite predecessor to [i]North by Northwest[/i] and for a 1940 film it's quite a huge production. Like the other film it features a number of big set pieces, including an Amsterdam square, a full windmill, and a watery plane crash. The film borders on a action oriented film, but it's slowly unraveling mystery is too good to be overtaken by it's numerous action sequences. There's a idealist, idiological Hitchcock here in this film that is set on the cusp of World War II. The film's final scene is an obvious call to arms for America, in contrast to [i]Notorious[/i] where he could playfully take on Nazi-ism in the immediate post-war time period. This is borderline essential, definitely check it out. [b][u]Suspicion[/u][/b] This film works it's way from playful to suspenseful quite naturally, even though it is never as dense as Hitch's greatest thrillers. The main interest here are the performances of Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine, which are both excellent. Grant plays his charm off his darker side with surprising depth. Watch as Fontaine wonders is her husband's dark side goes deeper than she thinks. Grant's shadow comes through the kitchen door and up the stairs, the whole while carrying this mysterious glowing glass of milk he's brought for his wife. Too bad we didn't have a few more of those scenes instead of the Hollywood ending that just kind of leaves one perplexed. These endings usually don't bother me, but it feels so unnatural here. [b][u]I Confess[/u][/b] Hitch's ultimate take on transfered guilt, here blatantly using the Catholic guilt he hints at in other films. The story's premise is fantastic. A priest hears a mad admit he has committed a murder, but it's during a confessional so he is bound to be silent by the rules of the church. To make matters worse the transfered guilt is carried out by the same man subtely leading the police to suspect the priest in the murder. Much of the story unfortunately relies too heavily on a flashback that shouldn't be so central to the story, but it finishes in a great finale. The b/w photography expresses the priest's inner turmoil effectively. [b][u]Stage Fright[/u][/b] Another story stretched farther than it probably could have gone, this film has a lighter feel to it, even though it does work as a decent suspense. The greatest laugh you'll find at the end is that fact that Hitch has pulled a great rabbit out of his hat. In furture years he said he'd made a mistake, I say not. This is a fantastic trick, playing on accepted standards of storytelling. SPOILER: [color=white]One notices at the beginning who is telling the flashback, but we assume it's truthful. At the end we realize the whole film is told from the killer's tale and he's led us to believe his tale.[/color] ::END SPOILER: [b][u]Mr. & Mrs. Smith[/u][/b] A definite standout in Hitch's catalog because it's a simple screwball comedy. A man and a woman learn a technicality has voided their 3 year marriage and they simply have to get a new liscense. The question of "would you do it over again?" plays itself through the film, and even within when the husband says he might not have, this when he had no idea it could actually happen to be a possibility. The set-up is great (last shot is so Hitch), but I thought the film didn't carry it through as well as it could. The ending is good, though, and the film is certainly enjoyable throughout. A charming film, if only for the performances of Carol Lombard and Robert Montgomery. The set also contains [i]The Wrong Man, Dial M For Muder, North by Northwest[/i], and [i]Strangers on a Train[/i] (2 disc)[i]. [/i]Get it!
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