Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Paradine Case

I am a bit of a Hitchcock junkie, though I certainly don't love each and every movie. Until a few years ago, I had never seen The Paradine Case (1947), and I really enjoyed it. Alida Valli, Charles Laughton and Ethel Barrymore, Louis Jourdan in his first English-speaking role- what's not to love? Well, I saw it again last night and I'm rethinking my opinion. The screenplay tips you off fairly early who did it. Gregory Peck is the lead. I've always thought he was sort of wooden, but that's particularly true here. That's also true of Ann Todd who plays his long-suffering (oh, boy, does she suffer) wife. It's actually pretty unsatisfying. The most striking thing to me (which I remembered from the first time I saw it) was the establishing shots of London, still badly bombed.
IMDB tells me that Alida Valli's was born Alida Altenburger; she went into hiding to avoid being executed under Mussolini's government (she refused to perform in propaganda films); and her first husband was involved in a "drug, sex and murder scandal" with his mistress.
Also on the DVD was a Lux Radio Theatre version of "The Paradine Case" with Joseph Cotten playing the Peck role. Much better! Cotten and Valli had just returned from Vienna after shooting The Third Man, though it wasn't released in the US until 19489.

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