- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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A neglected masterpiece
- George Sanders
This is one of the most disturbing and astonishing of Hitchcock's films. The performances are tremendous from top to bottom, the realization is nearly flawless, and Hitchcock's entire conception is so intensive that one is left giddy, facing a moral abyss. This film is a few steps short of being a brutal attack on the corruption of the ruling classes. The lawyer (Peck) is from lower in the order and is swiftly rising, aiming for the good life, which his wife (the most sympathetic character) dearly wants for them both. But the good life involves dealing with the judge--one of the best roles Charles Laughton ever realized--who is corrupt, vain, vile to his wife, and bloodthirsty--yet unfailingly fascinating to watch. The female lead (played by Alida Valli), accused of killing her husband, has an icy but endlessly expressive face, but one that reveals nothing we can be certain of. In contrast, the lawyer, given one of Gregory Peck's finest performances, moves fluidly and is a born actor during a trial, but unlike most actors, he cannot hide anything from us: his face reveals more than he realizes. Peck and Valli are almost mirror images of each other, and Hitchcock reveals this in subtle shading in the shot-reverse shot scenes in the cramped interview room--they are trapped in a small, erotically charged space yet seem to exist in different worlds. The effect is uncanny. Valli's performance throughout is fascinating; during the trial scenes, she barely moves but is the center of attention, almost on a throne. Her face registers a rich array of emotions that are, except for flashes of fear, almost impossible to identify with certainty.
The Paradine Case (1947)
- Jay Higgins
This is not vintage Hitchcock, but anything Hitchcock does is worth watching. It is a very complex courtroom drama, a bit too complex, but the performances by Charles Laughton, Ethel Barrymore and Charles Coburn keep your interest focused on the film. They are all excellent. An underrated gem.
Charles Laughton/Ethel Barrymore
I'm interested in what the previous reviewer wrote about the relationship between Charles Laughton's creepy judge character and his wife being a reflection on Alma and Alfred. The film hints that the judge is a sadist who enjoys the hangings in a capital murder trial just a bit too much. Yet he is gently indulgent with his dingbat wife. I think Hitchcock teases us with the idea that he will be cruel to her, but he never is. I have a hard time viewing Alma as any kind of a model for Barrymore's character in the movie, especially when she adpated the screenplay!
Lushly produced film by Selznick
- Jarrod McDonald
A lushly produced film, The Paradine Case is the result of the third collaboration between legendary Hollywood producer David O. Selznick and director Alfred Hitchcock (their previous efforts being Rebecca and Spellbound). The story for The Paradine Case had been purchased by MGM during Selznick's tenure there. It was obviously a story he felt passionately about, enough to buy the property from MGM for his own banner. The eventual product, starring Gregory Peck, is flawless in its painstaking detail of the legal process and is carefully researched. It foreshadows the montage of legal scenes in Hitchcock's later film, Dial M for Murder, in which Grace Kelly's character is on trial. The sets are gorgeous. Peck is handsomely photographed, and the entire cast is well-guided by Hitchcock. The relationship between Laughton and Barrymore's characters can be regarded as a comment on the ambiguities of married life...perhaps a comment by screenwriter Alma Reville, Hitchock's wife, on aspects of their own marriage.
The Paradine Case
- Wendy Winkler
Even though this isn't as highly regarded as Vertigo or Rear Window, The Paradine Case is an entertaining movie. I think Alida Valli is perfectly cast. The supporting cast such as Joan Tetzel is very good too.