Cast & Crew
In London, in 1946, after Maddalena Anna Paradine is arrested for poisoning her blind husband, Colonel Richard Paradine, the family solicitor, Sir Simon Flaquer, arranges for her to be defended by Tony Keane, whose wife Gay thinks that Mrs. Paradine is probably innocent. When Simon and Tony visit Mrs. Paradine in Holloway prison, she tells them that she is concerned that people will think that she married a helpless blind man so that she could kill him for his money. However, Tony impresses upon her to believe that she had made a considerable sacrifice in marrying Richard. Later, Tony and Gay attend a dinner party at the home of the presiding judge in the Paradine case, Lord Thomas Horfield, and the judge offends Gay with his lecherous behavior. Tony begins preparing his defense, and Mrs. Paradine reluctantly admits that she had been involved with several men before her marriage, but says that her husband knew all about her past. When Tony and Flaquer discuss whether to present the argument that Richard committed suicide, possibly assisted by his valet, André Latour, Flaquer is unimpressed by Tony's reasoning and feels that their client may well be guilty. Tony, however, passionately defends her and is overheard by Gay. Later, when Tony asks Mrs. Paradine about Latour, she protects him as if he might be her lover. Gay confronts Tony with her suspicions that he is becoming infatuated with Mrs. Paradine, but after he offers to give up the case and take her to Switzerland, she confidently insists that he continue. Tony decides to do some investigating at the Paradine country home, Hindley Hall, in Cumberland and takes a room at a local hotel. Latour greets him at the house and allows him to wander around, accompanied by the housekeeper. That evening Latour visits Tony to tell him that he was not involved with Mrs. Paradine and describes her as an evil woman. Disturbed by his words, Tony asks Latour to leave. Back in London, when Tony tells Mrs. Paradine of Latour's accusation and suggests that they were lovers, she asks Tony to remove himself from the case, but, after he apologizes, agrees that he can continue. After Sir Simon's daughter Judy, who is Gay's best friend, asks her about the rumors regarding Tony being in love with Mrs. Paradine, Gay tells Tony that she does not want to lose him and that she wants Mrs. Paradine to be found innocent for, if she were executed, Tony would imagine her as a great lost love. When the trial starts at the Old Bailey court, the Crown's prosecutor, Sir Joseph Farrell, portrays Richard as a true gentleman and establishes that Latour had been his devoted manservant before and during the war, and had won a medal for gallantry. After stating that the colonel was the best man he ever knew, Latour testifies that Mrs. Paradine had lied to the colonel that he, Latour, intended to leave, causing the colonel to become very upset with him. Although Tony proves that Latour had put the colonel's old dog to death with poison, Latour denies any involvement in his employer's death. During a recess Mrs. Paradine tells Tony that she will not forgive him for accusing Latour of murder and states that she wishes to be found innocent, but not at the cost of Latour being destroyed. When Tony admits to having romantic feelings for her, she asserts that their relationship is only one of client and lawyer. After the prosecution establishes that Latour and Mrs. Paradine had, in fact, engaged in an adulterous relationship, Tony puts her in the witness box. She states that she asked her husband to find another position for Latour, as he had been taking liberties with her and had tried to make love to her. When Mrs. Paradine then implicates herself in her husband's death, Tony requests a recess until the next morning. That evening, Judy tells Tony that she feels that Mrs. Paradine will be found guilty and that his career will be over. The next day, as the prosecutor interrogates Mrs. Paradine, word comes that Latour has committed suicide, whereupon a devastated Mrs. Paradine admits that she killed her husband as she had wanted to go away with Latour, insisting that he was not involved in the murder but had guessed that she was responsible. Mrs. Paradine angrily denounces Tony from the the witness stand, accusing him of causing Latour's death. Tony humbly confesses to errors of judgment he has made in conducting her defense and, after imploring the jury not to hold his "incompetence" against Mrs. Paradine, asks to be excused from the case. Tony then returns to the forgiving Gay, while Mrs. Paradine faces execution by hanging.
Leo G. Carroll
Alfred W. Burt
Lowell J. Farrell
Elsie M. Foulstone
J. Mcmillan Johnson
Hal C. Kern
Joseph B. Platt
David O. Selznick
David O. Selznick
James G. Stewart
Richard Van Hessen
Best Supporting Actress
The Paradine Case
The narrative opens in post-war London at the opulent residence of Major Richard Paradine, a war hero of WWI, since blinded and very recently deceased. Inspectors from Scotland Yard arrive to arrest his beautiful young widow Maddalena (Alida Valli), charging her with murder by poisoning. Family solicitor Sir Simon Flaquer (Charles Coburn) promises her the finest defense available, and sets out to engage prominent barrister Anthony Keane (Peck). With the encouragement of his elegant blonde wife Gay (Ann Todd), Keane agrees to accept the case. Making matters more of a challenge is the trial's assignment to the pompous Lord Horfield (Charles Laughton), who has seldom concealed his disdain for Keane or his courtroom bravado.
The story's true impetus stems from the time of Keane's first tete-a-tete with his new client, where he finds himself completely if unknowingly taken with Mrs. Paradine's beauty and bearing. As the trial preparation progresses, Maddalena acknowledges to her counsel that her past has been less than immaculate; still, Keane's certainty of her innocence remains unshaken. It quickly becomes apparent to everyone close to the attorney, particularly his wife, that Keane has lost his professional distance.
In trying to build a defense, Keane seeks out the major's faithful valet Andre Latour (Louis Jourdan), discovering that he had been the last to see the victim alive. Maddalena angrily bristles at the notion of implicating Latour in the defense strategy; the wounded Keane is now more resolved than ever to establish her innocence at the manservant's expense. The remainder of The Paradine Case plays out within the confines of the Old Bailey, as Keane, in pursuit of his gambit, places his reputation and the life of his client on the line.
Selznick had been fascinated with Robert Hichens' 1933 novel since his days at MGM, when that studio had originally optioned the property. He had been unsuccessful in his 1935 courtship of Greta Garbo to accept the role of Mrs. Paradine; years later, after he acquired the rights, his efforts to lure the Solitary Swede out of retirement for the project were similarly rebuffed. Selznick then turned to Ingrid Bergman, but his onetime discovery had become weary of their professional relationship. The producer resolved to cast an unknown, and turned to Valli, regarded as one of the promising actresses in Italian cinema. With cosmetic corrections to her weight (a crash diet) and teeth, English lessons, and billing her simply under her last name, Selznick had his femme fatale.
Hitchcock, on the threshold of having his own production company and desirous of winding up his contractual obligations to Selznick, signed on to the project. While Hitchcock's relationship with Peck during the making of Spellbound (1945) had been cordial but cold, the director was convinced by Spellbound's box-office receipts to lobby for his casting here. The beautiful British actress Todd, recently impressive in The Seventh Veil (1946) was loaned out by Rank for the role of the wronged wife. Meanwhile, Selznick was consumed by the pre-production phase of Duel in the Sun (1946), and Paradine's production costs mounted as Hitchcock indulged his pursuit for detail, including an elaborate set that provided a meticulous--and ceilinged--reproduction of the Old Bailey.
As the film's daily production progressed, Selznick became dissatisfied with the screenplay rendered by Hitchcock and Scottish playwright James Bridie and started providing daily rewrites after viewing the prior day's rushes. The end result is a rather verbose narrative that never quite builds dramatically from start to finish, with but instances that reveal the director's visual flair such as the trial's-end crane shot of the beaten and broken Keane. Overall, the cast delivered earnest and engaging performances, particularly Laughton (openly defiant of Hitch's requests to underplay), and Ethel Barrymore, who obtained an Oscar nomination for her efforts as Horfield's fragile, beaten-down spouse.
Selznick had desperately needed a hit at that point in his career, and The Paradine Case did not provide one; his total investments in the project topped $4.2 million, and its global receipts came to roughly half of that. Valli and Todd had each hoped the picture would give them the repute in Hollywood that they knew in their homelands, but that didn't come to pass. In later years, Peck himself seldom had a kind word for the experience, but he was well suited for this role; think of it as a dry run for his portrayal of another lawyer - Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962).
Producer: David O. Selznick
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay: James Bridie, Ben Hecht, Alma Reville, David O. Selznick, Robert Hichens (novel)
Cinematography: Lee Garmes
Film Editing: John Faure
Art Direction: Thomas N. Morahan
Music: Franz Waxman, Paul Dessau
Cast: Gregory Peck (Anthony Keane), Ann Todd (Gay Keane), Charles Laughton (Judge Lord Thomas Horfield), Charles Coburn (Sir Simon Flaquer), Ethel Barrymore (Lady Sophie Horfield), Louis Jourdan (Andre Latour).
BW-115m. Closed captioning.
by Jay S. Steinberg
The Paradine Case
Well, nice people don't go murdering other nice people.- Gay Keane
She had patience. She could wait. This was, indeed, no ordinary woman.- Sir Joseph
getting off a train at the Cumberland station carrying a cello (see also his cameo in Strangers on a Train (1951)).
An exact replica of the Old Bailey courtroom was constructed for the court scenes.
'Hitchcock, Alfred' 's last film under contract with David O. Selznick.
Hitchcock wanted to cast Laurence Olivier or Ronald Colman as Anthony Keane, Greta Garbo as Mrs. Paradine and 'Robert Newton' as Andre Latour.
The film's opening title card reads: "David O. Selznick presents his production of Alfred Hitchcock's The Paradine Case." According to news items in Film Daily, Selznick purchased the rights to Robert Hichens' unpublished novel in 1933, when he was at M-G-M. Howard Estabrook was assigned to write the screenplay, and an August 18, 1933 HR news item reported that John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore and Diana Wynyard would star. Selznick originally bought the story with Greta Garbo in mind, and an early treatment by Hichens, contained in the file on the film in the MPPA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, reveals that Garbo was the author's inspiration for the character of "Mrs. Paradine." However, as Selznick wrote in an unrelated 1946 memo, reproduced in a modern source, "Unfortunately, Miss Garbo has always had an aversion to the story and even today won't play it."
M-G-M first submitted a draft of the screenplay to the PCA in 1935, but was warned that the story was unlikely to be approved because the leading character was an adulteress and a murderess who used perjured testimony to win an acquittal and later commited suicide. The PCA also objected to the characterization of the presiding judge as a sadist who enjoyed sentencing people to death. M-G-M agreed to write a new treatment, but the studio did not submit another draft to the PCA until November 1942, when approval was granted. In August 1946, Selznick submitted a new draft, and shortly thereafter, the suicide was eliminated from the plot.
In a modern interview with François Truffaut, Hitchcock stated that he and his wife, Alma Reville, wrote the first draft of the screenplay, and that he then brought in Scottish playwright James Bridie to polish it. However, Hitchcock recalled, "Selznick wanted to do the adaptation himself; that's the way he did things in those days. He would write a scene and send it down to the set every other day-a very poor method of work." Although only Selznick and Reville receive onscreen writing credits, SAB and the Variety and Hollywood Reporter reviews credit both Bridie and Reville with the adaptation. On an additional dialogue submission to the PCA in December 1946, the credits read: "screenplay by James Bridie, adaptation by Alma Reville, additional dialogue by Ben Hecht."
In late February 1946, Hollywood Reporter announced that Hitchcock would direct The Paradine Case, and that Laurence Olivier would star. Modern sources report that the following actors were considered for leading roles: Maurice Evans, Joseph Cotten, Alan Marshal, James Mason and Ronald Colman for "Anthony Keane"; Ingrid Bergman and Hedy Lamarr for Mrs. Paradine; Claude Rains for "Lord Thomas Horfield"; and Robert Newton for Mrs. Paradine's lover. Contemporary sources add the following actors to the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed: Carl Harbord, Colin Keith-Johnston, Lumsden Hare, Rose McQuoid, Elspeth Dudgeon, Gilbert Allen, Harry Hayden, Edgar Norton, James Fairfax, George Pelling and Alec Harford. Hitchcock makes his customary cameo in the film by appearing as a man carrying a cello at the railway station.
Studio press materials in the file on the film at the AMPAS Library add the following information: The set used for the courtroom scenes was "an exact reproduction" of London's central criminal court, known as the Old Bailey. Unit manager Fred Ahern was permitted to observe courtroom procedure and take photographs inside the building. The replica cost $80,000 and took eighty-five days to build. Unlike most film sets, the Old Bailey set was constructed with ceilings to accommodate the many low camera angles. According to press releases, The Paradine Case, which was filmed on three sound stages at the Selznick lot in Culver City, was the first picture in Selznick's career [as an independent producer] that did not require some sort of location shooting. A January 4, 1948 Hollywood Citizen-News news item cited Hitchcock's "new film technique," in which four cameras-each trained on one of the principal actors-were used simultaneously to shoot the courtroom sequence. A February 1947 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that while multiple camera photography had been used before, all the cameras had previously been trained on the same subject.
Following the film's premiere in late December 1947, trade paper reviews listed the running time as 129-132 minutes, but Selznick decided to trim the film before its general release. The viewed print ran 114 minutes. In what the Los Angeles Times called "something absolutely new in inauguratory film events," the film opened simultaneously at two theaters that were across the street from each other in Westwood Village. A March 17, 1948 Variety news item reported that, after opening the film in Los Angeles, New York and Miami Beach, Selznick pulled the film from distribution while he devoted all his energy to the opening of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. He also wanted to benefit from the exposure Valli was receiving for her second U.S. film, The Miracle of the Bells. When the film opened in London in January 1949, News Review criticized the "indiscriminate hold-ups in the showing of American films in Britain," blaming the Rank Organisation's domination of the British film circuits and the stiff forty-five percent quota in favor of British films required by the Board of Trade.
Ethel Barrymore was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, but lost to Celeste Holm in Gentleman's Agreement. The Paradine Case marked the American film debuts of Italian actress Valli (1921-2006) and French actor Louis Jourdan (1919-), and was Hitchcock's last film under his contract with Selznick. An adaptation of the film was broadcast on Lux Radio Theatre on May 9, 1949 and starred Joseph Cotton, Valli and Jourdan.
Released in United States Winter January 1948
Re-released in United States on Video August 1998
Released in United States Winter January 1948
Re-released in United States on Video August 1998
Re-released video is a digitally remastered edition.