Synopsis: Wealthy, sheltered Joan Fontaine is swept off her feet by charming ne’er-do-well Cary Grant. Though warned that Grant is little more than a fortune-hunter, Fontaine marries him anyway. She remains loyal to her irresponsible husband as he plows his way from one disreputable business scheme to another. Gradually, Fontaine comes to the conclusion that Grant intends to do away with her in order to collect her inheritance…a suspicion confirmed when Grant’s likeable business partner Nigel Bruce dies under mysterious circumstances. To his dying day, Hitchcock insisted that he wanted to retain the novelist Francis Iles’ original ending, but that the RKO executives intervened. Fontaine won an Academy Award for her work. -Hal Erickson (AMG) Continue reading Alfred Hitchcock – Suspicion [+Extras] (1941)
NORTH BY NORTHWEST
Since he is a peripatetic operative who loves to beat about the bush while beating about the countryside, director Alfred Hitchcock and a covey of willing and able traveling companions have made North by Northwest, which was unveiled at the Music Hall yesterday, a suspenseful and delightful Cook’s Tour of some of the more photogenic spots in these United States.
Although they are involved in lightning-fast romance and some loose intrigue, it is all done in brisk, genuinely witty, and sophisticated style. With Mr. Hitchcock at the helm, moving North by Northwest is a colorful and exciting route for spies, counterspies, and lovers. Continue reading Alfred Hitchcock – North by Northwest (1959)
Alfred Hitchcock cited Shadow of a Doubt as his favorite film experience, indicating on numerous occasions that from day one of shooting up until the final scene concluded, he was invigorated by a spirit of joint cooperation. He was so impressed by the spirit of the people of Santa Rosa, California that he ultimately bought a home in nearby Santa Cruz that he used as his Northern California retreat away from bustling Los Angeles. Continue reading Alfred Hitchcock – Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
A bus and a truck are moving towards each other along a two-way traffic highway on a rainy day. At the very beginning we learn that a reckless driver of another car will cause them to collide while trying to pass the bus; we even learn what seats will spell doom for their occupants. The rest of the movie follows two streams of events on the bus and on the truck, getting us to know and like a wide variety of characters, wondering which ones will end up being casualties and holding breath for our favourites. The epilogue brings some more surprises… Continue reading Nikola Tanhofer – H-8 (1958)
Plot: Lina, Giovanni and Carlo take the Roma-Orvieto train for a trip to the countryside.
One of the beacon films of the European cinema of the Thirties. Celebrating the sound film as a rebirth of cinema, Treno popolare combines and harmonises, with genius, several characteristics of the cinema of the period. Talking pictures, of which it is too often said that they rendered cinema theatrical, also accentuated and stimulated realism. (…) This realism, born from sound and the possibility to make characters speak in their own langauage and with their true voices, here extends to a unanimist depiction of Italian society, and notably of the petite bourgeoisie of the time, portrayed with great veracity in its daily activity and behaviour. And the fact that the film is entirely staged in exteriors makes it possible to assign it its place – it precedes Renoir’s Toni by a year – as the first neo-realist work. The film’s description of society is presented with a lyricism which comes in part from the musical structure, to which Nino Rota’s score, one of the most beautiful in the history of cinema, brings an unparallelled emotion and grace. It was Matarazzo who persuaded Nino Rota to work for the cinema and the music of Treno popolare is his first film score. Sometimes melancholy or nostalgic, the film also breathes a tender sensuality, apparent in the landscapes, the photography and the movements of some of the characters. The film achieves a miraculous balance between the acuteness of the sociological realism and the lyricism of the description of nature and of that brief exaltation that seizes the characters in their contact with it.
Jacques Lourcelles, Dictionnaire du cinéma, Laffont, Paris, 1992 Continue reading Raffaello Matarazzo – Treno popolare (1933)
Synopsis: The head of the Green Manors mental asylum Dr. Murchison is retiring to be replaced by Dr. Edwardes, a famous psychiatrist. Edwardes arrives and is immediately attracted to the beautiful but cold Dr. Constance Petersen. However, it soon becomes apparent that Dr. Edwardes is in fact a paranoid amnesiac impostor. He goes on the run with Constance who tries to help his condition and solve the mystery of what happened to the real Dr. Edwardes. Continue reading Alfred Hitchcock – Spellbound [+Extras] (1945)
Plot Synopsis from allmovie.com by Hal Erickson
On the eve of the Chinese New Year, three strangers make a pact before a small statue of the Chinese goddess of Destiny. The strangers are Crystal Shackleford (Geraldine Fitzgerald), married to a wealthy philanderer; Jerome Artbutny (Sidney Greenstreet), an outwardly respectable judge; and Johnny West (Peter Lorre), a seedy sneak thief. The threesome agree to purchase a sweepstakes ticket and share whatever winnings might accrue. Alas, the pact brings little more than misfortune for all concerned. Jerome steals funds from a client, then kills Crystal (with the goddess statue!) when she refuses to hand over her sweepstakes winnings. Johnny and his girlfriend Icy (Joan Lorring) decide to abandon their life of crime, but when it is revealed that the ticket is a winner, he sets fire to it to avoid having his name tied to the crime. If it seems strange that Peter Lorre ends up the romantic lead in Three Strangers, remember that the film’s director, Jean Negulesco, thought Lorre was the finest actor who ever lived–and as a result, he fought tooth and nail with Warner Bros. to cast Lorre in this film. Continue reading Jean Negulesco – Three Strangers (1946)