Saturday, January 22, 2011
Title: The Paradine Case
Studio: A Selznick International Picture
Screenplay: David O Selznick & Alma Reville
Source Material: From the novel by Robert Hichens
Running Time: 109 minutes
A black & white picture
Saturday 22nd January, 11:45am
This will be my last entry for a few weeks as I am going to be on holiday for the month of February and I simply will not have time to watch and blog I'm afraid. Still, I feel I am becoming a little stale in my write-ups and a break may do me the world of good and perhaps inject a certain energy back into my writing. Heaven knows I need it. Even today, as I watched the movie, I felt a certain lethargy and apathy towards the project, but I continue on.
It was a little stressful trying to get this one done as I have so much to do prior to my vacation and there is such little time left. However, I squeezed it in - please forgive me if this entry is a little shorter than normal too. I don't seem to have my heart in it this weekend.
Anthony Keane - Gregory Peck
Gay Keane - Ann Todd
Judge Lord Horfield - Charles Laughton
Sir Simon Flaquer - Charles Coburn
Lady Sophie Horfield - Ethel Barrymore
Andre LaTour - Louis Jordan
Mrs Paradine - Alida Valli (credited merely as 'Valli')
Counsel for the Prosecution - Leo G Carroll
Judy Flaquer - Joan Tetzel
Innkeeper - Isobel Elsom
London. The time: the recent Present
Maddalena Paradine is at home playing the piano. Her butler announces the arrival of the police who politely inform her that they are there to arrest her for the willful murder of her husband, Colonel Richard Patrick Irving Paradine on 6th May 1946 by poisoning. Mrs Paradine is graceful and calm as she collects her things and goes with them.
Her solicitor, Sir Simon Flaquer, tells her that she will be represented by Anthony Keane, a lawyer with a superb reputation. Keane's wife, Gay, believes Mrs Paradine is innocent just because she seems like a nice sort of person. Tony is the sort of man to apply a little more logic to the situation, but upon meeting Mrs Paradine he is almost bewitched by her beauty and cannot bring himself to believe her guilty of anything.
One evening, at the home of Judge Horfield, there is a dinner hosted by the Horfields and attended by the Keanes, Sir Simon and his daughter Judy. Horfield is a rather lascivious fellow and makes uncomfortable advances on poor Gay Keane but she is strong enough to brush him off as politely as she can manage.
She also begins to become a little jealous as she notices how her husband is becoming more and more infatuated with his client. She even overhears and impassioned speech he makes in her defence. She worries that she may be losing her hold on him.
Anthony decides he wants to visit the Paradine home in Cumberland and takes a trip up to the Lake district. He stays at a local inn and listens to the gossip regarding the case so he can get a better understanding of people's views. The next day he takes a pony and trap up to the Hall and when he gets there he meets the Valet, LaTour but he stands in the shadows and hides from Keane. The housekeeper shows Keane around the home and he assesses the area making mental notes. He is surprised to discover that LaTour's bedroom was alongside the main rooms and not in the servants' quarters.
When he returns to the inn, he is making himself comfortable on a stormy night but he is aroused by a knocking at the window. He draws back the curtains to see Andre LaTour standing there. Andre wanted to come and see Keane on his own terms and explains that Mrs Paradine is evil. Anthony is unimpressed and forces him to leave. The next day, Tony returns to London. When he tells Mrs Paradine about his trip, she is very unimpressed and tells him so. He also admits that he is attracted to her.
During the trial, Keane attempts a couple of lines of defense - he suggests that the colonel committed an act of suicide as he was so unhappy with his life as a blind man. When this fails, he tries to direct blame to LaTour who was named as a beneficiary of the late colonel's will and also was a deft hand with poison having put down a dog not so long before. During the whole drama of the courtroom, LaTour confesses he and Mrs Paradine had an affair.
The court adjourns.
The following day, LaTour is discovered dead having taken his own life. Mrs Paradine is distraught and suddenly apathetic and admits to killing her husband. There was no longer any point to her life now that her husband and lover are now dead.
Keane is shaken and horrified by events and feels like he is a disgrace to the profession. He is comforted later by his loyal wife, Gay who says he should continue on and fight the good fight as this is merely one obstacle.
Gay Keane: "Nice people don't go around murdering other nice people."
Lord Horfield: "I do not like to be interrupted in the middle of an insult."
Judy Flaquer: "I hope- no, I don't hope they hang her. I don't like breaking pretty things."
Andre LaTour: "I would never have served a woman. It's not in my character to do that."
Firstly I want to mention Louis Jordan who has had a long and varied career. He is a stunningly handsome fellow and in The Paradine Case hols his weight against the equally talented and good-looking Gregory Peck.
It has long been noted that the forums on www.imdb.com are plagued by morons and it is a bit of a joke that under the majority of actors' profiles, there will be one discussion board asking "Is he gay?" or similar. Whilst looking up Louis Jordan's profile, I came across this very question and rolled my eyes. The poster stated "He has gay aspect" (?) but one person made me laugh with their succinct response; "He's French, not gay."
Hitchcock handles the different locations brilliantly creating some claustrophobic atmospheres within certain buildings (The prison and the Paradine home.
His homing in on Ann Todd's flesh from the viewpoint of Charles Laughton is eerie and disturbing.
One of my main problems with this film is that I have absolutely no sympathy for Mrs Paradine. There isn't one moment where I feel like she might be an innocent awaiting her deathly fate. She looks guilty from the moment we see her. I know we should feel sorry for her, but she just leaves me cold.
My pick for favourite touches in this film have to be the shadows which disguise LaTour's stunning features the first few times Keane is near him, only for his striking looks to be 'announced' by the vicious winds with his arrival at Keane's room at the inn. Perfectly dramatic and brilliantly effective.
Oh, and it was years and years until I finally watched this film (in fact, I watched it only last year for the very first time) and I was surprised to learn that it was pronounced Paradene not Paradyne as I had been referring to it for all the years previous. The latter still sounds better if you ask me. But then, I always say 'scone' as "scohne" to rhyme with 'cone' not "scon" to rhyme with 'gone'.
It's only 'Scon' when there's none left! (ho ho ho)
The cast is rather splendid and Hitchcock directs as beautifully as ever (the scenes in the Lake District are gorgeously shot), but the film as a whole is a little lacklustre. 5/10
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Studio: RKO Pictures
Screenplay: Ben Hecht
Source Material: Inspired by Mata Hari and a short story called 'The Song of the Dragon' by John Taintor Foote
Running Time: 970 minutes
A black & white picture
Sunday 16th January, 2:30pm
I had risen early this morning and popped out to buy a whole heap of cat litter in readiness for my month away (for which period this blog will have to rest) and I was ready and eager to watch Notorious by 8:30. However, as I began, my eyes became heavy and I just could not concentrate. (Even whilst boiling the kettle for tea, I wasn't fully awake and ended up burning my arm on the steam as I reached over to get a hand towel!) So I switched off and pottered about the flat for most of the day, doing very little indeed. I tried again around 2:30 and successfully sat through the movie. Even now, as I sit at my desk, I am struggling to keep my eyes open. Why am I so incredibly tired? It's rather stress inducing considering how busy I am going to be over the forthcoming week as I prepare for my holiday away by doing a ridiculous amount of work in a short space of time. If you know me and I lose my patience at any point, please forgive me.
As I type, I am very aware that over the next few minutes, I am going to make lots of typos as I am so lethargic. Forgive me if I do... Let's go.
Devlin - Cary Grant
Alicia Huberman - Ingrid Bergman
Alexander Sebastian - Claude Rains
Paul prescott - Louis Calhern
Mme. Sebastian - Madame Konstantin
'Dr Andreson' - Reinhold Schunzel
Walter Beardsley - Moroni Olsen
Eric Mathis - Ivan Triesault
Joseph - Alex Minotis
Mr Hopkins - Wally Brown
Commodore - Sir Charles Mendl
Dr Barbosa - Ricardo Costa
Hupka - Eberhard Krumschmidt
Ethel - Fay baker
In Miami, Florida, a man is being sentenced to prison for treason against the United States of America. His daughter, Alicia Huberman, is hounded by the press on her way out.
She has a party to say goodbye to the country and she meets a gate-crasher named Devlin. They have chemistry and when her guests have either gone or have fallen asleep, the two of them go out for a drive. She is drunk and gets pulled over, but when Devlin shows his ID, the cop lets them go. It turns out he is an American agent.
He has been sent to get her help in infiltrating some Nazis - initially she refuses, but after he plays her a recording of a conversation she had had with her father expressing her distaste for the Nazis and support for America, she relents.
The two of them head to Rio and after spending some time together, the chemistry between them becomes a greater bond and they fall in love. This makes the next step so much harder for Devlin. He is required to ask her to marry into the group they are trying to infiltrate as one of the men is an old flame from her past.
Devlin is gutted, but has to go along with it. Alicia knows she has to do so too.
They meet Alex Sebastian whilst out riding and he becomes reacquainted with Alicia. His love for her is reignited almost immediately and she lets him believe he is succeeding with his advances.
She has dinner with Alex and his cohorts and is surprised when a man named Emil Hupka gives a little anxious scene when he spies a certain bottle of wine on the shelf. His colleagues are not impressed... After dinner, whilst the men drink brandy and smoke cigars, Emil apologises and the other men say they forgive him, but he knows deep down he has dug his own grave.
Over a period, Alicia keeps meeting with Devlin and reports back to him about the various men and places she learns of. Alex has proposed to her and she accepts, much to Devlin's chagrin.
Whilst settling in her new home, she discovers that a lot of the doors are locked and her new mother-in-law is not at all keen to let Alicia have a run of the house. One door is kept locked and only Alex has the key - the wine cellar!!
One night, Alicia sneaks the key off her husband's fob and hides it from him, dropping it when in an embrace with him and kicking it under the table.
Later, at a big party, she hands the key to Devlin. They both go to the cellar and discover, when Devlin drops a bottle, that some of the wine bottles do not contain wine, but a mineral ore. He tries to clean up the mess and replace the bottle with one with a similar label. They leave the cellar just in time, but they do not get away from the basement before Alex comes down. Devlin kisses Alicia in a deep embrace to make Alex think they were just down there to make love.
Initially, Alex believes this but upon finding broken glass and notices the incorrect date on the replaced bottle, he begins to piece things together.
Alex goes to his domineering mother and tells her he has married an American agent. She is horrified but also calm about it and plans to sort things out. Alex is concerned because he knows his colleagues killed Hupka for simply losing his nerve over a wine bottle. What will they do to him for being so naive?
His mother's plan is to pretend everything is normal and slowly poison Alicia over a period of time.
Meanwhile, Devlin and his department discover that the metal ore (of which he took a sample) was Uranium and they need to find out the location of the mine.
Devlin meets Alicia again, but she is looking terrible. Devlin merely thinks she is back on the bottle and all she feels is weary and wants things to be over.
One night, when Alex's doctor is visiting, he nearly sips from Alicia's cup - alarming Alex and his mother. This only alerts Alicia to what's been happening, but it is too late. She is too weak and she collapses. They take her upstairs, disconnect the phone and leave her semi-conscious in bed.
Devlin begins to worry about her when she doesn't turn up for her meetings. Eventually, he takes matters into his own hands and goes around to the Sebastians' home and sneaks upstairs whilst Alex and his Nazi colleagues discuss other matters in the study. He lifts her from her bed and helps her downstairs. ON the way he meets Alex and his mother who are both terrified of their fellow cohorts finding out the truth about Alicia. Devlin threatens to expose Alex to them if he doesn't let them out of the building safely. They all walk to the car with the Nazis watching closely. At the car, Alex pleads for Devlin and Alicia to take him with them, but they refuse and drive off.
Alex is left to ascend the steps back to the house where the already suspicious colleagues are waiting for an explanation. he goes inside and closes the door to receive his fate.
I love Alicia's flamboyant yet simple way of ending a party;
"I'm very sorry, you all have to go. It has been a perfectly hideous party!"
I also love her line;
"There's nothing like a love song to give you a good laugh."
I've said it before and I'll say it again; Ingrid Bergman is one of the most beautiful women to ever grace the silver screen. Even when she is being slowly poisoned and she is looking close to death, she still looks magnificent. With that, I should mention the subtle yet effective job the make up department have done. It is so slight that you don't notice but you are subliminally aware of the difference. Genius.
Hitchcock has a wonderful time playing with the camera and various points of view shots. When Alicia is drunk, the camera revolves around making us feel as hungover as she.
Later, when she is being drugged, the silhouettes and shadows of her poisoners loom ominously before her as she sways on her feet. It's a very creepy effect.
One of the most famous shots (or should I say 'notorious shots'?) is the one of Alicia in the background with the poisoned coffee cup in the foreground. Hitchcock achieved this unsettling effect by using a larger than life prop. It certainly makes one feel uneasy when watching.
My absolute favourite though is a crane shot at the Sebastians' party. We flow down from the balcony across the party, toward Alicia and we zoom in tight on her hand to see the wine cellar key. It would have been a devilish shot to get right, but it pays off superbly.
Great performances from Brant, Bergman, Rains and Konstantin bring this story to a higher level than if it were a mediocre cast. I don't find the plot as satisfying as some critics, but it's an enjoyable cat and mouse game all the same. 7/10
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Studio: A Selznick International Picture
Screenplay: Ben Hecht (Screenplay) & Angus MacPhail (Adaptation)
Source Material: From Francis Beeding's novel The House of Dr Edwardes
Running Time: 106 minutes
A black & white picture
Sunday 9th January, 6:30am
I am a little distracted as I type this as I am multi-tasking and trying to eat some lovely burnt toast with strawberry jam (I love burnt toast!) It's my second breakfast as I had some muesli at 5:00am when I awoke after a stressful night of complex dreams. Ironic, really, considering this morning's viewing.
Due to the nightmares, I was in a rather grumpy mood during the first half - hating the fact I had to make notes as I watched - but eventually I perked up and felt much more chipper by the end of the movie. Maybe this is due to the most pleasing aesthetics... Dali's dream sequence? Hitchcock's direction? Or Peck and Bergman being two of the most attractive people ever to grace the silver screen? Or maybe all of the above.
Dr Constance Peterson - Ingrid Bergman
John Ballantine - Gregory Peck
Dr Alex Brulov - Michael Chekhov
Dr Murchison - Leo G Carroll
Mary Carmichael - Rhonda Fleming
Dr Fleurot - John Emery
Mr Garmes - Norman Lloyd
Hotel Detective - Bill Godwin
Dr Graft - Steven Geray
Harry - Donald Curtis
Drunk Hotel Patron - Wallace Ford
Lt Cooley - Art Baker
Sgt Gillespie - Regis Toomey
Dr Hanish - Paul Harvey
The film opens with a quote from William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar:
The fault... is not in our stars, but in ourselves.
Then we have a brief essay to read:
Our story deals with psychoanalysis, the method by which modern science treats the emotional problems of the sane.
The analyst seeks only to induce the patient to talk about his hidden problems, to open the locked doors of his mind.
Once the complexes that have been disturbing the patient are uncovered and interpreted, the illness and confusion disappear... and the devils of unreason are driven from the human soul.
Dr Constance Peterson works (and lives) at Green Manors, which is a home for the mentally ill. Her 'chief', Dr Murchison, is retiring due to his age and is being replaced by Dr Anthony Edwardes.
When he arrives, the other doctors are concerned about his youthful looks and Constance is uncharacteristically smitten from the first moment she lays eyes on him.
Over dinner, they discuss sports and the forthcoming swimming pool to be built within the grounds. It won't be a rectangular pool, more of an irregular shape - she attempts to draw the shape on the tablecloth with her fork - at this, Dr Edwardes loses his calm demeanor and rambles. Everyone thinks this is slightly peculiar.
The next day, Constance is treating one of her cases, Mr Garmes, a man who believes he killed his own father. Garmes is exhilarated by the letter opener Constance uses.
Edwardes enters and when Garmes leaves, he suggests he and Constance take the afternoon off and go for a leisurely walk - before they do, there is a phone call from a woman named Paula Kramer who does not recognise Edwardes' voice. They pass it off as a former patient causing trouble.
That night, Constance cannot sleep. She gets out of bed and heads upstairs to the library - she notices that Dr Edwardes' light is still on and once she has selected one of his books (a signed copy of Labyrinth of the Guilt Complex she hesitates outside of his door before entering. He is in his armchair reading. She apologises and says she was going to use subterfuge and pretend she was there to discuss his work. They both admit how they are feeling. She cannot understand how she could feel this after merely one day, but he says that love can blossom in a mere moment. They kiss passionately... until the dark lines on her dressing gown upset him, just as the fork lines on the linen tablecloth did.
There is a phone call. Mr Garmes has attacked Dr Fleurot and then tried to slice his own throat. Whilst in surgery, Dr Edwardes becomes confused and stresses out over the bright lights and faints.
Constance sits by his bed as he sleeps and she compares a note he had written to her with the signature in her signed book. The signatures do not match.
When he awakes, she questions him. He begins to regain some memories. He believes the real Dr Edwardes is dead - a form of amnesia has wiped out his memory and forced him to take the place of the real doctor. All he knows is that his initials are J.B. thanks to a cigarette case in his jacket pocket. She tells him she'll help him, but for now he must rest.
In the morning, he rises early and writes a note to Constance:
I cannot involve you in this for many reasons, one of them being that I love you.
For the time being I am going to the Empire State Hotel in New York.
He slips it under her door. When Constance awakes, she does not get to the note in time as the other doctors and a detective come to ask questions as they too have reached the same conclusions due to Ms Paula Kramer turning up and providing a photograph of the real Dr Edwardes.
Constance denies all knowledge of the predicament and manages to read the note once the doctors have all left her rooms.
She takes off to New York and uses the aid of the hotel's House Detective to locate 'J.B.' - it appears he has signed in under the pseudonym 'John Brown'.
When she finds him in his room she tells him; "I am here as your doctor only, it has nothing to do with love..." but then kisses him.
She talks to him and ascertains that he too must be a doctor as he has medical knowledge. He has a burn on his hand which has been treated with a skin graft - she asks him to remember how it happened, but he cannot recall.
The bellboy brings the newspapers but he recognises her from the article and photograph in the paper questioning her whereabouts.
They leave the hotel and head for the train station, trying to get J.B. to remember certain things, like where he and Dr Edwardes had been travelling to before. When local policemen become suspicious, they detour to Grand Central Station and head out to see her mentor, Dr Alex Brulov.
He is not there when they arrive, but there are two policemen waiting to ask him about Dr Edwardes' disappearance. Once they leave, Alex welcome the couple into his home. Constance tells him they are newlyweds but unbeknown to her, he sees right through it. In the night, J.B. has another episode when he is in the bathroom preparing to shave. He takes the switchblade razor in his hand and descends the stairs where Alex Brulov is up late working. Alex is on the ball and he puts some bromide in a glass of milk to help J.B. sleep.
At 7 o'clock in the morning, Constance comes downstairs where she finds Alex and J.B. asleep. Alex, once awake, explains how he knew everything and they both decide to figure out the truth.
Once J.B. is awake, he recites his dream which is full of bizarre imagery including curtains with eyes, faceless men and a gambling house with deformed cards. He sees a man fall off a sloping roof and a masked figure laughs behind a chimney and drops a wheel.
Whilst reciting these images from his dream, he loses control again when he spies children on their sleighs in the snow. At this point, Constance begins to piece it all together. The lines on the tablecloth, her robe etc are reminding him of tracks in the snow. J.B. recalls 'Gabriel Valley' and they decide to head out there.
Meanwhile, the police are closing in on their location.
At Gabriel Valley, Constance and J.B.are skiing, trying to help him recall his past.
Just before they reach a steep drop, he remembers! As a child, there was an accident in which he killed his brother. He was sliding down a stone banister alongside some outdoor steps. His brother was at sat at the bottom and didn't move in time. He was pushed onto the metal railings below and died.
With this recollection, John Ballantine remembers his name. He also remembers seeing Dr Edwardes plummet off the cliff.
Back at the ski lodge, they await for the police to arrive, having told them their story. However, once they arrive, the police say they found Dr Edwardes' body, but it had a bullet in it. They arrest John and he is convicted, sentenced and locked away.
Constance feels awful but she still does not believe John killed the doctor.
She goes over the dream again and pieces together some more clues...
She realises that it must be Dr Murchison who killed Dr Edwardes as the latter was the one 'stealing' his job away from him. She goes to see Murchison who is shocked by her tenacity but does not deny it. She says that the wheel in the dream was the revolver which he must have dropped at the scene of the crime, but he produces it and points it directly at her. He is willing to kill again.
Constance remains cool and explains how the first murder could be explained due to stressful circumstances but if he killed her now it would be cold blood.
She calmly leaves his office and he turns the gun on himself.
John is exonerated and he and Constance marry.
Dr Fleurot: (on hugging Constance) "It's like embracing a text book!"
Dr Alex Brulov gets some fantastic lines, even if they are appallingly misogynistic in that typical Freudian way:
Dr Brulov: "Women make the best psychoanalysts... 'til they fall in love. After that they make the best patients."
Dr Brulov: (interrupting Constance) "Do not complete the sentence with the usual female contradictions!"
and the classic:
Dr Brulov: "The mind of a woman in love is operating on the lowest level of intellect."
Personally, I would say this is true of men too.
Dr Murchison gets a perfectly chilling line when he is proposing to kill Constance:
"You forget in your imbecilic devotion to your patient that the punishment for two murders is the same as for one."
Clearly, he is a very desperate man...
How interesting that the opening passage (as seen above) begins with an educational statement about psychoanalysis but ends with spiritual metaphor. I find this odd!
This is a black and white film, but in a touch of pure genius, Hitch blasts us with a moment of startling red when the revolver goes off in 'our' face! Pure brilliance!
The brief moments of flashback to John's childhood when his brother is killed whilst playing is one of the most shocking scenes in a Hitchcock film up to this point. I first watched this film many years ago in my teens and that particular image has stuck with me ever since. It's brutal and heartbreaking.
The scene where John is in a sort of trance and is clutching the razor in his hand as Dr Brulov gets milk is beautifully filmed. The hand with the weapon, large in the foreground, is menacing on the screen as Alex potters into the kitchen. Then when we have a Point of View shot of John drinking the milk, which is effective and also foreshadows the P.O.V. shot in the final moments of the film, only this with white and the latter with red.
Of course, I should be beaten with a broken microwave if I didn't mention the Dali dream sequence. Apparently, a much longer sequence was planned but only a small portion was filmed and even a lot of that was left on the cutting room floor (oh, to be able to see that! - The footage, not the floor).
The scissors cutting the eyes, the masked proprietor, the misshapen wheel... are all stunning visuals, but for me, the most disturbing thing is the extra large playing cards. I have often had nightmares about objects being larger than they should be (Cripes, I can hear the muffles guffaws from here - you dirty minded people!)
Hitchcock and Dali have created a brilliant dream-scape which actually feels convincing in its 'realism' (as real as dreams can be). I would not be surprised if I heard Terry Gilliam was fond of this sequence too!
All this said, there is one moment in the film which is a little heavy-handed and that's when Constance and 'Dr Edwardes' first kiss and there is the imagery of the corridor of doors opening slowly. It's all a little obvious and startlingly humorous. I expect this is because in this modern day, these symbols have become cliched. Back in 1945 it would have been more of a curiosity.
Once one gets past the misogynous approach to Constance's character, it's a fascinating film with some wonderful visuals. 8/10
Monday, January 3, 2011
Title: Bon Voyage
Studio: Welwyn Studios
Screenplay: Angus McPhail & J.O.C. Orton
Running Time: 26 minutes
A black & white picture
Monday 3rd January, 9:30am
Today is the last day of my holiday and I have that slightly sick feeling in my stomach (you know the one, we've all experienced it.)
Thankfully, the task of doing this blog today was a reasonably brief one. Both films are short and there is very little information on them so it allows me to be brief. I will get back into the full swing of things next weekend, I am sure.
I made myself a mug of tea and grabbed the biscuit barrel (diet recommences tomorrow, so I had to finish off the chocolate biscuits) and watched both films - neither of which I had seen before.
There is no cast list for either of these films, but John Blythe plays Sgt. John Dougall.
It's London: 1953. Sergeant John Dougall is being questioned by a French Intelligence Officer about his escape from Germany. He tells his tale starting from his arrival in Reims. His ally, Stefan Godowski, helped him escape and they make their way across country together. In Reims, they receive word that one of them must go to the local cafe and give a specific signal. Stefan goes and returns with further instructions but has somehow gained an injury. He explains he came across a Vichy spy whom he had to kill. The two men agree that it would be best to go back and dispose of the body. When they do, the body is gone and there are two Resistance members at the crime scene. They tell the duo to take a specific route to a farm where they will find two bicycles for them to continue their journey. There are further instructions attached to the bikes.
After staying at a hotel and meeting a female Resistance member on a train, they are soon whisked off to her father's home and they decide via poker dice who should take the one seat on the plane to England. John wins but Stefan asks him to take some mail to a personal friend.
Then, we learn the truth. The Intelligence Officer tells John how Stefan was in fact a German spy and had orchestrated the whole thing and use John as a carrier pigeon for his codes.
You can't trust anyone these days...
This one is hard to appreciate without experiencing the accents involved.
The two Resistance members ask John about his heritage;
John: "Scottish... R.A.F."
Female Resistance member: "Pardon?"
Male Resistance member: "That's how the English say 'R.A.F.'"
As you can imagine, much more entertaining with the different pronunciations.
Hitchcock has nipped back from Hollywood, reasonably reluctantly, to film these two shorts as part of the war effort. He was also having to visit the graves of loved ones and witness the destruction of his home country's capital.
Both films were produced with the best intentions, but neither were shown and were shelved.
The flashback technique is nicely handled but the whole 'But this is what really happened...' is even better.
My favourite Hitchcockian moment in this film has to be when Stefan kills the Vichy spy in the wine cellar. Beautifully lit and brilliantly dramatic - it certainly shows signs of Hitch's fondness for 'silent' film.
Another classic moment is when Jeanne is shot by Stefan (My, he's a nasty piece of work, isn't he!?) - As he holds the telephone receiver near her face with one hand and shoots her with the gun in his other, she dies and falls out of shot, leaving the receiver aloft. It's a very effective image.
This was rather entertaining and breezy in its storytelling. I was genuinely surprised. 6/10
Title: Aventure Malgache
Studio: Welwyn Studios
Screenplay: Angus McPhail & Jules Francois Clermont
Source Material: Apparently based on a true story
Running Time: 31 minutes
A black & white picture
Monday 3rd January, 10.00am
I decided I wasn't going to take notes whilst watching it as I needed to concentrate on the French subtitles (having had to pause and rewind an awful lot during the first film).
Having just enjoyed Bon Voyage, I was looking forward to Aventure Malgache... If only I'd watched it first.
As I mentioned before, no specifics as to the actors, but they were among the Moliere players.
One of the actors in a theatre group tells a story of his war experiences when a colleague's appearance reminds him of his past. As they prepare for the show in the dressing room, the story is told in flashback.
Lawyer. Nazis. Resistance. Pirate Radio. Blah, blah, blah.
Seriously, I do not have the will to write it all out.
None that took my fancy.
Whilst watching this I thought to myself; "Crikey, and to think I will have to sit through Topaz eventually too!"