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25 May 2011

Stage Fright (1950) Review

Marlene Dietrich is quite creepy looking in this poster.

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay by: Whitfield Cook and Ranald MacDougall
Produced by: Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: (Read on poster)
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Drama, Crime
Runtime: 110 Minutes


Hitchcock does it again! Stage Fright was wonderfully suspenseful, full of mystery and great tension. Hence we forget the great acting from actors such as Marlene Dietrich, Jane Wyman and Michael Wilding. Other than Dietrich these actors are new to me, and are now actors whose films I shall follow. They may not be around now, but I mean I will look around for their films. You may know Dietrich from films such as Orson Welles ‘A Touch of Evil’. Stage Fright has quite a complex plot eventually in the film, but has been well written. The script is just genius. It is a very well coordinated, and entertaining plot, that is plenty to keep you interested.

Jonathon retrieving Charlotte's coat.
Plot:
The story opens right into the action. The film opens with us seeing the character Charlotte (Dietrich), a theatre actor. She runs into the room to her supposed lover Jonathon Cooper (Richard Todd) and we discover she has accidentally murdered someone. Straight away I could tell she was manipulating he lover, and she eventually gets him to go back to get a clean dress, as there was a blood stain on her dress. Jonathon is spotted at the scene of the crime, which means he is now a suspect. So he runs off to his faithful friend Eve gill (Jane Wyman). From their onwards the film goes into a complex ‘who dun it’ story and it is just genius. It is very hard to come to terms with the story because that is the joy of viewing the film. Finding out as you go along. It all pieces together.

Amazing Actresses:
Forget about the actors this time! The women were the highlight of this film. Hitchcock’s films are always known for the strength of his female characters, and this is one of his films that show that. These two were terrific characters.

Charlotte Inwood: This is the character played by Dietrich wonderfully. Charlotte is a manipulative and almost in a sense character who immediately in the film is taking action. But that’s not all. On your viewing your opinion will change on her as the film progresses. That is my opinion on her for the first half of the film.
Charlotte fixing her hair in the mirror.
Eve Gill: Eve is ultimately are female protagonist and the one who drives the story. She is a fantastic character. She is caring, smart and a great actress. Throughout the film she plays multiple people. This includes being Doris Tinsdale, the cousin of reporter Nellie Good (Whom Eve bribes to do so), and having no one know who she knows. What I mean is, while she poses as Doris to find out more about Charlotte, Charlotte does not know she knows Jonathon. So that’s where the film gets the complexity. 


Nelly Good: She is the character who doesn’t keep her mouth shut, who waltzes into the bar in which Eve is at, talking about how she was questioned by the police –about the murder that takes place at the beginning- . Her actor, (Key Walsh) brought a lot to the character with that likable and typical accent.


Great Cinematography:
Just to add a couple of things that interested me in the film, I am writing this little section. In the film Hitchcock makes a very small cameo, which for some reason was interesting to see. It is in the scene when Eve is acting as Deloris and she says a few words to herself while she is walking down the street. We see a person walking by and turning their head to look at her, non-other than Hitchcock. Hitchcock often made small cameos in his films, and it is almost like his little trademark. He also appeared as a cameo in North by Northwest and Strangers on a train from my knowledge.


Another great scene was near the end. It is the scene when Jonathon and Eve are in a small area with barely any light and they are talking. It is a very suspenseful scene with about 3 ½ minutes of talking. The tension increases as we learn more about the TRUTH of the murder mystery. It was the lighting I found interesting because it added emotion and setting to the scene. It was one of those classic lights where the eyes are illuminated by shining it on the upper half of the face. There is some very fine cinematography to see in this film. 

Amazing Lighting in the scene with Jonathan and Eve.
Overview:
Stage Fright is a fine piece of cinematography, but it is easy to see it’s a film people under the age of say 15 will not find it interesting. Older audiences are going to love this film. I’m 16 and could identify with several scenes and situations so anyone above 16 should definitely enjoy. It’s a fantastic story that is plenty to keep you on the edge of your seat. The film was well planned out and had a great screenplay. Stage Fright is a delightful film full of mystery, suspense and character. It’s a 110 minute journey in to a complex case of a murder mystery.



My Rating: 9/10
 

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