Saturday, November 26, 2005

STAGE FRIGHT (1950) - Alfred Hitchcock

This is the first Hitchcock I’ve seen that just simply didn’t work for me. It’s got all of his themes -- murder, suspicion, malleable perceptions -- but none of the flair that usually accompanies them. The plot feels leaden, the Jane Wyman love story sluggish, and the visuals curiously lacking for a Hitchcock mise en scene.
Marlene Dietrich is the movie’s biggest asset and its greatest liability. She’s playing Marlene Dietrich, as she usually does, but as a slightly less successful stage actress. She overwhelms the movie, even in the scenes she’s not in, vamping it up to the point of weariness.

I don’t know, maybe she overwhelmed Hitchcock as well. So much ego on set that the puppet master couldn’t pull his strings. Admittedly, I watched this late at night after a good bit of the old vino. But I’m not so sure I would like it at even at 8 A.M. and with a shot of espresso. This one’s for completists only, be it Hitch’s or Dietrich’s.

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