Today’s post is brought to you by the letter “H” (as in Hitchcock—get it? 🙂 ).
The Paradine Case is one of those rare Hitchcock films that I haven’t watched ten or twelve times before. In fact, I just saw it for the first time recently (recently being maybe two or three or five years ago … ahem 🙂 ). It is (ostensibly) a film noir courtroom drama, which sounds more fun than it turns out to be, despite the sheer magnitude of star power involved.
The story takes place in England, where the very beautiful (to the point of captivating men on sight, apparently) Maddalena Paradine is arrested for poisoning her older, blind husband (who also happens to be super-rich). Is she falsely accused or a money-grubbing femme fatale?
To represent her in court, her solicitor (played by Charles Coburn) hires the amazingly handsome and successful trial attorney, Anthony Keane (played by Gregory Peck). And, upon sight of her loveliness, the happily married Keane falls madly in love with Little Mrs. Paradine. Just like that.
What follows is mostly Courtroom Drama 101, with shades of soap opera mixed in. Keane goes all-out to find evidence to absolve his client. He spends so much time visiting her in prison, his obsession with her has become the hit of the prison rumor mill. In fact, half of London seems to talk of nothing else.
And how does the Divine Paradine feel about this? She tells Keane to quit following up on leads. And, whatever else he does, he is not to bring her husband’s (very young and cute) servant into this mess. Which only leads Keane to pursue that lead harder.
I won’t tell you the end, but I will say
it sucks it’s anticlimactic.
Frankly, the only thing less believable than Keane’s record-breaking bout of infatuation with the Widow Paradine is Mrs. Keane’s
bizarre peculiar test of her husband’s allegiance to her. My thoughts throughout these scenes: “Mind games? Must we?” and “You really want your husband to keep representing this ungrateful bitch truculent client?”
I wouldn’t recommend this one for anyone (other than the most die-hard of Hitchcock fans).
Two stars–tops! What can I say? I’m being nice. 🙂 You can watch the movie here, if you
insist like. 🙂
While sadly, I didn’t care for this film … I can recommend these ten (much better) Hitchcock films instead! 🙂
And here’s a trailer for the Hitchcock/Truffaut documentary, which you can buy or rent after viewing!
PS: You can also find the film on Kanopy for free, assuming your local library participates.
PPS: I wonder what the Master of Suspense would make of our
involuntary confinement situation today. I shudder to think …! 🙂