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Stage Fright [1950] [Remastered]

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Eve Gill (Jane Wyman), an aspiring young actress, shelters a fellow acting student, Jonathan Cooper (Richard Todd), from the police. He is suspected of murdering the husband of his mistress, Charlotte Inwood (Marlene Dietrich), a famous singer. Jonathan claims that he became implicated when he tried to help Charlotte destroy the evidence. Eve's eccentric father, Commodore Gill (Alastair Sim), agrees to hide Jonathan in his house while she proves his innocence. To do this, Eve becomes Charlotte's temporary maid. Eve's Father devises a plan to force Charlotte to confess in front of the inspector investigating the case, Wilfred Smith (Michael Wilding). When the plan doesn't work, Eve tries blackmailing Charlotte into a confession while the police listen outside her dressing room. Charlotte agrees to pay, but insists that Jonathan is the real killer. Written by alfiehitchie

Review

The world of the London theatre is the fascinating milieu in which Alfred Hitchcock has chosen to pull off the conjurer's tricks of his latest thriller, "Stage Fright," which came to the Music Hall yesterday. And in this intriguing environment, he and his writers have contrived to give a fine cast of actors some slick and entertaining things to do.

But we feel we must quietly advise you that these things, while amusing separately, build up to very little sustained excitement or suspense. They are simply a wild accumulation of clever or colorful espisodes, tending for the most part toward the comic, without any real anxiety. And, for this reason, that which one most usually expects in a Hitchcock film namely, accumulated tension should not be expected here.

Rather we get a rambling story it runs for almost two hours about the ways in which a student actress tries to shield her sweetheart from a murder charge. We get a long and involved presentation of what might technically be termed a counter-chase, with the young lady trying to get evidence and muddy the scent at the same time. And we also get a casual look-see at a developing romance, when the young lady switches her affections to the nice young detective on the case.

In the course of these scattered proceedings, we watch Marlene Dietrich give a show of silken and slumberous vampiratics in the role of a treacherous musical star. We watch her slyly and sleekly deceive the accused man, Richard Todd, and we witness the latter's panting efforts, in wide-eyed frenzy, to avoid being caught.

We are also allowed to witness Jane Wyman's assorted stratagems to save Mr. Todd from detection and eventually to put the finger on him. We watch her use her histrionics to inject herself as Miss Dietrich's maid, with several close encounters at being caught herself as a result. We see her beguile Michael Wilding, who plays the detective breezily, and we finally have the privilege of watching her make some cozy love.

But most particularly, in the course of this picture, we are brought into contact with Alistair Sim, the long-faced and sad-eyed English comic, who plays Miss Wyman's dad. And the privilege of watching him muster his wits and resources to assist his daughter in her endeavors is one of the genuine pleasures of the film. He and Dame Sybil Thorndike, who plays his acerbic wife, and a toothy lady named Joyce Grenfell, who does a hilarious bit as an attendant of a shooting-gallery at a theatrical fair, are the standouts in the show and that should give you some idea of how the emphasis has been placed.

Indeed, one is strongly suspicious, after watching this helter-skelter film, that Mr. Hitchcock was much less interested in his over-all story than in individual scenes. One has the uncomfortable feeling that he so much enjoyed the episodes that he lost or didn't even bother about strong and consistent development. No doubt his audiences will follow in their enjoyment of the episodes, but whether they will be quite as casual about the lack of form is something else again. "Stage Fright" is dazzlingly stagy but it is far from frightening.

On the stage at the Music Hall is a revue featuring Jessica Heist, Frank Gamboni, Vic and Adio, Roy Raymond, Walter Graff, Lee Marx, Patricia Drylie, the Choral Ensemble, Corp de Ballet and Rockettes. --The New York Times

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jane Wyman, Marlene Dietrich, Michael Wilding, Richard Todd, Alastair Sim
  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: A2zcds.com
  • DVD Release Date: November 10, 2008
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001HJXK32
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,217 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By M. DALTON on July 27, 2004
Format: DVD
Like I said, STAGEFRIGHT is easily the most underrated of all Mr. Hitchcock's films. With first rate performances by all concerned(Alistair Sim is a riot), this was Hitch's first time back in England filming after many years abroad & it shows. Filmed in glorious black & white with the theatre as it's background, it's fuelled by almost every character playing a role other than their own & obviously having the time of their lives while doing it. Taking centre stage are Jane Wyman(a drama student who dangerously takes on her most important role in an effort to trap a murderer), Alistair Sim(as her father only too delighted to be caught up in the adventure)& Marlene Dietrich(delivering a deliriously over-the-top performance as a selfish actress). Filled with Hitch's trademark touches, the cinematography is magnificent(the garden party sequence is pure magic..watch for the sea of umbrellas)& hey! even Joyce Grenfell drops by for some great comic relief. Not that it needs it. This is the Master's great comedy murder mystery. 10/10 Bravo!!!!
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Reginald on August 23, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Why Stage Fright doesn't rank amongst the top Hitchcock films is one of the great mysteries of the twentieth century. It has all the things that the best Hitchcock films have: great stars, Jane Wyman and Marlene Dietrich, both at the top of their game, a compelling storyline, a blossoming romance, and wonderful characterizations from the supporting players. The story begins with Eve Gill (Wyman), a student actress at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and her attempts to shield her boyfriend Jonathan Cooper (Richard Todd) from being framed for the murder of the husband of stage actress Charlotte Inwood (Dietrich). Jonathan and Charlotte were lovers and he fears that this relationship will be exposed (it was a secret) and thus establish his guilt. Eve who has had a crush on Jonathan for years believes he is telling the truth and tries to expose Charlotte as the real murderer. To do this she pretends to be the cousin of Charlotte's maid Nellie Good (Kay Walsh) who ostensibly is ill. In the guise of Doris, Nellie's "cousin," Eve is able to gain Charlotte's confidence. As Eve gets closer and closer to Charlotte, the mystery surrounding the death of her husband becomes more confusing and complex. Along the way, Eve is attracted to Inspector Wilfred Smith (Michael Wilding) who is investigating the case. As Eve's character tries to solve the murder, her relationship with the inspector gets a little strained. She wants to tell Wilfred that she's Doris, Charlotte's maid, but the timing never seems right. With more twists and turns than the average Hitchcock film, Stage Fright moves along at a crisp pace, keeping viewers guessing right until the end. To reveal more would spoil the fun. Wyman is great as Eve and absolutely charming as the maid, Doris.Read more ›
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By D. Guenzel on October 27, 2005
Format: DVD
Hitchcock's STAGE FRIGHT is, indeed, one of his most underappreciated films, which is surprising considering how entertaining it is on all of its levels. The music is exciting, the acting of all is first-class, the cinematography of Wilkie Cooper is marvelous and the movie is bright, fast and amusing throughout. As a film, it is not to be missed.

As a DVD, on the other hand, it leaves much to be desired. Much can be forgiven in this release, which was not given too much care in the transfer from film to video, but what cannot be forgiven is the fact that the picture and sound are out of synchronization. And this is appalling for a major studio like Warner Brothers. It is unacceptable, in fact. Warners seems to be the worst in this regard. Their DVDs of BLOOD ALLEY, MAVERICK (the TV series) and about three dozen other titles that I am personally aware of are out of sync. It is fofr this reason that I cannot recommend this disc to fans - unless Warner Brothers remasters it with the sound and picture correctly in sync with each other.

The picture quality is only OK. There is a theatrical print of this film circulating in the classics movie houses which is vastly superior to the print used for this DVD.

All in all, a great film, but an unacceptable DVD

Dan Guenzel
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Josef Bush on October 1, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
I've watched this movie countless times. It is one of my very favorites. It combines all of the hallmarks of Hitchcock mystery thrillers, with the unusual device of a combative pairing of two American film stars, Jane Wyman and German-born Marlene Dietrich. This dark against light struggle between women is not altogether foreign in Hitchcock films; one thinks of the pairing of Suzanne Plechette and Tipi Hedrin in THE BIRDS, but in that film the Plechette character is killed off early. Here, the dark-haired Wyman character who dominates the very first scene, survives until the very last scene. However, the fair-haired Dietrich character has equal screen time, and though they often appear separately, they do sometimes play together in the most unusual way and to the most peculiar effect.
Stage Fright is a murder mystery based on the Selwyn Jepson novel, and I would do the new viewer the greatest injustice by beraying even a little of the plot. Outside of the particulars of the homicide in question, this is a movie about deception and betrayal within the context of the Theatre and its tradition; of theatrical people and their lives which, to an outsider, seem to be little more than imposture and artifice. The film then, is an elaborate structure of mirrors, smoke and lies.
Among the aspects of STAGE FRIGHT which set it apart from other films of the period, is the exceptional musical score by an obscure composer, Leighton Lucas. So sophisticated and expressive is it at working to enhance the story, one is reminded of later Hitchcock films like VERTIGO. First class work.
The costuming is superbe. Dietrich as Musical Star and Comedienne, Charlotte Indood, wears Dior throughout, and the coutourier created for her two dresses which play a key part in the articulation of the crime.
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