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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
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 TimesSee all Editorial Reviews
Muddled script brings down this otherwise vintage Hitchcock. Alastair Sim and Ms. Dietrich own the movie.Published 4 months ago by Paul J. Lavoie
The two leading female roles of Marlene Dietrich's sultry actress and the mousy amateur detective played by Jane Wyman are a great tandem of star performances in this Alfred... Read morePublished 4 months ago by James Norwood
I don't usually watch a lot of mysteries but I really like this movie. There's an unexpected romance and little hints of humor mixed in.Published 8 months ago by Judy
Good, but not great, Hitchcock, Sim and Dietrich steal the show. The plot doesn't make much sense if you think about it long enough.Published 8 months ago by William F Greene