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Stephen Whitty
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Thanks for this, Glenn (and Farran). I just re-watched "Paradine" as part of a tiny-advance/huge-workload book project, and found much to -- well, not like, but be interested in. Still, to me it's clearly such a Selznick picture, as compared to a Hitchcock one. The tempestuous Valli seems so much more of a Selznick "type" (like Vivien Leigh or Jennifer Jones, as least as he tried to make her over for "Duel in the Sun.") And Hitchcock hated courtroom dramas -- almost every other movie he made, he cut away from trial scenes, rather than taking up screentime with them. Agree with D. Cairns above, though. The movie, it seems to me, is about the power and utter incomprehensibility of sexual attraction, and obsession. What on earth did Ethel Barrymore ever see in Charles Laughton? (To a lesser degree, what did Gregory Peck see in the rather pallid, self-martyring Ann Todd?) So I think that casting, as Hitchcock suggested, Robert Newton -- by then long removed from his sexy "Jamaica Inn" shape and fully in his boozy "Odd Man Out" phase -- would have made the theme, and the drama, more powerful. Put more powerfully -- who CAN'T understand Alida Valli cheating on her bitter, blind old husband with Louis Jourdan? (Especially when Lee Garmes lights him like Dietrich?) But with a bit of rough trade -- ah, that's a different, more complicated tale. (It's, to reference a writer Hitchcock adapted previously, like Somerset Maugham -- "Of Human Bondage" becomes just a trite melodrama if Mildred isn't plain and scrawny and crude and awful. That Philip is besotted with SUCH an unworthy character is what helps make the book so powerful.) Good point about the long-takes trilogy. I wonder how much of that sprang directly from Hitchcock's advisory role on that Holocaust documentary after the war, in which he told the editors -- presciently, as it turned out -- that unless they used wider angles and long takes, people would find excuses to doubt the footage. It seems as if those long, long travelling takes weren't meant to be "theatrical" (as Selznick sneered) but documentarian: This is happening. This is real. Interested in seeing how this conversation between you two smart people develops.
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Apr 30, 2015