Stage Fright (Hitchcock, 1950)

Stage Fright is a strange Hitchcock film, technically superior, but drowsy and bland as a narrative. None of the characters, including Jane Wyman’s quaint amateur sleuth and Marlene Dietrich’s guilty actress, establish a connection with danger or suspense, or comedy (all Hitchcock themes). Instead, the film rests in a frightfully safe place in between, a common story with not much to say about anything dynamic in human nature or the psyche (strange for Hitch during this period). There’s a brilliant long take that starts the film off with a bang, a meandering swagger into a mansion, up a steep staircase, and ending on a dead body. Too bad nothing else in Stage Fright compares to this opening virtuosity.

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