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Film Bulletin (19/Jan/1948) - The Paradine Case





Rates ★★★ generally on name strength

Selznick International
130 minutes
Gregory Peck, Ann Todd, Charles Laughton, Charles Coburn, Ethel Barrymore, Louis Jourdan, Valli, Leo G. Carroll, Jean Tetzel.
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

David O. Selznick's latest production, "The Paradine Case," while not a wholly satisfying film, spells good box-office because of its topflight cast (including a couple of highly-pubiicized Selznick discoveries), the renown of director Hitchcock and a typically smooth, glossy DOS veneer. It has the pull and it offers above-average entertainment for all types of audiences. As the British barrister who becomes infatuated with the women he is defending on a murder charge, Gregory Peck again demonstrates the wide range of his talents. He excels his performance in "Gentleman's Agreement," yet acting honors go to two imports from overseas, British star Ann Todd and French newcomer Louis Jourdan. You'll hear much of this chap, mark us. Valli, highly touted Italian actress, is strikingly photogenic, but gets little opportunity to display her widely-heralded talents- Due to the restricted background (almost the entire story takes place in the courtroom), producer Selznick's screenplay is somewhat static and a bit overlong. Limited as he is, Alfred Hitchcock, in his inimitable style, has squeezed considerable suspense and movement out of the tale by his unique effects and fluid camera. Lee Garmes photography is superior, and recording by Richard Van Hessen and music by Franz Waxman are all that could be desired.

EXPLOITATION: Play up Peck and the terrific cast, including newly-arrived foreign stars Ann Todd, Louis Jourdan and Valli, as well as Hitchcock's direction. Base library and bookstore tieups on Robert Hichens' best-selling novel. Arrange counter and window displays at women's dress shops, men's outfitters and liquor dealers. Go after the bobby-soxers—Louis Jourdan is their dish of catnip—with a letter-writing contest with ticket prizes on the subject: "I'd like to romance with Louis Jourdan because..."

Family lawyer Charles Coburn persuades young, impressionable, successful barrister Gregory Peck to defend beautiful Valli, charged with poisoning her blind husband. Peck's frequent visits to Valli in her cell evoke a confession of her sordid pre-marital life, but she denies having killed her husband Peck's wife, Ann Todd, becomes increasingly unhappy as she sees him gradually succumbing to the accused Valli's charm. Her unhappiness mounts further when he defers a long-promised marriage-anniversary holiday to visit the distant manse in which Valli's husband met his death. There the- suspicious behavior of the dead man's valet, Louis Jourdan, convince Peck the young, good-looking servant is the murderer. At the trial Peck, harassed by the constant needling of sadistic Chief Justice Charles Laughton and Valli's refusal to incriminate Jourdan, charges the valet with having killed his master. Driven to desperation by Peck's grilling, Jourdan hysterically declares his innocence and accuses Valli. Ensues a sensation in the court when Valli admits poisoning her husband in order to be free to elope with her lover, Jourdan. Laughton sentences her to hang. Peck, disconsolate at the prospect of his ruined career, cannot face Ann, his wife, but she seeks him out and a reconciliation is effected.