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3.8 out of 5 stars32
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 21 January 2010
it may not be one of Hitchcock's greatest but a must have for your collection none the less. this is worth watching for Charles Laughton portrayal of the Judge and we get to see Gregory Peck really get to stretch his acting chops. the casting is perfect for this picture. the story revolves around Mrs Paradine and her arrest for the murder of her husband. Gregory Peck is the hot shot lawyer defending her and he soon becomes infatuated with her to the extent that it almost destroys his family and career. to say any more would be to give too much of the story away. it may not have many of the usual Hitchcock flourishes but is a very enjoyable courtroom film
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on 27 February 2001
Maybe it's not Hitch's best (neither his most famous) film, but it is a good work and quite different from his movies of the same period. In his interview by Francois Truffaut, Hitchcock said it was a tale of moral degradation: a woman falling in love for a rude stable-boy, and becoming a criminal. Too bad that Louis Jourdan isn't as sleazy as he should have been for the role of the stable-boy... Anyway, Alida Valli is ambiguous and fascinating, and Laughton menacing and funny as usual. As a whole, a morally intriguing and low key Hitch film. Recommended to his fans.
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on 2 March 2012
The Paradine Case (1947) stands as a rare Hitchcock courtroom drama. It is one of the Hitch-Selznick films, where Selznick also wrote the script. A beautiful woman Maddalena Anna Paradine (played by Alida Valli) stands accused of murdering her wealthy, blind husband. She enlists the aid of renowned lawyer Anthony Keane (Gregory Peck). As they prepare her defense, the chemistry between the two begins to heat up. And as his emotions for Mrs. Paradine grow stronger, Keane grows more convinced of her innocence. The case will be a difficult one, however, as the judge (Charles Laughton, again) is no friend of Keane's; the queen's prosecutor, played by the excellent Leo G. Carroll, is a serious foe; and only an inspired defense will have any chance of clearing Mrs. Paradine. Only after a series of stunning upsets does Keane realize that, for the first time in his career, he has allowed his heart to rule his head. In a typically perverse Hitchcockian development, the film's most unpleasant character (as usual), an autocratic, vindictive judge played by Laughton, is one of the few who can see through Anna's facade.Small fortune was invested to construct an exact replica of the Old Bailey courtroom for the court scenes.

Peck is one of my all-time favourites. I regard him as one of the very greatest but his American accent sometimes seemed odd, misfit in the Old Bailey courtroom. Yet Peck is still a great actor, and I LOVE court room dramas.

The film was a box-office disappointment, spelling the end of the always-rocky association between Hitch and the mighty Selznick. Hitch wanted Greta Garbo to play Anna Paradine, and indeed a screen test was filmed, but Garbo ultimately declined. Hitch also wanted to cast Laurence Olivier or Ronald Colman as Anthony Keane, but Selznick asserted his power as studio head to insist that Hitchcock use them.
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on 4 November 2009
The Paradine Case is generally regarded as one of Hitchcock's lesser efforts, however most Hitchcock is still good Hitchcock.

This DVD presentation from Prism Leisure has a faultless restored image and clear sound, as well as some extra features. Unfortunately the extras are mediocre and most are not specific to the film, other than a few stills in the Photo Gallery. I found it difficult to sit through the Kim Newman interview. The presenter has a good knowledge of Hitchcock but his peculiar appearance and rapid fire delivery were off putting. For those wanting only the movie, this DVD will be more than adequate.

A much better DVD edition is available in R1, released in 2008 in a joint effort by MGM and 20th Century Fox. The image and sound are of an equally high standard, and it comes better equipped with extra features tailored to the film. These include a commentary by Hitchcock scholars Stephen Rebello and Bill Krohn, original theatrical trailer, Hitchcock audio interview with Peter Bogdanovich, 1949 Radio Play starring Joseph Cotton, isolated music and effects track, still galleries and English subtitles. These extras contribute greatly to the understanding and appreciation of the film, making the R1 edition the better choice.

Film 6/10, R2 DVD Edition 3/10, R1 DVD Edition 9/10
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VINE VOICEon 4 April 2010
The movie is very proud to be a David O. Selznick film and displays it proudly at the beginning.

This is one of those movies where you go "yeah yeah" I saw before. You are probably thinking of Richard Attenborough's " Trial and Error" (1962) or Billy Wilder's "Witness for the Prosecution" (1957). Much of this film is predictable and then again maybe not. Remember this is a 1947 film.

Rich old blind Mr. Paradine, of whom we never met, is found dead; is it suicide or is it murder? Soon Mrs. Maddalena Anna Paradine (Alida Valli) is accused of having motive and opportunity.

Assigned to defend Maddalena is Anthony Keane, Counsel for the Defense (Gregory Peck). Even with Mrs. Paradine's wild past and alluring continence, Anthony, a happily married man, is sure threat the butler (o.k. the valet) did it. We the viewers also want to help him, as it is obvious if it was not the Andre Latour, Paradine's Valet (a very young Louis Jourdan) than you know who will hang. Not only that but we find the valet to be quite devious.

A plus that gives this film added character is Charles Laughton as Judge Lord Thomas Horfield.

Trial and Error (aka The Dock Brief)
Witness For the Prosecution
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on 4 June 2013
Oh Gawd, this is grim. Ponderously paced for the most part with Valli doing a reprise of her Third Man character without its aptness as a stoical visage surrounded by a crackingly active cast, bravura camera and crackling script. Gregory Peck and Ann Todd I'm afraid rather woodenly intone some really dull and psychologically unconvincing speeches, it is only relieved at times by the easy class of Laughton's grisly old lecherous brute of a judge and his courtroom reprimands. Other than that, it strikes me as the least of Hitchcock's 40s films I have seen. In fact you would have no idea it was a Hitchcock film without the cameo, the name on the titles and one or two gliding cameras and reaction shots in the courtroom, but really they could have been by anybody and if they were, I reckon it would never have been on dvd.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 16 May 2016
Alfred Hitchcock’s 1947 film was his final film for Hollywood producer David O Selznick and, whilst it certainly does not compare with Hitch’s finest, it does have its plus points. Based on a story by Robert S Hichens, the film explores the infatuation felt by Gregory Peck’s noted London lawyer, Anthony Keane, for his client, Alida Valli’s 'ice queen’, the apparently manipulative, Maddalena Paradine, on trial for poisoning her blind, aristocratic husband. Largely defying Hitch’s 'master of suspense’ title, The Paradine Case instead allows the director to marshal a large and impressive cast, whose personal and professional jealousies form the dramatic backbone of the film. Broadly speaking, the film is divided into two halves – the first, arguably the more impressive, focuses on Keane’s increasing obsession with the enigmatic Mrs Paradine and her potential relationship with Louis Jourdan’s valet André Latour, the second, an (over-)extended court-room sequence which I found exposed the (essential) flimsiness of the film’s plot, albeit concluding with a powerfully dramatic denouement that is worth waiting for (and causes me to up my rating to four stars).

The film’s casting takes a little getting used to as, no doubt under Selznick’s influence, the London setting is peppered with ‘foreigners’ (unsurprisingly, mainly out of Hollywood). Charles Laughton’s superbly officious (but underused) presiding judge, Thomas Horfield, and Ann Todd’s loyal wife to Keane, Gay, represent the only 'home-grown’ talent here. Hitch originally wanted Laurence Oliver for Peck’s role and, even if this might have been preferable, the American does deliver quite an impressive turn here. Of the 'two new Selznick stars’ (ludicrously billed as such in the opening credits), Italian Valli particularly excels (assisted by a remarkably expressive face) as the strong-willed, tragic heroine, whilst Frenchmen Louis Jourdan rather struggles with the role. Elsewhere, Ethel Barrymore is excellent as Horfield’s cowering wife, Sophie, and there are also nice turns by Charles Coburn and (Hitch regular) Leo G Carroll.

Visually, the film is relatively low-key for Hitch. Highlight sequences are those set in the prison (nominally Holloway), where Lee Garmes’s noir-like cinematography reinforces the director’s obsession with confinement (Hitch, of course, had been briefly incarcerated in a police cell as a child), the 'Rebecca-flavoured’ setting of Paradine’s Cumbrian mansion (featuring a superb shot of Maddalena’s eyes, bizarrely, on her bed headboard portrait, following Keane around the room) and the court-room scenes, which, despite lacking some dramatic content, always look good (again there is a great tracking shot of Latour leaving the court-room, as Maddalena, ignoring him, stares straight ahead).

For me, the film is rightly regarded as well below Hitch’s finest works. However, the dramatic denouement provides an impressive conclusion to Maddalena and Keane’s engaging central relationship, even if Hitch then rather detracts from this dramatic power with one of his bizarre, semi-comic closing shots.
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on 27 February 2001
Maybe it's not Hitch's best (neither his most famous) film, but it is a good work and quite different from his movies of the same period. In his interview by Francois Truffaut, Hitchcock said it was a tale of moral degradation: a woman falling in love for a rude stable-boy, and becoming a criminal. Too bad that Louis Jourdan isn't as sleazy as he should have been for the role of the stable-boy... Anyway, Alida Valli is ambiguous and fascinating, and Laughton menacing and funny as usual. As a whole, a morally intriguing and low key Hitch film. Recommended to his fans.
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on 27 May 2012
The Paradine Case [DVD] [1947]
A bit of a curates egg- plenty of atmosphere, some peculiarly compelling performances from the supporting characters- Charles Laughton, Alida Valli, Louis Jordain- but the two leads are wooden (Gregory Peck) and overly indulgent (Ann Todd). An interesting story but the tension is not maintained throughout and the ending is oddly unsatisfying and predictable. Some of the scenes look brilliant though in stark black and whitr (the dark mansion only occuppied by shadowy servants...)
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on 30 August 2003
When you've seen the great Hitchcock movies it can be hard to reconcile yourself to the lesser films, and personally I found 'The Paradine Case' profoundly unsatisfying.
The film is not without considerable merit. The witholding of truth until the denoument scenes is well scripted, the impact of the case on the central characters meticulously and realistically plotted and, as always, taking central stage in the emotional impact of the film. Gregory Peck in particular turns in a marvellous performace as a man so deluded by love that he drives himself to the point of self-destruction. His sweaty, defeated abandonment of his case is a painful, draining scene to watch - just as it should be.
The director's visual flair is obvious in some scenes - the ominous face of Mrs Paradine in her bedhead at the family home, the down-looking and through-bars shots of the conversations in the prison - but largely the action is supressed by the static courtroom and home scenes, so unreminiscent of Hitchcock's later assertion that is the movement of the camera that moves the audience. This film is _so_ still that at some points one cannot feel it at all.
The impassioned speech of Gay, instructing her husband to save Mrs Paradine so that she should not lose him, would in a later Hitchcock film be a suble and dramatic moment, but here it is just melodramatic. The cut glass English voices and imposing 'darlings' in every other sentence of personal dialogue leave you yearning for Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman - the Liverpudlian and the Swede - pretending to be American in 'Notorious,' with it's sharp, cutting dialogue and economical emotiveness.
Of course, some of the restlessness and dissatisafaction that the film imposed upon me was entirely intended by the director. In order to empathise with the helplessness of Gay's situation we must feel her helplessness andpassivity through the stillness and coldness of the domestic scenes. The emotional deflation you feel by the end of the film mirrors the nature of Keane's experience.
This I could accept if I felt the conclusion of the film fitting to the content, but in this case Gay's blind devotion left me cold. In 'Brief Encounter' - not an obvious partner to this film but a comparable emotional journey - Laura's eventual surrender of her lover in favour of her husband and children was a hard considered sacrifice. Here Tony Keane surrenders his would-be lover because he discovers that she's not a nice woman, and his wife welcomes him back into her arms without question, comment or rebuke.
There is something rather sinister about Gay's mothering of Tony in the last scene - her insistence for example that he needs to shave - however. Instead of being the rewarded heroine and reformed man that they were supposed to be, it became a strange cross between the chauvanistic presumption that a woman will forgive a man any infidelity for love and the belittling of a man by a woman's calculating iciness.
From her insistence that Tony should defend Mrs Paradine even when its outcome was obvious to her her emotional manipulation and withholding of sex as ameans of punishment Gay becomes a sinister figure and Tony a pathetic one, robbing the film of any identifiable sympathetic character, except perhaps the relatively minor Anton or the dead Colonel Paradine. Intentional perhaps on Hitchcock's part, but hard for an audience to appreciate on an emotional level. Watching the film for me was an academic exercise in filmaking rather than the moving and involving process that watching a Hitchcock film normally is.
All in all a good film as an indicator of the evolution of Hitchcock's style and thematic interests, but not a great Hitchcock film. If you want emotional denial and duty watch 'Brief Encounter' - one of the greatest British movies of the era. If you want to see Gregory Peck in a stunning courtroom drama watch 'To Kill A Mockingbird.' The fan of Hitchcock - and I count myself among that rank - will watch the film and appreciate it on some level, but for the novice I would recommend a more accessible and compelling introduction to the master. This one may leave you strangely flat.
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