Stage Fright (1950)

SPOILER ALERT: As these reviews are of an academic nature, they may contain spoilers. Future reviews will try to limit that, but until then, read at your own risk.

Stage Fright

Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1950

Yet another film Hitchcock was dissatisfied with. After the war, he decided to film this piece in London, and I believe it was the last time he did so. In the film, the husband of a famed actress (Marlene Dietrich) is murdered, and the prime suspect is her lover. The lover ropes his friend, another young actress, into proving his innocence. Way in over her head, she involves her family and uses her acting skills to pose as Dietrich’s new maid.

Whatever Sir Alfred may have thought, Stage Fright has some refreshingly unexpected elements. The film is an early example of English neo-realism; it notably uses real locations instead of sets, is full of slice-of-life moments that lead nowhere, visual gags, large open spaces, and a downer ending wrapped up in one of Hitchcock’s best twists– the main suspect is not only mad, but was guilty all along! Most jarring of all is that the suspect, who appears in the first couple of scenes, isn’t the protagonist.

I didn’t think much of the film when I first saw it, but the more I think about it, the more I like it, and that’s a good sign. B