This minor 1948 film by Alfred Hitchcock beats a familiar Hitchcockian drum: an attorney (Gregory Peck), in love with the client (Alida Valli) he is defending on a murder charge, implicates himself in her guilt by trying t... more »o put the blame on another man. The no-one-is-innocent theme may be consistent with Hitchcock's best films and worldview, but this is one of the movies that got away from his crucial passion for the plastic side of creative directing. Stuck in a courtroom for much of the story, the film is fit to burst with possibility but is pinned down like a freshly caught butterfly in someone's airless collection. --Tom Keogh« less
Kevin Killian | San Francisco, CA United States | 08/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Alida Valli didn't make very many pictures in the USA, but the ones she did are without exception worth seeing.
In Italy, of course, she is as important to the indigenous cinema as Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida put together. But here is the USA, she starred in a mere handful of pictures, and we remember her mainly via her connection to David Selznick, for whom she made THE THIRD MAN and THE PARADINE CASE. THE MIRACLE OF THE BELLS and WALK SOFTLY, STRANGER are also worth seeing. In THE PARADINE CASE, she is on trial for murdering her husband in a stuffy British courtroom, to which her sultry and exotic beauty is continually being counterpointed. She is a bird in a gilded cage all right, literally and figuratively. Gregory Peck falls hard for her, and it's watching how low he goes that makes this film one of Hitchcock's best. He even quarrels with his wife, the cold, perfect Ann Todd, and makes it plain to her and to everyone in their bourgeois social circle that he has fallen in love with his client, thus breaking all the rules in one fell swoop.
He begins to suspect that Valli has been framed, and he begins to suspect Louis Jourdan, Paradine's handsome manservant, of an illicit interest in his master's wife. The scenes between Peck and Jourdan are fiery and full of passion. Each of them is fighting for his life and honor. There is as well an erotic charge between the two of them. In a sense Peck is representing the colonialist who seeks authenticity by embroiling himself in the lives and bodies of a darker and more obviously sexed people, whether they be Italian or French. He gets slapped down for his efforts.
Even if you've seen THE PARADINE CASE fifty times, there's always something fresh to watch, whether it's Charles Coburn acting especially kinky, or Ann Todd from THE SEVENTH VEIL acting masochistic one more time. But most of all the movie is trying to make us see Valli as a new Garbo, who had retired from the screen and whom Selznick believed we would swallow Valli as a successor to. In my opinion, she's greater than Garbo by a country mile."
"That woman is bad, bad to the bone..."
Schuyler V. Johnson | Lake Worth, FL USA | 02/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Thus spake Andre La Tour, the valet and the catalyst for the murder of Col. Paradine. Valli is Mrs. Paradine, and she wants Andre La Tour, so badly she murders her husband and benefactor to remove any and all obstacles standing between her and La Tour. Louis Jourdan is La Tour, and handsome in a sharp, chiseled way; Valli is really something to see, very beautiful and arresting, and the accent further enhances her mysterious image. Gregory Peck, her attorney, falls for her, hard and fast, and is almost sympathetic in his desire to possess her. Ann Todd, a curious mixture of ice and warmth, is steadfast in her loyalty to her husband, and Joan Tetzel is good as her friend and the daughter of Charles Coburn, (I enjoy the banter between Coburn and Tetzel, he is always a joy to watch)who is a colleague of Gregory Peck's. The score by Franz Waxman is one of the stars of the movie, and haunting, as his music always is. The movie is unusual and quieter than the typical Hitchcockian fare, but should not be judged more harshly for that, but taken on it's own merits, which it has in abundance. Charles Laughton ("curious how the convolutions of a walnut resemble those of the human brain...") is wonderful as the censorious and righteous Judge of the proceedings, and rather an unpleastant bully to his wife, Ethel Barrymore, who seems rather wasted in this weak role as the much maligned wife. She is one of my favorite actresses, but I much prefer her in "The Spiral Staircase", a much richer role and one more worthy of her immense talent. I own this on VHS and DVD, and of course, the DVD is far superior in quality."
Stellar cast in good Hitchcock picture
Fernando Silva | Santiago de Chile. | 09/11/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Pleasant and interesting courtroom drama set in England, about a beautiful young widow, accused of murdering her much-older, rich and blind husband, defended on trial by a successful barrister who, in the process, gets caught under her spell, eventually falling in love with her.Italian actress (Alida) Valli is alluring, ravishing, sophisticated and mysterious, as the lady in question. Gregory Peck is good as the barrister, so absolutely infatuated with Valli, that risks his own career for her sake. English actress Ann Todd is also good as his troubled wife. Others in this stellar cast: Charles Coburn, Joan Tetzel, Louis Jourdan, Ethel Barrymore and, last but not least, Charles Laughton, who gives an excellent performance as an aristrocratic, rather cruel and ironic Judge."
Silly melodrama, but Louis Jordan is nice to look at
silo1013 | 08/18/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Frankly, I can't see what the fuss is all about. We watch Gregory Peck's character make a fool of himself for an nearly two hours over his beautiful client, Mrs. Paradine, with whom he is harmlessly infatuated. Well, it would have been a harmless infatuation if he weren't such a damn fool.. making sloppy errors that no lawyer, as good as he is supposed to be, would ever make, no matter how moony and googly eyed he was over his client. The dramatic climax of the movie left me thinking, "Was that all?". The only high points in The Paradine Case for me were a young and very good-looking Louis Jordan, and the usual Hitchcock directorial touches; one scene in particular I found odd and strangely delightful: At one point Gregory Peck is confronted by Louis Jordan's suspiciously enigmatic character. The more they protest they hate each other, the closer they move toward each other, and the tension and chemistry was so odd I felt convinced they were either about to tear into each other like wild dogs, or make out. *laugh*But really, the story is a bit too silly and melodramatic for my taste. I found Marnie to be a *much* better film [at least stylistically, and sloppy 60's psychology I can excuse more easily than melodrama], and I understand that it's generally panned, while this gets nothing but praise [from Amazon reviewers, at any rate]. Go figure."
UNDERATED HITCHCOCK CLASSIC
hille2000 | USA | 12/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"THE PARADINE CASE is an opulent production concerning the elegantly statuesque and enigmatic Mrs. Paradine placed on trial for the murder of her husband. Mrs. Paradine is played with subtle radiance by Alida Valli who embodies the alluring vision of pulchritude that barrister Gregory Peck has created and fallen under the spell of. Gregory Peck's obsessive character is a forerunner to James Stewart's role in Hitchcock's VERTIGO. Obsessive behavior can be destructive as is seen in the relationship that Peck has with his loyal wife portrayed by Ann Todd. However, the greatest role and performance in this film is in the form of Louis Jourdan. Jourdan is an unwavering curiosity in his quixotic role as Mr. Paradine's manservant. His relationship with Mrs. Paradine and her late husband remains a conundrum. Jourdan's performance as a man of steadfast loyalty to both duty and passion is one of brilliance. If there is one Alfred Hitchcock film that is truly misunderstood and underrated it is THE PARADINE CASE."