Jonathan Cooper is wanted by the police who suspect him of killing his lover's husband. His friend Eve Gill offers to hide him and Jonathan explains to her that his lover, actress Charlotte Inwood is the real murderer. Eve... more » decides to investigate for herself, but when she meets the detective in charge of the case, she starts to fall in love.« less
NANCY S. from BROOKLYN, NY Reviewed on 8/2/2010...
Another great tale by the master of mystery, Mr. Hitchcock, I presume! Somehow this story was under my radar until recently. An excellent movie that will be enjoyed by all Hitchcock fans.
Rory C. Reviewed on 8/29/2008...
Easily the most Underrated of all Hitch's...
M. DALTON | Brisbane, Queensland Australia | 07/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Like I said, STAGEFRIGHT is easily the most underrated of all Mr. Hitchcock's films. With first rate performances by all concerned(Alistair Sim is a riot), this was Hitch's first time back in England filming after many years abroad & it shows. Filmed in glorious black & white with the theatre as it's background, it's fuelled by almost every character playing a role other than their own & obviously having the time of their lives while doing it. Taking centre stage are Jane Wyman(a drama student who dangerously takes on her most important role in an effort to trap a murderer), Alistair Sim(as her father only too delighted to be caught up in the adventure)& Marlene Dietrich(delivering a deliriously over-the-top performance as a selfish actress). Filled with Hitch's trademark touches, the cinematography is magnificent(the garden party sequence is pure magic..watch for the sea of umbrellas)& hey! even Joyce Grenfell drops by for some great comic relief. Not that it needs it. This is the Master's great comedy murder mystery. 10/10 Bravo!!!!"
A Kind of Battle of Angels
Josef Bush | Phoenix, AZ | 10/02/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've watched this movie countless times. It is one of my very favorites. It combines all of the hallmarks of Hitchcock mystery thrillers, with the unusual device of a combative pairing of two American film stars, Jane Wyman and German-born Marlene Dietrich. This dark against light struggle between women is not altogether foreign in Hitchcock films; one thinks of the pairing of Suzanne Plechette and Tipi Hedrin in THE BIRDS, but in that film the Plechette character is killed off early. Here, the dark-haired Wyman character who dominates the very first scene, survives until the very last scene. However, the fair-haired Dietrich character has equal screen time, and though they often appear separately, they do sometimes play together in the most unusual way and to the most peculiar effect.Stage Fright is a murder mystery based on the Selwyn Jepson novel, and I would do the new viewer the greatest injustice by beraying even a little of the plot. Outside of the particulars of the homicide in question, this is a movie about deception and betrayal within the context of the Theatre and its tradition; of theatrical people and their lives which, to an outsider, seem to be little more than imposture and artifice. The film then, is an elaborate structure of mirrors, smoke and lies.Among the aspects of STAGE FRIGHT which set it apart from other films of the period, is the exceptional musical score by an obscure composer, Leighton Lucas. So sophisticated and expressive is it at working to enhance the story, one is reminded of later Hitchcock films like VERTIGO. First class work.The costuming is superbe. Dietrich as Musical Star and Comedienne, Charlotte Indood, wears Dior throughout, and the coutourier created for her two dresses which play a key part in the articulation of the crime. Both dresses are made of some ineffably gauzy silken stuff, so insubstantial and smoke-like, that one of them -- a pale, probably blue dress and absolutely plain -- can be balled up with one hand by Dietrich's lover, Richard Todd, and stuffed into his sportscoat at the armhole without beraying even the slightest bulge. That dress' twin is dark, and probably a navy blue.I mention this incidence of the two dresses because although dresses have important messages to deliveer about the women who wear them in Hitchcock movies, in no other film of his does costume, wardrobe and dressmaking play so crucial a part in defining the roles of the actresses, as they go back and forth within the story, altering their appearances and changing their identities to suit their frequently devious purposes.The dark-haired Jane Wyman, who often played in American films with her hair bleached and permed, here plays with a very simple bob. Her makeup is quiet, but not austere. Her clothing is classic, in that it is anglo-saxon clothing as we've seen it for half a centrury or more. It is conservative in cut, modest and discreet. She wears, for example, in the scene where she lures a detective into a confidential chat, what appears to be a double-breasted camel's hair coat which, to the casual observer appears to be nothing out of the ordinary, but upon closer inspection appears to be of the finest goods, and could be worn today, some fifty-two years later, without apology, anywhere.One could go on and on about the clothes the actresses wear, and use all available time and space without mentioning the supporting actors in the piece, from Kay Walsh, Alister Sim, Michael Wilding and Richard Todd, to Dame Sybil Thorndike, Charlotte Greenwood, and the incomparable Miles Malleson. If any movie depended on perfect character work, and demonstrated it well, this movie does just that. The secondary characters alone are worth the price of admission; even Hitchcock's daughter. In fact, the English cast is so fine, one is often tempted to wonder what this movie might have been like if Hitchcock had cast instead of Dierich, Googie Withers, or Gertrude Lawrence, Vivian Leigh or Valerie Hobson in the Charlotte Inwood role. Certainly it would have been different, and there was no shortage of talented, beautiful actresses in London, then, as there is no shortage today. But, however she got the role, Dietrich brought with her one invisible ally none of the others possessed, and perhaps one which even Hitchcock did not expect. She brought her voice, and with it, just occasionally, she managess to tie together what might have seemed to her to be a somewhat too flabby, too comfy assemblage of little gray people, by displaying unexpectedly and to great effect, a shining thread of ironic sarcasm like a skien of stainless steel, holding the project together, and reminding all of us with the crack of a whip, that this is, after all, a story about a calculated murder.This film is rather like one of Goya's etchings; a study in lights and darks, an intimate entertainment, meant to be looked at closely and quietly, and savored. Stage Fright is adult entertainment, in the very best sense of the term."
All the World's A Stage
Stephen Reginald | Chicago, IL United States | 08/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Why Stage Fright doesn't rank amongst the top Hitchcock films is one of the great mysteries of the twentieth century. It has all the things that the best Hitchcock films have: great stars, Jane Wyman and Marlene Dietrich, both at the top of their game, a compelling storyline, a blossoming romance, and wonderful characterizations from the supporting players. The story begins with Eve Gill (Wyman), a student actress at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and her attempts to shield her boyfriend Jonathan Cooper (Richard Todd) from being framed for the murder of the husband of stage actress Charlotte Inwood (Dietrich). Jonathan and Charlotte were lovers and he fears that this relationship will be exposed (it was a secret) and thus establish his guilt. Eve who has had a crush on Jonathan for years believes he is telling the truth and tries to expose Charlotte as the real murderer. To do this she pretends to be the cousin of Charlotte's maid Nellie Good (Kay Walsh) who ostensibly is ill. In the guise of Doris, Nellie's "cousin," Eve is able to gain Charlotte's confidence. As Eve gets closer and closer to Charlotte, the mystery surrounding the death of her husband becomes more confusing and complex. Along the way, Eve is attracted to Inspector Wilfred Smith (Michael Wilding) who is investigating the case. As Eve's character tries to solve the murder, her relationship with the inspector gets a little strained. She wants to tell Wilfred that she's Doris, Charlotte's maid, but the timing never seems right. With more twists and turns than the average Hitchcock film, Stage Fright moves along at a crisp pace, keeping viewers guessing right until the end. To reveal more would spoil the fun. Wyman is great as Eve and absolutely charming as the maid, Doris. And Dietrich is at her best playing a woman who isn't at all what she appears to be. And that's a big part of what makes this film so compelling. No one is who they appear to be! Everyone seems to be acting a part or role for one reason or another. There is great support from Todd, Wilding, Sybil Thorndike and Alastair Sim (as Eve's parents). Thorndike is simply hilarious as Wyman's mother, as is Sim as her father. If you're a Hitchcock fan, I don't think you'll be disappointed in this one, and if you're new to Hitchcock, by all means give it a try."
"...and I shouldn't feel sad. It's so depressing."
Dave | Tennessee United States | 04/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of Alfred Hitchcock's most brilliant and underated thrillers, with his typically wonderful mixture of humor and suspense that keeps the viewer entertained from beginning to end. It has a first-rate cast, a great surprise twist at the end, and incredible cinematography. Oh, and you get to see sexy Marlene Dietrich sing and dance (which automatically makes this movie worth owning!). In fact, one of the songs she sings in this movie, "The Laziest Gal in Town", became one of her trademark songs which she'd continue to sing throughout the remaining years of her career.
The movie begins with drama student Eve Gill (Jane Wyman) listening to her close friend Jonathan Cooper (Richard Todd), who's now on the run from the police because he's been framed for the murder of his lover's husband, according to him. Although Eve is in love with Jonathan, he refuses to accept that his lover, famous stage actress Charlotte Inwood (Marlene Dietrich) set him up so that she could be with another man. Eve is determined to clear Jonathan, so she disguises herself as a maid and begins working for Charlotte Inwood.
Charlotte is careful not to reveal much about her husband's death to Eve, so Eve gets her loyal father (Alastair Sim) and a detective to help her. The detective, Wilfred Smith (Michael Wilding), is instantly attracted to Eve, and over time she falls in love with him (she calls him "ordinary" Smith as a joke and he then calls her extraordinary). Despite the fact that she's no longer in love with Jonathan, Eve is still determined to clear him of the murder charge, but when she finally confronts Charlotte about the murder, there's a shocking revelation that changes everything. To say anymore would spoil the awesome ending.
"Stage Fright" is not one of Hitchcock's best known films, but it is definitely worth owning on dvd. Marlene Dietrich, Jane Wyman, and especially Richard Todd gave outstanding performances in this classic thriller. The picture and sound quality are mostly excellent, and the bonus features include an exceptional making-of documentary "Hitchcock and Stage Fright" as well as the original theatrical trailer. Highly recommended!"
Great film, questionable DVD release
D. Guenzel | 10/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hitchcock's STAGE FRIGHT is, indeed, one of his most underappreciated films, which is surprising considering how entertaining it is on all of its levels. The music is exciting, the acting of all is first-class, the cinematography of Wilkie Cooper is marvelous and the movie is bright, fast and amusing throughout. As a film, it is not to be missed.
As a DVD, on the other hand, it leaves much to be desired. Much can be forgiven in this release, which was not given too much care in the transfer from film to video, but what cannot be forgiven is the fact that the picture and sound are out of synchronization. And this is appalling for a major studio like Warner Brothers. It is unacceptable, in fact. Warners seems to be the worst in this regard. Their DVDs of BLOOD ALLEY, MAVERICK (the TV series) and about three dozen other titles that I am personally aware of are out of sync. It is fofr this reason that I cannot recommend this disc to fans - unless Warner Brothers remasters it with the sound and picture correctly in sync with each other.
The picture quality is only OK. There is a theatrical print of this film circulating in the classics movie houses which is vastly superior to the print used for this DVD.