Accused of murdering her wealthy, blind husband, Alida Valli (in her US film debut) engages top barrister Peck to defend her. While spending a great deal of time with his client, Peck, who is married to Todd, finds himself falling for Valli. Just prior to the trial, Peck learns that Valli
and her stableman, Jourdan (also making his US film debut), had been having an affair. The case is being heard by judge Laughton, who doesn't much like Peck, probably because Laughton had once come on to Todd and was rebuffed. Valli refuses to have Jourdan mentioned in the case; nevertheless, Peck
calls the stableman to the stand, grilling him in an attempt to show that it was Jourdan who killed Valli's husband. Disgraced in public, Jourdan eventually takes his own life; however, when Peck questions Valli, she admits that she killed her husband and then blames Peck for Jourdan's suicide.
Stunned, Peck exits the courtroom as the picture ends. Hitchcock tried mightily but didn't quite overcome the rambling, overlong script of this film--much of which was penned by producer Selznick, who sent the director scenes as he finished writing them, a practice Hitchcock hated. The final
product cost more than $3 million, a huge amount in 1947. The film's re-creation of the the Old Bailey courtroom alone cost more than $70,000. Hitchcock thought that Olivier and Garbo might be the right leads for THE PARADINE CASE, but Olivier was busy preparing his HAMLET and Garbo wanted to be
alone, so the great filmmaker had to settle for Peck and Valli. In supporting roles, Leo G. Carroll is outstanding as the Queen's prosecutor, and Barrymore won an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Laughton's loony wife. Hitchcock had four cameras going simultaneously for the courtroom
sequences, then put the action together in the editing room, and these are the best scenes in the film. The use of four cameras and fast-cutting was diametrically opposed to the approach Hitchock took on his his next film, ROPE, which he shot in single 10-minute "takes," using one camera only,
with not one cutaway in the proceedings. A TV version of THE PARADINE CASE was attempted in 1962, starring Richard Basehart, Viveca Lindfors, and Boris Karloff. It was savaged by the critics. Naturally, Hitchcock makes his usual appearance, this time as a man carrying a cello.
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- Review: Accused of murdering her wealthy, blind husband, Alida Valli (in her US film debut) engages top barrister Peck to defend her. While spending a great deal of time with his client, Peck, who is married to Todd, finds himself falling for Valli. Just prior to… (more)