Friday, April 25, 2014

Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960): They’ll Need A Crane

This post is hosted by the Great Villain Blogathon, hosted by Ruth of Silver Screenings; Karen of Shadows and Satin; and Kristina of Speakeasy, from April 20th through April 26th, 2014.  It’s wicked fun!

Poor frustrated Marion Crane (Janet Leigh of Touch of Evil; The Manchurian Candidate) is not a happy camper.  She doesn’t ask for much, just love and happiness with her hunky California sweetie Sam Loomis (John Gavin of Midnight Lace; Spartacus).

Jeepers, it's 15 days before Christmas already!
Those crazy kids Marion and Sam may not have money and time,
but they'll always have Phoenix!  Here's looking at you, kids!
Caroline (Patricia Hitchcock) called to see if Teddy called! She can flirt with us anytime!

Marion is so new to crime; I hope she remembers
which is Bad-Girl Black or Good-Girl White!
Don't spend all that $40,000 in one place!

Much as they love each other, Marion and Sam are both frustrated because Sam’s still slaving away for his ex-wife’s alimony, as Sam says, “I’m tired of sweating for people who aren’t there.  I sweat to pay off my father’s debts, and he’s in his grave.  I sweat to pay my ex-wife alimony and she’s living on the other side of the world somewhere.”  Marion’s dullsville job in a Phoenix real estate company doesn’t inspire her much either, unless you count the hot sex in cheap hotels while she and Sam have steamy sex during their lunch hours.  (Somehow, that doesn’t sound that bad!)  Much as Marion loves Sam and vice-versa, she longs to have a bright future of her own with Sam, with money, romance, and happily-ever-afters, maybe even a big tuneful finale, like that other Marion:  Marian the Librarian from The Music Man! (Hey, if you’re gonna dream, dream big!)  “I’ll lick the stamps,” Marion vows to her sweetie.  Then fate steps in for Marion when Mr. Lowery, Marion’s boss (Vaughn Taylor of The Power; In Cold Blood) comes in with $40,000 from one of their customers, oil lease man Tom Cassidy (Frank Albertson from Fury; Wake Island).  But like Sam, Marion is also tired of toiling for people who aren’t there, so when Mr. Lowery asks Marion to bank Cassidy’s dough over the weekend, Marion loses her mind, er, I mean, makes a bold, sudden move, and scrams with the $40,000.  It’s all in the name of love, right?  Yeah, Marion, keep thinking that way while you make your getaway, getting more paranoid at every turn while cops give you the Hairy Eyeball, fumferring all the way!  Then again, hon, it’s not too late to come to your senses and lick those stamps with Sam…

Hi, Mr. Lowery, it's just little old me, Marion, off to pick up those headache pills! Gotta run!
Marion made it through the rain! Now for Marion's Dinner with Norman!
Trusty umbrella service, homemade sandwiches, fresh milk; a pretty girl, taxidermyl
What's The Bates Motel got that Courtyard By Marriott doesn't

He sees you when you're peeping!

At last, Marion finds shelter at The Bates Motel. It’s clearly had better days since the main road was washed up, but it you love stuffed birds, you’ll love it!  Just steer clear of that nice young man’s mother, Mrs. Bates.  Word has it that young Norman (played by Anthony Perkins from Friendly Persuasion; Murder on The Orient Express; Pretty Poison ) is rather henpecked.  But maybe we should give the old gal a little slack; after all, Mother isn’t quite herself these days, especially when pretty young strangers drop by….

Stephen Rebello’s Psycho commentary track mentions that some first-time viewers felt that Marion comes across as stupid!  However, I agree with Rebello that we must keep in mind that Marion is an amateur, not at all a practiced thief; indeed, she seems to be in some kind of fugue state, confused  and troubled.  As long as Marion has our sympathy, I say give the girl a break while they still can!  Psycho wasn’t named on AFI’s 100 Thrills List for nothing!
Aren't Hitchcock's cameos fun?
Bernard Herrmann’s compelling score (North by Northwest; the Oscar-winner The Devil and Daniel Webster, a.k.a. All That Money Can Buy; North By Northwest) grabs you from the driving theme to those shrieking violins!  Psycho was written for strings only.  Herrmann called it “his black-and-white music.”  Fun Fact: In Orson Welles’ 1958 thriller Touch of Evil, young Dennis Weaver (Duel; TV’s McCloud) played a nervous, twitchy motel manager!

(When in doubt, the answer is "C")

Vinnie whips off his wig and discusses The Shower Scene

It's possibly the most iconic scene in film, certainly in horror/suspense.  It is perfection.  Two and a half minutes of masterfully crafted shock.  Rife with not even implied violence and nudity, but crafted so that you will infer violence and nudity.  The knife is never seen entering flesh, indeed there are only two moments where the knife is even seen near Marion.   And there's no blood - it's chocolate sauce, as everyone now knows - but it's only seen dripping into the bathwater and down the drain, but we imagine it all over poor Ms. Crane.  But it's shot so fast, and so well, that persistence of vision makes you see them together almost constantly.

The Shower Scene is SO iconic, it's been parodied
in the most amazing of places, from Mel Brooks'
High Anxiety to this episode of Tiny Toon Adventures.

Taken out of context and watched on its own, it's still compelling. So much so that film makers have tried to match it in endless kill scenes in Friday the 13th and endless other horror films.  But to truly understand the impact of the scene, you have to see it in the context of the film.

First off, the scene breaks one of Hitch's rules - if you TELL the audience what's coming, the dread and suspense they feel will make for a far longer and more harrowing experience.  But the scene comes straight outta nowhere; indeed, at this point in the film, you expect to see Marion get back in her car and go back to face the music and AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!

Take this one step further - as far as people knew, Janet Leigh was the star of the film.  For her to be removed from the board had never been done before. It left the movie-goers rudderless at sea - they had no idea what was going to happen, where the story was going to go.  It was that sense of being utterly out of their comfort zone that gave the moment its true shock. When Norman comes in and begins to clean up, the audience naturally assumes that he's the new hero of the film, exactly as they were supposed to.

And as if that's not good enough, they do the exact same shock turn again - just as you start to place emotion into Arbogast, even if you think he's the BAD guy in the movie, who's going to make life merry hell for Poor Norman and his wacky mother, in come the violins and the screaming.   There's only two on-screen kills in the film, and they both come out of left field of a stadium in another state.

The film is filled with left turns where you think yo know what it's about, and suddenly it isn't.  You assume Marion's the main character, wrong.  You assume the money is the McGuffin - wrong, it gets tossed into the trunk of the car and is never mentioned again.  You think Norman is the new hero, and...well...

Monday, April 14, 2014

It’s A Wonderful World: The Original Colbert Report!

This revised version of It's A Wonderful World (1939) comes from The James Stewart Blogathon!  Hosted by The Classic Film & TV CafĂ© from April 14th to April 17, 2014! 

Welcome to Edwina Corday's Poetry Corner! Here's her poetry-chart-topping rhyme, "It's A Wonderful World":

The night will be here when we are gone,
Though we are gone, the stars will be here,
And other throats will sing in the dawn,
It’s a wonderful world, my dear

Don’t rack your brain trying to remember Edwina’s lovely poem from your poetry class; you’ll find her body of work in the Hollywood School of Poetry. Our gal Edwina is a ditzy but soulful poetess; yes, that’s what they call her in the comedy-adventure It’s A Wonderful World (1939), a poetess, not a poet.  And no, it’s not Frank Capra's classic Christmas film It’s A Wonderful Life, though we wouldn’t blame you for the confusion; more about that momentarily. I guess poets were like that in 1939.  But I digress!

Things aren't going well for Guy!
Where are Nick & Nora, and Asta when you need them? 

Edwina is played by that luminous Oscar-winner Claudette Colbert of It Happened One Night and  The Palm Beach Story among so many other hits. With that title alone, you’d have every right to expect it to be a wonderful screwball comedy-mystery, at the very least.  It’s got heck of a pedigree, starting with Oscar-winning director W.S. “Woody” Van Dyke, who brought us San Francisco (1936) as well as Team Bartilucci favorite The Thin Man (1934) and several of its sequels. The script was a collaboration between talented, versatile screenwriters Ben Hecht and Herman J. Mankiewicz (the latter being part of the Mankiewicz filmmaking family, including his grandson Ben Mankiewicz of TCM fame), whose combined resumes included such classics as Nothing Sacred; Twentieth Century; Dinner At Eight; Citizen Kane; The Front Page and its distaff remake His Girl Friday; and several of Alfred Hitchcock’s best films.  Now team up Claudette Colbert with a pre-Oscar James Stewart (note that Colbert’s name appears onscreen in a larger font than Stewart’s, since she was the bigger star at the time).  It didn’t hurt that the film’s title brought to mind the stars’ beloved previous films It Happened One Night and It’s a Wonderful Life (even if …Life took audiences quite a while to get into film fans’ hearts. I won’t lie to you, folks: we of Team Bartilucci have always found It’s a Wonderful Life infuriating for myriad reasons!  But I digress again; sorry about that!). The action is set in both New York City and upstate New York, which is a plus for a native New Yorker like me.  Furthermore, keep in mind that 1939 was a banner year for great movies all around!  With all that going for It’s A Wonderful World, the resulting collaboration should be a real crowd-pleaser, right?
Dig that crazy Coke bottle Boy Scout disguise!
Good thing Edwina has good "Guy" sight!

Well…almost!  It’s A Wonderful World was watchable enough, but for much of its 86-minute running time, I found it more amiable than actually wonderful, or laugh-out-loud funny, or nail-bitingly suspenseful.  Sure, the film has its moments, but as a whole, it didn’t truly grab my undivided attention until about the last 40 minutes  , when the joint was jumpin' with shooting, tension, and clever scheming to unmask the villains. But I’m getting ahead of myself!

Stewart plays a NYC private eye with the manly-man name of Guy Johnson.  Showing his range just as he did in After the Thin Man (1936), Stewart’s Guy is no folksy charmer here, but a cynical tough guy who thinks dames are dopes, and isn’t afraid to cuff ’em one if they start squawking. If Guy tried that today, he’d be in for a lawsuit!  Come to think of it, the role of Guy was probably good practice for the darker, more emotionally-complicated roles Stewart played under the direction of Alfred Hitchcock and Anthony Mann in the 1950s!

Guy Kibbee as “Cap” Streeter is sapped by Edwina,
who thinks she’s helping and thinks she killed Cap! Oy!

Guy works with his older, more seasoned partner Fred “Cap” Streeter (Guy Kibbee from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; 42nd Street; Babbitt) for a private investigation firm called, appropriately enough, Private Inquiries. Their biggest client is the much-married souse and tobacco heir Willie Heyward, a.k.a. “Willie the Pooh” (played by Ernest Truex, great as put-upon milquetoast types in His Girl Friday; Whistling in the Dark; and TV’s Alfred Hitchcock Presents). Having previously worked demonstrating electric belts in drugstore windows for all to see before he became a private eye, cynical Guy is determined to hang onto his meal ticket: “Willie the Pooh’s my dream man, and I’m gonna keep fishing him out of manholes just as long as he keeps paying off.”

Too bad Willie gets himself framed for the murder of Dolores Gonzales (Cecilia Callejo from Blood and Sand; The Falcon in Mexico), a “Broadway nymph” and bubble dancer in the Sally Rand mold, who’d been all set to sue Willie for allegedly jilting her—until Guy and New York’s Finest find Dolores murdered on the floor with the ever-drunken Willie not knowing which end is up.

“Willie the Pooh,” found at one of the
places he's been seen going around.
But he brings his troubles on himself, considering he keeps demanding to kill “wops” when he’s “snoozled,” especially when he’s in public.  Where are Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man and/or its other sequels when you need them?  The only clue to Dolores’ killer is a dime mysteriously cut in half.  Our perplexed P.I. finds him
self framed by Vivian Tarbel, a.k.a. the newly-minted Mrs. Heyward (Frances Drake of Mad Love and the 1935 version of Les Miserables) and her honey, Al Mallon (Sidney Blackmer, the great character actor who’s graced everything from Charlie Chan in Monte Carlo to Rosemary’s Baby).  Before you can say “Philo Vance,” Guy is charged with conspiracy and sentenced to a year in Sing Sing.

On the train to prison, Guy is handcuffed to Sergeant Koretz (Nat Pendleton, Thin Man alumnus and one of Team Bartilucci’s favorite wrestlers-turned-actors), accompanied by Lieutenant Miller (Edgar Kennedy, Mr. Slow Burn himself) as they pass the time playing poker. Guy notices a personal ad in a nearby newspaper: “Why don’t you come to Saugerties Theater Wednesday evening, and see your long-lost husband? HALF-A-DIME.” (For you readers unfamiliar with upstate New York, yes, Saugerties is a real town.)  Guy tricks Koretz into leaving their compartment for a smoke, and *SPLASH!* Guy manages a watery escape under cover of night (shouldn’t Edwina be in bed at that hour?  Surely she’d lose too much of her beauty sleep).

But our perky poetess happens to see the whole thing. Before you can say “I swear by my eyes,” which Edwina says all through the picture, Guy takes Edwina hostage, and wacky hijinks ensue. Elsewhere, in one of my favorite bits, Sgt. Koretz tries to convince the local police that he was jumped by a mob instead of Guy tricking him and knocking him out singlehandedly. If you ask me, Guy could be so obnoxious sometimes, I wouldn’t have minded if someone had punched his lights out!  For that matter, I’d love to see where Edwina got the notion that criminals are gallant.  Maybe she’s been reading and writing too much poetry?  Then again, Guy isn’t always as smart as he thinks he is, either!  For instance, Edwina actually gets Guy out of a jam when they’re lost in the woods.  Boy Scout Stanley Cavendish pretends to go for help, but Edwina realizes just in time that the scout is about to sic John Law on him!  The kid isn’t even honest about his name; it’s really Herman Plotka!  If you ask me, Guy needs to brush up his P.I. skills.  Where’s Sam Spade when you need him?  Stewart’s Coke-bottle glasses disguise cracked me up!  (Fun Fact: Herman’s name comes from Mildred Plotka, a.k.a. Lily Garland in the 1934 comedy Twentieth Century.)

How do you like them apples?
Isn't this how Stockholm Syndrome starts?
Bit by bit, the comedy starts to percolate as Guy and Edwina find themselves obliged to join forces out in the wilds of upstate New York, with Edwina alternately helping and unwittingly hindering Guy as he tries to prove his innocence and save Willie from the electric chair.  As I said, the first two-thirds of It’s A Wonderful World is watchable, if not exactly full-tilt hilarious.


As our dear friend and fellow blogger R.A. Kerr might say, a miracle happens, as described by my husband Vinnie: “Suddenly Claudette Colbert shifted the plot into reverse psychology!”

A guy, a poetess...romance?
By some miracle, comedy and suspense suddenly blend together beautifully at the Saugerties County Theatre’s production of the Maxwell Anderson/Laurence Stallings play What Price Glory?  Slowly but surely, Guy warms up to Edwina , who’s already falling in love with Guy despite the bickering that always seems to be expected in such situations; just ask Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll in The 39 Steps.  Our heroes infiltrate the theater when scene-stealing grand-dame theater director Madame J. L. Chambers (Cecil Cunningham from the 1931 Monkey Business; The Awful Truth) hires Guy as the play’s new Southern-accented actor, “Cyril Hemingway.”

"Do you-all have shootin' in this play?"
"Nothing but. It's the noisiest backstage since Ben Hur".
Cap comes to help Guy, only to become a human Whack-A-Mole as Edwina’s well-meant attempts to help both men keep backfiring. I was worried that poor Cap would be brain-damaged before this dizzy tale was over!  What’s more, Vivian’s Aussie ex turns up, unaware he’s got a target on his back, poor fella! The stage cast within the movie’s cast (is there a scorecard in the house?) includes Team Bartilucci favorite Hans Conried (The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.; TV’s Make Room For Daddy; Fractured Flickers); as well as George Chandler (Bogart fans will remember Chandler as nervous bartender Louis Ord in Dead Reckoning); as well as Anchors Aweigh; and Grady Sutton, who I always remember from TV’s Odd Couple episode “The Flying Felix” as Tony Randall tries lip-reading: “I sense…much…trouble…in…the…fuselage…Frederick!”

 All kidding aside, there’s genuine suspense in the urgently-whispered conversation between Cap and Guy as we’re reminded that Willie’s life is at stake. There’s even a nifty little catfight between Edwina and Vivian at the end!
 Leading man Stewart was under contract to MGM at the time, but the studio never seemed to know how to exploit his talents until other studios led the way for them. A 1937 loan-out to Columbia for Frank Capra's You Can't Take It With You had proven his skill at folksy comedy, which explains Stewart’s casting in this screwball farce. But his fans at the time were horrified to see him playing a cynical, chauvinistic private eye who at one point even slugs his leading lady!

As Frank Miller explains in his article on the TCM Web site, “Claudette Colbert had looked forward to getting MGM’s legendary glamour treatment. However, her hopes “were dashed when director W.S. Van Dyke was assigned to the picture. Although he had helped create the screwball genre as director of The Thin Man in 1934, he was popular with studio head Louis B. Mayer mainly because he worked quickly, earning the nickname ‘One-Take Woody.’ His female star was appalled at how quickly he threw the film together, being used to the more leisurely pace at her home studio, Paramount, where great care was always taken to showcase her beauty.” Anyway, Colbert got more opportunities for glamour roles at MGM in films like The Secret Heart (1946).
 Although It's a Wonderful World got some good reviews, particularly from Hecht fan Otis Ferguson in The New Republic, it was mostly dismissed by critics for having too many cheap laughs. Writing for the New York Times, Frank Nugent complained, “Ben Hecht must have sent out native beaters with tom-toms and slapsticks to drive stray gags from miles around into the Metro corral for It's a Wonderful World....The comedy is almost too strenuous for relaxation." After only three years as an MGM producer, Frank Davis would return to writing after this picture, scoring some of his biggest successes with his scripts for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) and The Train (1964). Before that, however, he would issue his own rather prophetic assessment of the production: “The studio should have known that Jimmy Stewart would never do any of those unconvincing things. However, I predict that his next film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington [1939], will more than make up.”  And how!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Witness for the Prosecution: Jury of the Peerless!

This revised version of Witness for the Prosecution is hosted by the Diamond & Gold Blogathon, hosted by Caftan Woman and Wide Screen World.  Enjoy!

Witness for the Prosecution (WftP), another one of my all-time favorite movies, sizzles, sparkles, and surprises from its opening credits in the Old Bailey, to its rollercoaster twists and turns, to its jaw-dropping climax. In fact, one of the things I love about the plot twists of this 1957 thriller is that they play fair with the audience, unlike so many films that don’t care if a twist doesn’t make a lick of sense as long as viewers get a momentary shock, however cheap and sloppily executed. The Billy Wilder Touch adds cynical wit to his sparkling adaptation of Dame Agatha Christie's suspenseful, internationally-beloved courtroom drama with some of the best lines in a Wilder movie since Double Indemnity, thanks to writers Wilder, Harry Kurnitz, and Larry Marcus.  Sir Wilfrid’s query about the features of defendant Leonard Vole’s eggbeater, "Is that really desirable?" has become a catchphrase in our household, as well as the title of one of Team Bartilucci's blogs.  Indeed, the only thing keeping me from putting WftP on my list of “Best Alfred Hitchcock Movies That Hitchcock Never Made” is the fact that even Hitchcock himself admitted that courtroom dramas weren’t among his considerable strengths or interests.
Miss Plimsoll, won't you join me
in a duet of "Baby, It's Cold Outside"?

Not sure you can trust your client? 
Sir Wilfrid's Monocole Test Never fails!
Sir Wilfrid Robarts comes home, recovering from his "teeny-weeny heart attack" as nurse Miss Plimsoll reveals he wasn't released, he was expelled -- conduct unbecoming a cardiac patient!
(Sir Wilfrid to Miss Plimsoll: "Put these in water, blabbermouth")
Talk about powerhouse stars!  The versatile Charles Laughton (his many great roles include his Oscar-winning The Private Life of Henry VIII; Hobson’s Choice; The Big Clock) plays Sir Wilfrid Robarts, a.k.a. “Wilfrid the Fox,” a brilliant veteran barrister who won’t let his cardiac health issues stand in the way of helping a client beat a murder rap riddled with circumstantial evidence. This adds extra suspense during the trial as we in the audience nervously wonder if Sir Wilfrid will keel over with a heart attack from the strain of it all!  Laughton’s real-life wife Elsa Lanchester is a delightful foil for him as chipper yet no-nonsense nurse Miss Plimsoll.  Laughton and Lanchester shine in the most engaging performances of their careers, garnering well-deserved Oscar nominations! (WftP also earned nominations for Best Picture, Billy Wilder’s direction, Daniel Mandell’s editing, and Gordon Sawyer’s sound recording, but it was The Bridge on the River Kwai’s year; sorry, guys!)  The comic sparring chemistry between Sir Wilfrid and Miss Plimsoll, and the playful warmth and understanding that grows between them by movie’s end, had my husband Vinnie opining that if another movie was made featuring these characters, Miss Plimsoll would probably end up as Mrs. Robarts before it was over. What a delightful series that could have been, kind of like a British Thin Man (okay, so Laughton was chubby; it makes him cuddly!) with Sir Wilfrid being the eager crime-stopper and Miss Plimsoll making a show of tut-tutting until she finally goes along with Wilfrid the Fox’s schemes with a smile!

Back to the plot:  Even though Sir Wilfrid’s friends and colleagues keep telling him to relax and take it easy after his heart attack, he can’t resist taking the case of a new client who needs help, but quick!  Sir Wilfrid’s new client is Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power of The Razor’s Edge; The Black Swan; Nightmare Alley).  Look up “Vole” in the dictionary, and you’ll see how clever his name is.)  Leonard is an unemployed but affable inventor, the kind of fella you can’t help liking, especially when a lonely widow like Mrs. French needs a friend, especially if he’s younger than Mrs. French and they’ve both got time on their hands—a real lady-killer, perhaps?  Leonard has been accused of murdering Emily Jane French, the kind of older woman who often has too much time on her hands, or as the French say, “Women of a certain age.” Was Mrs. French killed by a burglar, as Leonard insists?  Or was it, as Mr. Meyers (Torin Thatcher from The Fallen Idol; Major Barbara) sardonically suggests the culprits are all random burglars and/or burglaresses.  The luckless Mrs. French is played by one of Team Bartilucci's  favorite character actresses, Norma Varden (from The Glass Key; Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train).  Varden and Power work together beautifully in their scenes, portraying Mrs. French’s sweet-natured longing as funny and poignant at the same time.

Christine Vole: Hostile Hottie Witness!

Busted! Sir Wilfrid's nurse,, Miss Plimsoll
already knows where the bodies, er, cigars, are hidden!

Speaking of beautiful, Marlene Dietrich is absolutely mesmerizing in both looks and acting talent as Leonard’s war bride Christine, she of the duplicitous tactics, malleable marriage contract, and unshakable alibi against the gobsmacked Leonard!  Is Christine truly the ultimate bitch, or is there more to her agenda? The entertaining flashbacks that Wilder and company deftly weave throughout the film to give it more verve and movement works beautifully, especially in Christine and Leonard’s sexy meet-cute/fall-in-love/dig-those-legs scenes, in and out of flashbacks. Dietrich and Power are dynamic in their scenes, whether it’s love or hate or payback time!  It's a shame Dietrich’s brilliant, multifaceted performance wasn't nominated for an Oscar as well, on account of the producers not wanting to spoil a certain crucial surprise twist!  Tyrone Power's usual ever-so-slightly wooden delivery actually serves him well as defendant Leonard Vole; somehow it adds to his air of feckless innocence. Veteran character actors Henry Daniell (The Great Dictator), John Williams (Dial M for Murder), Ian Wolfe (Rebel Without A Cause; Red , and Torin Thatcher provide able support, too, with original Broadway cast member Una O'Connor (The Invisible Man; Bride of Frankenstein) stealing her scenes as Mrs. French's loyal Scottish housekeeper Janet MacKenzie, who’s suspicious and “antag’nistic” to the beleaguered Leonard.  Sadly, WftP was O’Connor’s final film  before her death in 1959, but what a memorable swansong it was. In our household, "Is that really desirable?" has become a catchphrase (as well as the title of one of Team Bartilucci’s blogs: ), along with many other gems from the mouths of star Laughton and the rest of the sterling cast! :-)

Another satisfied customer from Leonard Vole, Inventor!

What kind of person was the late Mrs. Emily Jane French?
What breed?   A lady with a perky hat on, thanks to her new best buddy Leonard Vole!
Just make sure she doesn't go to dinner parties with Alfred Hitchcock!
Maybe it’s a British thing, but I was struck by how people took Sir Wilfrid’s cantankerous side in stride.  It’s a refreshing change from what my husband Vinnie calls “gas-permeable people” whose overly-fragile feelings are crushed by any response that’s less than 100% sweet and sensitive. I love how nobody takes Sir Wilfrid’s cranky pronouncements to heart, including Miss Plimsoll, who gives as good as she gets, like when she reveals she knows all about the cigars hidden in his cane (not to mention the brandy he’s squirreled away).

No disrespect to Mrs. French, but Christine Vole rocks that hat way better!

I promised Vinnie I’d carry on the tradition of not revealing the surprise ending of WftP (I won’t blab!)  Here’s the filmmakers word of warning:

  “Notice! To preserve the secret of the surprise ending, patrons are advised NOT to take their seats during the last few minutes of Witness for the Prosecution.”

While you’re at it, don’t blab to your friends, either!  I’ll only say I'd have paid good money to see the sequel that the ending implies. The film’s suspenseful surprises were so zealously guarded that when WftP was shown in London for a Royal Command Performance, even the Royal Family had to promise beforehand not to reveal the surprise ending to anyone else!

Looks like Leonard doesn't have a leg to stand on,
but Christine sure does!

 Hear Sir Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester in their romantic duet,
Baby, It's Cold Outside"!