As much as I have always admired Hitchcock’s work, I just couldn’t bare the monotony and flatness that surround The Paradine Case. Unfortunately, this film is probably one of the most boring and least interesting of all of the great director’s works. The storyline is very slow and simple, and there aren’t any spectacular suspenseful moments that he accustomed us to so frequently. Sadly, in times of so many fast-paced and impressive courtroom thrillers and dramas (i.e. Witness for the Prosecution, Anatomy of a Murder, Judgment at Nuremberg) this movie really deserved the bad reputation that it gained in the first few years after its original release.
If it weren’t for the well-known director and notable movie stars, the movie would probably end up as some long-forgotten B-grade flick that no one would really want to watch.
It’s a story of forbidden romance, which began between a woman, accused of killing her blind husband, and her prominent defender. This chief motive intertwines with all the events that occur inside the courtroom.
The movie started a mindset connected with the notions of feminism. It presents how a woman is able to wrap a man around her finger and make him do everything that she says. She is the strong figure that gives orders, and manipulates all those men, who fall in love with her at first sight.
Still, I must say that there are some positive aspects that may be taken from the movie.
Definitely, the viewer is able to admire the very decent scenery, set, and costumes shown in the picture.
The movie presents a fine insight into the London middle class life. It also depicts, in an inquisitive manner, how the English court operated on a daily basis in those times, and proved once again that all the proceedings, consisting of various twists and revelations, might be thrilling, and can sometimes end up in a very surprising fashion.
The acting is on a very high level. Gregory Peck is great as the barrister Anthony Keane, who falls blindly in love with a woman he is supposed to defend with cold blood and full consciousness of the mind, not through heart and emotions. Charles Laughton gives a convincing performance, as the strict, rigorous, emphatic and ironic judge. He is in total contradiction with Peck’s character, one might notice. Alida Valli is mesmerizing As Lady Paradine, with all her grace and beauty, which makes it easy to see why every man lusts her and falls under her spell. Ann Todd as the brave and lovable Gay Keane, a wife, who even under the difficult circumstances doesn’t give up and lets go of the jealousy.
All in all, The Paradine Case looks more like a soap opera designed for TV, not a substantial film directed by one of the greatest director’s in history. However, as you watch it, don’t concentrate too much on the story, and simply enjoy the precise and entertaining courtroom scenes and the pleasurable subtleness of London’s atmosphere.