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Stage Fright Blu-ray Review

“Stage Fright” is mid level Hitchcock at best.

1950’s England set “Stage Fright” begins with the murder of the husband of a stage actress (Charlotte). Did Charlotte commit the crime or did someone else? Her lover Jonathan offers to help her out and cover up the murder, but he is spotted by Charlotte’s maid and goes on the run. Eve (a drama student and friend of Jonathan) offers to risk it all by helping prove Jonathan’s alleged innocence. Eve also has feelings for Jonathan. She goes as far as becoming Charlotte’s maid to try and clear Jonathan’s name. Elsewhere in the story a Detective (Wilfred Smith) is investigating the murder and ends up falling for Eve. He doesn’t know that Eve is posing as Charlotte’s maid and acting as an accomplice to Jonathan though. 

“Stage Fright” isn’t a title that often comes up in Alfred Hitchcock’s filmography and, well, it’s not hard to see why. While perfectly watchable, expertly directed, and well acted, the noir/suspense yarn about murder, love, scheming and deception is lacking in complexity and thrills. The Whitfield Cook and Ranald MacDougall penned script begins and ends well as it gets straight to business and ends in a heart racing manner. The problem is the preposterous middle act drags the whole affair down. In addition to a meandering and lagging events that transpire in the middle of the story, Eve’s absurd plan to try and help Jonathan just feels so far fetched. Sure, there’s a bit of a comedic edge to it (which does liven matters up), but it doesn’t detract from the fact that the thin, cut and dry plot is being stretched out.

There’s no shortage of talent in the cast with Jane Wyman, Marlene Dietrich, Michael Wilding, Alastair Sim and Richard Todd. Wyman is a quality lead, Wilding and Todd turn in respectable performances while Dietrich is memorable in a small role (especially her musical number). However, it’s Alastair Sim who carries the entire movie as Eve’s quirky father. Sim is wonderful here and his character is so much more engaging than everything surrounding him. 

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.37:1 1080p. How does it look? Expect a nice clean print of the B&W film.

Audio Track: 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? A solid but muted 2.0 track.

Extras include a theatrical trailer and an archival nearly 20 minute documentary titled “Hitchcock and Stage Fright” which sheds light on the film’s history.

May 2, 2022 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , ,

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