Alfred Hitchcock had a penchant for staging his film climaxes in high places, with a risk of falling posed to one or more of the central characters. We see it in his early British films like The Man Who Knew Too Much and Jamaica Inn, as well as later classics like Vertigo and North By Northwest.
One of the most striking early examples is the climax of Sabotuer, which takes place atop the Statue of Liberty. Our hero Barry Kane (played by Robert Cummings) has finally cornered saboteur Frank Fry (Norman Lloyd), a man he has tracked from coast to coast. Kane follows Fry out onto the arm of Liberty’s torch, which is where the sequence begins.
The sequence runs roughly 2 minutes and 38 seconds, with 47 editorial cuts. This averages out to approximately one cut per 3.4 seconds. One thing that makes this sequence unique is the amount of special effects work. There is a life-size reproduction of the statue’s hand with the torch, a smaller mock-up of the statue, as well as matte painting effects and live action film. For a black and white sequence shot in 1942, it holds up admirably.
Hitchcock opens on Barry Kane in a medium shot, opening the door and walking out onto the torch walkway. He then pulls back to give the audience this establishing long shot.
After about 3 seconds, Hitchcock cuts to a standard medium two-shot, with Barry Kane holding a gun on Fry.
Hitchcock continues to hold this shot for about 9 seconds, as Kane backs Fry up to the railing, which Fry then flips over and falls. Hitchcock wanted Norman Lloyd to do his own stunt here, so it could be done without a cut. Of course when Lloyd flipped backwards over the railing, he was only a few feet from the floor, with a nice soft cushioned landing. An impressive stunt for the young actor, nonetheless.
Hitchcock then cuts to a long shot as Fry (now played by a stuntman) falls, grabbing on between the thumb and index finger on Lady Liberty’s hand. Hitch then cuts to a medium shot of Barry Kane looking down, followed by this shot from Kane’s POV, looking at Fry (Lloyd again) holding on precariously. This scene was shot with the hand resting on its side, so the actor could rest against it without having to literally hang on. The lower portion and base of the statue are matted in here.
Hitchcock next cuts back to Barry Kane, first in a medium shot, then a long in quick succession. Then we get this shot, which holds for about five seconds. This is what I call the God’s eye view shot. Hitchcock loved to sneak one of these shots in to most of his films. This type of shot can break camera logic (whose point of view are we supposed to be seeing?) but add to the viewer’s sense of helplessness and awe. The composite pieces of film here all blend very well together.
Hitchcock then cuts to a long shot of Barry Kane climbing over the railing in an attempt to get to Fry.
As Kane lowers himself down, the pace of the cutting begins to pick up a bit. Hitchcock also does something interesting here. After showing us Fry from Kane’s point of view, he all of a sudden shifts to Fry’s point of view. We are looking up at Fry’s hands holding on.
There are a few short shots here cutting between the two men, until Kane finally lowers himself closer to Fry. “I’ll get your sleeve” Kane says, and we see his hand stretching down.
After shifting the point of view from Kane to Fry, Hitchcock is going to shift it back to Kane again. But first he is going to “reset” the POV by giving us a neutral two-shot, which lasts a brief two seconds but serves its purpose.
Finally we are back to Kane’s POV for this shot, which lasts about 3 seconds. Kane has grabbed a hold of Fry’s sleeve.
Hitchcock cuts back briefly to a medium of Kane, then back to Fry in close up.
Now we get the first close up of the shoulder seam in Fry’s suit starting to pull apart. From here the cutting will become even more rapid.
Hitchcock will cut away from Fry’s suit, then back to it in a series of shots. Every time he cuts away, he gives us a completely different view of the Statue, all of them emphasizing the height, as Fry’s situation becomes more precarious.
Finally we go back to a POV shot, as Kane looks down at Fry.
Hitchcock then cuts to a close-up of the hands,which allows us to see the sleeve as it finally tears completely.
Next comes the incredibly dramatic fall, a shot of about 4 seconds, as Fry falls away from us crying “Kaaaaaaaane!” This shot was done with Norman Lloyd sitting on a custom saddle-like chair, on the floor of the studio sound stage, against a black screen (the precursor of today’s green screen). The camera pulled up from the floor to the ceiling rapidly, as Lloyd flailed his limbs, pantomiming falling. Then the shot was run in reverse with the background matted in. It holds up very well over 75 years later.
Hitchcock then cuts to a close up of Barry Kane’s reaction to Fry’s plummet to his death.
And finally, Barry Kane climbs back up to the torch where Pat Martin (Priscilla Lane) is waiting for him. The film ends here, rather abruptly, almost before Kane can climb into her waiting arms.
This sequence is relatively short, at just over two-and-a-half minutes, and it is thrilling from start to finish. When you break it down, you can see that each of the 47 distinct pieces of film serves a very specific purpose. Hitchcock knew exactly how to represent visually what he wanted his viewers to experience emotionally, a skill at which he would only improve over time.
SPELLBOUND – 1945 – Selznick International Pictures – ★★★1/2
B&W – 111 minutes – 1.33:1 aspect ratio
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Principal cast: Ingrid Bergman (Dr. Constance Petersen), Gregory Peck (Dr. Anthony Edwardes/John Ballantyne), Michael Chekov (Dr. Alexander Brulov), Leo G. Carroll (Dr. Murchison), Rhonda Fleming (Mary Carmichael), Normal Lloyd (Mr. Garmes).
Screenplay by Ben Hecht, Adaptation by Angus MacPhail from the novel The House of Dr. Edwardes by Francis Beeding.
Cinematography by George Barnes
Edited by Hal C. Kern
Music by Miklos Rozsa
Dream sequence designed by Salvador Dali
A film full of ideas: When Alfred Hitchcock began production on Spellbound, he was in the fifth year of his contract with David O. Selznick, and yet they had only made one movie together (Rebecca). Selznick had loaned Hitchcock out to other studios on film after film, to the benefit of both; Selznick made a tidy profit, while Hitchcock enjoyed a level of autonomy he would not otherwise have. Now Hitchcock was coming home to roost, and while he might not have been perfectly happy being under Selznick’s thumb again, he brought a multitude of strong ideas to this film.
The plot is an interesting variation on Hitchcock’s “wrong man” theme. In this case, a man shows up at a mental hospital calling himself Dr. Edwardes, the new head of the facility. Edwardes (Gregory Peck) has some peculiar personality traits. Seeing the color white (particular with a linear pattern) makes him turn away in revulsion. He also falls instantly in love with Dr. Constance Peterson (Ingrid Bergman). Eventually we learn that Peck is not Edwardes. So who is he, then? And where is the real Dr. Edwardes?
Peck goes on the run, chased by the police while unaware of his identity. He is helped in his quest by Ingrid Bergman, who tries to be Peck’s therapist despite the fact that she is deeply in love with him. Over the course of the movie Peck discovers the truth of who he is, and the nature of his phobia. The real Dr. Edwardes is found dead (after all, it wouldn’t be Hitchcock without at least one murder, would it?) and the culprit discovered. What makes this film so different from Hitchcock’s other “man on the run” films is that the character’s journey is as much psychological as physical. Let’s take a look at some of Hitchcock’s methods of visual narrative in this film.
Constance Petersen is presented as cold, sterile, virginal in her early scenes. She is clearly the intellectual superior of her male colleagues, who view her as just a pretty woman. It is no accident that in her first session, her patient (Rhonda Fleming) is a nymphomaniac, a polar opposite of Constance.
Constance begins to fall for “Dr. Edwardes” the moment she meets him, and after they spend an afternoon together she finds herself even more drawn to him. She comes back to the manor in a state of physical and emotional dishevelment. Hitchcock here employs one of his typical subjective POV shots, as Constance joins her (all male) colleagues for dinner.
Later the same evening, Constance and “Edwardes” kiss, and Hitchcock uses a clever visual motif of a series of opening doors.
Later “Edwardes” flees Green Manor when he is found to be an impostor, and Constance tracks him to a New York hotel. There is a funny scene here, where Constance first rebuffs a drunken man in the hotel lobby, then uses the hotel detective to help her find Edwardes. He calls himself an amateur psychologist, thinking he is impressing this pretty young woman with his acumen, not realizing that he is being played.
The next sequence of the film takes place at the home of Constance’s mentor Dr. Brulov, a sort of stand-in for Freud, with a Germanic accent and European look. During the night Edwardes has a fugue episode ( look for a deconstruction of this scene as my next post). The following day, Brulov and Constance interpret Edwardes’ dreams.
Hitchcock and Dali: Alfred Hitchcock wanted Salvador Dali to assist in designing the dream sequence for Spellbound and Selznick acquiesced. After some negotiations, a deal was struck. Dali initially created several paintings which he shared with Hitchcock and his creative team.
There is a persistent rumor that the sequence was originally planned to run twenty minutes in length. There is no evidence that it was ever intended to be that long, but it was initially going to be at least a couple minutes longer. One sequence that was filmed was cut entirely.
Scenes from the gambling house sequence:
The rooftop sequence, and conclusion:
Below are some scenes from the deleted sequence, which would have played between the gambling house and rooftop sequences.
This sequence features an orchestra suspended from above, as well as several pianos. The pianos are smaller than normal, so little people were used as background dancers to aid with the perspective. Neither Hitchcock or Dali was happy with the result. Next, the scene would show Bergman turning into a statue. They filmed Ingrid Bergman breaking out of a statue-like shell, then planned to run the sequence in reverse to get the desired effect.
Ultimately, David Selznick was unhappy with the dream sequence, so not only was a sequence cut from it, but the resulting sequences were chopped into smaller segments, with Gregory Peck’s narration bridging the gaps. It would be interesting to see the sequence play out as Dali originally intended it. Unfortunately the excised footage is believed to be gone.
Psychological resolution, story resolution: Gregory Peck’s character has the breakthrough he has been seeking, with the help of Brulov and Constance. He remembers who he is (John Ballantyne) and he also remembers that he accidentally killed his brother when they were children, a guilt he has been suppressing for years.
Finally Ballantyne gets to the bottom of his revulsion of parallel lines on a white surface. (It has to do with skiing). Unfortunately, just as the film looks like it will end happily, Ballantyne is convicted of the murder of the real Dr. Edwardes. Just as Constance helped Ballantyne cure his psychological problems, she will now save the day again, playing detective and finding the real killer.
When Dr. Murchison is discovered as the killer, he trains his gun on Constance. Hitchcock wanted a subjective POV shot, but he wanted the gun and Ingrid Bergman to remain in focus. The only way to pull that off was to construct a giant hand holding a giant gun.
Hitchcock was not quite out of tricks yet. At the sound of the gun flash, Hitchcock insisted on two frames of red colored film. Each negative had to be individually hand painted when they went out for distribution. The timing is such that Hitchcock felt most people would not even consciously register it, but he felt it would have an emotional impact.
Performance: Alfred Hitchcock expressed some displeasure with Gregory Peck’s performance in the movie. I think Peck was just right for this part. There are elements to his character that could not have been pulled off by Cary Grant, for instance. Peck is solid and always believable. Ingrid Bergman was already a big star by this time, and she looks and plays the part. Exquisitely beautiful, but full of inner strength, she owns this role completely. Constance Petersen is one of the strongest female leads in all of Hitchcock’s films, and nobody could have surpassed what Bergman does with the part. Michael Chekov, who is doing a variation on Freud as Dr. Brulov, very much deserved his Oscar nomination. Even the smaller roles are memorable, as Hitchcock favorites Norman Lloyd and Wallace Ford make the most of small roles. And Rhonda Fleming is unforgettable. Leo G. Carroll is another in the long line of suave, sophisticated Hitchcock villains.
Source material: Hitchcock’s film is based on the 1928 novel The House of Dr. Edwardes, written by John Palmer and Hilary A. Saunders under the pseudonym Francis Beeding. The novel is dramatically different from the resulting film adaptation. In the novel, Constance Sedgwick is newly arrived at Chateau Landry, a mental asylum in the French mountains. The man calling himself Dr. Murchison, the man in charge of the asylum, is actually a homicidal maniac who has switched places with the real doctor and imprisoned him in a cell. The murderer, a man named Godstone, begins to exert a strong influence over the other patients, and the staff. Godstone is a devil worshipper, who has crosses tattooed on the soles of his feet. The book is pretty dark (including a couple of deaths), but retains a slightly comic tone at times. The plot is far too ridiculous to take seriously. I wonder if Poe’s story “The Tale of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether” provided some inspiration, for it shares some general details of both plot and tone. As long as one doesn’t attempt to take it seriously, it is an enjoyable if insubstantial read.
Enter the theremin: Just as Hitchcock was full of visual ideas, he had plenty of thoughts about the music as well. Composer Miklos Rozsa used the theramin as part of the musical score at Hitchcock’s request. The theramin (named after its inventor, Leon Theramin) is unique among musical instruments in that it is played without actually touching it. It emits electromagnetic waves, which are “played” by moving the hands around two metal rods. The theramin creates an ethereal sound that became popular in science fiction movies in the 50’s, but Rozsa pioneered its use in cinema. Rozsa’s score was rewarded with an Oscar win.
Below you can watch theramin virtuoso (and third-generation relative of inventor Leon Theramin) Lydia Kavina play part of Miklos Rozsa’s Spellbound score.
Recurring players: Ingrid Bergman would later star in Notorious and Under Capricorn. Gregory Peck would also star in The Paradine Case. Hitchcock employed the services of Leo G. Carroll more than any other actor. He also appeared in Rebecca, Suspicion, The Paradine Case, Strangers on a Train, and North by Northwest. Norman Lloyd had appeared as Fry, the man who falls from the Statue of Liberty, in Saboteur. Steven Geray (Dr. Graff) would later play a hotel desk clerk in To Catch a Thief. Wallace Ford (man from Pittsburgh in hotel lobby) had played Detective Saunders in Shadow of a Doubt. Irving Bacon (railway gateman) played a similar role in Shadow of a Doubt. Constance Purdy (Dr. Brulov’s housekeeper) had played the landlady to Joseph Cotten’s Uncle Charlie in the opening scenes of Shadow of a Doubt. Clarence Straigh (secretary at police station) would later play a policeman in The Wrong Man.
Academy Awards: Miklos Rozsa won the Oscar for Best Musical Score for Spellbound. The movie was also nominated in five other categories: Best Picture (David O. Selznick), Best Director (Alfred Hitchcock), Best Supporting Actor (Michael Chekhov), Best Black and White Cinematography (George Barnes) and Best Special Effects (Jack Cosgrove).
Where’s Hitch? Hitchcock’s cameo comes at around 43:06. He can be seen exiting an elevator in the lobby of the Empire State Hotel.
What Hitch said: When Hitchcock spoke with Truffaut, he was fairly dismissive of the film. I wonder if this is in part because Truffaut says he finds the film a disappointment. Hitchcock says “Well, it’s just another manhunt story wrapped up in pseudo-psychoanalysis…Since psychoanalysis was involved, there was a reluctance to fantasize; we tried to use a logical approach to the man’s adventure.”
He added “The whole thing’s too complicated, and I found the explanations toward the end very confusing.”
Definitive edition: The 2012 MGM/Fox blu ray is the best edition currently available. Picture and sound quality are good, not great. Included are a commentary track with film scholars Thomas Schatz and Charles Ramirez Berg (probably my least favorite commentary track on any Hitchcock release), a 21-minute documentary on the Dali dream sequence, a 20-minute documentary on psychoanalysis, a ten-minute interview segment with actress Rhonda Fleming, a Lux Radio Theater version starring Joseph Cotten and Alida Valli, a 15-minute audio interview with Peter Bogdanovich and Hitchcock, and the original theatrical trailer.
There is also a (now out of print) DVD version from Criterion, which features a strong, scholarly commentary by Marion Keane, an illustrated essay on the Dali dream sequence, an audio interview of Miklos Rozsa, a public radio piece on the theramin, hundreds of photos, the same Lux Radio Theater version that appears on the MGM/Fox blu ray, and the trailer.
Principal cast: Robert Cummings (Barry Kane), Priscilla Lane (Patricia Martin), Otto Kruger (Charles Tobin), Alan Baxter (Mr. Freeman), Norman Lloyd (Fry), Alma Kruger (Mrs. Sutton), Vaughan Glaser (Phillip Martin).
Produced by Frank Lloyd & Jack H. Skirball
Written by Joan Harrison & Peter Viertel & Dorothy Parker
Director of Photography: Joseph A. Valentine
Film Editing: Otto Ludwig
Art Director: Robert Boyle
Poor Barry Kane, hard-working American patriot, doing his part to support the war effort in a Los Angeles airplane factory. When a fire erupts in the factory, he is one of the first on the scene, and through the machinations of a suspicious man named Fry, Barry’s good friend dies in the fire, and Barry himself is suspected of sabotage. Armed with only one small clue, Fry’s name and an address briefly glimpsed on an envelope, Barry must track down the real saboteurs while staying one step ahead of the police. This is Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite motif, which he used many times: the innocent man, falsely accused.
The address leads Barry to a California ranch run by a Charles Tobin, who is the mastermind of the saboteurs. Charming and urbane, he is the quintessential Hitchcock villain, a man who can calmly play with his granddaughter while plotting the deaths of innocent people. Barry has his first run-in with the police at the ranch, and after escaping, acquiring a pair of handcuffs for his troubles, he winds up at the woodland house of a kind old blind man. Soon the blind man’s niece arrives and is instructed to drive Barry to the blacksmith to have the handcuffs removed.
The movie continues as a series of set pieces, and truly the individual strength of many of the pieces is greater than the strength of the movie as a whole. Barry and Patricia move from West to East, from Los Angeles to New York, and Patricia’s feelings about Barry move from doubt to trust, while the nest of saboteurs grows and the pieces begin to fit together.
Eventually the couple find themselves in a mansion in New York City, surrounded by socialites at a charity event being hosted by the saboteurs. With all the exits guarded, they are literally trapped in a crowded room. This is a familiar theme in the works of Hitchcock; oftentimes his protagonists feel alone precisely when they are surrounded by people.
Our couple is separated and imprisoned separately at this point, both using ingenuity (rather implausible in one case) to earn their freedom. Barry Kane finally runs into his nemesis Fry, the man behind the fire at the airplane factory, and a chase ends atop the Statue of Liberty, with Fry literally hanging by a thread from liberty’s torch.
Overall, this is a very entertaining film; the action maintains a steady pace as the setting moves from one location to another. The performances of the leads are a bit uneven. There is a reason that Hitchcock loved to cast stars in his leading roles: they were generally very good at what they did, and they had an easy time holding the audience’s attention. Neither Robert Cummings nor Priscilla Lane was an A-list actor, and they were both known for more lighthearted material. Their performances are not bad, but their golly-gee style of delivering dialogue, while very much in vogue in the 40’s, seems somewhat dated today. Contrast this with the performance of Otto Kruger, the mastermind of the saboteurs, whose characterization seems very real even by today’s standards.
It is the very lack of star power that has kept this film from getting greater recognition. It is a hidden Hitchcock gem, well worth viewing for casual fans, and a deeper exploration by Hitchcock scholars.
Writing: The screenplay is of paramount importance in any discussion of this movie, which came out at a time when many of America’s great writers were trying their hand at penning a Hollywood screenplay or treatment. Everyone from Raymond Chandler to William Faulkner to Aldous Huxley gave it a try. And Hitchcock himself collaborated with Robert Benchley, Thornton Wilder, John Steinbeck, and in the case of this film Dorothy Parker.
This screenplay, along with Thornton Wilder’s for Shadow of a Doubt, are the most literary of all Alfred Hitchcock’s movies. Dorothy Parker’s influence can be felt throughout this screenplay. First of all in the sequence with the blind man, which clearly was inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and is written and acted superbly. Such warm, tender and likeable characters are seldom found in a suspense film. There is also a fine sequence that takes place in a circus caravan, in a bus filled with circus freaks.Our starring couple find themselves surrounded by Siamese twins, a bearded lady and several other strange characters, and the dialogue manages to combine warmth, comedy and suspense, all wrapped in a World War II allegory. (More about the war in a moment.) Later the film features one of the most head-scratchingly bizarre monologues in the entire Hitchcock canon, which is almost surely Dorothy Parker’s writing. This is the moment when the saboteur Mr. Freeman, apropos of nothing, states to Barry Kane that he wishes his boy children were girls, and proceeds to describe how as a child, he had long golden locks that people would stop to gaze at! A very creepy moment indeed.
There are even more subtle moments that show Parker’s fine touch, such as the billboards Barry Kane passes in his travels, each one with a message that has a deeper significance to him: “You’re being followed”, “She’ll never let you down”, and “the final tribute.” There is also a scene that takes place in the library of the Sutton mansion, in which the visible book titles are carefully chosen; beyond the ones pointed out by Barry Kane (Escape), and Charles Tobin (Death of a Nobody), some of the other visible titles could relate to the plot of the movie. There is also a great self-referential moment in the screenplay. When Barry and Pat are dancing in the ballroom, Pat says that she wishes she had met him somewhere else, like the North Pole, and Barry replies “We might end up there yet, too”, a nod to the continually changing locations in the film. And finally, the sequence in Radio City Music Hall features a film within a film, which has dialogue that works for both the onscreen and off-screen characters in the theater.
Propaganda: This film was released in 1942, and its subject matter was used as a form of propaganda to arouse American sympathies for the European cause against the Nazis. There are two monologues in particular that are being addressed directly to the movie-going public. Hitchcock had done the same thing in his earlier film Foreign Correspondent.
Guilty as charged: The theme of guilt and innocence, both real and perceived, factors heavily in this movie as it does in almost all Hitchcock movies. When Barry Kane is hitching a ride with the truck driver, he is fleeing from a crime that he did not commit. And yet he does feel a level of guilt for his friend’s death. After all, he had the fire extinguisher in his hands, before he passed it off to Ken.. The rattling fire extinguisher inside the truck cab serves as a reminder. And the truck driver narrates a story where a fellow driver used an extinguisher to save his friend’s life, saying that if he didn’t have a fire extinguisher he would have seen his friend fried right before his eyes. Which is of course exactly what Barry Kane did observe. And the use of the word “fries” serves a double purpose as it reminds Barry Kane of Frank Fry, the real culprit.
Keystone cops: It’s worth pointing out that the police in almost all Hitchcock films are bunglers bordering on incompetence, who generally do arrive just in time to arrest the villain; but the villain is often caught in spite of them, not because of them. This film is no exception, although in this case the police have no plausible evidence to believe Barry Kane’s story of innocence until very late in the film.
Where’s Hitch? Alfred Hitchcock’s original cameo in this movie was rejected by the censors. It featured him walking down the street with a young lady, talking to her in sign language. After a couple of seconds, the young lady looks indignantly at him and slaps him on the face. This was considered a misrepresentation of deaf people, and was cut, the footage long since lost. Quite a pity, because as a result of this Hitchcock just threw in another cameo, almost as an afterthought. It occurs at about 1:04:33, with Hitch as a patron in front of the Cut Rate Drug store. It is one of the least noticeable and most forgettable of all Hitchcock cameos.
Recurring players: Robert Cummings would also appear as Grace Kelly’s love interest in Dial M for Murder. Ian Wolfe, who played Robert the Butler, played a very similar character in Foreign Correspondent. Charles Halton (the uncredited second sheriff) and Emory Parnell (the husband in the film within a film) also appeared in Foreign Correspondentand Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Vaughan Glaser (the charming blind man) appears in one scene in Shadow of a Doubt, in a non-speaking and uncredited role. Murray Alper (the truck driver) has very small uncredited parts in Strangers on a Train and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Frances Carson also appears in Foreign Correspondent and Shadow of a Doubt. Al Bridge and Charles Sherlock also appear in Strangers on a Train. Dale Van Sickel and Harry Strang were also in North by Northwest. Ralph Brooks, Ralph Dunn, James Flavin, Jack Gardner and Sayre Dearing were also extras in Mr. and Mrs. Smith.Art Gilmore, the voice of the radio broadcaster, also lent his voice to RearWindow and the trailer of To Catch a Thief. Alexander Lockwood was also in North by Northwestand Family Plot. Jeffrey Sayre is in Notorious, Vertigoand North by Northwest. Sam Harris was an extra in Foreign Correspondent, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, The Paradine Case and Dial M For Murder. Henry Norton and George Offerman, Jr. were also in Foreign Correspondent. Frank Marlowe was also in Notoriousand North by Northwest.And Norman Lloyd would later play the psychiatric patient Garmes in Spellbound.
Hitchcock moments: Hitchcock was a master technician, and most of his films contain scenes that are memorable for the groundbreaking storytelling techniques employed. In this film the standout scene is the climax atop the Statue of Liberty. This scene employs live action shots, small scale reproduction, matte painting, and black screen (the b&w precursor to today’s green screen), all put together in a way that holds up very well after nearly 70 years.
What Hitch said: In the Truffaut interviews, Hitchcock spoke of his displeasure with the leading actors in this film, with the exception of Norman Lloyd as Fry. His final analysis is that “…the script lacks discipline. I don’t think I exercised a clear, sharp approach to the original construction of the screenplay…I feel the whole thing should have been pruned and tightly edited long before the actual shooting.” – Truffaut – Hitchcock, p. 151, 1983.
Definitive edition: Universal’s 2012 blu-ray release (which can be purchased as a stand-alone or as part of the Masterpiece Collection box set), is far and away the best quality edition of this movie on the market. For a movie that is over 70 years old, in standard format, the picture quality is astonishing. There is amazing clarity and depth of focus, so it is definitely worth an upgrade if you own the DVD. The sound is 2-channel mono, and sounds as good as it ever has for home video. Extras include a 35 minute making-of documentary, which features interviews with Norman Lloyd and production designer Robert Boyle. Also included are storyboards, a photo gallery, and the original theatrical trailer.