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Of the movies that director Alfred Hitchcock made for producer David O. Selznick, THE PARADINE CASE ($25) had the most troubled production and a reputation of being a rather mediocre film. While THE PARADINE CASE does have its weaknesses, namely its screenplay, Hitchcock's visual mastery is ever present, which makes the film very intriguing to watch. In addition, THE PARADINE CASE features a stellar cast, all of whom turn in first-rate performances that rise above the script's shortcomings. Finally, there is the sumptuous production and exquisite black and white cinematography that make THE PARADINE CASE a visual treat for film buffs.

THE PARADINE CASE stars Gregory Peck as noted defense attorney Anthony Keane, who is asked to take on a rather high profile case by his friend Sir Simon Flaquer (Charles Coburn). The defendant is Maddalena Paradine (Alida Valli), a woman who is accused of murdering her rich husband. Although Mrs. Paradine claims she is innocent, all of the evidence seems to indicate her guilt. Of course, Keane takes on the case, but finds defending Mrs. Paradine more difficult than he expected, especially when she begins placing obstacles in his path. When Keane become obsessed with proving Mrs. Paradine's innocence, the strain of the case begins to take its toll on Keane's marriage, causing his wife Gay (Ann Todd) to suspect that he has fallen in love with his beautiful client. There is a tinge too much soap opera in the screenplay for THE PARADINE CASE, which at times bogs the film down. All of the suspenseful sequences involving the investigation and the trial work much better, because they showcase Hitchcock's strengths as a director. The cast of THE PARADINE CASE also features Charles Laughton, Ethel Barrymore, Louis Jourdan, Leo G. Carroll, Joan Tetzel, Isobel Elsom and John Williams.

Anchor Bay Entertainment has made THE PARADINE CASE available in a terrific looking black and white presentation. Predating wide screen, THE PARADINE CASE is properly framed, so that the image fills a 1.33:1 display. The transfer is very sharp and highly detailed, which shows off the beauty of Lee Garmes glossy, glamorous cinematography. Watching something as beautiful as THE PARADINE CASE makes one long for the return of black and white movies. The backs are ever so deep and velvety, plus the whites are pure and totally stable. Contrast is rich and the image produces many wonderful subtle shades of gray. The film element used for the transfer is in excellent shape, displaying relatively minor blemishes at reel changes. Film grain is hardly ever noticeable. Digital compression artifacts are well concealed throughout the presentation.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is free from any form of noticeable distortions and is very nicely recorded for a film released in 1947. Dialogue reproduction is crisp and completely intelligible. As expected, music fidelity is somewhat limited, but the track is well worth amplifying for Franz Waxman's haunting score, which still manages to sound rather good. The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection feature.

THE PARADINE CASE is not a great Hitchcock film, but it is a very well made movie the benefits from the touch of "the Master of Suspense." Anchor Bay's DVD looks and sounds great for a film of this vintage and is well worth checking out by Hitchcock fans and movie buffs in general.


 The Paradine Case



DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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