• Paradine Case, The



    Released by: Kino Lorber
    Released on: May 30th, 2017.
    Director: Alfred Hitchcock
    Cast: Gregory Peck, Alida Valli, Charles Laughton, Charles Coburn, Ethel Barrymore, Ann Todd, Louis Jordan, Leo G. Carroll
    Year: 1947
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    The Movie:

    Alfred Hitchcock’s The Paradine Case, based on the novel of the same name by Robert Hitchens, begins when a beautiful woman named Maddalena Anna Paradine (Alida Valli) is accused and then charged with poisoning her affluent husband. Wanting to clear her name, she hires a London based attorney named Anthony Keane (Gregory Peck) to serve as her defense.

    As Keane gets to work and starts going over the details of the events, he can’t help but start to fall for his beautiful new client, now taken from her luxurious home and held in a dank prison cell. How unfortunate for him that he’s married to Gay (Ann Todd), a woman who clearly knows her husband well enough to suspect that something is amiss in their relationship. Clearly quite conflicted, Keane soon becomes obsessed with Maddalena, letting his emotions get the better of him and putting not just his marriage in jeopardy, but his career as well. Things become even more complicated when Keane decides they need to bring in Paradine’s lover Andre Latour (Louis Jourdan). Keane’s hope is to use him to help clear her name and make him take the fall for the killing.

    Cut by producer David O. Selznick to its current 114 minute length from Hitchcock’s original cut that reportedly ran almost three hours, The Paradine Case still suffers from some pacing problems, particularly in its last third where the courtroom proceedings get underway. That’s not the say that the film is boring, because it’s not, but some tighter editing still could have gone a long way towards making this one work better than it does. Having said that, getting to see someone like Gregory Peck play the lead for one of the finest directors in the history of cinema is reason enough to seek this out, even if you’re not a Hitchcock devotee. The fact that the film has a really strong supporting cast doesn’t hurt things either. Charles Laughton (as a decidedly unpleasant judge), Charles Coburn and Ethel Barrymore all have decent roles here and manage to make the most of their screen time. Ann Todd is also great here, crafting her character into one worthy of both our sympathy and admiration.

    And then there’s Alida Valli in a role originally intended for Greta Garbo. Valli would also famously play the lead in The Third Man only two years later but who will no doubt be extremely familiar to readers of this site for her performance as Miss Tanner in Dario Argento’s classic Suspiria. Valli is excellent in this film, her dark, striking features really letting you understand just why Peck’s character would fall for her the way he does. More than just a pretty face, she plays her part with a distinctly suspicious tone, making us consistently question her guilt right from the start.

    For a movie that is essentially a courtroom drama/thriller, The Paradine Case is quite well shot. There’s some memorable imagery here when Valli’s character is locked away in her cell but even the courtroom scenes are visually impressive. The cinematography from Lee Garmes , who also shot the original Scarface and Gone With The Wind, occasionally steals the spotlight from the cast. Also adding to the film’s appeal is a solid score from Franz Waxman, who some may recall scored Bride Of Frankenstein and who would later score Rear Window, again for Hitchcock.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The Paradine Case arrives on Blu-ray from Kino on a 50GB disc (though the transfer only takes up 23Gbs of space) framed properly in 1.33.1 in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentation. Generally speaking, this transfer is very good. There's excellent detail evident throughout, solid blacks, clean whites and good greyscale. Contrast looks good, there's nice texture and depth to the image and there's no evidence of any noise reduction or edge enhancement. This is a fairly clean, film-like transfer that offers a substantial upgrade over the previous DVD that was released years back by Anchor Bay. There is some minor print damage here and there, mostly just small specks and what not, but otherwise the image quality here is strong.

    The sole audio option on this disc is an English language 2.0 DTS-HD Mono track that sounds just fine. Optional subtitles are provided in English. Dialogue is clean, clear and properly balanced while the score and sound effects used in the film come through with good clarity.

    Carried over from the previous DVD release is an audio commentary by Film Historians Stephen Rebello and Bill Krohn. This well researched discussion covers a lot of ground, offering up welcome details on how the various cast members came to perform in the film, Hithcock’s directing style, how this film compares to other pictures that he would make before and after, the score, the cinematography and plenty more.

    From there we move on to a few featurettes, the first of which is Hitchcock/Truffaut: Icon Interviews Icon, a thirteen minute audio interview in which the two storied filmmakers talk about the making of The Paradine Case. This is complimented nicely by is a Hitchcock / Truffaut Interview that runs just roughly thirteen minutes, also an audio recording. The conversation between the two filmmakers is great, with Hitchcock talking up the film's initial reception and sharing some interesting stories about working with the different cast members that populate this picture. Also included here is a nine minute long interview with Cecilia and Carey Peck in which Gregory Peck’s two daughters discuss their father’s career and his work in this picture.

    Kino has also seen fit to include the 1949 radio play version of The Paradine Case starring Joseph Cotton. This fifty-seven minute audio recording basically follows the same story but without the added advantage of the visuals that the movie offers, the performers have to approach the material differently. This is quite interesting and worth checking out if you’ve got an interest in the material.

    Rounding out the extras is a ninety second restoration comparison, and isolated music and effects track, the film’s original theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection. Kino has also provided some nice reversible cover sleeve art for this release.

    The Final Word:

    The Paradine Case loses a bit of steam towards the end but it’s still a solid thriller made by a master director with an excellent cast. Kino’s Blu-ray presents the picture in very nice shape and with plenty of strong supplements to accompany it.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!