The Paradine Case (1948)

129-132 mins | Drama | January 1948

Director:

Alfred Hitchcock

Cinematographer:

Lee Garmes

Production Designer:

J. McMillan Johnson

Production Company:

Vanguard Films, Inc.
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HISTORY

The film's opening title card reads: "David O. Selznick presents his production of Alfred Hitchcock's The Paradine Case ." According to news items in FD , Selznick purchased the rights to Robert Hichens' unpublished novel in 1933, when he was at M-G-M. Howard Estabrook was assigned to write the screenplay, and an 18 Aug 1933 HR news item reported that John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore and Diana Wynyard would star. Selznick originally bought the story with Greta Garbo in mind, and an early treatment by Hichens, contained in the file on the film in the MPPA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, reveals that Garbo was the author's inspiration for the character of "Mrs. Paradine." However, as Selznick wrote in an unrelated 1946 memo, reproduced in a modern source, "Unfortunately, Miss Garbo has always had an aversion to the story and even today won't play it."
       M-G-M first submitted a draft of the screenplay to the PCA in 1935, but was warned that the story was unlikely to be approved because the leading character was an adulteress and a murderess who used perjured testimony to win an acquittal and later commited suicide. The PCA also objected to the characterization of the presiding judge as a sadist who enjoyed sentencing people to death. M-G-M agreed to write a new treatment, but the studio did not submit another draft to the PCA until Nov 1942, when approval was granted. In Aug 1946, Selznick submitted a new draft, and shortly thereafter, the suicide was eliminated from the plot.
       In a modern interview with François Truffaut, Hitchcock stated that he and his wife, Alma Reville, wrote the first ... More Less

The film's opening title card reads: "David O. Selznick presents his production of Alfred Hitchcock's The Paradine Case ." According to news items in FD , Selznick purchased the rights to Robert Hichens' unpublished novel in 1933, when he was at M-G-M. Howard Estabrook was assigned to write the screenplay, and an 18 Aug 1933 HR news item reported that John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore and Diana Wynyard would star. Selznick originally bought the story with Greta Garbo in mind, and an early treatment by Hichens, contained in the file on the film in the MPPA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, reveals that Garbo was the author's inspiration for the character of "Mrs. Paradine." However, as Selznick wrote in an unrelated 1946 memo, reproduced in a modern source, "Unfortunately, Miss Garbo has always had an aversion to the story and even today won't play it."
       M-G-M first submitted a draft of the screenplay to the PCA in 1935, but was warned that the story was unlikely to be approved because the leading character was an adulteress and a murderess who used perjured testimony to win an acquittal and later commited suicide. The PCA also objected to the characterization of the presiding judge as a sadist who enjoyed sentencing people to death. M-G-M agreed to write a new treatment, but the studio did not submit another draft to the PCA until Nov 1942, when approval was granted. In Aug 1946, Selznick submitted a new draft, and shortly thereafter, the suicide was eliminated from the plot.
       In a modern interview with François Truffaut, Hitchcock stated that he and his wife, Alma Reville, wrote the first draft of the screenplay, and that he then brought in Scottish playwright James Bridie to polish it. However, Hitchcock recalled, "Selznick wanted to do the adaptation himself; that's the way he did things in those days. He would write a scene and send it down to the set every other day--a very poor method of work." Although only Selznick and Reville receive onscreen writing credits, SAB and the Var and HR reviews credit both Bridie and Reville with the adaptation. On an additional dialogue submission to the PCA in Dec 1946, the credits read: "screenplay by James Bridie, adaptation by Alma Reville, additional dialogue by Ben Hecht."
       In late Feb 1946, HR announced that Hitchcock would direct The Paradine Case , and that Laurence Olivier would star. Modern sources report that the following actors were considered for leading roles: Maurice Evans, Joseph Cotten, Alan Marshal, James Mason and Ronald Colman for "Anthony Keane"; Ingrid Bergman and Hedy Lamarr for Mrs. Paradine; Claude Rains for "Lord Thomas Horfield"; and Robert Newton for Mrs. Paradine's lover. Contemporary sources add the following actors to the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed: Carl Harbord, Colin Keith-Johnston, Lumsden Hare, Rose McQuoid, Elspeth Dudgeon, Gilbert Allen, Harry Hayden, Edgar Norton, James Fairfax, George Pelling and Alec Harford. Hitchcock makes his customary cameo in the film by appearing as a man carrying a cello at the railway station.
       Studio press materials in the file on the film at the AMPAS Library add the following information: The set used for the courtroom scenes was "an exact reproduction" of London's central criminal court, known as the Old Bailey. Unit manager Fred Ahern was permitted to observe courtroom procedure and take photographs inside the building. The replica cost $80,000 and took eighty-five days to build. Unlike most film sets, the Old Bailey set was constructed with ceilings to accommodate the many low camera angles. According to press releases, The Paradine Case , which was filmed on three sound stages at the Selznick lot in Culver City, was the first picture in Selznick's career [as an independent producer] that did not require some sort of location shooting. A 4 Jan 1948 HCN news item cited Hitchcock's "new film technique," in which four cameras--each trained on one of the principal actors--were used simultaneously to shoot the courtroom sequence. A Feb 1947 HR news item noted that while multiple camera photography had been used before, all the cameras had previously been trained on the same subject.
       Following the film's premiere in late Dec 1947, trade paper reviews listed the running time as 129-132 minutes, but Selznick decided to trim the film before its general release. The viewed print ran 114 minutes. In what the LAT called "something absolutely new in inauguratory film events," the film opened simultaneously at two theaters that were across the street from each other in Westwood Village. A 17 Mar 1948 Var news item reported that, after opening the film in Los Angeles, New York and Miami Beach, Selznick pulled the film from distribution while he devoted all his energy to the opening of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (see above). He also wanted to benefit from the exposure Valli was receiving for her second U.S. film, The Miracle of the Bells (see above). When the film opened in London in Jan 1949, News Review criticized the "indiscriminate hold-ups in the showing of American films in Britain," blaming the Rank Organisation's domination of the British film circuits and the stiff forty-five percent quota in favor of British films required by the Board of Trade.
       Ethel Barrymore was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, but lost to Celeste Holm in Gentleman's Agreement . The Paradine Case marked the American film debuts of Italian actress Valli (1921--2006) and French actor Louis Jourdan (1919--), and was Hitchcock's last film under his contract with Selznick. An adaptation of the film was broadcast on Lux Radio Theatre on 9 May 1949 and starred Joseph Cotton, Valli and Jourdan. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
3 Jan 1948.
---
Film Daily
6 Sep 33
p. 11.
Film Daily
5 Jan 1948.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Feb 46
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Mar 46
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 46
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Nov 46
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Nov 46
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Dec 46
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Dec 46
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Dec 46
p. 30.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Dec 46
p. 1, 6
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jan 47
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jan 47
p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jan 47
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jan 47
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jan 47
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jan 47
p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jan 47
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Feb 47
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 47
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Feb 47
p. 12
Hollywood Reporter
18 Feb 47
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Feb 47
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Mar 47
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Mar 47
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
Dec 30 1947
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jan 48
p. 6, 13
Independent Film Journal
18 Jan 47
p. 45.
Life
19 Jan 48
pp. 65-68.
Look
20 Jan 48
pp. 88-90.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
3 Jan 48
p. 4001.
New York Times
9 Jan 48
p. 26.
Variety
31 Dec 47
p. 10.
Variety
17 Mar 48
p. 4.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Addl dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Supv film ed
Assoc
SET DECORATORS
Interiors
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward dir
MUSIC
Supv of piano seq
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Makeup
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
Scenario asst
Unit mgr
Prod mgr
Tech adv
Scr supv
Dial and voice coach for Valli and Jourdan
Dir of pub
Painter of Valli's portrait
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Paradine Case by Robert Smythe Hichens (New York, 1933).
DETAILS
Release Date:
January 1948
Premiere Information:
World Premiere: 29 December 1947 in Los Angeles
Production Date:
mid December 1946--early April 1947
retakes November 1947
Copyright Claimant:
Vanguard Films, Inc.
Copyright Date:
27 December 1947
Copyright Number:
LP1489
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
129-132
Length(in feet):
11,853
Length(in reels):
14
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
12320
SYNOPSIS

In London, in 1946, after Maddalena Anna Paradine is arrested for poisoning her blind husband, Colonel Richard Paradine, the family solicitor, Sir Simon Flaquer, arranges for her to be defended by Tony Keane, whose wife Gay thinks that Mrs. Paradine is probably innocent. When Simon and Tony visit Mrs. Paradine in Holloway prison, she tells them that she is concerned that people will think that she married a helpless blind man so that she could kill him for his money. However, Tony impresses upon her to believe that she had made a considerable sacrifice in marrying Richard. Later, Tony and Gay attend a dinner party at the home of the presiding judge in the Paradine case, Lord Thomas Horfield, and the judge offends Gay with his lecherous behavior. Tony begins preparing his defense, and Mrs. Paradine reluctantly admits that she had been involved with several men before her marriage, but says that her husband knew all about her past. When Tony and Flaquer discuss whether to present the argument that Richard committed suicide, possibly assisted by his valet, André Latour, Flaquer is unimpressed by Tony's reasoning and feels that their client may well be guilty. Tony, however, passionately defends her and is overheard by Gay. Later, when Tony asks Mrs. Paradine about Latour, she protects him as if he might be her lover. Gay confronts Tony with her suspicions that he is becoming infatuated with Mrs. Paradine, but after he offers to give up the case and take her to Switzerland, she confidently insists that he continue. Tony decides to do some investigating at the Paradine country home, Hindley Hall, in Cumberland and takes a room at a ... +


In London, in 1946, after Maddalena Anna Paradine is arrested for poisoning her blind husband, Colonel Richard Paradine, the family solicitor, Sir Simon Flaquer, arranges for her to be defended by Tony Keane, whose wife Gay thinks that Mrs. Paradine is probably innocent. When Simon and Tony visit Mrs. Paradine in Holloway prison, she tells them that she is concerned that people will think that she married a helpless blind man so that she could kill him for his money. However, Tony impresses upon her to believe that she had made a considerable sacrifice in marrying Richard. Later, Tony and Gay attend a dinner party at the home of the presiding judge in the Paradine case, Lord Thomas Horfield, and the judge offends Gay with his lecherous behavior. Tony begins preparing his defense, and Mrs. Paradine reluctantly admits that she had been involved with several men before her marriage, but says that her husband knew all about her past. When Tony and Flaquer discuss whether to present the argument that Richard committed suicide, possibly assisted by his valet, André Latour, Flaquer is unimpressed by Tony's reasoning and feels that their client may well be guilty. Tony, however, passionately defends her and is overheard by Gay. Later, when Tony asks Mrs. Paradine about Latour, she protects him as if he might be her lover. Gay confronts Tony with her suspicions that he is becoming infatuated with Mrs. Paradine, but after he offers to give up the case and take her to Switzerland, she confidently insists that he continue. Tony decides to do some investigating at the Paradine country home, Hindley Hall, in Cumberland and takes a room at a local hotel. Latour greets him at the house and allows him to wander around, accompanied by the housekeeper. That evening Latour visits Tony to tell him that he was not involved with Mrs. Paradine and describes her as an evil woman. Disturbed by his words, Tony asks Latour to leave. Back in London, when Tony tells Mrs. Paradine of Latour's accusation and suggests that they were lovers, she asks Tony to remove himself from the case, but, after he apologizes, agrees that he can continue. After Sir Simon's daughter Judy, who is Gay's best friend, asks her about the rumors regarding Tony being in love with Mrs. Paradine, Gay tells Tony that she does not want to lose him and that she wants Mrs. Paradine to be found innocent for, if she were executed, Tony would imagine her as a great lost love. When the trial starts at the Old Bailey court, the Crown's prosecutor, Sir Joseph Farrell, portrays Richard as a true gentleman and establishes that Latour had been his devoted manservant before and during the war, and had won a medal for gallantry. After stating that the colonel was the best man he ever knew, Latour testifies that Mrs. Paradine had lied to the colonel that he, Latour, intended to leave, causing the colonel to become very upset with him. Although Tony proves that Latour had put the colonel's old dog to death with poison, Latour denies any involvement in his employer's death. During a recess Mrs. Paradine tells Tony that she will not forgive him for accusing Latour of murder and states that she wishes to be found innocent, but not at the cost of Latour being destroyed. When Tony admits to having romantic feelings for her, she asserts that their relationship is only one of client and lawyer. After the prosecution establishes that Latour and Mrs. Paradine had, in fact, engaged in an adulterous relationship, Tony puts her in the witness box. She states that she asked her husband to find another position for Latour, as he had been taking liberties with her and had tried to make love to her. When Mrs. Paradine then implicates herself in her husband's death, Tony requests a recess until the next morning. That evening, Judy tells Tony that she feels that Mrs. Paradine will be found guilty and that his career will be over. The next day, as the prosecutor interrogates Mrs. Paradine, word comes that Latour has committed suicide, whereupon a devastated Mrs. Paradine admits that she killed her husband as she had wanted to go away with Latour, insisting that he was not involved in the murder but had guessed that she was responsible. Mrs. Paradine angrily denounces Tony from the the witness stand, accusing him of causing Latour's death. Tony humbly confesses to errors of judgment he has made in conducting her defense and, after imploring the jury not to hold his "incompetence" against Mrs. Paradine, asks to be excused from the case. Tony then returns to the forgiving Gay, while Mrs. Paradine faces execution by hanging. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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