Orson Welles’s movies have thus far failed to hold me spellbound (yes, that includes Citizen Kane), even if I might occasionally be lulled into temporary hypnosis by their technical wizardry. And I find that The Stranger fails at delivering even such ephemeral thrills, let alone any insight into the human condition. Surprisingly, the film sports comparatively little of the celebrated wunderkind’s characteristic emphasis on style.
Although perhaps not as well-remembered as Rear Window, Vertigo, North by Northwest, or Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious is one of his most brilliant films, presaging the director’s immediately recognizable visual style that would flourish in the 1950s. Interestingly, it is also one of the earlier films in which Hitch employs a romance as bait to lure audiences in with his characteristic irony.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat may begin with a torpedic blast, but it rapidly enters a maelstrom of sanctimony, dime-store impromptu romances, and heavy-handed propagandizing. It’s hard to believe that this rudderless tale about the sinking of an Allied freighter by a German U-boat during World War II was helmed by the same “master of suspense” who produced the gripping small-town drama Shadow of a Doubt only a year earlier.