The Paradine Case offers two hours and 11 minutes of high dramatics.

Plot concerns murder of a blind man by his wife so she can marry her lover. Her attorney, believing in her not guilty plea, fights for her life. Himself infatuated with his client, the barrister plots and schemes to defeat justice but as dramatic events are brought out the truth is revealed. There are no flashback devices to clutter the trial and the audience gradually is let in on the facts as is the court as the hearing proceeds and emotions take hold. Charles Laughton gives a revealing portrait of a gross, lustful nobleman who presides at the trial.

Alfred Hitchcock’s penchant for suspense, unusual atmosphere and development get full play. There is a deliberateness of pace, artful pauses and other carefully calculated melodramatic hinges upon which he swings the story and players. Selznick wrote the screenplay, adapted from the Robert Hichens novel by Alma Reville and James Bridie. It is a job that puts much emphasis on dialog and it’s talk that punches. A very mobile camera helps give a feeling of movement to majority of scenes confined to the British courtroom as Hitchcock goes into the unfoldment of the highly dramatic murder trial.

Gregory Peck’s stature as a performer of ability stands him in good stead among the extremely tough competition. As the barrister who defends Alida Valli, charged with the murder of her husband, he answers every demand of a demanding role. Ann Todd delights as his wife, giving the assignment a grace and understanding that tug at the emotions.

1947: Nomination: Best Supp. Actress (Ethel Barrymore)

The Paradine Case

  • Production: RKO/Selznick. Director Alfred Hitchcock; Producer David O. Selznick; Screenplay David O. Selznick; Camera Lee Garmes; Editor Hal C. Kern; Music Franz Waxman; Art Director J. McMillan Johnson
  • Crew: (B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1947. Running time: 131 MIN.
  • With: Gregory Peck Ann Todd Charles Laughton Charles Coburn Louis Jourdan Alida Valli