Hitchcock’s departure for Hollywood in 1939, seen at first as temporary, soon turned out to be permanent. Stage Fright is the only subsequent feature that he both set and shot in England, apart from Frenzy in 1972.
Yet another ‘wrong man’ narrative but with a dramatic sting in the tail, it has an altogether different tone and atmosphere from the more rooted films of the 1930s; neither the plot nor the performances (notably that of Jane Wyman from Hollywood) seem fully worked out.
Compensations include a bold early flashback – subject of much critical debate – and an elaborate structure of parent-child relationships. Appropriately, it was something of a family film: Hitchcock’s wife Alma Reville has her final screen credit for script collaboration, and their daughter Pat plays a small but significant role.
Screening as part of The Genius of Hitchcock: Part One (December 9th – 30th).