"Hitchcock conjures a deep-rooted, irony-rich complicity of father and daughter that seems borrowed from the films of Howard Hawks and suggests the inner compass that helps to guard against chasing the wrong man."
"Wyman is delightful as embryo actress but the choice femme spot goes to Dietrich."
"Hitchcock seems to be exploring the ways in which various falsehoods -- the falsehoods of acting, storytelling, and art in general -- can lead to the truth."
Alfred Hitchcock’s STAGE FRIGHT is one of his notoriously under-appreciated films and marks his brief return to the United Kingdom. The film is unique in that it both features a strong female protagonist as well as the Hitchcock blonde divided into two performances by Jane Wyman and Marlene Dietrich respectively. It is a mystery-thriller with all of Hitchcock’s best signatures, including a dark sense of humor, throughout.
Eve, played by Wyman, attempts to exonerate her love interest, Jonathan, from a murder charge. The dead man is the husband of star Charlotte Inwood, played by Dietrich, who happens to have been having an affair with Jonathan. Eve attempts to expose Charlotte as the true criminal by impersonating a maid and leading her own investigation counter that of the police. By casting both a woman as the investigator and a woman as the object of investigation, Hitchcock playfully explores the motif of women watching women. This intriguing premise opens the film up to queer desire through erotic glances as well as the threat of merging identities between detective and criminal. If that was not queer enough for you, the film also features a musical number by Dietrich, a bisexual icon, singing an original Cole Porter song (and lots of custom Dior outfits on Dietrich to boot).
After the film, Miami’s Patent Pending will channel the classical Hollywood glamour of Dietrich in a special performance inspired by it.
STAGE FRIGHT is part of the QUEER FEAR: FOUR BY HITCHCOCK series this October at the Bill Cosford Cinema. Other films include REBECCA (1940) on October 7, ROPE (1948) on October 14, and PSYCHO (1960) on October 28. All screenings are at 8PM, free, and open to the public.
Flaming Classics is made possible by the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the City of Coral Gables, Coral Gables Community Foundation, the Florida Humanities Council, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, the Norton Herrick Center for Motion Picture Studies, and patrons of the series.