#19 Lifeboat

July 22, 2016

 

To make a compelling film in which the entire plot is restrained to a single environment is a tall order in itself, yet when the backdrop is a single lifeboat in the ocean that becomes ever more burdensome. Add to the fact that the film is in black and white I’d assume most directors would pass on this opportunity, however this is in fact where Hitchcock flourishes. With only vibrant characters and rich dialogue to work with, this is indeed where Hitchcock flexes his muscles in a way that truly separates him from his contemporaries. Although the director is the star of the film, the actors compliment the script well as they truly capture the distress and anxiety that would come from being stranded on a lifeboat - without any food, water, or compass to tell them where they're going or who they can trust.

 

World War II provides the framework to the plot which is aided by a nice curveball in which a lone German has to repeatedly proclaim that he’s a companion and not an enemy. Hitchcock was once again masterful in this regard by not allowing the audience to know too soon on whether or not the German could be trusted. A memorable scene includes an amputation preceded by a rather unconventional but still very passionate kiss, perhaps my favorite kiss from all Hitchcock films, which remarkably does not entail any romance whatsoever. In any case this was a trailblazing film from the standpoint that it gave Hitchcock a foundation on how to direct using a “limited-setting,” a format he would further master in films like Rope and Dial M For Murder.

 

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