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In and Around The Paradine Case:
Control, Confession and the Claims of Marriage

Douglas Pye

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1. Donald Spoto, The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock (New York: Ballantine, 1983) p. 294.   The Paradine Case (1948) was the last film Alfred Hitchcock directed under his contract with David O. Selznick. It was, as Donald Spoto puts it, ‘a pet project for Selznick’ (1) who had been planning to make it since the publication of Robert Hitchens’ novel in 1933. Spoto describes a bleak and tension-riven production process:  


2. Spoto p. 294.

  From the start the project was in disarray, and it engaged no-one’s interest very passionately. That it was finished at all was little short of miraculous, for it was certainly a lame-duck enterprise, a work assigned to a departing director by his increasingly neurotic and un-self-confident producer. (2)  



3. Spoto p. 295.

4. Spoto p. 297.

  We know that Selznick determined the major casting, ordered many retakes, overruled Hitchcock’s intention to shoot extensively in long takes and re-edited after previews, so that conflicts of intention are built into the fabric of the film. Problems with the script also contributed to the fraught production experience, with Selznick himself taking over the writing of it and re-writing it as production proceeded. Hitchcock’s lack of interest in The Paradine Case, Spoto reports, ‘was ... an open secret ...’ (3) the only thing that significantly engaged him was ‘the technical challenges he set for himself – four cameras would simultaneously film the courtroom scenes so that the emotional exchanges between the actors could be maintained in simultaneous takes’. (4)  



While Hitchcock worked out his contract for Selznick under these apparently uncomfortable conditions he was also planning a new start. For the previous few years Hitchcock and Sidney Bernstein had been working towards the establishment of a production company, Transatlantic Pictures, which would give Hitchcock a base for his own projects, free of the constraints of his Selznick contract. The first film planned by the company, which was finally established in 1947, was Under Capricorn (1949), an adaptation of the novel by Helen Simpson. As it turned out, problems over the availability of Ingrid Bergman led to its postponement and Rope (1948) became Transatlantic Pictures’ first production, but Under Capricorn was already very much in Hitchcock’s mind during the run-up to and production of The Paradine Case.

One might expect from this context – with Hitchcock planning his first independent production while working on a film which was very much Selznick’s baby – that The Paradine Case and Under Capricorn would be sharply differentiated projects. One of the surprising things about this significant moment in Hitchcock’s career is that the reverse turns out to be the case. The two films are, in fact, remarkably similar in a number of ways – their parallels suggesting that Hitchcock’s lack of interest in The Paradine Case may well have been exaggerated and that it offered possibilities to which he could strongly respond. Taken together, and related to earlier and later aspects of Hitchcock’s career, the two films are fascinating for the evidence they provide of Hitchcock’s evolving attempts to synthesise issues and methods of story telling which became central to his American work.

The Paradine Case and Under Capricorn 1: Setting

Although their historical and geographical settings are markedly different (Australia in the 1830s in Under Capricorn and post-war London in The Paradine Case), each is emphatically British – the colonial setting of Under Capricorn serving to emphasise the contradictions of British social hierarchies. The cultural setting in each case enables Hitchcock to foreground the enormous power of patriarchal institutions and of class categories.

The Paradine Case 1: The World of The Paradine Case

The world created is rigidly stratified, its characters held in a straitjacket of social conformity which is intensified by law forming the dominant professional framework of the film. The film takes place in England ‘in the recent past’ – the period signified most clearly by the bomb damaged Central Criminal Court building which is shown several times in the second half of the film. But the social setting is the apparently unchanging world of the British upper classes and the higher echelons of the legal profession, each dominated by precedent and tradition, so that bomb damage is a convenient contemporary metaphor for forces that threaten the well-regulated social world.

The nature of that world is established very clearly in the first and third sequences which carefully parallel the London houses of the Paradines and the Keanes. The first, the only sequence in which we see Mrs Paradine (Alida Valli) in the social context conferred by her marriage, shows a grand house, pre-dinner drinks being served by a butler, the lady of the house, elegantly dressed for dinner, playing the piano; and the introduction to the Keanes’ house (which I will discuss in more detail later) is similar both in terms of what we see and how it is presented – exterior, a tracking shot through the hall, butler, aperitifs. The parallels establish a highly ‘civilised’ world of order and privilege which forms the containing social framework for all the major characters.

The Paradine drawing room is dominated by the portrait of Colonel Paradine, a late-middle-aged army officer in full uniform – the embodiment of traditional military authority and the power of rank and class. The film contains two parallel figures of establishment authority: Colonel Paradine, represented only by his portrait and by description in the dialogue, and the monstrous Lord Horfield (Charles Laughton) who presides over the trial (and over the film) as the embodiment of patriarchal tyranny. The grotesque portrayal of Lord Horfield is the most obvious indication of the film’s critical attitude to British social hierarchy – and one example of the melodramatic hyperbole used to express the forces within its world – but he seems intended to expose a pervasive condition. Lord Horfield is linked to Colonel Paradine in terms of their social positions, wealth and age, but also to the film’s male lead, Tony Keane (Gregory Peck) by profession and the likelihood, touched on in the final scene, that Tony will eventually become a judge.

The other striking detail in the opening scene is the reference to the Colonel’s blindness, which qualifies the portrait’s initial connotations with implications of helplessness and has the potential to evoke a weakened, disabled patriarchy – or perhaps more relevant to a film in which the establishment remains overwhelmingly powerful, the idea of authority undercut by its inability to ‘see’.

Both the Paradine and Keane sequences also make marriage central to the world being evoked and the opening offers an initial version of gender roles within marriage: the husband, whose status is inscribed even in his absence by his portrait and the wealth his property denotes; the wife an appropriately accomplished and decorative adornment to her husband’s house. Again, for the film as a whole Horfield exposes what is more widely implied, the scene between the Horfields at dinner (the penultimate sequence) providing the film’s most extreme image of gender inequality in marriage and, in Lord Horfield’s total inflexibility as a judge and utter contempt for his wife (Ethel Barrymore), vividly conflating the tyranny of patriarchal authority in public and private spheres.

The Paradine Case and Under Capricorn 2: The Guilty Woman and Evolving Character Patterns

Each film centres on the story of a woman whose powerful desire for a man ‘forbidden’ to her leads her to kill another man who threatens or obstructs her love. In The Paradine Case Maddalena Paradine, married to the patrician Colonel Paradine, fell in love with his valet, Andre Latour (Louis Jourdan) and poisoned her husband in order to be with the Latour. In Under Capricorn Lady Henrietta (‘Hattie’) Considine (Ingrid Bergman) fell in love with her groom, Sam Fluskey (Joseph Cotten), eloped with him, and, when her brother caught up with them immediately after their marriage and was about to kill them both, shot him.





5. Robin Wood, Hitchcock’s Film’s Revisited (London: Faber and Faber, 1991) p. 242.

  In each case the woman’s desire was both actively expressed (she initiated the relationship) and socially deviant – in terms of class in Under Capricorn and of adultery and class in The Paradine Case. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the women are doubly deviant – for expressing desire in ways conventionally reserved for men in the societies they inhabit and for refusing to be contained by the regulating structures of class and/or marriage. As stories of ‘transgressive women’, to use Robin Wood’s phrase (5), the films develop from two of Hitchcock’s earlier films with Selznick – Rebecca (1940), in which Rebecca dominates the action but has died before the action begins; and Notorious (1946) in which Alicia (Ingrid Bergman) anchors much of our point of view.  

6. Robin Wood identifies ‘The Story About the Guilty Woman’ as one of Hitchcock’s recurrent plot formations cf Wood, 1991, p. 241 ff.






  Rebecca is a key antecedent in several respects. The major thematic and ideological tensions of the three films emerge from the threat posed to the traditional order of British society by the actions of a woman whose marriage is in each case central to the story and to the nature of her transgression. Between Rebecca and the two later films the stakes are in some respects raised as the ‘transgressive’ but non-criminal women change, with the additional motif of killing, into the ‘guilty’ women of The Paradine Case and Under Capricorn. (6). But from Rebecca to Under Capricorn the transgressive/guilty woman also comes increasingly into view and the concern with marriage evolves. Rebecca of course is never seen and the film’s centre of identification is the second Mrs de Winter. This split between the transgressive woman and a woman married to the male protagonist is continued in The Paradine Case but now both women appear while the man takes a more central position in the film’s point of view structure. Under Capricorn unites the figures of the guilty woman and the married woman, making Hattie unambiguously the centre of the movie; the male protagonist is unmarried but the film retains from The Paradine Case the motif of his obsession with the guilty woman. Seen in these ways The Paradine Case appears an interestingly transitional film, less dramatically focused than the others and containing a structure of character – a married hero between two women – to which Hitchcock never returned (Notorious centres on a married woman between two men but there the significance of marriage is crucially inflected by the spy story – Alicia marrying Alex to further investigation into the Nazi group). Unlike the other films the script set Hitchcock the problem of how to represent the two women and define the film’s point of view on each. The structure required him, through the central role of the Keanes’ marriage, to engage in an unusually extended way with the conditions under which the protagonist is able to sustain an intimate relationship with a woman, a concern which was also central to Rebecca.  



The Paradine Case 2: The Guilty Woman

Particularly important in all the ‘guilty woman’ movies is the extent to which she represents a countervailing value to the prevailing ideological context, however ambivalent the film’s overall view of her might be. This is a particularly acute question in Rebecca and The Paradine Case, in both of which one perspective offered is that the women are (or were) monstrous. As Rebecca has become an increasingly significant text in Hitchcock studies and in the understanding of Hollywood’s gothic melodramas of the 1940s it has become possible for Rebecca’s self-assertion within her marriage to be read in terms of rebellion against woman’s normative role in patriarchy and her disease and death as grotesque punishments for her threat to male control. Part of the power of Rebecca comes from the dual vision of the first Mrs DeWinter that is at the heart of the way the story is presented, the image of Rebecca as monstrous emerging only towards the end when the suppressed narrative material is revealed in Maxim’s account to his second wife of Rebecca’s life and death. In Under Capricorn, uniting the two women of the earlier films in the figure of Hattie changes the dramatic balance as well as the film’s view of the guilty woman’s transgression. Even when Hattie confesses and the suppressed story of her brother’s death is revealed, there is no sense on the film’s part that she is to be seen as monstrous. The film raises no doubts about Hattie’s claim that she killed her brother to defend Sam and herself from his murderous rage and there is no ambivalence in the film’s view of Hattie’s moral nature. The Paradine Case by contrast is structured at one level around the question of guilt or innocence and Mrs Paradine’s moral nature is precisely what is at issue. Although the film is clearly critical of the society it represents there is a major question about how Mrs Paradine is placed, and the values she embodies.

The battle over opposed images of Mrs Paradine is fought most obviously during the trial, between the prosecution’s attempt to show that she is villainous, a threat to all that is good, socially sanctioned and traditional, and Tony Keane’s insistence on her essential nobility, demonstrated by self-sacrificing devotion to her blind husband. The film places this dual vision of Mrs Paradine – articulated as conflicting stereotypes of woman – firmly within the interplay of character and argument so that we can assess (as we will see) the basis on which characters make their differing claims. This becomes particularly significant for the ways in which the film invites critical scrutiny of Tony. But, unlike Rebecca, Mrs Paradine is present in the film and the terms of her representation contribute additional perspectives to those offered by characters.

Some aspects of her representation offer a basis for a dual vision which parallels but also inflects the opposed views of prosecution and defence. The film follows the novel in making Mrs Paradine a foreigner in England, although with the casting of Alida Valli she became Italian rather than Scandinavian. In the first sequence Mrs Paradine seems perfectly to fit her social role but is defined by appearance and accent as an outsider; then, when she is charged with the murder of her husband the possibility is implied of a more fundamental Otherness which has invaded the established social order. Over the succeeding scenes Mrs. Paradine is made both fascinating and potentially threatening to men, in ways familiar from the long parade of beautiful, dark, sensual women in the Romantic tradition. Choosing to make her Italian can allow on the one hand for any threat she poses to be located outside British society and identified as alien, while on the other, what is ‘fascinating’ about her can also be seen as bound up with her origins and to expose a lack in the repressive world of traditional British society.

But this potential for ambivalence is undercut by two fundamental features of The Paradine Case which were inherited from the original novel: that Mrs Paradine will turn out to be a murderer and that she spends almost the whole of the film in jail. The nature of her crime (she killed her blind husband) was at the heart of the novel but its retention represented a major problem in a Hollywood movie of its time: the fact that ultimately Mrs Paradine will admit adultery and murder severely limits the positive force she can take on, even in a drama which is concerned with whether she is guilty or innocent. Mrs Paradine’s assault on traditional values therefore goes even beyond Rebecca’s: of all Hitchcock’s ‘guilty women’ she is the only pre-meditated murderer. Her confinement in jail is equally a given of the story – once charged she must be remanded in custody – but it also means that her powers of action and interaction are severely limited. As in the novel our access to her is almost entirely restricted to visits from her lawyer. The invention of the first scene for the film in a way acknowledges this problem, that Mrs Paradine is the mainspring of the plot but she has virtually no independent existence. These restrictions make possible the film’s focus on Mrs Paradine’s effect on Tony Keane and are therefore the basis of its whole narrative approach, but they impact significantly on the weight and value that Mrs Paradine can carry as an independent figure in the film, especially to offset or qualify her final admission of guilt.






7. Wood, 1991, p. 242.

8. Wood, 1991, p. 232.

  She is in effect created, like Lord Horfield, in extreme terms. It is again as if the hyperbolic scale of melodrama is used to dramatise competing forces, so that the film imagines female desire unconstrained by marriage as murderous, the woman’s sexual independence taking the extreme form of a capital offence. These things combine to make Mrs Paradine even more problematic than Rebecca as a force within the film’s world. Her positive power is carried by her assertion of an independent identity and her final refusal of Tony’s claims or those of the wider society to define her. But this power is blunted by the terms in which she is created and the place she occupies in the drama, which are not those of the film’s world but of the film itself. Robin Wood argues that ‘ . . . if Rebecca should have been the heroine of the film that bears her name, Mrs Paradine is certainly the heroine of The Paradine Case . . .’ (7) a view that is appealing in its insistence on the force and value of the guilty woman’s actions in resisting ‘male definition’ (8) but which is difficult to sustain against the weight of her crime and her marginalisation in the drama.  



The Paradine Case and Under Capricorn 3: Confession

Both Under Capricorn and The Paradine Case lead up to – indeed are structured around – scenes in which the ‘guilty woman’ confesses her crime. Confession is a regular feature of the crime movie, so it is hardly a surprise to find it in Hitchcock’s work. But as with his handling of other generic conventions, Hitchcock works complex and critical variations on the motif. In its most familiar form, confession by the criminal explains and accounts for the crime. In the whodunit and other versions of the story of criminal investigation the audience knows that there has been a crime, shares the mystery and expects its eventual solution. The Paradine Case shares some aspects of this structure – Mrs. Paradine has been accused of her husband’s murder, doubt is raised about her guilt and the narrative moves to the final revelation of truth. Under Capricorn works rather differently: it is not generically a crime movie or story of investigation; the revelation of Hattie’s guilt is not, therefore, the solution of a narrative enigma but a surprise. In this respect, Under Capricorn is a suppressive narrative, like Rebecca, Vertigo (1958) and Psycho (1960): a secret, crucial to the narrative, is withheld from the spectator for a good deal of the film. Whenever Hitchcock used this strategy of sudden and unexpected revelation, it was associated with radical shifts in point of view – not simply in terms of the spectator’s access to narrative information but of their whole orientation to the narrative and the characters. Under Capricorn is no exception but the more generically motivated confession scene in The Paradine Case has equally remarkable consequences.

For very different reasons both women remain silent about their role in the killings until a crisis compels them to speak. Mrs Paradine is being tried for murder and, under the conventional instruction from her lawyer, remains silent about the crime as judicial process unfolds. Hattie has remained silent for ten years because Sam, to protect her, claimed that he had killed her brother and was subsequently convicted and transported to the penal colony in Australia. Through most of each film, therefore, the women are unable to speak authentically for themselves and their silence produces a situation in which others speak for and about them. The Paradine Case marks the moment at which the silence begins. In the film’s second sequence, when Mrs Paradine is about to be charged with murder, her solicitor, Sir Simon (Charles Coburn) counsels her to say ‘"No" – just like that, quite simply, "No"’, when asked if she has anything to say. When the question is put, Mrs. Paradine replies, ‘I have nothing to say’, a variation on Sir Simon’s instruction which draws attention away from the formal negative he recommends and gives more positive weight to her decision to remain silent. It is the moment at which, by saying no more, she cedes the telling of her story to others.

These limits placed on the women’s powers of expression intensify the climactic role of their spoken confessions but the focus in both films on the women’s inability to speak for themselves also points to a wider preoccupation with speaking and with the power of language. One of the most striking features of the films is the amount of dialogue they contain and, correspondingly, their relative lack of action (this may be among the reasons for their conspicuous unpopularity). Characters talk at great length – in fact they make speeches, sometimes publicly but also in private conversation. The films are concerned with how and with what effect language works – who controls it and who speaks its master narratives. Both films, one might say, tell the story of a woman, silenced by men, who finally and extraordinarily speaks in a way that breaks the dominant (and gendered) constraints of language and of silence.

The consequences for the woman of speaking, of finding her voice, are of course very different in the two films. But changes made in adapting the original novels (Robert Hitchens’ The Paradine Case (1933) and Helen Simpson’s Under Capricorn (1937)) in respect of the confession and its impact strongly confirm the sense of the two projects as firmly linked in Hitchcock’s mind. In the novel of Under Capricorn the young Irishman, Charles Adare (Michael Wilding in the film), who knew Hattie in the past and who dedicates himself to ‘saving’ her, disappears for several months on an expedition for gold, and is therefore removed as a focus for the narrative during much of the second half of the novel, whereas in the film he remains present throughout. The novel is also quite emphatic in undermining Hattie and Adare as a potential couple. The disparity in their ages is stressed (he is 20, she is over 40); Adare himself makes clear that he is not in love with Hattie; and most importantly, the novel introduces a young woman, Sue Quaife, whom Adare meets during the ball, falls in love with and to whom he later becomes engaged. During Adare’s absence in the novel Hattie and Sue become friendly and Sue plays a significant role in the Fluskey household during this time. It is to Sue that Hattie confesses that she, not Sam, killed Hattie’s brother. Sue is completely excluded from the film and the confession is made to Adare.

While the novel certainly contains Adare’s attempt to restore Hattie to something like her former self, the film completely changes the significance of this process, with Adare increasingly set on restoring Hattie to her former class position (as Lady Henrietta Considine, her maiden name) and winning her from Sam Fluskey for himself. Two episodes invented for the film are particularly significant here: Fluskey’s jealous interruption of the ball at the moment of Hattie’s social triumph, which offers Adare the opportunity to claim that Fluskey is a wholly inappropriate partner for Hattie; and the subsequent scene, which begins with Adare using Fluskey’s behaviour to demand that Hattie leaves him and in which Hattie’s response, a very long speech leading to her confession, involves both an affirmation of her marriage and exposure of Adare’s self-deception and his class-based failure of understanding. During the speech, which is filmed in one of Under Capricorn’s very long takes, Adare is first silenced and then gradually excluded completely from the frame.

The changes from the novel of The Paradine Case are even more emphatic in focusing on the consequences of the confession for the leading man. In the novel, Mrs Paradine tells Keane in an interview outside the court but during the trial that she loves the valet (William Marsh in the novel, Andre Latour in the film) and had confessed their adultery to her husband. In court, however, as part of her defence, she tells a different story. Marsh, having given his evidence earlier, is in court during Mrs Paradine’s questioning by Keane and leaps up to deny her evidence that he had made sexual advances to her. He is recalled as a witness and admits their adultery. The trial proceeds to its conclusion, with a masterly final speech by Keane for the defence, a long summing-up by the judge, Lord Horfield, and a verdict of guilty. Mrs Paradine speaks only one line of accusation to Keane: simply, ‘It is his fault’. Because of his personal involvement in the case, Keane is under acute pressure throughout and it is suggested by other characters that he is on the edge of a breakdown – even that he might break down in court – but he completes the defence. After the case it is reported (in the novel there are no further scenes including Keane or his wife) that he has given up the bar and that the couple are going abroad.

The film handles the climax of the trial and its aftermath very differently. After the cross-examination in which Keane accuses him of helping his master to kill himself, Latour leaves the court. Later, during Mrs Paradine’s evidence, news arrives that he has committed suicide. It is in response to this news that Mrs Paradine, distraught, admits in the witness box that she loved Latour and that she killed her husband. She then accuses Keane of murdering Latour and asserts publicly her hatred and contempt for him. The confession and her outburst at Keane are inventions of the film. Keane is unable to continue his final speech and leaves the court.

The Paradine Case and Under Capricorn 4: Oblique Viewpoints and the Male Protagonist

Hitchcock’s interests in stories of guilty women is inseparable from a concern with the psychopathology of his leading male characters. Again Rebecca is a decisive film, at the heart of which is Maxim’s attempt to find a wife who can never duplicate the threat embodied by Rebecca. Devlin (Cary Grant) in Notorious is another version of the hero incapable of dealing with a woman’s independent sexuality, his cruel treatment of Alicia (Ingrid Bergman) rooted in sexual insecurity. The Paradine Case and Under Capricorn are important stages in Hitchcock’s attempts to find forms of film narrative in which to continue this exploration of the perversities of male desire. We can see how in each case the adaptations push in this direction and how each foregrounds the inability of the protagonists to deal with women as autonomous human beings. The consequences of the confessions for the women in the two films may be very different but the changes made from the original novels produce similar effects on the films’ nominal heroes: definitively rejected as potential lovers, their elaborately constructed images of women destroyed, all illusion of control shattered, they are all but expelled from the narrative.

My earlier description of the films as centering on the story of a woman whose desire for a man ‘forbidden’ to her leads her to kill another man therefore needs to be amended. The story of the guilty woman is intertwined with the story of her effect on the male protagonist. Her story in fact is withheld for much of the film. In both films the key events are in the past when the films open – the recent past in The Paradine Case but some ten or more years ago in Under Capricorn. Neither film uses flashbacks, so that these events remain unseen, unrepresented, except in speech and as memory. In addition to looking back into the past each might be said to approach the story of the guilty woman from an oblique viewpoint. Rebecca is the most extreme example of this oblique narrative, with the film following the novel in never showing the woman who gives her name to the film and whose influence pervades it. She is evoked through the tangible ways in which she marked Manderley with her identity and by the memories of other characters. In Under Capricorn and The Paradine Case Mrs Paradine and Hattie are physically present but they have been reduced to largely passive roles and, as we have seen, each is silent about her past. They become, though in different ways, the objects of investigation and obsession by the leading men, around whom the narrative is largely, but not exclusively, organised.

By organising the film in this way we experience with the leading man the mystery and fascination of the woman. Her story is presented to us as part of his; he largely controls our access to her and he also becomes the interpreter and teller of her story – or rather of his version of her story. We watch him becoming fascinated by her – a process involving, in Hitchcock’s narration, both a close association with and significant distance from him. Central to each film, then, and a major subject of each, is the effect of the woman on the man. Determined to ‘save’ the woman, he falls in love with her, or, more accurately, he falls in love with an image of her which he has created and that she definitively refuses in a confession scene which also reveals that she is in love with another man, her desire entirely independent of the hero.

This emphasis on the male protagonist as self-deceived obsessive is one of the most significant features of these two films in terms of Hitchcock’s development. Both films can be seen as early versions of the story and the processes of narration which are definitively expressed in Vertigo – the hero revealed as a fantasist who attempts to exercise control over the woman by imposing on her an identity utterly at odds with her own. Indeed, in the process dramatised by these films the hero is largely oblivious to the woman’s human reality. Under Capricorn and The Paradine Case are, I think, unique in Hitchcock’s work in that the woman with whom the hero is obsessed is in love with another man and the films therefore refuse the reciprocity of desire which defines the romantic couple. There can be few more extreme ways of undermining the hero and exposing the hollow and destructive nature of his fantasies both about himself and about the object of his obsession.

The Paradine Case 3: The Male Protagonist

The film, like the novel, is structured to examine the effect of Mrs Paradine primarily on Tony, the only major character apart from Sir Simon, Mrs Paradine’s solicitor (Charles Coburn), to meet (or even see) her between the opening of the film and the trial. There are scenes in which Tony does not appear but his is the dominant presence. It is also Tony who appropriates Mrs Paradine’s story and becomes committed professionally and personally to telling it, once she has formally withdrawn into silence after being charged. The fact that Tony is a lawyer who is required to articulate both an image of his client and a version of events surrounding the crime enables the film to place him firmly within the establishment world and to analyse very clearly the mechanisms of his fantasy and desire. But Tony is unusual among Hitchcock protagonists in being a married man who falls in love with another woman and the tension between his establishment position and his infatuation with the guilty woman is mediated by the film’s examination of marriage.

Tony’s first scene (his arrival at his London house) combines fundamental perspectives on him with initial insights into the Keanes’ marriage which are structured around ways in which gender roles channel perception. Most obviously, Gay (Ann Todd)’s assertion about Mrs Paradine as she mixes cocktails, that ‘I don’t believe she did it: nice people don’t murder other nice people’ is countered by Tony’s retort about her ‘delusions about "nice people"’ and his claim that he is ‘the greatest realist in the country’ – exchanges that establish an opposition between Gay’s irrational, feminine, illusions about niceness, and Tony’s rational, masculine, realism, which the sequence then works to qualify.

To remain with dialogue a moment longer, the scene ends with an exchange which offers different perspectives on the couple’s ‘realism’. Gay alludes to ways in which Tony has changed: ‘Eleven years ago you wouldn’t have taken this case ... or you’d have taken it on but only after sneering for weeks at the decadence of the rich’; to which Tony replies: ‘I hardly recognise my lost ideals!’ This initiates a motif which leads to Tony being paralleled to Lord Horfield (Lady Horfield refers in her final, moving speech to her husband’s lost ideals) and the Horfields’ marriage implied as a possible future for the Keanes, but more immediately it implies that Gay may have a clearer – more realistic – view of Tony than he has himself. In the hero’s assertion of feet-on-the-ground realism in a context in which his delusions about himself are about to be exposed, the scene prefigures that between Scottie (James Stewart) and Midge (Barbara Bel Geddes) at the opening of Vertigo.

The most likely reason for Tony’s lost ideals is offered by the setting, which defines the Keanes’ socio-economic status and signals the starry nature of Tony’s career as a barrister. The film later takes up the tensions between Tony’s past and present, his image of himself and the reality, in the scene in which Mrs. Paradine accuses Tony of snobbery when he expresses surprise that she should refer to her husband’s valet by his first name. His response to her reference to ‘the subtle snobberies of your class’ – ‘My class? I’m afraid you don’t know me very well’ – is unconvincing in terms of what we already know about Tony; later still his entrapment in class assumptions and economic privilege is underlined in the hauteur with which he treats Latour.

His first meeting with Mrs Paradine casts more overt doubt on his claim to be a ‘realist’. Before she has a chance to speak Tony claims to know what she is thinking and then takes over her story, weaving an interpretation of events to counter possible prosecution claims. She responds to his prompts but we are shown his initial arrogance and the almost instant infatuation that leads to his fantasy of her sacrifice in marrying the blind man. By the end of the short scene there is little to choose between Tony and Gay in terms of delusions: Tony constructing the fiction of Mrs Paradine’s sacrifice on the basis of her looks; Gay of her niceness on the basis of her actions.

The two sequences that follow – Sir Simon’s conversation with his daughter, Judy and the Horfields’ dinner party – offer direct comments on Tony which intensify our critical distance on him. The Sir Simon/Judy scene is one of a number in which the spelling out of issues seems to me to weaken overall dramatic complexity but its almost choric function does develop an unusually clear critique of the ‘hero’, making clear the interlock between Tony’s response to Mrs Paradine (‘He’ s taken with her’), his view of himself (‘riding to the rescue of beauty in distress’) and his tendency to act (‘giving another of his great performances’).

They also clarify his increasingly obsessive drive not only to deny Mrs Paradine’s guilt but to assert her moral nobility. In their second meeting, after pressing her on her past, Tony attempts to insist, against Mrs Paradine’s own version of events, that as a girl she was taken advantage of by men, not the other way round. Personal and professional imperatives combine to mould Mrs Paradine into an ideologically acceptable image of femininity as defenceless and self-sacrificing. Her insistence on her sexual autonomy threatens what Tony wishes to present to the jury but also Tony himself. Simultaneously sexually attracted by Mrs Paradine and threatened by the independent sexuality she asserts, he needs to deny his attraction and defuse the threat by conceiving of his own role as defender of the virtuous and of Mrs Paradine as the embodiment of virtue in peril. In the next sequence he has developed the theory of assisted suicide to refute the charge against Mrs Paradine and produces – against Sir Simon’s extreme scepticism – the valet Latour as his favoured suspect. The scene is remarkable for the intensity with which Tony weaves his version of events and the vehemence and irrationality of his responses to Sir Simon’s suggestion that Mrs Paradine might be the murderer – ‘...Mrs Paradine isn’t a murderess – she’s too fine a woman’. To Simon’s objection that she ‘Is a woman of low estate and easy virtue’, Tony (watched by Gay but unaware of her presence) retorts, ‘I intend the world to see her as I do ... a noble, self-sacrificing human being that any man would be proud of’.

The scenes in Cumberland are particularly significant in delineating the contradictions of his position, the more so since they are the only sequences involving Tony in which neither Gay nor Mrs Paradine appear. The Cumberland episode follows the book fairly closely, but there is no parallel in the novel for the sequence in Mrs Paradine’s room – the scene which most explicitly evokes Rebecca. It is also the only sequence in the film structured largely around Tony’s point of view and one of only two occasions on which Hitchcock uses the mobile, subjective shots which are so central to the processes of identification in many of his American films (the other occasion is as Latour leaves the court, looking back at Mrs Paradine). The room is huge and luxurious, its most conspicuous (and extraordinary) feature a portrait of Mrs Paradine in the centre of the headboard of the bed, and strongly asserts an independent identity strikingly at odds with the self-sacrificing woman of Tony’s imagination (we are invited, I think, to remember that her husband was blind and could not have seen the proprietorial emblem adorning the bed, which parallels the portrait of Paradine in the opening sequence). Mrs Paradine’s belongings are scattered around, in the process of being packed, and the combination of the portrait and the clothes makes the scene reminiscent not only of Rebecca’s room but of Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews)’s exploration of Laura’s apartment in Preminger’s film. Both involve intrusion and guilty sexual interest. But where Preminger’s camera maintains an observational distance, Hitchcock cuts between Tony’s point of view and shots of him crossing the room so that we alternately look with and at him, experiencing the magnetic attraction of Mrs Paradine but also perceiving Tony’s increasing discomfort under the portrait’s gaze. As he advances, it is central to the point of view shots and seems, in a version of the Kuleshov effect to which Hitchcock so often refers, to look back at him in a way that is both amused and questioning. Increasingly uncomfortable, he moves past the bed as though to avoid the eyes of the portrait. When a man’s laughter is heard outside the window, it is momentarily as though it is directed at Tony.

The effects of the scene are beautifully poised. We are associated directly with Tony’s sexual attraction to Mrs Paradine but simultaneously invited to observe the room and Tony’s increasing unease under the portrait’s direct gaze. His unease implies how close he is to recognising what we already know about the nature of his motivation and his difficulty in meeting the eyes of the portrait echoes his increasing difficulty in meeting Gay’s – in both cases the woman’s apparent knowledge creating a threat to his sense of himself.

The following scene in which Latour comes clandestinely to Tony’s room at the inn that night offers Tony further reasons for questioning his view of Mrs Paradine but again his judgement is clouded by infatuation. In a parallel reaction to the previous scene, Tony loses his composure, this time taking refuge in a defensive use of legal protocol and a manner which asserts class superiority. The performances and Hitchcock’s claustrophobic mise en scène produce an extraordinary intensity, suggesting at moments a barely suppressed hysteria on Tony’s part, confronted by the man who, in his plan for the defence, is to take the blame for Paradine’s death but who, at the climax of the scene, insists that Mrs Paradine is evil and also recognises and pities Tony’s obsession with her. Tony’s resort to school boy insult (‘I don’t want any dirty, lying sneaks in my room’) is eloquent of his loss of control and his refusal to acknowledge the significance of what he is seeing and hearing.

These are the scenes in which Tony’s claim to be ‘the greatest realist in the country’ is most severely undermined, because he is confronted in each with evidence that ought at least to dent both his view of Mrs Paradine and his strategy for her defence. He is shaken enough to challenge her with Latour’s expression of hatred and to press her about her relationship with the valet but when Mrs Paradine says she would prefer him to give up the case, he retreats into self-deceiving fantasy (‘I must save you, no-one else can’) and asks her forgiveness.

If the outcome of the trial is not exactly a foregone conclusion, we are distanced from Tony in various ways as he attempts to develop his case: the transparency of his attempt to limit witnesses’ answers only to those which will buttress his case (a tactic undermined by Lord Horfield’s interventions); his petulance when the judge challenges or rebukes him; his unpleasant browbeating of Latour; Judy’s direct attack on his motives. Indeed, even when Mrs Paradine, during his visit to her cell in an adjournment, demands that he should stop attempting to incriminate Latour and Tony insists on his professional independence, the film seems to invite very little empathy with his dilemma of continuing with his plan at the risk of incurring Mrs Paradine’s hatred. This is the scene in which he acknowledges that he is love with her but also in which the fantasy that she might reciprocate his feelings is definitively exposed. In the event, his strategy is entirely disastrous, leading directly to Latour’s suicide, Mrs Paradine’s confession and her expression of hatred and contempt for Tony. Mrs Paradine reclaims her voice and speaks openly for the only time in the film, condemning herself but also reducing Tony, whose identity is inherently bound up with control of rational discourse, to a stumbling recognition of the consequences of his actions and finally to silence.

Of all Hitchcock’s films only Vertigo undermines its hero as completely as The Paradine Case. In both cases the hero’s romantic obsession leads to the death of the woman with whom he is in love; both men are publicly humiliated, Scottie by the coroner’s judgement of his professional competence after the death of ‘Madeleine’, Tony, even more extremely, in open court, by the woman with whom he was obsessed. But The Paradine Case is even more extreme than Vertigo in making Tony completely irrelevant to Mrs Paradine’s desires.



  The Paradine Case and Under Capricorn 5: Marriage  

9. Wood, 1991, p. 241.





  Both films belong to the relatively small number of Hitchcock’s films which can be said to be ‘about’ marriage and in which at least one of the characters played by the major stars is married. Robin Wood lists Rich and Strange (1932), Sabotage (1936), Rebecca, Mr and Mrs Smith (1941), Under Capricorn, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) and Marnie (1964) as the main cases (9) but The Paradine Case is another clear example – in fact it combines two of the recurrent Hitchcock plots which Wood identifies: the Story About the Guilty Woman and The Story About a Marriage. Each contains a long-standing marriage which comes under severe pressure and is then re-affirmed, but in Under Capricorn it is the marriage of the guilty woman, who is also the female lead of the film, while in The Paradine Case it is the marriage of the male protagonist to someone other than the guilty woman. In Under Capricorn Sam Fluskey and Hattie have been married for ten years or so; Charles Adare finally attempts to break the marriage by insisting that Hattie should leave. In The Paradine Case Tony Keane has been married to Gay for eleven years and Gay herself plays a major part in the narrative. The threat to their marriage is posed unwittingly by Mrs Paradine as a result of Keane’s infatuation with her. The Paradine Case also contains other marriages, which significantly parallel that of Tony and Gay – the Paradines’, already over when the film begins but evoked repeatedly in the film, and the chilling example of the marriage of Lord and Lady Horfield.  



At the end of The Paradine Case and Under Capricorn a married couple is re-united but the couples and the terms on which they renew their relationships are sharply contrasted. The marriage in Under Capricorn is that of the guilty woman and its renewal affirms not just the relationship but Hattie’s transgression against class barriers and traditional gender roles. While the film is clear-sighted about both the costs to Sam and Hattie of her actions and the continuing power of class categories, it nevertheless celebrates their coming through. There is no comparable affirmation in The Paradine Case: at the end order is restored, the guilty woman is punished and the re-united couple confirms rather than challenges establishment values.

The Paradine Case 4: Marriage

Within the film’s world women are confined to subservient and/or domestic positions. They also have limited freedom of movement. This is most obvious in the case of Mrs Paradine’s imprisonment but it is tempting to suggest that a metaphorical imprisonment applies to all the film’s women, who on the whole observe and respond rather than move and act. Mrs Paradine’s murder of her husband, which leads to her literal imprisonment, is in a way the exception that proves the rule. But, potentially in tension with these constraints, the film’s dramatic structure also gives four women significant parts and voices, with Gay occupying a pivotal position, structurally opposed to Mrs Paradine but more actively present in the film.

Of the four significant female characters, three (Mrs Paradine, Gay and Lady Horfield) are or were married to establishment men and the film invites both contrast and comparison of the women and their husbands, who are linked by their central roles in the trial, as victim, defence counsel and judge and by their establishment social roles. Lady Horfield is at one extreme, terrified of her husband, who is created in Charles Laughton’s performance as unambiguously loathsome, and all but cowed into submission in a marriage in which she is treated with contempt. At the other extreme is Mrs Paradine’s attempt to escape her marriage because she is in love with another man, an assertion of her independence which culminates in murder. These are the extreme images between which the Keanes’ marriage, threatened implicitly by the possible future represented by the Horfields and more overtly by Tony’s infatuation with Mrs Paradine, is explored. A marriage threatened by the husband falling in love with another woman is unusual Hitchcock territory. But the hero’s marriage provides an unusual opportunity to examine simultaneously his romantic fantasy and the basis of his relationship (including his sexual relationship) with his wife, as well as the potential to give Gay’s point of view force and value.

The contrast between Gay and Mrs Paradine is established in the scene discussed earlier. While Tony showers, we observe Gay as she mixes cocktails and talks to Tony through the half-open door. One function of staging the scene in this way is to compare the two women – both ‘ladies of the house’ in control of the rituals of a bourgeois home, drinking aperitifs in houses that represent their husbands’ social positions; but one dark, the other fair; one foreign, the other emphatically English; one mysterious and enigmatic, the other apparently an open book.

In the staging of the whole introduction to the Keanes Hitchcock’s camera encourages a reflective distance – tracking after Tony, craning up the stairs, keeping the banister rail between us and the couple – and, in the initial relatively wide shots in the bedroom (in which the ceiling is clearly visible) – giving a sense of the characters moving within opulent but oppressive decor. Our responses to the relationship are partly channeled by this initial distance. We observe their affectionate greeting but may be invited to think it a little contrived and demonstrative, the gestures not entirely convincing. Certainly Gay treats Tony in a decidedly motherly way, chiding him for not wearing a raincoat and urging him to warm himself with a shower. When he re-emerges after his shower, she energetically towels his hair. If in part Gay treats Tony as a little boy, it might also be said that he treats her as a little girl, amused at her delusions about ‘nice people’. This is to say that we seem invited both by the mise en scène and by the nature of the dialogue and performances, to observe more than the affection and intimacy which is most immediately signified.

At the same time their relationship is signified as quite strongly sexual. This is particularly marked in that two sequences end with what are clearly invitations to make love, in one case, after the dinner at the Horfields’, at Gay’s instigation and the other, just before Tony’s trip to Cumberland, when Gay pulls away from his kiss in the bedroom with, ‘No, Tony, not now’. After this point, as Tony’s obsession with Mrs. Paradine grows, there are no similar scenes. This is a major issue: in related movies which feature an equivalent contrast between two women the man’s desire and/or the threat of female sexuality are associated entirely with the other woman: there is for instance no sexual component to Scottie’s friendship with Midge and the second Mrs de Winter seems chosen – after Rebecca – precisely because she is almost asexual. The Keanes are unusual in Hitchcock’s films as a married couple with an active sexual relationship apparently based on mutual desire.

What is implied about their sexual relationship is, however, inseparable from the film’s analysis of their marriage as a whole. If their first scene seems to present a long standing and loving relationship, it also establishes a basis for a different understanding – of a marriage sustained by intricate levels of delusion and role play. Tony lightly chides but also indulges Gay’s delusions (the implication of the film and much more strongly the book, is that he wishes to keep her from contact with the ‘real’ world – hence the fact that she does not attend his court appearances) while he deludes himself about his own realism. She mothers him and he in effect infantilises her (in this respect Tony parallels Maxim’s treatment of his second wife). The fact that she sees him in some respects more clearly than he sees himself qualifies but does not contradict these perspectives; it is characteristic of Tony that here and later he should attempt to deflect her insights. The implication may be that this precarious network of delusions, denials and roles create the conditions – of apparently non-threatening female sexuality – which sustain their sexual relationship. It is consistent with this that Tony’s response to the sexual fascination of Mrs Paradine is to defuse the threat of active female sexuality it implies by insisting on her essential goodness.

While Tony is blind to his growing infatuation, Gay sees increasingly clearly what is involved and asserts herself and her understanding against it. After the Horfields’ dinner party she prevents Tony from working on the case, sees through his transparent desire suddenly to visit Italy, asserts her own desirability (‘It may surprise you to know that there are men who find me attractive’) and finally, after they kiss, takes him to bed. Tony acts here, as several times elsewhere, almost like a little boy, oblivious to his own motives but transparently readable to Gay. Tellingly, as the film goes on, Tony is unable to meet Gay’s eyes, wriggling at times to avoid the implications of what she knows and what she says. As Gay increasingly finds a voice to speak of their relationship, Tony becomes increasingly uncomfortable.

In their next scene together Gay’s attempt to sustain their relationship moves through several phases. Initially she asks that they should go away together – seeking, in effect, escape from Tony’s involvement with Mrs. Paradine. When he tells her he intends to go to Cumberland, she asks to go with him. Her distress at his response is noticeable even to Tony and he makes his most explicit statement of his desire to protect Gay from ‘all this ugly business’. When he asks what she is afraid of and Gay replies ‘Need I say?’ Tony is visibly shaken and offers to give up the case and to take her away. For a moment, as she embraces him, she seems about to accept, but then refuses his offer: ‘I wouldn’t like (her) to be hanged just because my husband had a rendezvous with her – in jail’. She kisses him and it is at this point that, as he goes to kiss her, she pulls away, refusing the implicit sexual invitation.

The negotiation of positions involved here is interestingly poised. Tony’s gestures (offering to give up the case; after her refusal, offering to take Gay to Cumberland) produce in his terms the desired outcome: Gay tells him to defend Mrs. Paradine and to travel north without her. It is surely because of her apparent reversion to compliant wife that he goes to kiss her. But her refusal of the implied sexual invitation, following her refusal to let him give up the case, signals not compliance but a more complex understanding of the dangers and possibilities of her position – which is also to say a clearer understanding of the mechanisms of Tony’s fantasies. It may be further implied that she recognises, as she rejects Tony’s kiss, the kinds of compliance on her part which have so far sustained their sexual relationship.

Their final scene before the trial follows his return from Cumberland and his interview with Mrs. Paradine about Latour. It is prefaced by a scene between Gay and Judy in which, as in the earlier scene involving Judy and her father, dilemmas and motives are very literally spelt out. Again the effect is to reduce the potential complexity of the scene that follows, although that feeling needs to be balanced against the positive force of Gay’s analysis of her predicament and her remarkable acknowledgement of the limits of love: ‘I don’t own him, I only love him’. All these scenes, then, give Gay’s understanding considerable weight.

The scene in the study contains Gay’s longest speech – indeed, it is quite self-consciously a speech on behalf of herself and her marriage – and, correspondingly, it is the scene in which Tony is at his most obviously uncomfortable, avoiding eye contact and shifting repeatedly as she speaks. Each of the four main women in The Paradine Case speaks at length with considerable insight and effect, three of them (Gay, Mrs. Paradine and Lady Horfield) about love, in contexts in which their love is not reciprocated. The overall dramatic context of these speeches for women is, therefore, extremely bleak and these perspectives, among others, inevitably qualify the film’s ending (to which I will return). But in its own terms, too, the dramatic effects of Gay’s speech seem somewhat ambivalent. It is an extremely difficult speech to deliver, partly because the appeal it carries (‘it’s not easy to face the thought of losing you. We’ve been really married ... as few people have been...’) feels uncomfortable in a speech delivered to, as opposed to a dialogue with, her husband. This is to imply that, since Tony has closed down open dialogue between them, Gay has no alternative but to make a speech: to become an advocate, speaking to an advocate. She has been placed by Tony’s silence in an impossible position: retreat into silence herself or risk alienating him by speaking. Her hesitation (she almost leaves the room, then turns back) registers the dilemma very clearly. But while her analysis seems entirely accurate (‘If she dies ... you’ll go on thinking that you love her – imagining her as your great lost love...’) the effect of the speech, with its odd little formalities (‘... but I’ve come to a conclusion, Tony: I want her to live...’) is distancing. This could have been be a sequence in which the film affirmed Gay’s understanding and her ability to speak authentically about what she understands and what she wants, but the speech does not seem to be allowed this kind of weight.





10. See American Cinematographer, September 1948, for an article by Bart Sheridan which illustrates the long take and discusses the newly developed crab dolly which made it possible.

  This is something of a crux for interpretation of the film’s intentions. It is partly to do with the writing (Hitchcock comments in the Truffaut interview: ‘She was too coldly written, I’m afraid’) but getting a sense of the film’s attitudes to Gay is also a question of responding to and interpreting the brittleness of Ann Todd’s performance in this scene and elsewhere and placing this in relationship to the way in which the character is conceived. Our difficulties of interpretation are compounded by the struggles that went on during the making of the film: we know, for instance, that this particular scene was re-edited by Selznick, who introduced angle/reverse angle editing into a three minute take of Gay’s speech. (10) But the problems of interpretation are pervasive. What the film sets in place through Gay is of the greatest interest in the context of Hitchcock’s construction of women and dramatisation of marriage – there is a potential to dramatise fully and sympathetically a married woman’s point of view and to juxtapose it sharply with her husband’s. But overall, the film seems less than wholehearted about Gay.  



Whatever its determinants, the presentation of Gay has significant consequences for the film’s critical presentation of Keane. If it is suggested that Gay’s compliance with his view of her (which involves her reduction almost to childlike dependency) is the condition under which he can maintain their intimacy, then as she becomes more assertive it is also implied that a loving, faithful, wife who becomes insightful and non-compliant with her husband’s way of seeing is in her way as threatening a figure to him as her opposite, the ‘fascinating’, sexual woman. Neither threat can be fully faced, but must be dealt with by reducing the woman to one or another safe stereotype.

The ending seems calculatedly bleak. The scene between Lord and Lady Horfield at dinner prefaces Gay and Tony’s reconciliation as a grim image of gender inequality in marriage. Tony has in effect run away from Gay, hiding at Sir Simon’s house and justifying this as a way of saving Gay ‘the boring job of standing by me’. Here and in his manner when Gay enters there is more than a hint of the guilty little boy persona that was so evident earlier in the film. Again he turns away from her, unable to meet her eyes, until she finally asks him to look at her. In her dialogue and manner, she also adopts the motherly role of earlier scenes – chiding him for frightening her by disappearing, telling him how proud of him she is, and, in the film’s final line of dialogue – which reasserts a form of intimacy as she deliberately lightens the tone – telling him that he needs a shave. Tony’s half smile and taking of her hand in the film’s final close up seems to signal his acquiescence to her tone and the closeness it invites but, although he is now meeting her eyes, the reconciliation lacks convincing intimacy. The final section is shot in angle/reverse angle, with each character looking, unusually, into the camera. This gives us the most direct possible view of their expressions but precludes visual reciprocity, their separation in the frame undermining the implied renewal of intimacy. It is nice to think that Gay and the film are conscious of the sexual pun in her earlier line, ‘I want you back on the job as fast as ever you can’, but the film seems at best equivocal about the basis on which their marriage and their sexual relationship might be renewed. Gay may well now be a woman who knows too much about her husband for his comfort. Keane may be chastened by what has happened but there is no evidence of increased understanding, either of himself or his wife. The film leaves serious doubt about whether their relationship can fundamentally change, or that conditions are available which would enable it to do so.


The Paradine Case and Under Capricorn are surprising companion pieces in which, across a major fault line in Hitchcock’s professional life from studio contract to independent production, we can see him engaging with the same complex of issues and similar forms of story-telling. Although he had a free hand on the scripting of Under Capricorn and was heavily constrained on The Paradine Case, the parallels between the films suggest that Hitchcock and Alma Reville managed to retain significant influence in shaping The Paradine Case. Both adaptations changed their originals in order to synthesise several narrative elements: the questioning and re-making of a marriage; a woman guilty of a killing; the woman’s confession in which she also acknowledges her love for a man other than the male protagonist; a protagonist in love with a woman who loves another man; a protagonist who is revealed as a self-deceived fantasist.

In his own statements Hitchcock himself does not help us to see the films clearly: in the interview with Truffaut he has little positive to say about either film and suggests the choice of Under Capricorn to have been a mistake brought about by his desire to begin his new company with a film starring Ingrid Bergman. But the truth was clearly a good deal more complex than he acknowledges. Hitchcock, after all, chose Under Capricorn and not another property for Bergman and, as Truffaut points out and Hitchcock acknowledges, it was a story full of promising Hitchcock material. At the same time, the evidence of the films themselves and of the adaptation of the novels on which they were based strongly suggests that his interest in the potential of Under Capricorn as his first independent production was crucially informed by his work on The Paradine Case. This is not to question the unhappy final production experience with Selznick. Rather, it is to suggest that, even in these uncongenial circumstances Hitchcock found in the project ways of extending his critical exploration of subjects and forms of story-telling which were becoming central to his American work – and to remind ourselves of the deep continuities that exist in Hitchcock’s work even when we might least expect them.


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