The Horror Honeys: Hands that applaud can also kill!

Hands that applaud can also kill!

A Guest Honey Classic Review - by Lisa

Stage Fright (1950)

From the legendary Alfred Hitchcock comes the very first film to be titled Stage Fright. Starring Marlene Dietrich and Jane Wyman this is not a horror movie, so much as it is a classic tale of murder, deception, blackmail and a spunky girl who tires to expose all of the players involved.

Screen legend Marlene Dietrich is the glamorous and scheming Charlotte Inwood, a famous star of the stage. Rather than simply leave her husband, she kills him and then convinces Johnny (Richard Todd), her lover, to cover up the whole incident. Well, as in most Hitchcock films, Johnny isn't clever enough to pull something so complex off without the help of a woman. Enter Eve Gill (Wyman), his dear, old friend. Eve is our stereotypical brunette; not ugly, but not as stunning as the blonde. It is her quick wit and smarts that allow her to pull together a most complex plan to try to expose Charlotte. This is a delectable game of cat and mouse with many layers, multiple players and, of course, a twist. 

As usual, Hitchcock films his icy blonde goddess (Dietrich) with such a precise and loving hand. Always the best dressed woman, she always looks as if she is lit from within. Her many pieces of jewelry sparkle to the point that you need sunglasses. Never a hair out of place, she never breaks a sweat, she never minces her words and she manages to look exquisitely gorgeous even while smoking. Dietrich is a screen legend for many reasons and they are all on display in Stage Fright.

Our mousy brunette, Eve, is played with girl next door charm by Wyman. While always put together, she just isn't quite as slick as Charlotte, but that doesn't stop her from putting every ounce of her plucky self into proving Johnny's innocence. So, while Eve doesn't get to stand on the same pedestal as Charlotte, simply by virtue of hair color, she is still a strong, intelligent woman and this is why I love Mr. Hitchcock. He tells wonderful stories of suspense that are, more often than not, anchored by women. Smart, fearless, beautiful, unapologetic women who can do all of this while looking as though they stepped out of the pages of Vogue. It's so rare that a woman gets to be tough and delicate at the same time. 

Stage Fright is a classic black and white film with multiple offensive stereotypes and gender roles, but it was a different time and I am more than happy to overlook these minor problems. It runs a wee bit too long and, horror of horrors, the suspense is in short supply, but every minute, necessary or not, is a beautifully filmed piece of cinema. Once in a while, it's really nice to go back and revisit the classics. After all, they are the ones who have helped pave the road for all of the murder mystery/ who done it films of today. 

Also; don't forget to look for Mr. Hitchcock in his usual cameo!