November 26, 2005

Lost at sea - Hitchocock's Lifeboat

I haven't been feeling well the last few days and thus haven't had an inclination to do much of anything, but ... I did manage to watch a film or two, including Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat (1944).

It was pretty good. As with most Hitchcock, he sets himself a challenge - in this case, shooting an entire movie within the confines of a lifeboat. From the opening shot of Tallulah Bankhead in her fur coat, with her camera sitting in the boat, right to the end, everything goes on in the boat.

You would think the film would get claustrophopic, but it doesn't. In fact, the scenes move quite quickly, and compellingly.

The film works partly because of the script (a story by John Steinbeck, screenplay by Jo Swerling). Relationships form, shift and develop through the movie. And it's set on the Atlantic during World War II (when it was also shot), so part of the drama comes from the fact that one of the passengers on the lifeboat is the captain of the German boat that sank the liner the rest of the passengers had been on.

In a way, it's a standard dramatic situation - take a disparate group of people and throw them together, here in a tightly enclosed space none of them can flee.

In a way, Hitchcock has made an entire film using a single set, much as he did with Rope though his approach is very different.

Regardless of what he does, the end result is a very entertaining movie.

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