Hitchcock’s Movie Stage Fright (1950)

Amongst all the movies of Hitchcock’s,  Stage Fight is not a very memorable one, but from a historical perspective, the film is worth to be brought up again. The biggest argument from the film is that, for the ending of the story, a flashback at the beginning of the film turned out to be a lie, which negates every plot that was previously laid out. Compared to today’s advanced information and technology, this relatively bold technique was considered a failure at the time. The audience believed that the director should not deceive the audience and that the story should be carried logically that is consistent with the beginning of the movie. But in Hollywood decades later, The Sixth Sense, which adopted a similar technique as Stage Fright, was a huge hit, and audiences gradually got used to and accepted this subversive narrative method. It turns out that Hitchcock went further than we thought on the journey of commercial film creation.

The film still maintains the tension-filled atmosphere created by Hitchcock. In the plot of Eve and Jonathan’s escape by taking a car at the beginning of the movie, the director gave a low camera shot of a speeding car leaping over the camera, which created a strong visual impact that immediately bounced the audience’s nerves. The garden theatre party scene was followed by a series of twists and turns. Eve used her multiple identities dealt with the father, the detective, Charlotte, Freddie, the maid, the colleague, and those characters were not aware of what each other have done. This was one of the most wonderful scenes in the film.

The film was based on a theatre stage. At the beginning of the film, as the stage curtain slowly rose on the screen, a sinister but romantic, humorous murder case appeared in front of the audience, and at the end of the film, the lead character Jonathan eventually died under the weight of the curtain too, which reflected the beginning of the movie. In addition, the film has a number of “drama” plot settings: Eve, a drama student, dressed up as Charlotte’s maid to get close to her in order to get to find out the truth of the case; Charlotte, a popular opera singer, escaped the police interrogation with her superb acting skills. Hitchcock’s films revealed the hypocritical side of human nature – people always play different roles in life and need to switch on various “identities” to deal with all kinds of people they want to encounter. 

As Truffaut said in his book of interviews with Hitchcock: “This film neither adds to nor detracts from the glory he deserves. This movie, which takes a back-seat in Hitchcock’s films, has some minor flaws. Similar to his other films, Stage Fright has some rather humorous plots, but what distinguishes it from the humorous scenes that appear from time to time in Rear Window was that the tension of the film seemed to dissipate each time Eve’s father’s darkly humorous passages appeared. The film didn’t say much about the character of Jonathan, and it’s hard for audiences to understand why Eve would fall in love with such a man. But the film’s twists and turns and the performances of the actors make this one of the most underrated films in Hitchcock’s films.

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