Thursday, June 10, 2004

hitchcock meets steinbeck on a lifeboat

Triviamongers have much to relish from Lifeboat, another of those mostly ignored works in Hitchcock's variegated ouevre: this is the only time Hitch collaborated with John Steinbeck (a strange combination, admittedly, and, according to reports and Donald Spoto, a very turbulent -- no pun intended -- one). Apparently, Steinbeck did not take too kindly to Hitchcock's idea of filming his original story on a closed set (all the action takes place on and in the vicinity of a lifeboat in the middle of a turbulent war-torn sea). There are several interesting exchanges of dialogue in the film, and a fair exploration of the issues of hatred and racism. Tallulah Bankhead easily takes top honours in the acting department, relishing a well-written part with aplomb. Being a minor Hitchcock work, you wouldn't find much of the master's trademarks to catch, except for my favourite Hitchcock cameo: in a newspaper ad for a weight reduction product called Reduco (the cyclorama skyline in Rope -- another closed set drama with the added twist of long extended takes -- also included an ad for Reduco, marking most striking similarities between any two cameos).

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