WHO GOES PRIMITIVE FIRST… A MAN… OR A WOMAN… ADRIFT IN AN OPEN BOAT?
After a German submarine sinks a ship in the North Atlantic, several American and British survivors end up in the same lifeboat… along with a German. One of Alfred Hitchcock’s thrillers that take place in a confined setting, an intriguing story that becomes an allegory of a less than coordinated Allied response to the Nazis. The motley group of survivors offer entertainment, food for thought and some suspense, especially as Walter Slezak’s German remains a complex, unpredictable character. Tallulah Bankhead is a delight in her first starring vehicle since 1932 as the glamorous reporter who finds the war an adventure.
1944-U.S. 96 min. B/W. Produced by Alfred Hitchcock, Kenneth Macgowan. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Screenplay: Jo Swerling. Story: John Steinbeck. Cinematography: Glen MacWilliams. Cast: Tallulah Bankhead (Canstance “Connie” Porter), William Bendix (Gus Smith), Walter Slezak (Willy), Mary Anderson, John Hodiak, Henry Hull… Hume Cronyn.
Trivia: Hitchcock came up with the idea for Steinbeck’s story. Remade as a TV movie, Lifepod (1993).
Last word: “Hitchcock’s a genius, a real genius. He wanted to teach an important lesson. He wanted to say that you can’t trust the enemy… in ‘Lifeboat’ you see clearly that you can’t trust a Nazi, no matter how nice he seems to be.” (Bankhead, The New York Herald Tribune)