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Stage Fright (1950)
Sergeant BinghamA nice film but how could it be otherwise. With Alastair, Hitchcock, Jane Wyman, Marlene Dietrich, Dame Sybil Thorndike and Joyce Grenfell. The story is your basic English whodunit with the touches that Hitchcock was fond of. As it's name implies, the film largely concerns the stage and it is heavily laced with acting themes. All of the characters are "actors" and their roles become very confused throughout, leading to the dramatic denouement as the curtain comes down at the end. Full synopsis

Eve: Do you think I've behaved like a fool?
Commander: On the whole I think so. But I think your boyfriend has behaved like a fool. And I've a strong premonition that I'm going to behave like a fool. It's infectious.

Stage Fright Poster


cast list production credits

Commodore Gill

Alastair Sim


Alfred Hitchcock
Eve Gill Jane Wyman

Production Company

Warner Bros.
Jonathan Cooper Richard Todd Producer Alfred Hitchcock
Charlotte Inwood Marlene Dietrich Screenplay A. Reville/W. Cook
Mrs. Gill Sybil Thorndike Original Novel Selwyn Jepson
Inspector W. Smith Michael Wilding Dir Photography Wilkie Cooper
Lovely Ducks Joyce Grenfell Additional Dialogue James Bridie
Nellie Goode Kay Walsh

Stage Fright Poster

Freddie Williams H. MacGregor
Chubby Bannister Pat Hitchcock
Sergeant Mellish Ballard Berkeley
Mr. Fortesque Miles Malleson
Inspector Byard Andre Morell
Stage Hand Alfie Bass
Miss Mason Irene Handle
Man on Street A. Hitchcock

35mm, black and white, 105 mins

Interesting facts

As Todd attempts to retrieve another dress for Charlotte Inwood there is a wonderful scene involving photographic stage-craft in which the camera pans over Cooper's car and follows him into the Inwood house; he closes the door (we hear it slam) behind him but the camera is still in the house and focusing on Todd.

Inspector "Ordinary" Smith's colleague, Sergeant Mellish, is played by Ballard Berkeley, an actor who would achieve worldwide fame late on in life as the befuddled Major in the sitcom Fawlty Towers. The film also features a young actress by the name of Patricia Hitchcock, making the first of three appearances in her father's films.

Trawling the web I have come across a number of favourable reviews of Alastair's performance in Stage Fright:

"The casting of Wyman and Dietrich works well, and Alistair Sim could probably have made a reading of the London telephone directory entertaining."

"The scenes between Alastair Sim and Sybil Thorndike as Wyman's eccentric parents are hilarious."

"I can't say enough about Alisair Sim's performance as Eve (Jane Wyman)'s father. He was amazing in this movie."

"It is the masterful presence of the great Alastair Sim, however, that makes Stage Fright one of Hitchock's most enjoyable to watch. Few actors have his ability of making the most average of dialouges sound like a powerful oration, and as Eve's doting father, he makes the movie. His Commodore Gill is always at the ready to harbor a fugitive, clip off a snappy witicism, or scrounge blackmail money for his beloved daughter. He is equally at home playing comic relief as he is to serving as the plot glue that makes Eve's capers possible. But live with his wife? Thank you, no! He is content to live on his boat. Whether he is staging an amusing diversion to aid Eve, dispensing sage bits of fatherly advice, or merely strolling out in public, the man bleeds coolness with every move."

"Possibly the most memorable and amusing performance in the film is that of Alastair Sim, most famous for playing Ebenezer Scrooge a year later. He's hilarious as Wyman's father."

Certain critics believe that Hitchcock erred by falling prey to the advice of public pressure: first, in acquiring the rights to the story, simply because the reviewers said that it would make a good Hitchcock vehicle; then in listening to the English casting people when they told him that because Alistair Sim was one of the best actors around, Hitchcock should use him whether he fit the part or not. It seems that Alastair may not have been Hitchcock's cup of tea for this part.

Alastair's name is, unbelievably, spelt incorrectly in the opening credits (spelt "Alistair").