Thursday, November 02, 2006

Lifeboat (1944)

Hitchcock! Hitchcock! Hitchcock!

There's still hope, there's still hope!

Genre: War Drama

Starring: Tallulah Bankhead, Hume Cronyn (Shadow of a Doubt; The Postman Always Rings Twice)

Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock (Jamaica Inn; Frenzy)

Overview: The few survivors of a submarine attack try to work together as they await rescue aboard a lifeboat.

Acting: If the acting isn't very good in a film that's all character studies in a hyper-dramatic situation, you've got a real piece of garbage to suffer through. When you've got interesting folk like high-society journalists, Germans, crazy mothers and all sorts of other about-to-crack souls all directed by a guy with 30 movies under his belt already, uh, yeah, good times.
Rating: 8

Cinematography: At this stage you expect me to say, "well here's where the film suffers. There's really nothing to look at when it's one boat on the water and they're on it for the whole film." Well extreme-close ups and weather effects are photographed so well and with such brilliant timing that I was impressed to no end. How Hitchcock pulls off a mid-film cameo on a boat in the middle of the Atlantic... that the cherry on top.
Rating: 8

Script: Alright, first of all we have a story written by John Steinbeck. You have got to be a complete moron to mess up any of his works. In fact, making a film from one of his books is almost like cheating, it's so easy. Second, this is set entirely in one place so anyone involved in the production of this film knows it's got to be well written. Add those up and the only thing at risk is too many clichés, of which there are none. Fantastically told.
Rating: 9

Plot: Even though this is mildly predictable, there's a lot of very interesting elements that pop up. Not that I even like the show, but think of the television Series "Lost". Everyone has a secret, and survival is only half of the adventure. Interpersonal relationships build and collapse and twists and turns abound. It's a really immersive tale, pardon the pun.
Rating: 8

Mood: The best part about the whole film taking place on the lifeboat is that you can't get away from it. There's no flashback memories or scenes introducing the characters before they end up where they do (my biggest problem with The Incident), just water, water everywhere and people getting stinkier, hungrier and thirstier by the day. From time to time it's simply innocuous, but there's some real heavy moments that are deeply dramatic and terribly moving. The best of human drama.
Rating: 9

Yeah, no more hope. People are fickle.

Overall Rating: 84% (Worth Sea-ing)

Aftertaste: I'm a little surprised that I referenced "Lost" in this review, though I hope it will make fans of that mediocre show see this. Hitchcock's biggest gift was the ability of reaching out to the common man. That's what made his films so popular: simple stories told simply. This is one of the best examples I've seen. A total sleeper hit. I had no idea it would be this good.