Oscar Movies: Paradine Case (1947)–Hitchcock’s Courtroom Melodrama Starring Gregory Peck and Alida Valli

Though not one of Hitchcock’s strongest films, The Paradine Case merits attention due to its experimental nature of long takes and international cast of Gregory Peck, Alida Valli, and Ethel Barrymore, who won a Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her part.

This was the second and last film of Hitchcock with Gregory Peck after their successful teaming on “Spellbound,” in 1945, also produced by Selznick.

Based on a novel by Robert Hichens, the court melodrama centers on Anna Paradine (Alida Valli), a seductive femme put on trial for the murder of her wealthy husband.

British barrister Anthony Keane (well played by Gregory Peck) takes on the case, and in the process, falls in love with Anna, despite being married himself to a loving and sensitive wife (Ann Todd).  Violating professional ethics, Keane realizes that, for the first time in his career, he has allowed his heart to rule his head.

Despite his client’s protests, Keane summons Anna’s lover, stableman Andre Latour (Louis Jourdan), hoping to prove that Latour was the killer.

In a typically perverse Hitchcockian development, the film’s most unpleasant character, an autocratic, vindictive judge played by Charles Laughton, is one of the few who can see through Anna’s facade.

Hitchcock had courted Garbo to play Anna Paradine, and indeed a screen test was filmed, but Garbo ultimately declined. Later on, Ingrod Bergman turnd down the part.

Hitchcock experimented long, uninterrupted takes of about 10 minutes each, a strategy he would later better use in Rope.

The Old Bailey courtroom set, where much of the action takes place was designed in a way that accommodates multiple cameras and elaborately conceived crane movements.

Such techniques were cumbersome in 1947, and as a result the over-illuminated set escalated the film’s budget to $3 million (above average for the time).

The film, which was a box-office disappointment, signaled the end of the association between Hitchcock and David O. Selznick.


Oscar Nominations: 1

Supporting Actress: Ethel Barrrymore

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The winner of the Supporting Actress Oscar was Celeste Holme for Gentleman’s Agreement.


Directed by Hitchcock

Written by Alma Reville (Hitchcock’s wife)

Released: June 1, 1948

DVD: February 10, 2009

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment