Serious casting flaws and a lack of any sustained action make The Paradine Case one of the weakest films in director Alfred Hitchcock's canon. On a positive note, a bad Hitchcock film is still better than the best works of many directors and it remains an interesting failure that marked the last of Hitchcock's teamings with producer David O. Selznick (who is also listed as a co-writer on this film). The talky, slow-moving production tells the story of a cocky young defense attorney (played by Gregory Peck) who defends a widow accused of poisoning her wealthy husband. The happily married lawyer falls hard for his sexy Ingrid Bergman-esque client and soon winds up emotionally involved and about to risk his marriage and his career for the woman. Peck gives a respectable performance in a part that recalls James Stewart's character in Vertigo, but Hitchcock himself had wanted to cast Laurence Olivier instead. Another example of poor casting is Alida Valli, whose performance as the bewitching widow is lifeless and unbelievable. Selznick's hopes for her to become the next Bergman were obviously off-center. In what surely would have been a stunning move, Hitchcock unsuccessfully tried to get Greta Garbo to come out of retirement to play the part of Peck's desperate wife (Ann Todd played the part). The director's cameo depicts Hitchcock stepping off a train carrying a cello case.
by Patrick Legare review