The Paradine Case


A happily married London barrister falls in love with the accused poisoner he is defending.

ACTORS :  Gregory Peck, Ann Todd, Charles Laughton


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The Paradine Case, Following a short investigation, the London Police charge Maddalena Paradine with the poisoning murder of her older, blind husband, retired Colonel Richard Paradine, who was dependent on her and others to manage in his life due to his physical disability. She is up front about being a woman with a past, she only becoming wealthy and thus glamorous because of the marriage. Her personal solicitor Sir Simon Flaquer refers the case to his colleague Tony Keane. In spending time with Mrs. Paradise in prison, Tony is immediately attracted to her, that attraction which morphs into obsession. As such, Tony does whatever he can to clear her of the charges, either in mounting a defense of suicide, assisted or not, or that someone else killed him, the most likely candidate being the Colonel’s trusted valet, Andre Latour, with who Tony initially believes Mrs. Paradise was having an affair. In the process, Tony may be blinded to the evidence as it presents itself. Who can see what is going on is …

Surely one of Hollywood’s under-rated pictures!

The Paradine Case, I first saw this film at the cinema in the 1960’s. This was the time I first began to take an interest in vintage Hollywood and has served as a standard by which I have judged other films since. First, one must mention the brilliant and haunting score by Franz Waxman. In many scenes in the film it heightens the drama marvellously. I have watched the film periodically over the years – this afternoon on British TV being the latest – and it loses none of its appeal. In fact I think I enjoy it more than ever each time.

Many criticise Gregory Peck’s performance but after so many years I could not imagine anybody else playing it. A supremely beautiful performance by Ann Todd and an almost perfect one by Alida Valli – why did Hollywood not use these actresses more? Reliable performances from the supporting players as well – the scene at the end between Charles Laughton and Ethel Barrymore is absolutely chilling – CINEMA PERFECTION.

The atmosphere of immediate post-war London is captured perfectly despite being a “studio bound” production. The depictions of British life at the time – the rigid class system, the prison scenes, the still bomb damaged Old Bailey and life in the country – are wholly believable.

Witness for the Prosecution

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