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REVIEW – Lifeboat (1944)

April 25, 2012

FilmJuice have my review of Alfred Hitchcock’s recently reissued huis clos drama Lifeboat.

Set during World War II, the film tells of a mismatched group of people who are forced to share a lifeboat when the Nazis torpedo their ship. Rather than turning this set-up into a thriller, Hitchcock places his emphasis firmly on the characters as they wrestle with the responsibilities and challenges of leadership. Indeed, the film can be taken as an exploration of Plato’s metaphorical Ship of State and the question of who is best suited to rule. Is it the successful businessman? the blue collar tough guy? Or is it the Nazi superman?

Looking beyond its political themes and its character studies, Lifeboat displays the fondness for small sets that reappears in such better-known Hitchcockian classics as Rope, Dial M for Murder and Rear Window. Unsurprisingly, the film received a bevvy of Oscar Nominations for its searing black and white cinematography and the directorial flair required to set an entire 98-minute film on a solitary lifeboat.

Technically superb and filled with lovely cinematic moments, Lifeboat is a powerful reminder that there was more to Hitchcock than perfect pace and clockwork plotting.

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