Action on North Atlantic

The other day I agreed with Self-Styled Siren‘s comment that Alfred Hitchcock‘s Lifeboat (’44) is “very unappreciated” — I assumed she meant “wrongly” — by saying that Tallulah Bankhead, John Hodiak, Hume Cronyn, Henry Hull and Walter Slezak are excellent and that Hitch’s studio-water-tank simulation of the North Atlantic easily out-verisimiltudes Waterworld.

The discussion began with my mentioning the forthcoming Masters of Cinema Bluray version, due in mid April.

Siren said that Lifeboat is “a good example of our mutual pal Glenn Kenny‘s argument that a confined space can still be very cinematic.” Or my view that any limitation (including not having enough money) always encourages creativity. Lifeboat is the first of Hitchcock’s four confined-space films, the others being Rope (’48), Dial M for Murder (’54), and Rear Window (’54).

There are two great moments in the above clip. The first happens at 2:20, just after Bankhead has lost a priceless diamond bracelet after she and the others have tried fishing with it (“I can recommend the bait…I should know, I bit on it myself”). The second happens at 8:55 after a young German sailor, pulled aboard after his ship has gone down, is disarmed after pointing a gun at the lifeboat crew. And Hodiak says, “What are you going to do with people like that?” Cronyn says, “I don’t know…I was thinking of Mrs. Igley and her baby…and Gus.” And Bankhead says, “Well, maybe they can answer that.”

The writers were John Steinbeck, Jo Swerling, Ben Hecht, Alma Reville, MacKinlay Kantor and Patricia Collinge.

Lifeboat is one of many hundreds of films made since the early 1920s that are sharper and deeper and of more lasting value than The Artist. Don’t get me started.

  • MarkVH

    Lifeboat is one of many hundreds of films made since the early 1920s that are sharper and deeper and of more lasting value than The Artist. Don’t get me started.”

    And it didn’t even get nominated for Best Picture. Meanwhile, Going My Way won. I’d guarantee Lifeboat is the more-watched and appreciated film nowadays.

    Point being, who cares if The Artist wins Best Pic? Doesn’t mean shit.

  • JLC

    Bankhead is flatt-out marvelous in this film.

  • Rashad

    Canada Lee made sure his character did not speak like the stereotypical negro character of the time. And yet here we are in 2012, and Viola Davis is being lavished with awards for doing the exact opposite.

  • Jericho Cane

    I love how Hitch works in his “cameo appearance”. See it on a big screen if you can.

  • So this is how one must get panicked when he happens to lost a priceless diamond bracelet.
    Paul Perito

  • 500 euro lenen

    I’m experiencing some trouble playing the video… Anyone else experiencing the same or is it my old-fashioned laptop that’s struggling?

  • RC

    Because of their investment in the equipment required, most repair shops charge a fee, some-times substantial, to attach the scanning equipment and diagnose problems using the OBD2 system signals. Home mechanics and small shop technicians have been restricted from working with these signals by the cost and technical complexity of the equipment. With the introduction of more economical and user friendly scanning devices, it is now practical for almost anyone to access OBD II signals and use them for their own testing and repairs.