Saturday, November 03, 2007

97. Lifeboat (1944)

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: Talullah Bankhead, William Bendix, Walter Slezak, Mary Anderson, John Hodiak, Henry Hull, Canada Lee, Heather Angel, Hume Cronyn

When several survivors of a battle between a ship and a German U-boat board a lifeboat, they have to work together to make it to safety. Chief among these survivors is Connie Porter, played by the incredible Talullah Bankhead (and by incredible I mean, 1944: Ingrid Bergman, Barbara Stanwyck, eat your heart out). Connie's neutrality amidst a fervent sense of warfare (she is an English journalist, but can speak German and appears to abide by a policy of self-determination not dissimilar to right-wing German atittude at the time) acts as the mediator in a group pulling itself apart.

Lifeboat is itself an examination of how politics can manifest itself in a situation that, admittedly takes place in a political environment, but is essentially a battle between life and death. The dynamic of the group is believably and tangibly fragile, the pressure of their plight pushing each survivor to the darkest boundaries of their character, political or otherwise. Above all, it may be seen as a piece of social commentary; a metaphor for the casualties of war being 'all in the same boat'. It's rare that a film with such a promising concept fully lives up to it, but Lifeboat does just this. It's compelling from beginning to end.

1 comment:

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