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Everyone concedes that this 1941 Hitchcock film is a failure, yet it displays so much artistic seriousness that I find its failure utterly mysterious—especially since the often criticized ending (imposed on Hitchcock by the studio) makes perfect sense to me. This is the first film in which Hitchcock puts his dazzling technical imagination wholly in the service of his art: note his subtlety in establishing the menace of the Cary Grant character by never allowing him to be seen walking into a shot; he simply appears in the scene, his entrance covered by a cut or dissolve. Grant gives what is perhaps the finest of his many great performances for Hitchcock: required to play two different, completely contradictory characters simultaneously, he never cheats or flattens out, but plays in magnificent, mysterious depth. With Joan Fontaine (who won the Oscar that Grant deserved) and Nigel Bruce. 99 min.
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