Alfred Hitchcock's 1955 comedy has long been overshadowed by the masterworks that surround it (Rear Window on one side, Vertigo on the other), but it's a wonderful, fanciful film, the most optimistic movie he ever made—a fairy tale among nightmares. The film is a celebration of the powers of the artist—as life giver, creator, liberator—assembled with gentleness and whimsy. The moment when the artist (John Forsythe) proposes to his lover (Shirley MacLaine, in her film debut) is the most gracious in Hitchcock's work. He says, "We'll be the only free couple in the world," and his words are a light of hope for all the tortured couples that populate Hitchcock's films, from Rich and Strange to Marnie. The story centers on a corpse, planted by providence in a New England forest on a lovely autumn day; the supporting players include Edmund Gwenn as a retired sea captain (unmistakably a projection of Hitchcock himself) and Mildred Natwick as the village spinster.
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