Reviews

Lifeboat

3

One setting. Nine people. Lots and lots of aggro. Hitchcock's sloshy wartime thriller anticipates Big Brother's Darwinian bear-pit by 60 years and jacks up the ante with eviction-by-drowning. Memo to Channel Four?

Like Rope (one apartment, no cuts) and Rear Window (one apartment, no legs), it's one of the fatman's most memorable experiments in phonebox cinema: trapping us on a rowboat in the Atlantic with the survivors of a sunk luxury-liner and the German U-boat skipper (Walter Slezak) who torpedoed them. Lifeboat dived at the box-office and the script (snubbed by Ernest Hemingway, started by John Steinbeck, finished by Ben Hecht) now feels like a real propaganda force-feed. But there's a definite, delicious nastiness to the drama as the pneumonia-sodden cast bitch and bait each other with deadly consequences. Look out for Hitch's favourite cameo: a newspaper ad for a fictional diet aid called 'Reduco', featuring before-and-after snaps of the bulbous director.

 

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