Lifeboat (1944) is one of those rare films where the entire film is located in one place. It is on a lifeboat that we watch the lives of nine people intertwine.
Set during WWII, their ship is sunk by a German U-boat. As each survivor climbs aboard you wonder if these strangers can get it together in order to survive. Three of nine members of the lifeboat perish but I won't tell you who. I found one specific scene where Joe, played by Canada Lee, says a prayer when no one can remember one fully. It is a beautiful scene that I included in the photos below. Little by little you begin to peak into their lives and their personalities and although very different, there are very much just people.
The films star was the semi-controversial Tallulah Bankhead who was notorious for not wearing proper undergarments which in turn caused the cast and crew to complain to Hitchcock. His response, "I don't know whether this is a matter for wardrobe or hairdressing." She shined in this film and I was surprised to find out that prior to this film she didn't do one since 1932. She was the most experienced of all her cast mates and to be honest I was disappointed to find out that she was difficult to have on set.
The rest of the cast included William Bendix as Gus, Walter Slezak as Willi, Mary Anderson as Alice, John Hodiak as Kovac, Henry Hull as Ritt, Hume Cronyn as Stanley, and Heather Angel as Mrs. Higley. Each actor brought their character to life so much so that you begin to believe that it really happened and these people actually existed.
They struggle with each other's personalities, struggle with hunger and thirst, struggle with a German in their midst, struggle with life and death situations, and they also struggle on the decision of what to do with people who are just out to kill you. As Kovac says at the end of the film, "What do you do with people like this?" And it made me think, what do you do with people in this world that just want to bring harm to others?
Hitchcock included some incredible angles to his camera work as he always does so brilliantly. He also makes his trademark cameo but this time on an advertisement. People who watched the film in 1944 thought this ad was real and began calling around trying to find it! Hitch was a marketing genius!!
Lifeboat is one of Hitchcock's masterpieces. Personally I think all of his work is excellent but what are your favorite Hitch films. Have you seen Lifeboat? What did you think about how the characters evolved?