This file was generated 2002-06-09 04:23 GMT. This movie's information hasn't changed since 2002-02-04.

Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> June 2000 >> Lifeboat


Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
4 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
June 2000
IMDB Name:
Lifeboat (1944)
Alfred Hitchcock
drama, suspense
MPAA Rating:
Unrated (predates MPAA ratings)

Desperate People

There is a certain terror that inevitably results from being with people whose motivations are not yet known. Lifeboat is Alfred Hitchcock's interpretation of the matter, based on a John Steinbeck play. Lifeboat is set during World War II, and when a sea battle between Allies and Axis ships leaves only a few survivors, they all end up on one lifeboat. The apparent wild card is a German, played by Walter Slezak. The rest of the boat, a mix of Brits and Americans, are torn, with several in favor of returning the atrocities visited upon their relatives and countrymen and the rest arguing for decent treatment of a prisoner of war. The movie was released in January of 1944, a solid fifteen months before the end of the war, and it reflects the anti- German bias that permeated both England and the United States. I wasn't thinking in terms of the war when watching the movie fifty- five years later, and I actually thought for a moment that the German might turn out to be an OK guy. Hitchcock, though, that marvel of visual subtext, demonstrated otherwise with a cleverly done shadow.

Of the boat's occupants, Tallulah Bankhead is probably my favorite. Her brand of sass is exactly what I expect of women in movies from that period. I'm even willing to forgive the times when her hair looks salon-fresh even though she's been without cosmetic supplies for a few days. Henry Hull is enjoyable as the magnate who goes from being the most civilized to the least.

Copyright 2000-2002 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.