A DIFFERENT KIND OF KICK-THE-BUCKET COMEDY!
In the woods near Highwater, Vermont, several locals try to deal with the appearance of a dead man, among them Captain Albert Wiles (Edmund Gwenn), who believes that he must have shot him, and a young artist (John Forsythe). One of Alfred Hitchcock’s personal favorites, this supremely enjoyable black comedy was also his first collaboration with composer Bernard Herrmann who wrote a suitably quirky score that seems to go very well with the absurdity and laidback attitude of those who keep stumbling onto Harry’s corpse. Irresistibly whimsy entertainment that also includes a cute romance between Forsythe and Shirley MacLaine, a lush autumnal look and amusing dialogue.
1955-U.S. 99 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Screenplay: John Michael Hayes. Novel: Jack Trevor Story. Cinematography: Robert Burks. Music: Bernard Herrmann. Cast: Edmund Gwenn (Albert Wiles), John Forsythe (Sam Marlowe), Shirley MacLaine (Jennifer Rogers), Mildred Natwick, Mildred Dunnock, Jerry Mathers.
Trivia: MacLaine’s first film.
Quote: “Marriage is a good way to spend the winter.” (Gwenn)
Last word: “Before the first scene I ever shot, [Hitchcock] said ‘Shirley dear, genuine chopper.’ I turned to John Forsythe, who just smiled and said ‘It’s cockney slang. You’ll have to figure it out.’ So I thought about it. What’s another word for genuine? ‘Real.’ Okay, one down. What’s another word for chopper? ‘Axe.’ ‘Real axe.’ Relax! (laughs) Later, after I’d gotten the hang of it, he said ‘Shirley darling, before you say the next line, dog’s feet, dear. Dog’s feet.’ Dogs feet, of course, are paws. Pause before the next line. It was part of his playful sadism. I think that’s why all these ice queens he usually cast were afraid of him. A lot of them couldn’t think. Then I became his eating partner and I had to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with Hitch. One day I got a call from the head of Paramount, Don Hartman. He says ‘What are you doing? You’re sabotaging your career before it’s even started because we can’t match any of the scenes. You’ve gained so much weight eating with Hitch!’ (laughs) I must’ve put on twenty pounds.” (MacLaine, The Hollywood Interview)