As a teenager in the 1940s, my mother was a self-professed movie buff, spending a lot of her free time with her friends at the matinees and double features in Schenectady, New York, where she grew up. She probably lost count of the number of movies that she see saw back in the day, but one she remembered forty and fifty years later was Laura. When Fox finally came to their senses and released it on VHS some time ago, I was finally able to appreciate why.
Despite being produced explicitly as a propaganda film during World War II, this adaptation of Ted W. Lawson’s account of his own experiences as a pilot during the famous Doolittle raid on Tokyo is a remarkably authentic account of the daring air attack on April 18, 1942. Still, some elements of this are sufficiently dated that this is one classic film that could stand a modern remake.
Lifeboat presented director Alfred Hitchcock with two very specific technical challenges. One was how to create a 90-minute film when your action was confined to a handful of actors aboard one small boat. The other was how to stage his traditional walk-on appearance when it would be very incongruous to have a portly Englishman in a black suit simply stroll by. The second problem was solved very simply but ingeniously. Hitchcock was featured in an advertisement for a weight-loss pill in a newspaper read by one of the characters. The first problem was a matter of planning the film with storyboards, shot by shot, which the director did better than anyone.