A weaker, though certainly not ineffective, effort from Hitchcock, concerning a chance encounter (or maybe not?) between one pro tennis player (spurned by a cheating wife, taken in the arms of a senator’s daughter) and one mollycoddled flaneur (a mamma’s boy with only a sensible father in his way).Though both tend not to see reality clearly enough, the slacker is given to grander ideas of delusion, ergo offering to off the official misses in order to advance the prospective relationship, if in turn the athlete agrees to kill his father. A further demonstration of the delusion has the spoiled brat taking the unasked-for initiative to grant his end of the bargain without ever receiving confirmation or interest from the other party. Hitchcock tips the bow in this suspense story by over-extending or over-infiltrating the levels of coincidence that shape the progression. Granted, chance plays many supporting roles over the course of Hitchcock’s body of work, but further investigation would lead one to suspect the written word of Patricia Highsmith’s mystery novel to cause the misstep, or gradual reduction in sole size, from the determined pacing to and fro of the mystery’s plotting calculations. And equally identifiable — if not handicap-able — are the shades of Highsmith’s blueprints with her Ripley series. (Although the tennis player largely strays from Tom Ripley, the similarity of the mamma’s boy is a model of Dickie Greenleaf, emoting some heavy homoerotic vibes absent in Rene Clement’s Purple Noon, but inferred from Ripley in Anthony Minghella’s re-make.) Stylistically, Hitchcock introduces several nice touches, the ping-pong reaction of the crowd during a tennis match, save for the watchful eyes of the intent; the mise-en-scène of the carousel fight; and naturally, the reflected image of the strangling through the wife’s knocked-down eyeglasses (and repeated allusions to throughout). Nevertheless, each corner is fun to turn.
With Farley Granger, Robert Walker, Ruth Roman and Patricia Hitchcock.[Worth-seeing.]