Alfred Hitchcock's The Paradine Case (1947)
A little more than a decade ago, Fox Home Video promised to release on laser disc a 132 minute version of Hitchcock's last film for producer David Selznick, The Paradine Case. The announcement was promising, since the film had been severely edited and re-edited by Selznick. Sadly, the additional seven minutes never found its way into any restored print, and the only version made available on video was the 125 minute cut.
The most significant whole sequence to be cut has recently resurfaced, minus the soundtrack. The sequence comes just after the scene where Gay Keane (Ann Todd) tells her husband, Anthony Keane (Gregory Peck), that he doesn't love Mrs. Paradine, and despite the fact that she does hate her, she wants him to do all he can to see that Mrs. Paradine is acquitted.
The sequence takes place inside an art gallery, where Lady Horfield (Ethel Barrymore) has arranged to meet Keane in secret, so that she can express her own reasons for wanting Keane to get Mrs. Paradine off.
INSERT - EXT. ART GALLERY BRASS PLATE
We see the reflection of Keane as he enters, looks at the name and moves in its direction off scene, diagonally across sign and toward unseen doorway.
INT. ART GALLERY
The CAMERA is behind Keane as he walks through, obviously looking for someone. As he turns a corner we see Lady Horfield, distractedly trying to look at a picture and turning around. As she sees Keane, she starts toward him but stops suddenly and looks around furtively as Keane advances toward her. The gallery is practically empty, save for two elderly women who move along studying the pictures, and go around the corner from which Keane has come and out of the way for the following scene.
NOTE: At four or five points Lady Horfield coughs nervously.
Lady Horfield (agitated)
Oh, I'm so glad you came…I do hope my note - that this - this meeting didn't inconvenience you.
Naturally, I was very curious…
The two elderly women glance at them disinterestedly.
Lady Horfield (catching this)
Oh - do you think they - so many people know me by sight because of him - I'm so afraid to be seen here…
But why shouldn't you be here?
With you, like this, secretly - it would seem - they might easily think -
Keane (a little irritated)
Even if they do, they will scarcely think this is an - an assignation!
You're laughing at me! He does - often. Do you find me -
No, no, dear Lady Horfield, I'm not laughing at you. I only meant… (he abandons the attempt to explain what he meant)
Lady Horfield, very nervous, and embarrassed as well, is a pitiful figure in her confusion.
You're defending her - that poor woman. That's why I - otherwise, I should never have spoken, never! You do understand that, don't you?
Of course, of course.
You're a great lawyer. Get her off! They tell me there's no one like you for getting them off. That's why I come to you. It's wrong, perhaps. I oughtn't to do it because I'm his wife and I - he's everything to me. But I feel I must. He can't help it. It's not his fault. It's his duty!
Keane looks at her, wonders if perhaps Lady Horfield isn't just a bit mad.
Lady Horfield (fiercely)
You must believe that!…You can't believe he likes having to sentence…
Lady Horfield (looking around)
And another thing -
Be nice to him - when you can.
Yes. I'm afraid - I'm afraid he doesn't like you. That makes it worse.
(she lowers her eyes in shame)
It's only - you see - when he's angry, he controls himself in court - but then -
(she looks up at him, desperately, and closes her hands in supplication, filled with shame for what she must say)
afterwards - it's so difficult - for me…
Keane (very touched)
It's so awful for me - especially when it's a woman. It makes him like - like an executioner…I don't think any man should have such - such an obligation. Perhaps - perhaps I'm too religious, but it's against God's will, I'm sure…to give an order that a person must die…
It's a terrible responsibility…but he does represent the law…
Lady Horfield (who hasn't heard him)
Three months ago a poor wretch of a laundry maid killed her lover. Tommy - with that black cap - had to sentence her…to…He came home to me immediately after. He was tired and he wanted a pleasant evening…just like any other man who's done a day's work…but I couldn't…I couldn't…
Keane lowers his head. There's a moment's silence.
I'm deeply sorry for you.
Oh, I love him so - and he can't be placed in that position any more! You must convince the jury that she's innocent…for my sake.
From the distance a man's voice is heard.
Man's Voice (sycophantically)
I'm delighted, Lord Horfield, that you found the time to come.
I always find time for art. And besides, my wife was telling me the other evening what a good show it was here.
Lady Horfield (looking around, panicked)
Isn't there some other way out of here?
Keane (calming her)
There's nothing to be worried about…
Come and stand in front of this picture. Talk about it to me.
(urgently, raising his voice)
You see the balance of colors in this particular one is -
I know he'll suspect. I'm -
The voices are nearing.
Most of them are sold. We've had a very successful show.
Horfield has now spotted them.
Keane!…And Sophy, of all people…How good of you, Keane, to help Sophy in her efforts to obtain a better understanding of art! How are you getting on, Sophy? Here's the painter himself to add to your knowledge…May I present Mr. Peter De Lindstrom?. My wife…And my good friend, Mr. Anthony Keane.
How do you do. This is the second time I've seen your show…and I found Mr. Keane here. He was kindly explaining to me…
She sees her husband's eyes fixed on her between narrowed lids, and her courage falters for a moment.
Yes? Yes, Sophy? What?
I wasn't really, but I'm afraid I may have sounded a bit professorial in my -
Lady Horfield (interrupting)
No, no! It's only that -
(politely, to Lady Horfield, seeing something is wrong)
I'd like to show you my drawings. I have a portfolio downstairs.
He moves away with her, leaving Horfield and Keane together.
Sophy doesn't look well, do you think?
Oh? I hadn't noticed.
Yes. She suffers from blood pressure. Perhaps you knew it.
No, I didn't.
That's partly what makes her talk nonsense. Don't bother to be polite; you know, everyone knows what gibberish she talks…
(he takes Keane's arm and propels him away)
It's not only the possibility of a stroke that worries me…
(his voice lowers as we hear him say)
The thought of a sanatorium is so repellent that I…
On the last we have started a SLOW DISSOLVE as they get out of hearing distance.
It's a damn shame the sequence was cut, as it adds another dimension to the film — making Lord Horfield that much more menacing, both to poor old Sophy and to Keane. Very likely this scene earned Ethel Barrymore her nomination for Best Supporting Actress for The Paradine Case.