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The Old Bait and Switch: Hitchcock’s Pro-Nazi Film

Posted by May 12th, 2024 No Comments »

Capsule Review: Hitchcock’s Pro-Nazi Film (2024)
Directed by Daphne Baiwir

As viewed at the 50th Annual Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF)

The title did exactly what it was supposed to— it piqued my interest enough to watch another documentary. (To delve deeper into my efforts to avoid documentaries, click here). Hitchcock’s Pro-Nazi Film is a classic bait-and-switch, perfectly suited for someone like me. I’ve seen every one of Hitchcock’s 52 films, most of them multiple times, and I’ve immersed myself in several books about the master of suspense. In my view, Hitchcock/Truffaut (2015) stands as the greatest documentary ever made.

Interestingly, Hitchcock’s Pro-Nazi Film isn’t just about Hitchcock. It also explores novelist John Steinbeck, a figure I knew little about but was eager to learn more. The film in question, Lifeboat, isn’t actually pro-Nazi. Rather, it was produced by a different studio and deserves an intriguing, detailed examination—especially since Rear Window, Psycho, and Vertigo often dominate such discussions. For aficionados of Hitchcock, Steinbeck, or classic cinema in general, this documentary is both informative and academically robust. I must admit, I still detest the title.

As you’re already in Seattle for the 50th SIFF, I highly recommend a trip to Scarecrow, our local museum of culture through physical media. Rent Lifeboat (1944), then catch this documentary at the Uptown on either Tuesday or Wednesday to form your own opinion. Despite its provocative title, rest assured, Lifeboat was certainly not a pro-Nazi film.

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