LIFEBOAT (1944) B/W 96m dir: Alfred Hitchcock

w/Tallulah Bankhead, William Bendix, Walter Slezak, Mary Anderson, John Hodiak, Henry Hull, Heather Angel, Hume Cronyn, Canada Lee, William Yetter Jr.

From The Movie Guide: "Alfred Hitchcock's taut wartime thriller concerns a handful of survivors who climb into a lifeboat after their ship is torpedoed by a German U-boat. The captain (Walter Slezak) of the U-boat, which has also sunk, swims to the already crowded boat and is taken aboard by the kindhearted survivors. Since he is the only man capable of handling the craft in rough water and navigating it to a safe harbor, he is elected helmsman. The survivors are an odd lot --- fashion writer Connie Porter (Tallulah Bankhead), industrious tycoon Rittenhouse (Henry Hull), socially conscious seaman Kovak (John Hodiak), wounded stoker Gus (William Bendix), meek radio operator Stanley Garrett (Hume Cronyn), bewildered nurse Alice (Mary Anderson), a mother in shock (Heather Angel) cradling her child who had just died, and black steward Joe (Canada Lee). Slowly, and with insidious cleverness, the German steers a course not for land, but to a secret rendezvous with a German mother ship. The entire cast is superb, but the standouts are Bankhead, as the spoiled, wealthy dilettante writer whose expensive furs and jewelry are worth more to her than the lives of her fellow passengers, and Bendix, as the compassionate but not-too-bright stoker whose gangrenous leg poses a threat to his dreams of returning home to dance with his sweetheart. John Steinbeck, on whose original story the film was based, was first assigned to pen the script, but reportedly felt too restricted by the film's single set (the lifeboat). Jo Swerling eventually wrote the script, but, as was customary with Hitchcock, the talented Ben Hecht was brought in at the last moment to tighten up scenes and sharpen dialogue."

FilmFrog note: Since the setting of the film is a lifeboat, Hitchcock had to be very inventive regarding his customary cameo appearance in this film --- and it's a lulu! But if you want to cheat, check out the listing of all Hitchcock's cameos in the Archives.

LIFEBOAT was nominated for three Oscars: Best Director, Original Screenplay (Steinbeck), and Cinematography (Glen MacWilliams).