The Astonished Heart

The author of Blithe Spirit has another tale to tell, not a ghost story but a fantastically intricate and precise depiction of an adulterous affair that befalls a London psychiatrist quite renowned, sufficiently to give six lectures at Kingsway Hall on Jung’s “inferior function”, which is to say the inner workings of the mind beneath the personality.

It does not seem to have occurred to critics that this had anything to do with the war, or was of any interest whatsoever.

The title is from Deuteronomy 28, as given in the screenplay (note for lecture).

The New York Times felt that this was a “sluggish entertainment”. Film4 considers it “clumsily directed”. Time Out Film Guide tries to make it out as a study of sexual mores suitable to the period. According to Halliwell, “it sank without trace” and no loss, one of the cinema’s greatest works.



So Long at the Fair

A frightful masterpiece, superabundantly well-made, it can’t be mistaken for anything else, so one understands the critical rejection as a response to the surface machinations of the plot.

It has two keys, one supplied by Antonioni in L’Avventura, the brother departs, the lover appears. This is very satisfactory, of course, but Hitchcock has an earlier and a later variant, The Lady Vanishes and “Into Thin Air” (Alfred Hitchcock Presents, dir. Don Medford), where the war is indicated.

The brother disappears from the Hôtel de la Licorne in Paris on the eve of the 1899 Exposition, and so does his room, he has never been there, it has never existed.

An expatriate painter gets to the truth and beauty of it, from Ibsen.

Polanski’s Frantic is another variant.