Lifeboat (TCF 1944, Tallulah Bankhead, William Bendix)


Lifeboat was a Hitchcock wartime thriller based on a story by John Steinbeck (who made a first attempt at the script; Ben Hecht did some polishing to Swerling’s script).

An escape from a torpedoed ship becomes a desperate struggle for survival after the occupants of a lifeboat take in the captain of the U-boat that preyed upon their ship.

The setting made for a difficult production (Bankhead contracted pneumonia) and required three differently configured boats. It also presented a dilemma for the famous Hitchcock cameo – Hitch managed to get around it though as it occurred as “before” and “after” photos in a newspaper ad for an imaginary weightloss drug, Reduco. He was later besieged with letters asking how to obtain the drug.

Lifeboat Hitchcock Ad

Hitch’s newspaper ad cameo.

Academy Award Nominations: 3, including Best Director; Best Original Story.

Cast: Tallulah Bankhead, Heather Angel, William Bendix, Hume Cronyn, John Hodiak, Walter Slezak

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Producer: Kenneth MacGowan
Original Story: John Steinbeck
Director of Photography: Glen MacWilliams
Editor: Dorothy Spencer
Composer: Hugo Friedhofer
Screenwriter: Jo Swerling
Production Designers: James Basevi, Maurice Ransford

USA / Twentieth Century Fox / 96 minutes / 1944

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