The Prize

1963

Crime / Drama

2
IMDb Rating 6.8

Synopsis


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2.58G
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English
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134 min
P/S 0 / 0
1.63G
Normal
English
/
134 min
P/S 0 / 0

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by JamesHitchcock 8

Imitation in the film world is not always a bad thing. We can all think of movies that are eminently watchable despite owing an obvious debt to an earlier film or to the work of a particular director. Alfred Hitchcock is one director who has always attracted his fair share of imitators. Films such as Henry Hathaway&#39;s &#39;Niagara&#39;, J. Lee Thompson&#39;s &#39;Cape Fear&#39; or Brian de Palma&#39;s &#39;Dressed to Kill&#39; all owe an obvious debt to the master&#39;s work (even down to the trademark blonde heroine) but are nevertheless good films in their own right.<br/><br/>All the above films were influenced by the darker side of Hitchcock&#39;s work; the strongest influence on &#39;Dressed to Kill&#39;, for example, seems to have been &#39;Psycho&#39;. He did, however, have a lighter side, often seen in his spy films which frequently blend suspense with humour. Examples are &#39;The Lady Vanishes&#39;, with its two eccentric cricket-loving English gentlemen, &#39;The Thirty-Nine Steps&#39; and, most importantly for our purposes, &#39;North by North-West&#39;.<br/><br/>&#39;The Prize&#39; clearly shows the influence of the lighter Hitchcock. The setting is the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, and the central character is the winner of the prize for literature, Andrew Craig, an alcoholic American novelist suffering from writer&#39;s block. (As numerous figures in the American literary establishment around this time did indeed have a drink problem, it is interesting to speculate who might have been the model for the character). Craig discovers a Soviet-block plot to kidnap Dr Stratmann, the German-born American winner of the physics prize, and to replace him with a double who will use ceremony to announce his defection to East Germany. Like the Hitchcock films mentioned above, the film mixes tension with humorous moments. The tension arises from Craig&#39;s attempts to thwart the kidnap plot and to convince the sceptical Swedish authorities of its existence. The humour mostly arises from the scenes featuring the other prize-winners. The French husband-and-wife team who have shared the chemistry prize have done so despite the fact that they cannot stand each other. (The husband has insisted on his mistress accompanying him under the guise of his &#39;secretary&#39;, while the wife enjoys flirting with Craig). The American and Italian co-winners of the prize for medicine constantly bicker about which of them has plagiarised the other&#39;s work. (The peace prize winner does not appear to feature in the film, although a pacifist is sorely needed to keep the peace among the others).<br/><br/>Even the scenes featuring Craig are not always to be taken seriously. Although there are genuine moments of suspense, such as the scene with the car on the bridge, there are humorous moments as well. As other reviewers have pointed out, the scene at the nudist convention owes much to the auction scene in &#39;North by North-West&#39;, also written by Ernest Lehman. The humour here arises from the contrast between the seeming absurdity of Craig&#39;s actions and their underlying serious purpose- he is trying to attract the attention of the police because he is in danger from the villains.<br/><br/>There are a number of effective performances, especially from Paul Newman as Craig and Edward G. Robinson as both Dr Stratmann and his double. The result is a superior piece of entertainment, not quite as good as Hitchcock at his best, but better than most of his sixties movies except &#39;Psycho&#39; and possibly &#39;Marnie&#39;. It is certainly closer to authentic Hitchcock than his last two spy films, &#39;Torn Curtain&#39; and &#39;Topaz&#39;. 8/10.

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Reviewed by barnabyrudge 9

Director Mark Robson tilts his hat to Hitchcock with this adaptation of an Irving Wallace novel. A slick, light-hearted thriller of international intrigue, with a dash of sex and humour thrown in, &quot;The Prize&quot; is actually BETTER than some of the stuff Hitchcock was making around that time (eg Torn Curtain and Topaz). No doubt, part of the reason for the Hitchcockian similarities is due to the fact that this film was scripted by Ernest Lehmann, who just a few years previously had written North By Northwest. Anyone who remembers North By Northwest will probably recollect the famous auction house scene, and here, in &quot;The Prize&quot;, Lehmann has written-in an almost identical scene in which the hero narrowly evades capture by creating a stir at a nudists&#39; conference!<br/><br/>American writer Andrew Craig (Paul Newman) is in Stockholm for the Nobel Prize Ceremony, for which he has won the Literature award. Known for his boozy antics, as well as his distinct lack of respect for those in authority, Craig is assigned a personal assistant, Inger Lisa Andersson (Elke Sommer), to keep him in check during his stay. Less well-known is the fact that Craig has been suffering from writer&#39;s block for several years, and has been writing cheap crime novels under a pseudonym in order to make ends meet. With his nose for a mystery he soon sniffs out some very curious goings-on at the ceremony. He becomes increasingly convinced that the Physics Prize Winner, Dr Max Stratman (Edward G. Robinson) has been kidnapped and replaced by a double. Since no-one will believe him, it is left to Craig and his pretty Swedish assistant to uncover the truth.<br/><br/>&quot;The Prize&quot; actually starts quite slowly, with an amount of time set aside for character introductions and plot exposition that impatient viewers might find excessive. However, the build-up pays off brilliantly once the action gets underway and all the jigsaw pieces of the plot drop into place. Modern film-makers seem to be of the opinion that the best approach is to hurl the audience straight into the action, but &quot;The Prize&quot; proves conclusively that audiences get far more excitement and enjoyment when the plot and characters have been constructed with care and detail. In particular, the relationship between the various Nobel prizewinners is an utter joy (especially the husband-and-wife chemistry winners who actually hate each other; and the co-winners of the medical award who accuse each other of stealing their best ideas). There are a great variety of suspenseful and humorous moments in &quot;The Prize&quot;. Add to that the game performances, excellent location work, Jerry Goldsmith&#39;s good music score, and the general sense of solid, old-fashioned entertainment.... and you&#39;re looking at a Hitchcock pastiche par excellence.

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Reviewed by Doylenf 6

Ernest Lehman can be excused for borrowing liberally from himself in the course of writing the script for THE PRIZE, since he gets us hooked by setting up the tale with some very clever exposition in the first fifteen minutes by having waiters delivering a special guest tray to the various recipients of the Nobel Prize in Sweden at the Grand Hotel, with a sense of irony and humor in their shenanigans.<br/><br/>The sophisticated wit and humor doesn&#39;t stop there. As soon as the character of PAUL NEWMAN (as Andrew Craig, literature winner) is introduced, we&#39;re treated to another version of the sort of character Cary Grant played in NORTH BY NORTHWEST--a man who suddenly finds himself in a situation where he becomes the target of assassins who want him out of the way because he knows too much.<br/><br/>The similarities don&#39;t end there. There&#39;s a nudist convention that Newman has to barge into in order to escape two killers and he tries in vain to get them apprehended by the authorities. (Sound familiar?) There are people who refuse to believe his story of an attempted kill where he was thrown off a balcony and into the sea by a man trying to knife him to death. Another familiar moment occurs when he revisits a murder scene with the police--but the scene has been cleaned up and a woman denies that there was ever a dead body on the floor or that they owned a TV set (which is missing), as Newman claims.<br/><br/>Furthermore, every situation Newman is thrown into has its humorous side, mostly because of some stinging one-liners he gets to bandy around at the bad guys, like the waiter who only hours before is the one who threw him off the balcony. &quot;How are the crepe suzettes? Is there a body in there?&quot; Lehman keeps the yarn spinning along in dangerous territory, but always with a good deal of humor in the words and actions of DIANE BAKER (as a mysterious woman), EDWARD G. ROBINSON (in a pivotal role as a Nobel scientist replaced by a double), KEVIN McCARTHY, LEO G. CARROLL and others.<br/><br/>Handsomely photographed in Widescreen and color, it&#39;s no NORTH BY NORTHWEST as far as the suspense is concerned, but it is almost as diverting despite some mighty far-fetched escapes that only a writer as talented as Ernest Lehman could manage to make credible. Never read the Irving Wallace book, but I&#39;m sure the crisp dialog can be attributed to Lehman, not Wallace, since it sounds so much like NORTH BY NORTHWEST at certain moments.<br/><br/>Nice jobs by PAUL NEWMAN and ELKE SUMMER as the foreign assistant assigned to be his aid during his stay in Stockholm and with whom, of course, he becomes romantically involved. Newman&#39;s breezy performance is full of cocky ease and he&#39;s clearly at home in this sort of caper.

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