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Seeking a creative challenge after several years' worth of fairly elaborate melodramas, director Alfred Hitchcock stages all of the action in Lifeboat in one tiny boat, adrift in the North Atlantic. The boat holds eight survivors of a Nazi torpedo attack: sophisticated magazine writer/photographer Constance Porter (Tallulah Bankhead), Communist seaman John Kovac (John Hodiak), nurse Alice MacKenzie (Mary Anderson), mild-mannered radio-operator Stan (Hume Cronyn), seriously wounded Brooklynese stoker Gus Smith (William Bendix), insufferable-capitalist Charles Rittenhouse (Henry Hull),… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"That old master of screen melodrama, Alfred Hitchcock, and Writer John Steinbeck have combined their distinctive talents in a tremendously provocative film."
‑ Bosley Crowther, New York Times
" of Hitchcock's significant works, accented by wickedly effective insert shots and a handful of strong performances."
‑ Josh Larsen, LarsenOnFilm
""It's based on the story by John Steinbeck, who wanted to show the Nazis as single-minded brutes with no redeeming human qualities."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"Hitchcock's shifting sympathies guarantee our guilty involvement with the characters until he builds to a climax of intellectual and spiritual excitation."
‑ Dan Callahan, Slant Magazine
"One of Hitchcock's most underrated efforts"
‑ Jon Niccum, Lawrence Journal-World
"The characters are reasonably free of cliched personalities, so what happens between them is rarely predictable, and there are enough crises and tensions within the 96-minute running time to hold a viewer fully attentive."
‑ Douglas Pratt, Hollywood Reporter
"Here is the closest the director probably ever came to making an insightful statement about the dreadful world he and his peers lived in."
‑ David Keyes,
"Only Hitchcock could pull off this compelling drama in such tight quarters!"
‑ John A. Nesbit, Old School Reviews
"boasts the filmmaker's trademark technical polish: His command over editing, framing, and optical effects deftly masters the challenges of a water-borne production"
‑ Jay Antani,
"At times, the film seems on the verge of rising above its frankly propagandistic intentions, but it never really confronts the Darwinian themes built into the material."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"Hitchcock's answer to the perpetual film school dilemma of making a movie on a boat as one of a filmmaker's biggest challenges, is a textbook example of how it's done right."
‑ Cole Smithey,
"It's a technical tour-de-force."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid
"One of Hitchcock's best"
‑ John Esther, Pasadena Weekly
More reviews for Lifeboat on Rotten Tomatoes