Quite a bizarre film. It reminded me a lot of The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie by Buñuel. It feels like Hitchcock finally got tired of having people panicking in reaction to dead bodies. In the beginning it played out just like Young and Innocent, or maybe more aptly titled Old and Guilty, but took a delightful turn.
Now, I have to say I was almost completely unamused by the film and it came off rather dull, but after completing a masterpiece like Rear Window he needed to find something new to experiment with (To Catch a Thief being the only movie he made in between the two). It's a very playful film for Hitchcock: from the title screen that pans over childish scribbles to the bright colors, it's somewhat reminiscent of Rococo paintings. There are silly moments like Mrs. Gravely (Mildred Natwick) stepping over the body after she says her farewell to Captain Wiles (Edmund Gwenn), or the group taking out the dead man's clothes hiding behind all the living room furniture after they get rid of the sheriff (Royal Dano). Then of course the burying and re-burying of the body so much I had deja-vu.
This film was combined with serious moments of love and moments of farcical humor that don't quite mix as well as I'd hoped and would've been better off exaggerating the absurdist behavior one step further as Buñuel does in his masterpiece. I love Shirley MacLaine but I didn't care for the relationship between her character (Jennifer Rodgers) and Sam Marlow (John Forsythe). Then the ending! Using the confusing logic of the boy Arnie (Jerry Mathers) to come up with the idea to act like everything was back the way it was. Whether "tomorrow" means "yesterday" or today means something else—as if it wasn't already difficult enough to discern the passage of time throughout the movie. The result is a bizarre ending. The most confusing part of all is the task of determining what decisions are intentional and what aren't.