Hitchcock (2012) – 6/10 biographical movie review

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Cast / crew
Director: Sacha Gervasi
Screenplay Writer Based on the book “Alfred Hitchcock and The Making of Psycho” by Stephen Rebello: John J. McLaughlin
Writer (Book) Alfred Hitchcock and The Making of Psycho: Stephen Rebello
Producer: Ivan Reitman
Producer: Tom Pollock
Producer: Joe Medjuck
Producer: Tom Thayer
Producer: Alan Barnette
Alfred Hitchcock: Anthony Hopkins
Alma Reville: Helen Mirren
Janet Leigh: Scarlett Johansson
Toni Collette: Peggy
Danny Huston: Whitfield Cook
Vera Miles: Jessica Biel
Michael Stuhlbarg: Lew Wasserman
Anthony Perkins: James D’Arcy
Ed Gein: Michael Wincott
Kurtwood Smith: Geoffrey Shurlock
Richard Portnow: Barney Balaban

Hitchcock (2012)

Craving a creative renaissance after the success of North by Northwest, feted director Alfred Hitchcock settles upon a lurid little horror story inspired by the life and crimes of notorious serial killer Ed Gein: Psycho. However, his movie-making partners are mortified at his descent into the world of meaningless B-movie exploitation and Hitch will need to call upon all his reserves of self-confidence and the support of his wife and constant creative partner Alma Reville.

6/10

Gentle down-to-earth, rather fictional and unofficial biopic looking at the time surrounding the production and release of Psycho and the important role that Alma Reville, Mrs. Alfred Hitchcock, played in his life and art. Viewers are likely unaware of her importance and, even though he perhaps didn’t always treat her as well as he should, Hitchcock himself knew how critical she was; his AFI Lifetime Achievement speech contains a nice eulogy and they remained, reportedly happily, married for 50-odd years.

This movie contains adult dialogue, sexuality, unpleasant scenes, brief violence

Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Links

Shadow of a Doubt (1942) – 8/10 Hitchcock crime suspense drama movie review

Cast / crew
Teresa Wright: Young Charlie
Joseph Cotten: Uncle Charlie
Writer (Screenplay): Thornton Wilder
Writer (Screenplay): Sally Benson
Writer (Screenplay): Alma Reville
Writer (Story): Gordon McDonell
Producer: Jack H. Skirball
Acknowledgment: Thornton Wilder
Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Shadow of a Doubt (1942)

When Uncle Charlie arrives in the small Californian town of Santa Rosa, he is welcomed with open arms by his family, especially his niece, also named Charlie. However, she soon begins to harbour doubts about her favourite uncle.

8/10

"We’re not talking about killing people. Herb’s talking about killing me and I’m talking about killing him." – Joseph Newton

Something clearly evident here is the sense of glee that Hitchcock, and no one else, brought to the subject of murder and was a critical element in making his films so entertaining. Even though he usually made crime thrillers, Hitchcock also consistently made his films will-he-get-away-with-it’s not who-dun-it’s. He then backs that up by making it a very real possibility that the villain (a successfully cast-against-type Joseph Cotten) will, if not succeed at his malevolence, get away with it. Hitchcock’s repeated success at balancing these two elements (among others) is why he is a genius.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Alfred Hitchcock’s Saboteur (1942) – 7/10 Hitchcock wrong man thriller movie review

Cast / crew
Priscilla Lane: Pat
Robert Cummings: Barry
Director and Producer: Alfred Hitchcock
Otto Kruger: Tobin
Alan Baxter: Freeman
Clem Bevans: Neilson
Norman Lloyd: Fry
Alma Kruger: Mrs. Sutton
Writer (Screenplay): Peter Viertel
Writer (Screenplay): Joan Harrison
Writer (Screenplay): Dorothy Parker

Saboteur, Alfred Hitchcock’s (1942)

An aircraft factory worker is suspected of sabotage when his friend dies and the factory burns down but flees the police with the address of the man responsible.

7/10

Quality Hitchcock which delivers excitement, suspense, romance and humour with apparently no effort whatsoever.  Some of the speechifying grinds things to a halt and is clearly present for propaganda effect (the film was made in 1942, halfway through World War II). The two leads are pleasant enough without being particularly memorable (though Hitchcock’s use of Priscilla Lane means that her character being a model is not a negative point; imagine if a movie were made today where a model is the heroine, grief!) but when Hitchcock is doing what he does best, the set piece, the film is near faultless. The most famous set piece is the Statue of Liberty finalé which is superbly constructed and benefits from perfect special effects though the absence of music does seem an odd choice. There are many other superb set piece sequences including a shootout at a cinema, an inescapable charity ball, a fight inside a van, the opening aircraft factory sabotage sequence and more suspenseful scenes involving a blind man and a circus troupe. Hitchcock also uses a baby as a bullet-shield for the hero and I wonder just how many movie heroes did that!

This movie contains adult dialogue and violence, gory and unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Les Diaboliques (1954, Classic Crime Thriller) – 8/10 movie review

Cast / crew
Simone Signoret: Nicole Horner
Vera Clouzot: Christina Delassalle
Paul Meurisse: Michel Delassalle
Charles Vanel: Alfred Fichet, le commissaire
Producer: Henri-Georges Clouzot
Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot
Writer (Original Novel) “Celle Qui N’était Plus”: Pierre Boileau
Writer (Original Novel) “Celle Qui N’était Plus”: Thomas Narcejac
Writer (Screenplay): Henri-Georges Clouzot
Writer (Screenplay): Jérôme Geronimi
Writer (Screenplay): René Masson
Writer (Screenplay): Frédéric Grendel

Les Diaboliques (1954)

8/10

Les Diaboliques opens with an excuse for it’s existence and most people will be coming to it because of the connection to Hitchcock’s Vertigo but, as everyone who’s ever seen it can testify, this is a classic in it’s own right. Henri-Georges Clouzot takes a great story, delivers intrigue and tension when he wants to and convincingly builds to a proper scary climax. More attention could have been given to the retired investigator and other teachers at the school to make their parts add fun flavour to the main course but otherwise, this is a must-see masterpiece.

This movie contains a single sexual swear word, mild swear words and substance abuse and violence, inferred sexual violence, unpleasant and scary scenes.

Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

Frenzy (1972) movie review – 8/10

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★★★★★ ★★★☆☆
Getting off to a bad-tempered start with Jon Finch as a drunken, charmless soon-to-be ‘wrong man’, this penultimate Hitchcock movie finally settles into a first-rate chiller with the onset of the rape and murder. The film is grippingly paced at any rate and directed far better than it is written (by “Sleuth” scribe Anthony Schaffer but almost all the swearing is rubbish and the dialogue is clunky until the rape and murder). This is better and more satisfying than his previous three films “Marnie”, “Torn Curtain” and “Topaz” and is understandably regarded as the last great Hitchcock.
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DESCRIPTION
The Necktie Killer is piquing tourist and local interest in London’s Covent Garden but a down-on-his-luck ex-army man Richard Blaney is about to find himself on the wrong end of a giant pile of circumstantial evidence.

PEOPLE CREDITS
• Director: Alfred Hitchcock
• Writer (Original Novel) “Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square”: Arthur la Bern
◦ Jon Finch: Richard Blaney
◦ Alec McCowen: Chief Inspector Oxford
◦ Barry Foster: Robert Rusk
• Writer (Screenplay): Anthony Shaffer

CONTENT
Mild swear words, strong adult dialogue. Substance abuse (sleeping pills). Graphic disturbing violence, extremely unpleasant scenes. Rape scene (Barry Foster on Barbara Leigh-Hunt), full female nudity
Classified 18 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over.

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Any scene with Barry Foster in is brilliant. The most famous or infamous scene in the film is his character Robert Rusk’s rape and murder of Brenda Blaney (Barbara Leigh-Hunt). It is superbly put together. Disturbing, terrifying and convincing. The Hitchcock touch is that you cannot turn away. You are gripped. Later, the best scene in the film, is Rusk’s retrieval of the tie-pin in the back of the potato truck memorably grim and darkly, horribly humourous.

Another surprisingly great scene is the discovery of Brenda Blaney (Barbara Leigh-Hunt). The assistant goes in, the camera comes out and waits outside. We know there is going to be a scream, there always is. It is the cliché. Hitchcock holds the moment brilliantly. You are subconsciously holding your breath waiting for the scream. It feels like its never going to come. You wonder if the assistant is going to come running out, it’s been so long. Then it comes! The scream and… I jumped! Amazing.

The revelation of the guilty verdict is wonderfully done with Hitchcock generating genuine suspense through the closed door.

As a bonus, Hitchcock delivers a couple of wonderful, generous scenes where the lead investigator discusses the case in explicit detail while miserably prodding the gourmet meals his wife keeps insisting on preparing – much to his chagrin.

To cap things off, Hitchcock delivers a low-key but brilliant ending where it looks like our ‘wrong man’ will have inadvertently incriminated himself beyond redemption. Then he finishes the film instantly. It reminds one of the ending of his masterpiece “North by Northwest” in its crispness.

Special mention for an amazing trailer featuring Hitchcock floating belly-up in the Thames: “I dare say you are wondering why I am floating around London like this.” Or when explaining that the setting is the Covent Garden market he is rudely interrupted by a rigor mortis leg popping up out of a bag of potatoes: “I’ve heard of a leg of lamb. I’ve even heard of a leg of chicken but never a leg of potatoes.” They don’t make trailers like that anymore.