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Author Topic: The Alfred Hitchcock Discussion Thread  (Read 87717 times)
drinkanddestroy
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« Reply #450 on: November 05, 2014, 06:37:31 PM »

On Nov. 8, 2014, TCM will be showing  Saboteur at 6:00 PM EST http://www.tcm.com/schedule/index.html?tz=PST&sdate=2014-11-08
That is the same day that Norman Lloyd, who plays the saboteur, will turn 100  Smiley

Here is video of Lloyd from 2011 in a Q&A after a screening of the movie in Palm Springs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WDWcRHwxHs

There are many more videos of Lloyd on YouTube, discussing Hitch and the other great filmmakers Lloyd worked for. Check them out; Lloyd is always great fun to listen to https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Norman+Lloyd

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« Reply #451 on: August 11, 2015, 09:27:54 PM »

http://thedigitalbits.com/columns/history-legacy--showmanship/to-catch-a-thief-60th

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« Reply #452 on: August 17, 2015, 01:45:47 AM »

Spellbound 1945 - 5/10
Moves between mildly entertaining and utter shit. It certainly hasn't aged well, mostly because in the last 70 years the Freudian stuff the film is filled with has become first mainstream and eventually totally clichéd. Most of the film is spent on clumsy exposition of how psychoanalysis works, and since today everybody knows all this by preschool anyway, we spend 110 minutes on mostly uninteresting (or alternatively: totally unbelievable) babble. On top of that the acting is pretty bad by any standards (I blame Hitch's lazy directing more than the obviously talented actors), the lighting is far from the best of Hollywood and the unnecessary rear-projections bugged me more than ever. There certainly were some mildly entertaining moments too, but right now I can't remember what.

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« Reply #453 on: August 19, 2015, 07:28:22 PM »

Under Capricorn on the big screen! Three-strip Technicolor print! Intro'd by Isabella Rosillini! If Drink misses this, he's beyond all hope. http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/film_screenings/24533

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« Reply #454 on: August 20, 2015, 01:46:47 AM »

Spellbound 1945 - 5/10
Moves between mildly entertaining and utter shit. It certainly hasn't aged well, mostly because in the last 70 years the Freudian stuff the film is filled with has become first mainstream and eventually totally clichéd. Most of the film is spent on clumsy exposition of how psychoanalysis works, and since today everybody knows all this by preschool anyway, we spend 110 minutes on mostly uninteresting (or alternatively: totally unbelievable) babble. On top of that the acting is pretty bad by any standards (I blame Hitch's lazy directing more than the obviously talented actors), the lighting is far from the best of Hollywood and the unnecessary rear-projections bugged me more than ever. There certainly were some mildly entertaining moments too, but right now I can't remember what.

I agree with everything but to me it's a 7/10: the flashback is incredibly haunting. It's one of the most disturbing thing I have ever seen and the fact that it was shot 70 years ago is unbelievable.

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« Reply #455 on: August 20, 2015, 04:51:55 AM »

I agree with everything but to me it's a 7/10: the flashback is incredibly haunting. It's one of the most disturbing thing I have ever seen and the fact that it was shot 70 years ago is unbelievable.
yeah, that flashback was certainly very effective and disturbing. A flash of great filmmaking in otherwise mediocre film.

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« Reply #456 on: August 20, 2015, 06:01:02 AM »

yeah, that flashback was certainly very effective and disturbing. A flash of great filmmaking in otherwise mediocre film.

You also need to take into account what you said yourself: the psychoanalysis stuff has terribly aged, but at the time it hadn't (of course). It's a weird film, based on a weird concept. I certainly wouldn't watch it more than once a decade (I think I have the DVD somewhere) but it's a bit more than "mediocre". It's still unique, like, say, a bad Gaspar Noe film. I would take that kind of mediocre over any 5/10 Avengers-like.

Side note: the French title is very different, but also hints at some kind of haunted house film: La Maison du Docteur Edwards (The House of Doctor Edwards).

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« Reply #457 on: August 20, 2015, 08:17:42 AM »

yeah, that flashback was certainly very effective and disturbing. A flash of great filmmaking in otherwise mediocre film.
Reportedly, the flashback was even better (and longer) before Selznick fucked with it.

The pseudo-Fraud material is risible at this point, but all one has to do is compare this film with something like Still of the Night to see how Hitchcock's treatment is infinitely superior to the work of others dealing with similar material. And of course, AH would later surpass himself in this area when he made Marnie.

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« Reply #458 on: August 20, 2015, 09:02:47 AM »

I don't think STILL OF THE NIGHT is a good comparison because the whole point of that movie seems to be an homage to Hitch. It's not merely a movie inspired by the same thing that inspired Hitch; rather, it is a movie whose whole point seems to be to show a bunch of explicit Hitch references. It's like comparing THE GODFATHER to THE FRESHMAN.

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« Reply #459 on: August 20, 2015, 05:27:35 PM »

Well, The Freshman is a comedy, so that's not really a good comparison either.

I was thinking more along the lines of the dream that is shown to the audience in Hitch's film, and the "Green Box" solution used in Still of the Night. AH's dream imagery still has power (as noodles_leone can attest), but Green Box is just stupid. Freud was a fraud, but if you're going to go that way Hitchcock was able to give it an entertaining spin.

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« Reply #460 on: August 21, 2015, 05:24:06 AM »

Spellbound is a good Hitchcock, albeit far from his greatest works. 7/10

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« Reply #461 on: August 21, 2015, 04:10:35 PM »

Spellbound is a good Hitchcock, albeit far from his greatest works. 7/10
Wow, we agree!

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« Reply #462 on: August 22, 2015, 05:04:04 AM »

Actually we often agree (wow²)

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« Reply #463 on: January 09, 2016, 05:23:46 AM »

As noted on the RTLMYS thread, I watched both Hitchcock biopics this past week. Didn't like either one, though my Hitchcock review seems harsh in light of The Girl. Anyway, Hitchcock first:

Quote
Since Alfred Hitchcock is among the few classic directors still a household name, a biopic was inevitable. But did it have to be Hitchcock (2012)? Sacha Gervasi's seriocomic account of the making of Psycho misfires, often inaccurate and infrequently entertaining.

 It's 1960 and Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) seems bored with his career. North by Northwest was a major hit, but Hitchcock wants more challenging material. He reads Robert Bloch's Psycho and decides to adapt it, despite Paramount's opposition. Hitchcock engages with the novel's antihero, Norman Bates, to the chagrin of his wife Alma Reville (Helen Mirren). She wonders if Hitchcock's allowing Bloch's psychosis to his own demons.

Hitchcock faces one insuperable problem: while Psycho was groundbreaking in its violence and psychosexual portraiture, it wasn't an especially arduous production. Hitchcock finances the movie himself and battles censorial fuddy-duddies, and there's amusement in his desperation to preserve the twist ending, swearing the cast to secrecy and buying up Bloch's book. Still, Gervasi and screenwriter John J. McLaughlin, working off a nonfiction book by Stephen Rebello, enliven things with questionable dramatizations.

Hitchcock's distortions range from forgivable to inexplicable. Hitchcock's battles with distributor Paramount are detailed, but it's nowhere mentioned that he shot the movie at Universal. There's also Alma stepping into the director's chair when Hitchcock becomes sick and overseeing the editing. It's nice to acknowledge Alma as Hitchcock's partner; she helped write and edit his scripts for decades, becoming an indispensable collaborator. But Hitchcock overbalances the ledger; what would John L. Russell and George Tomassini say?

 While making Alma Hitch's equal, Gervasi also has her resist Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston), writer and (unmentioned here) occasional Hitchcock collaborator. This subplot's merely unnecessary, unlike Hitchcock's most bizarre conceit. Hitchcock's visited by the ghost of Ed Gein (Michael Wincott), the real-life Norman Bates, in several ridiculous sequences. This ill-conceived device disconnects themes from story, spotlighting Hitchcock's biggest flaw.

 Since Donald Spoto's The Dark Side of Genius, writers love equating Hitchcock's films with his real-world hang-ups. Whether Hitchcock was a puckish genius or manipulative nutcase depends on whether you asked Grace Kelly or Tippi Hedren. Hitchcock acknowledges his foibles: he leers at starlets and keeps portraits of his "Hitchcock blondes" while neglecting Alma. Gervasi curiously treats this as charming rather than creepy, Hitchcock a playful eccentric, presenting perversion without committing to it.

Following Rebello, Hitchcock claims that he sabotaged Vera Miles' (Jessica Biel) career after declining Vertigo. Hitchcock also badgers Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson) with smutty ranting and a simulated knife attack, driving her to hysteria. This projects Tippi Hedren's claims of abuse onto Leigh, with whom Hitchcock had an amiable relationship. Fair that a biopic explore this, but why Psycho? Surely Vertigo or Marnie are more fitting? Then again, HBO's The Girl tackled the latter and fared even worse.

 Anthony Hopkins makes Hitch a glib cockney gargoyle, unrecognizable under mountains of makeup. In fairness, Hopkins captures Hitchcock's morbid humor: he distributes articles on Gein to party guests and invites a timorous censor (Kurtwood Smith) to direct a love scene. On the other hand, Hopkins suggests little of Hitchcock's charm, genius or skill, instead seeming a constipated ghoul more pitiable than engaging.

Helen Mirren's tart wit and innate intelligence enlivens her inconsistent character. We respect her skill and unyielding tolerance for Hitchcock while questioning her judgment. Scarlett Johansson makes a pitch-perfect Janet Leigh, but Jessica Biel neither resembles nor invokes Vera Miles. James D'Arcy's dead-on Anthony Perkins is completely wasted. Danny Huston, Michael Stuhlbarg, Toni Collete and Kurtwood Smith play peripheral roles.

 One could ignore Hitchcock's factual infelicities if it had more to offer. Despite some snappy dialogue and a few clever scenes (Hitchcock conducting his audience's screams), it's mostly inert. In any case, film buffs are the primary audience and who better to appreciate its inaccuracies?  5/10

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2016/01/hitchcock-2012.html

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« Reply #464 on: January 09, 2016, 05:25:25 AM »

The Girl:

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Alfred Hitchcock had a rough 2012. Sacha Gervais's Hitchcock purports to celebrate the director but depicts him as a repressed, voyeuristic weirdo. That's complementary next to Julian Jarrold's The Girl, an HBO Films production which borders on character assassination.

 While preparing The Birds, Alfred Hitchcock (Toby Jones) spots model Tippi Hedren (Sienna Miller) in a commercial. Instantly smitten, he offers Hedren the leading role. Initially Hedren's flattered, but she finds Hitchcock a demanding taskmaster on and off the set. Their collaboration is a success, and Hitchcock taps Hedren to appear in his next film, Marnie. Hedren's increasingly unnerved by Hitchcock's attention, which escalates from flirtation and bawdy jokes to stalking, harassment and worse.

The Girl draws from Donald Spoto's Spellbound by Beauty, which explores Hitchcock's alleged sexual hang-ups. It's a controversial topic, as Hitchcock's eccentricities affected everyone differently. It's telling that many collaborators lined up against the film. Kim Novak and Eva Marie Saint denied any harassment from Hitchcock, merely professional attentiveness. From other sources, we know that Grace Kelly and Janet Leigh laughed off Hitchcock's lewd limericks and pranks.

But these ladies were established stars. Hedren was a newcomer, and his vulgarity didn't seem so innocent. Besides jokes, Hedren recounts resisting Hitchcock's sexual advances in torrid detail. This seems depressingly credible; it's not the first time a director took advantage of an ingénue. Hedren claims that Hitchcock sabotaged her career, a more questionable claim challenged by biographers. Hedren wasn't a budding Grace Kelly cut down, but a mediocre actress harassed by a spurned lover.

 Unfortunately, The Girl can only paint in broad strokes. Gwyneth Hughes' script is melodramatic mush, pitting poor innocent Tippi against master lecher Hitchcock. Tippi gushes to Hitchcock that "I'm putty in your hands!" Too bad Hitchcock takes her literally, reenacting Vertigo in real life - casting Hedren as a real "Hitchcock blonde." One sympathizes with Tippi's ordeal, but Sienna Miller's performance is so flat and affectless it's hard to root for her.

 If Hitchcock's characterizations are questionable, The Girl's prove borderline slanderous. Alma Hitchcock (Imelda Staunton) and secretary Peggy Robertson (Penelope Miller) are enablers for Hitch's lechery. Though dramatically tedious, Hitchcock's idea that Alma resisted Whitfield Cook's advances has a factual basis. The Girl shows Hitchcock dismissing Alma as a glorified sister, and Alma subsequently leaving him, apropos of nothing.

But who could love The Girl's Hitchcock? Toby Jones is a one-note creep, rarely changing his inexpressive glower throughout the film. Which fits the script compiling every imaginable cheap shot. Hitchcock complains about his weight, insults Alma and browbeats assistants. When not torturing Tippi with real birds, he's fondling her breasts, drunk dialing her on Christmas and demanding sexual favors. Even Hedren concedes Hitchcock's charm and talent; how could she have tolerated a 24 hour monster?

 After 90 minutes of tawdriness, The Girl climaxes with a Lifetime movie resolution. Hitchcock again propositions Tippi, then threatens to destroy her career. Tippi berates Hitchcock for turning "a real woman into a statue," which would be an applause line from anyone less lifeless. Then a title card informs us that critics consider Marnie a masterpiece. I'm not surprised that The Girl can't even get its postscript right. 3/10

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-girl-2012.html

Now I must comb through my back catalogue to see which real Hitchcock movies I haven't reviewed yet.

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