Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Summer re-runs: Janet and Psycho

Our 'Hitchcock summer' rumbles on here in London - those key 50s/60s films are on television, the National Film Theatre is running that mammoth complete Hitchcock season which runs into October and they have published an interesting compendium of essays, currenly oh my coffee table (Camille Paglia on the Hithcock blonde, with Edith Head sketches etc) and of course VERTIGO is now basking in the glow of being the best film of all time according to the  "Sight & Sound" latest 10-year poll (see below) having dislodged CITIZEN KANE from the top spot.
REAR WINDOW and VERTIGO were as rich and complex and yes mesmerising once again when I re-visited them last week, and it was PSYCHO's turn yesterday. Now I know PSYCHO inside out over the years but had not actually seen it for maybe 20 years or so, so I was surprised to be so totally involved and stunned by it all over again. It is such a rich complex film that draws one in time and time again, this time I noticed how amazing that music score is - its not just all screaming violins, as Herrmann complements the action perfectly. Tony Perkins of course had his defining role as Norman Bates, but so did Janet Leigh as Marion Crane - after all her years as a leading lady this is the role she will be remembered for (as her then husband Curtis will be for Wilder's SOME LIKE IT HOT made around the same time). Never mind the size of the role she should have been a contender for best actress of the year.

Janet has revealed how Hitch called her in, told her he knew she could act and told her what he wanted from her in his camera set-ups and left the creation of the role to her. She certainly delivers here and looks her best - she did get rather emaciated in her later years. This nice photo by Nocoletta Zalaffi is from a 1969 "Sight & Sound" interview where she discusses working with Hitch and Welles among others. The movie of course is famous for other things too: the first time a toilet is flushed in a mainstream movie. Odd too the date in the opening scene is given as December 11th, but there no mention of Christmas at all, as our heroine flees from Phoenix Arixona to that lone highway, after sleeping in her car all night attracting the interest of that cop ... 
then that great scene with that strange young man as they talk about birds and the traps they are in and she resolves to get out of hers. Great moments too with the old police chief and that psychiatrist at the end as the swamp gives up its secrets. We are now in the age of 'torture porn' (which I don't bother with) so PSYCHO may seem old-hat to some, but its still as powerful now as when I first saw it .... Hitch of course was the master showman here with his teasing trailer visiting the site of the motel, and those ads, during the era of continuous performances, not letting people in once it had started. Quite right too. Its off to Bodega Bay once again too this weekend with Tippi and the lovevbirds, and I want to dig out some of those early rarities like the 1931 RICH AND STRANGE... I have always liked Janet, more on her and Hitch at labels.

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