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, 4 February 2015

Hitchcock, 2012

HITCHCOCK in 2012 was one I felt I did not need to see at the time, despite our reverence for The Master of Suspense, as per other posts on him here .... but seeing it on television now it proved an amusing time-waster as Anthony Hopkins dons the fat suit and almost becomes the Hitch we know and like. Hitch of course was a canny operator and was the star of his own movies and knew the value of publicity, as per his appearances on his trailers and tv shows and his walk-ons in his films. (I never saw his tv shows, but have discovered a lot are on YouTube, I shall be checking them out!).

In 1959, Alfred Hitchcock and his wife, Alma, are at the top of their creative game as filmmakers amid disquieting insinuations about it being time to retire. To recapture his youth's artistic daring, Alfred decides his next film will adapt the lurid horror novel, Psycho, over everyone's misgivings. Unfortunately, as Alfred self-finances and labors on this film, Alma finally loses patience with his roving eye and controlling habits with his actresses. When an ambitious friend lures her to collaborate on a work of their own, the resulting marital tension colors Alfred's work even as the novel's inspiration haunts his dreams.

This is an amusing fiction on the making of PSYCHO where Hitch left Hollywood stars like Grant and Stewart behind and needed a new Hitchcock blonde - Grace Kelly had retired, he settled on Kim Novak for VERTIGO when Vera Miles, whom he had under contract, withdrew due to pregnancy, he transformed Eva Marie Saint in NORTH BY NORTHWEST and chose Janet Leigh for his Marion Crane. Soon he would have his own new discovery under personal contract to him: Tippi Hedren for THE BIRDS and MARNIE

This fiction seems to suggest that Hitch was in trouble after the success of NBNW in 1959 and that Paramount were unwilling to finance PSYCHO so Hitch and his wife and regular collaborator Alma had to mortgage their house to finance it. But as the legend goes he shot the film cheaply in black and white like one of his tv shows and it made him millions. Apart from the film itself the genius was in the advertising campaign, as back in that era of continuous performances, they did not want people to miss the start of the film or to reveal the ending, and Hitch himself did that fascinating trailer. 
So, Hopkins is an adequate Hitch figure and Scarlett Johansson captures the look of Janet Leigh, and Jessica Biel suggests Vera Miles, James D'Arcy though is not quite the Tony Perkins we know and like. Mrs Hitchcock though - Alma - was surely never as glamorous and full on as Helen Mirren here, in her red swimming costume and ritzy outfits - and did she really collaborate with others? such as the Danny Huston character here, thus arousing Hitch's jealousy. Also, there is no mention of Pat Hitchcock, their daughter, who actually appears in PSYCHO, as the other secretary in the office with Marion. A nice touch at the end though as Hitch watches the first audience of the film, mentally conducting that screaming violins soundtrack - and then having to look for his next project, as that bird lands on him ....
It is directed by Sacha Gervasi (me neither) from a Stephen Rebello (co-author of "Bad Movies We Love") book, one of the many on Hitch. There are other books on the making of PSYCHO and Janet Leigh even did one herself showing how detailed that shower murder was story-boarded and filmed, as well as covering it in her autobiography. It is amusing enough for a Hitchcock admirer and much better than that other one THE GIRL on Hitch and Tippi and THE BIRDS ....  Lots more Hitch at label. 


  1. I enjoyed this one, too; and Hopkins and Mirren have great screen chemistry. And I loved Mirren's intelligent take on Alma...I have always wondered about the mysterious mrs. Hitchcock.
    But surprised that you didn't much like Toby Jones and Imelda Staunton's take on the couple in The Girl...was Jones just too diminutive to be a good Hitchcock, in your opinion?

  2. Maybe so, we are so familiar with Hitch's appearance. Toby just did not look like him, neither did Hopkins of course. I had forgot Imelda was Mrs Hitch in that one, and the wonderful Penelope Wilton as his longtime assistant Peggy.