Frenzy (1972) Poster


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Hitch back in London
michelerealini29 February 2004
After 30 years in the USA and after the disappointments of "Torn Curtain" (1966) and "Topaz" (1969), Alfred Hitchcock came back to his native Britain for this film -written by Anthony Shaffer from a novel by Arthur La Bern.

"Frenzy" is his penultimate movie, certainly the best one of his last period. The way the Master films is very classic -deliberately old fashioned; at the same time all the charachters are very modern -they belong to a more and more decadent and neurotic London.

Almost from the beginning we know who the criminal is, and Hitchcock enjoys himself in showing how the man tries to escape and how he betrays people. Director's trademarks are also back in force: suspense (a lot!) and humour -more sarcastic and sharper than ever.

For "Frenzy" the Master doesn't get movie stars, instead he chooses local stage actors. In my opinion he does this because, first, he wants the film to be very English. Furthermore, he wants this time more ordinary faces for making the story more shocking (with famous actors in the main roles, the plot -in a certain way- could be identified mostly with them and loose strength, instead Hitchcock avoids that "paradox"...).

Maybe "Frenzy" is not an unforgettable masterpiece like "Psycho", "Vertigo", "Birds" or many other works. But it is a great movie indeed.
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One Potato...Two Potato...Three Potato...Four
BaronBl00d5 March 2001
The grand man of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, directs this dark film about a man that kills women with neckties with relish, aplomb, and an atypical grimness. The story is typical Hitch as an innocent man is pushed into a world of intrigue around him as everyone believes him to be the necktie killer. Jon Finch plays the innocent with earnestness and is quite good in his role. The rest of the cast is very effective as well. Hithcock, however, is the real star with his camera. Although much of the film is nothing more than tried and true material, Alfred Hitchcock makes the mundane spectacular with his camera and some great shots and spaces of silence. The scene where a girl coming back from lunch is awesome as we the audience are made to wait what seems an eternity for her to discover what has taken place since she left. The scene of the camera moving in and out of the house of the killer is also wonderful, as is the scene with the killer in the potato truck. That scene is easily the most suspenseful of the entire film. The film is particularly dark for Hitchcock as a women is raped rather abruptly(for lack of a better word) showing naked breasts and genuine terror. To counter-balance the more lurid aspects of the film is a subplot story of a police inspector, played with charm by Alec McCowen, whose wife constantly feeds him nothing but gourmet meals that sound and look quite horrible! These scenes are so funny and charming! A good thriller from the master of suspense!
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Hitchcock's Final Masterpiece
gftbiloxi8 April 2005
Hitchcock had been in a bit of an artistic slump when, after some thirty years, he returned to England for this, his next to last film--and the result was his final masterpiece.

Scripted with ghoulish humor by Anthony Schaffer, FRENZY opens with a ceremony on the banks of the Thames in which Londoners inaugurate legislation to rid the river of pollutants... only to have the corpse of a naked woman wash ashore in the midst of their celebrations. She has been strangled with a tie--the latest victim of a serial killer who savagely rapes and then murders his victims by twisting his necktie around their throats. With the city in a panic and Scotland Yard desperate to catch the killer, suspicion falls on a down-on-his-luck bartender named Richard Blaney. Trouble is, he isn't the killer.

In a sense, FRENZY has a strangely Dickensian flavor. It is a film that by and large seems to happen in public places: pubs, parks, offices, hotels, and most particularly Covent Garden with its constant hustle and bustle that serves to conceal horrors that occur inches away from the safety of the crowds. Indeed, the city seems almost a "master character" in the film, constantly pressing in upon the humans that inhabit it.

Fans of the British comedy series "Keeping Up Appearances" will recognize Clive Swift in a minor role, but for the most part the cast consists of unknowns--but while they lack name recognition they certainly do not lack for talent, playing with a realism that seems completely unstudied. Leading man Jon Finch (Richard Blaney) is perfectly cast as the attractive but disreputable suspect on the run, and he is equaled by his chum Barry Foster (Robert Rusk.) A special mention must also be made of the two female leads, Anna Massey and Barbara Leigh-Hunt--not to mention the host of supporting characters who bring the entire panorama of the great city to life.

In his earlier films, Hitchcock generally preferred to work by inference, implying danger and violence rather than openly showing it on the screen. PSYCHO broke the mold, and with FRENZY Hitchcock presents a sequence that many believe equals the notorious "shower scene:" a horrific rape and slow strangulation that leaves the viewer simply stunned. But having given us this horror, Hitchcock ups it with a scene in which we see no violence at all: just a camera shot that glides away from an apartment door, down the stairs, through the hall, and out into the busy street... as we shudder with the knowledge that the woman who just entered that apartment door is now being horrifically raped and murdered.

Hitchcock made one more film, a comic wink with twists of suspense starring Karen Black, Bruce Dern, and Barbara Harris called FAMILY PLOT--and it is an enjoyable film in its own right. But it is FRENZY that is the final jewel in the Hitchcock crown, a film to rank among his best. The DVD presentation includes a number of extras--including numerous interviews with the cast--that Hitchcock fans will find fascinating. All in all, FRENZY is fearsome, wickedly funny, and strongly recommended... but not for the faint of heart!

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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A truly engaging nail-biter!
mattymatt4ever7 January 2003
Hitchcock did one hell of a job! I was planning on watching this movie just for about 30 minutes before going to sleep and was gonna finish watching it the next day, but instead I was so engaged that I couldn't stop watching and stayed awake the whole 2 hours. I loved the irony of the actual rapist having no clues pointing to him and the innocent man having all clues pointing to him. The scene involving the rapist in the back of the truck, rummaging through a sack of potatoes (and that's all I'll reveal) is classic suspense. I also loved how Hitchcock left the rape scenes (excluding the first one) up to the imagination. There is a great shot where one of the victims is being raped and we don't even hear any off-screen yells or screams. The camera simply tracks backwards down a staircase and out the front door, where people walk by minding their own business, ignorant to the evil that's being committed a floor above. Any amateurish director would've went for true shock value and showed all the rape scenes in explicit detail. We don't call Hitchcock the master of suspense for nothing. The scene is still quite haunting. In horror and suspense, what you don't see can be a lot more frightening than what you do see, since the imagination is a powerful thing. The last line of the movie should go down in history. It had me bawling with laughter! Just that one line gave perfect closure to this wonderful film.

My score: 8 (out of 10)
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Revisiting the Wrong Man
nycritic20 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
After the disaster that TOPAZ represented, Alfred Hitchcock took a three-year hiatus, did an about-face from the United States, and returned to his native England to produce this extremely graphic, violent film which not only made him return full circle to his cinematic origins, but also sent him back to square one -- THE LODGER -- in which a wrong man is accused of a crime he didn't commit. If he had not made FAMILY PLOT it would be a fitting close to a remarkable film career.

Despite the fact that FRENZY is a story about a rapist-murderer laying terror unto London, this is not a mystery by far. From the very beginning we're introduced to the man behind the murders, but also to the man who ultimately comes to be convicted for those very murders -- one of them his very own wife. Hitchcock, of course, loves the dark side of humanity and has expressed a need to tell stories about "the wrong man" as well as explore the natures of depravity hidden underneath a smiling surface, always with his trademark humor. That humor is as black as ever here, seen mainly in the scenes involving the inspector in charge of the investigation of the crimes and his wife (who can't cook to save her life), and especially in the grim sequence when the real killer goes through hell to retrieve his tie-pin which has remained within his latest victim's death grip.

By far the most graphic film in his career, Hitchcock manages to pull some clever camera stunts which service not only the plot, but the sense of voyeurism as an experience. In a great shot, he pulls back from the scene where the killer and his victim enter his apartment, down a flight of stairs, and onto the indifferent streets of London. He's made us witnesses and therefore, accomplices, because he knows we can't do a single thing to save that woman's life.
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Exceptional Hitchcock thriller
jhaggardjr25 June 2000
"Frenzy" was Alfred Hitchcock's next-to-last film. And though it's not a great classic like "Psycho" and "North by Northwest", it's still a very good movie. After making mostly American movies for four decades, Hitchcock returned to his native Britain to make "Frenzy". It's about a series of murders that's devastating London. These murders have two things in common: 1) The victims are all women; and 2) they're all raped and then strangled with a neck-tie. When a marriage counselor is murdered this way, the police suspect the woman's ex-husband is the culprit. But actually the husband is innocent, and is forced to hide out from the cops. "Frenzy" has all the usual Hitchcock elements: thrills, suspense, comedy, and Hitchcock's cameo appearence. The two best scenes in the movie are the hilarious moments when the police inspector (who's heading up the investigation of the neck-tie murders) is served two gourmet dinners by his wife. These scenes are very funny. The comic moments is what gives "Frenzy" a edge over Hitchcock's previous film "Topaz". Plus, it's a more entertaining thriller.

*** (out of four)
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Spleen12 July 1999
Warning: Spoilers
You should be warned that "Frenzy" has one of the most gruesome rape/murder scenes ever filmed - beautifully filmed, of course, so that you don't look away, but that makes it all the more terrible. It's followed by one of Hitchcock's great signature shots, as the camera draws back, out of the building, into the crowded and noisy streets, where the scene of the crime becomes just one room among many. That's "Frenzy" for you. It's one of Hitchcock's most assured and gripping films; but it's pretty grim. Everyone in London looks surprisingly ugly. Their characters, from hero to villain, are a trifle uglier too. But don't expect a happy ending. Things go just a little bit past the point where a happy ending is possible.
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Hitchcock's last good film
preppy-31 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
There's a necktie murderer running around London. He attempts to rape women (he can't he's impotent) and, in his rage, strangles them with his ties. A "nice" guy named Rusk (Barry Foster) is the killer but his best friend Richard (Jon Finch) is the one accused of it...

Hitchcock's first (and last) film in London since the 1950 "Stage Fright". Something about London seemed to rejuvenate him--his two movies before this ("Topaz" and "Torn Curtain") were slow, uninvolving and deadly dull. This moves quickly, has a good script and large doses of VERY black humor--much blacker than Hitchcock had ever attempted before. The film was also Hitchcock's first to get an R rating for a pretty explicit rape/strangulation and flashes of female nudity. To be honest, it's pretty tame by today's standards but still disturbing. It's kind of surprising that Hitchcock would get so vicious...but "Psycho"s shower stabbing was considered shocking for its time as was the scissors killing in "Dial M for Murder".

The acting varies wildly. Mostly everybody is very good--especially Foster, Jean Marsh (in a amusing small role) and Anna Massey. But Finch, as the main character, is terrible. He is handsome but his character is brutal, obnoxious and his acting is just horrendous. That drags the movie down as I didn't care for him at all.

The movie also contains many incredibly-directed sequences--especially the potato truck sequence and a reverse shot sequence. Also it has an infamous--and very funny--final line.

Bad acting from Finch aside this is a good movie and worth catching. I give it an 8.
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Tense and thrilling Hitch's film about his usual theme : the wrong man
ma-cortes29 August 2010
Tension/suspense/mystery abounds in this thriller from Hithcock who combines his ordinary elements. A down-of-luck man named Richard (Jon Finch) is accused of killing , he frees for his wrongful conviction and is helped by his lover (Anna Massey). Covent Garden wholesale fruit merchant is the real serial killer who strangles women with a necktie. Meanwhile a Chief Inspector (Alec McCowen) along with his sergeant helper (Michael Bates) are investigating the grisly murders . And the strangler killer going on his murder spree . The panic expands on the city by the necktie murderous and Richard becomes a prime suspect . Bewildered Richard chased cross London by the police who think he is an assassin as his ex-wife (Barbara Leigh-Hunt) has been also murdered and all caught by the circumstantial evidence . Later on , Richard learns the real murderer and he's headed to seek revenge against him.

All typical Hitch themes are here as a man wrongly accused of murder , his Quintaessential issue , numerous amazing camera shots and slightly black humor . Hitchcock was encouraged to return to England and promptly made this unusual film for his eventual British period. The picture packs tension , thriller,suspense and excitement. The intriguing story written by Anthony Shaffer -Sleuth- is one of the splendid thrillers with 'false guilty ' as its theme, achieving the maximum impact on the audience and containing numerous exciting set pieces with usual Hitchcock elements . The movie is full of lingering images as when the camera shows the astounding killings , the strange fighting with a corpse in a truck load of potatoes , the camera descending from a first floor flat , the Inspector 's mealtime along with his wife Vivien Merchant , among others . However , it contains some nudism and disturbing scenes as the unsettling rape, strangling and murder scenes. Colorful cinematography by Gilbert Taylor showing marvelously the Covent Garden streets. Suspenseful and enjoyable musical score by Ron Goodwin . This good thriller by the master himself, who preys on the senses and keeps the suspense at feverish pitch . The movie is directed after ¨Marnie(64)¨and ¨Topaz(69)¨his worst movie, subsequently made ¨Frenzy¨ and ¨Family Plot¨ his last film. Rating : Better than average, worthwhile seeing thanks some Hitch's touches.
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Great, but not Hitchcock's best
TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews6 November 2004
Some of Hitchcock's final films weren't great; some went so far as to call them really bad. True, they are not the masterpieces that Vertigo and Psycho are, but I don't think they are all as bad as some claim. I finally got a chance to see Frenzy, and I must say that it's a great piece of typical Hitchcock thriller. The story is about a killer who strangles women with a necktie, after raping them. After a bunch of unfortunate(but not unlikely) situations the police suspect the wrong man, and we follow his actions as he tries to evade the police. Like all the Hitchcock greats, it features great characterizations, dialog and situations. Not to mention those little details that lift him above the level that most other directors are at. The plot is very good, and well-paced. The acting is very good; I was particularly impressed at how 'British' they managed to be, considering how many of the actors are Americans. I suspect Hitchcock played a big part in making the film so authentic and true to life. The characters are well-written, credible and interesting. The suspense and tension is extreme at points of the movie, and Hitchcock (once again) proves his perfect understanding of the film-making elements and his ability to put them to good use. I found it interesting to see so much nudity, in a Hitchcock film. Of course, it wasn't just graphic and pointless, like it is in most films(not just from that period); it's there for a purpose. The famous "continuous" shot looked great, though it was obvious where the cut was. Hitchcock is known for his innovative shots, angles and pans, and this is no exception to the greatness of his cinematography. I doubt that we have seen a much more innovative or intelligent film-maker since him. It's nice to be able to see that even such a short time before his death(about 8 years, I suppose), Hitchcock delivered something so great. Much better than the dime-a-dozen flicks that most films released consist of today. A great film for any fan of Hitchcock, or even of thrillers in general. I recommend this film to any fan of thrillers or Hitchcock. Great film. 8/10
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