This documentary is a fascinating look at the cinematic genius of Alfred Hitchcock. Briefly covering much of his early British works, the film primarily focuses on his American classics, ... See full summary »
This documentary is a fascinating look at the cinematic genius of Alfred Hitchcock. Briefly covering much of his early British works, the film primarily focuses on his American classics, such as "Shadow of a Doubt", "Notorious", "Rear Window", "Vertigo", "Psycho" and "The Birds". The movie also covers his television years and neatly examines the Hitchcock signature touches, from his inevitable brief cameo to his famous MacGuffin. Kevin Spacey narrates, and there are interviews with his delightful daughter Pat as well as such film directors as Brian De Palma, Jonathan Demme, Curtis Hanson, Robert Altman, Ronald Neame and Peter Bogdanovich, along with cast and crew members Tippi Hedren, Joseph Stefano, Norman Lloyd, Robert F. Boyle, Teresa Wright and Janet Leigh. Written by
This film was re-monikered DIAL H FOR HITCHCOCK when I saw it recently on cable.
We get it all here. Clips from the films. Commentary about his craft. Commentary about the personal impact he had on current film-makers. Personal insights from a few people who'd worked with Hitch. A brief biography blended in with a chronological survey of some of his career highlights. We also get Hitchcock himself; both in serious archival interview as well as entertaining appearances from his trailers and TV show intros. And montages. Glorious beautifully crafted montages. We get it all. Except for that compulsive-monster stuff you can only find in the tabloid-style book THE DARK SIDE OF GENIUS.
I was very impressed by the montage sequences and how they artfully chose just the right images to blend with what the commentators were saying. It didn't hurt that Bernard Herrmann's score to VERTIGO was used, both for the long opening montage as well as the closing sequence.
Commentators included several directors from today ... Wes Craven, Brian DePalma, Jonathan Demme, Robt Altman, Peter Bogdanovich.
Would have been nice to get old footage of interviewed commentators from days of old ... folk that Hitchcock had worked with. The only ones left to interview were ... Norman Lloyd (the actor who took the plunge off the Statue of Liberty in SABOTEUR and whom collaborated closely on the 50's TV show ... he also had become a very close personal friend with Alfred and Alma)... Janet Leigh, who needs no introduction ... Tippi Hendren, ditto ... Teresa Wright, the nice young lady in SHADOW OF A DOUBT... and Joseph Stefano who wrote the screenplay to PSYCHO.
Stefano's comments were very keen as he mused about where the hell such a civilized man as Hitchcock could have found the deep dark places of the human soul within himself to mine. His narration synched-up nicely with the montage, displaying short snippets of various characters in close-up, tortured souls, lonely souls ... as Stefano's comments were handed over to the voice track of Norman Bates: "we're all alone. Trapped like animals. In our own private cages."
For Hitchcock aficionados, there might not be anything new to glean here. It covers old territory like explaining "The McGuffin" theory. But it doesn't go much into technical things like his montage-approach to editing ... or the pre-eminence of building a long anxious suspense sequence, compared to a brief sudden shock. (These kinds of things are covered more thoroughly in the 1970's docu series THE MEN WHO MADE THE MOVIES ... but when will we ever get treated to THAT again??) This is still a great retelling of his life and career in a fresh style, and a nice entertaining way to spend 90 minutes. In fact I got sucked into watching part of it a second time. But this (like Hitchcock's own work) is like a rollercoaster -- you can enjoy it over and over.
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