Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Friday, September 20, 2013


Hitchcock (Hopkins) and Leigh (Johansson) share a ride and a laugh

HITCHCOCK (2012). Director: Sacha Gervasi.

"I was filming all day with John Gavin. Plywood is more expressive!" -- Hitchcock supposedly talking about actor John Gavin

If you take it with a grain of salt, this is an interesting and entertaining look at Alfred Hitchcock during the days when he was making Psycho, detailing the skepticism with which the project was greeted by the studio and others, showing how he cast the film and got along with the people he made it with. Did Hitch really peep at Vera Miles (Jessica Biel) while she was undressing? Probably not, but Hitchcock takes certain, shall we say, dramatic liberties. Anthony Hopkins is really nothing like Hitch, but his performance is still good, and Helen Mirren is excellent as his wife and collaborator, Alma, who seems very drawn to a novelist (Danny Huston) who is working on a screenplay with her. The best scene has Alma telling off Hitchcock in blunt if loving fashion late in the movie. Scarlet Johansson makes an effective and personable Janet Leigh. James D'Arcy gets little to do as Anthony Perkins, but the private lives of the actors in Psycho generally go unexplored and some -- such as Martin Balsam and John Gavin -- barely appear at all. The relationship between Alfred and Alma is depicted primarily as a loving and professional friendship. Hitchcock barely touches on the outrage and disgust that the film engendered in many quarters when it was released. The film is good-looking and well-paced.

Verdict: If you don't take it seriously as biography, this is a nice picture all told. ***.

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