Thursday, 27 August 2015

My Film Reviews - Hitchcock

I have always been a Hitchcock fan. Lets begin there. I loved Psycho when I first saw it, and many many years later, its still one of the greats in my opinion. The remake is ok, but the original is just beyond superb. So it was with some intrigue that I decided to watch this film - Hitchcock, which is, in the main, about the making of said film. It was released in 2012.

As a starter, this film stars not one, but two of my favourite actors. Anthony Hopkins play the lead role of Alfred Hitchcock. Helen Mirren plays Alma Reville, wife of Hitchcock. Now, with this kind of acting calibre, you would expect a fabulous film.

In the main, the film is about their relationship, and obviously the making of Psycho. It begins with Hitchcock opening his latest film, in 1959. The film in question being North by Northwest. The film was a success, but H is concerned when a reporter dares suggest its time to hang his socks up and retire from the business. In a bid to regain the excitement he felt as a young man, he chooses a wildcard choice - the horror story "Pyscho", over and above the chance to adapt mainstream novels.

Hitchcock is really keen to do it, against opposition, including that from Alma. Their writer colleague, Whitfield Cook has an adaptation of his own that he wants them to consider. It becomes clear that Whit is a threat to H, and Hitchcock does not like him one bit. Eventually, he convinces Alma how much and why he wants to do Psycho. As they relax in their beautiful home, with their swimming pool, he explains to her that before all that, they were free and reckless. This appeals to her and she agrees to help him.

Unfortunately, the film studio is less than keen on financing his venture, and H in frustration decides to fund it himself. He tells Alma that they may lose all they have, but she supports him. She even suggests casting the female lead and having her killed off early in the film.

Production begins, and H is under enormous pressure to make it work. There are issues around his behaviour with his female lead, Janet Leigh - played by Scarlett Johansson. Its revealed that H has a peep hole through which he watches his leading ladies!! To be honest, you can see his point on that if Leigh was as curvaceous as Johansson! Alma increasingly turns to Whit, and begins to work with him on his adaptation, spending more and more time with him at his beach house.

H gets more and more erratic as his jealously builds. The film faces mounting battles around censorship - nudity and the sheer horror and gruesomeness of the tale. Hitchcock buckles under the strain, and Alma takes the lead on set. He confronts Alma over what he believes is her betrayal of him with Whit, and of course she denies it.

Psycho's first cut doesn't go down well. Meanwhile Alma heads to the beach house and finds her own betrayal - she finds Whit with another younger woman. Both H and Alma, face their demons and work to make Psycho the best film ever. Their renewed passion for each other, evolves into a dynamite team on the set. Psycho begins to take shape, with the now infamous soundtrack to the shower scene added in edit - you know the one. "Eek eek eek eek " violin strings sound as the knife slashes. So dramatic, and without it, would it be the Psycho we now know?

The recut version is better received, but the studio still only agrees to open in two theatre houses. Alma and H set to work promoting the film, using pre-scripted dialogue to build the anticipation and gimmicks such as not allowing late entry into the film, to guarantee queues. As the film plays, Hitchcock peers out from the projection booth at the audience. He has a thing about peering through spyholes - like his peep hole for the ladies, and also that actually featured in the film, and now here is again, voyeuristically observing his audience.

The audience are terrified. As they scream, Hitchcock is outside the entrance doors, conducting to their screams. Its a success and he knows it. H thanks Alma, and all is well between them. Psycho goes on to do amazingly well, and becomes the all time great we now know it as.

The film ends with Hitchcock outside his home, having made a success of Psycho and pondering his next project. As he considers this, a large black crow lands on his shoulder. This can only be a nod to The Birds! He greets his wife, and the film ends.

Psycho was the biggest success of Hitchcock's career. Its a fabulous film. Watching this film was an eye opener for me. I had no idea he had to face such battles and self fund it. I had no idea he was such a character! I didn't know that Psycho was based upon a real life killer by the name of Ed Gein. All in all, this a brilliantly depicted behind the scenes film about a film I thought I knew well.

I definitely recommend a watch. Mirren and Hopkins are brilliant, and well cast to play against one another. I really enjoyed it. Let me know what you think.

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