When I first heard about Hitchcock, the film starring Anthony Hopkins as the famed eccentric film director, I was excited to see it. Then I found out that the movie was only going to be released in select theaters around the country. Unfortunately, none of those select theaters were in reasonable driving distance from where I live. When the movie was finally scheduled to be shown nearer to where I live, for some odd reason, I had lost the initial desire I felt to watch the film. Maybe it’s because trailers from other movies clouded my brain and sponged up whatever anticipatory residue Hitchcock’s preview had first left behind…weeks ago. Then I found out Ralph Macchio had a part in Hitchcock, and I began to get interested again. It feels like he’s been away from movies for far too long, and I was eager to see him in something again. Then I found out Scarlett Johansson was also in the film when she graced David Letterman’s Late Show, in a stunning dress, appearing from the guest stage entrance as if floating on a cloud, serenaded to the dreamy Paul Shaffer rendition of Chaka Khan’s Sweet Thing. One adult ticket for Hitchcock at 1:30 pm please!
I found the interpersonal dynamics between Hitch (Alfred Hitchcock liked to be called Hitch) and his wife Alma Reville, played vigorously by Helen Mirren, fascinating. To watch the lives of both Hitch and his wife exposed on the screen was voyeuristic, likened to a fly on the wall amidst the most intimate situations involving a genius filmmaker husband at work and an assistant director wife, equally as brilliant; managing constant challenges ranging from her husband’s obsessions with his leading ladies to fine tuning production on studio sets. Often times the tension in their marriage seems to have teetered toward the boiling point, yet each, with respect to their filmmaking craft, remained sharp enough to produce some of the greatest art ever brought about in film. Watching Hopkins and Mirren as actors, wading through the waters of this marital psychological passive aggressiveness, at times, is as suspenseful, and thrilling as any Hitchcock film.
The part of Janet Leigh handled wonderfully by Scarlett Johansson exuded everything the leading ladies of Hitchcock films are notorious for: elegance, grace, sex and sophistication. It’s forgivable, as an audience member watching the movie, to see how Hitch becomes obsessed with his leading lady, less so when we find out what extreme measures he vainly employs to get what he desires. Yet I couldn’t help but conclude that this enigmatic spell that seems to have been unwittingly, continuously cast on Hitch by his leading ladies, as ominous as its effects were as evidenced by his inexcusable resulting behavior, somehow, also ironically helped to add the irresistible appeal to his films. In the presence of the violence that ensues in a Hitchcock film, is always found the charm of a gorgeous woman that stirs up a storm in the heart of a man which cannot be placated. Who better to play this part than Scarlett Johansson?
When I was a teenager, my parents took my brother and I to Disney World for a family vacation. I remember the Hitchcock exhibit at Universal Studios being one of my favorites. For the first time ever I sat in a movie theater, and this was truly something magnificent for me because at that age, I had never been in a movie theater before due to our strict religious upbringing that forbade going to movie theaters. But since technically this was an exhibit and not an official movie viewing, I was aloud to sit in the movie theater. There, I learned all about the special effects that Alfred Hitchcock used in his movies, from chocolate syrup used as blood in Psycho to how he got all of those winged creatures to attack in The Birds. They even showed segments of some of his films in 3D, which was the most amazing thing I had ever seen at that age. Ever since then, I’ve been an avid Hitchcock film fan. I love the nostalgia, music and clothes from the 1950’s and ‘60’s eras that his films capture. The artistic direction of his films is often overwhelming to my sight as I take in all of the splashes of color from each object and wall, meticulously fussed over, frame by frame, that all come together to warm or cool the screen.
If I had to undertake the arduous task of picking out my favorite Hitchcock film from all the rest, I guess, reluctantly, I would choose Dial M for Murder. I say that reluctantly, because Vertigo is also my favorite. What’s your favorite Hitchcock film?