A Very Hitchcock Halloween

I can't believe we're almost halfway through the month already! I've got a lot more spooky flicks to watch on my list, but in the meantime I've been focusing most of my attention on the great Alfred Hitchcock. In addition to Psycho, which I've definitely written about a time or two on this blog, we also rewatched Rear Window, Dial M For Murder and The Birds. There's just something so great about Hitchcock's films that go so perfectly with Halloween. Indeed, last year Strangers on a Train and Rope were also on my list, but sadly I don't know if I'll get to revisit them this year. I'm not the only one who likes to revisit his work either. He's constantly being referenced, re-imagined or remade (at least attempted.) Hitchcock's films are absolutely timeless... (with maybe the exception of The Birds..due only to special effects,) and they're ALWAYS in season... but apparently now moreso than ever.

Yes, there was the critically reviled and alleged shot-for-shot remake back in 1998. Never seen that because I heard it was horrible, but I must admit....it kind of intrigues me. If nothing else because it's like watching a car accident! But in 2012? The Hitchcock projects seem to be popping up left and right. First, HBO has a movie about the relationship between Alfred Hitchock and Tippi Hedren during the filming of The Birds (Sorry Sienna Miller, you're way too generic to pass for Tippi) airing October 20th. Next comes the feature film starring Anthony Hopkins simply titled Hitchcock (November 23, 2012...limited). This one takes place during the filming of Psycho and features ScarJo as Janet Leigh (skeptical...) and Jessica Biel as Vera Miles (okay...NOW you gotta be kidding me.) But I thought the trailer was interesting, and I look forward to seeing it. Lastly, A&E has a Bates Motel movie in development....a PREQUEL. Starring....Freddie Highmore as Norman. Haha! Little Charlie (of the chocolate factory) grows up to be a SPOILER: PSYCHOTIC MU/RDERER[/spoiler] Also Vera Farmiga from Up in the Air is slated to be Mother. Interesting. I'll let you judge for yourselves which looks like the better Hitchcock. My money is on the Anthony Hopkins one...but it may be full of its own inconsistencies.

HBO's The Girl


As for the REAL Hitchcock films I watched? Masterpieces. All of them. It should be interesting to see how these films' version of the films (even if it all ends up being behind the scenes..) stack up. They'd do best to make it not about the movies themselves, but something else....because you can't just rely on the merits of another movie to try and make your movie great. Novelty wears off fast....as is the case I assume with the 1998 Psycho. Kind of an interesting experiment to prove that movies AREN'T like a piece of music...that could be played by a different orchestra, yet still be just as good as another. There's something about THESE films that make them great...that no recreation can touch. You can't just recast iconic roles, do the same thing exactly, but still think the same magic would be there. These films were a product of their time. A time we can't return to, because too much has changed in the world and in the history of film. With audiences used to gore and sheer violence, how could a Rear Window work? Okay yes I know Disturbia was a sort of homage and was mostly effective. But did it have THAT magic? I'd say not.

Magic doesn't strike twice!

Is it Hitchcock's top notch cast that makes the difference? There sure aren't Jimmy Stewarts or Grace Kelly's any more. [Side Note: Speaking of, there's a Grace Kelly movie in development too...with ANOTHER Hitchcock character...though not sure if it's ABOUT him. Anyway, Grace is played by Nicole Kidman! Sorry...but no. /Side note over] Is it the times, as I already mentioned? With slasher films dominating the cinemas, a Psycho remake had to seem pretty "been there, done that" somehow making a "classic" seem generic. Is it the sure handed direction of the man himself? There's certain scenes that truly are utterly captivating. Even scenes focusing only on conversation which let character development shine through are fascinating. Like Lisa and Jeff's arguments over their relationship in Rear Window, Or Mrs. Brenner confiding in Melanie Daniels why she feels weak in The Birds. How about  Mr. Wendice manipulating his old school friend into committing murder in Dial M For Murder. Another scene that's always fascinated me from The Birds is the scene in the diner preceding one of the many bird attacks...probably one of the best in the whole film....because it shows the wide scale of human nature so clearly. Moral dilemmas are always great in his movies, as with Rope. He shows us clearly the feelings of the characters. But then there's the moments of pure suspense that he absolutely gets right too! The finale of both Psycho and Rear Window always get me! Strangers on a Train too for that matter. Dial M For Murder sure kept me on the edge of my seat too. And the scene of Tippi Hedren waiting outside the school as the birds appear one by one on the playground ALWAYS gives me the chills.

No...it's not just ONE thing he got right in his movies. He got EVERYTHING right. Which is why it's so hard for people to replicate it what he so easily captured. When Hitchcock made movies, there was a certain magic that you just can't manufacture. Everything worked together in perfection for him, in a way they don't always for others....which makes sense as he was quite the eccentric perfectionist. I will reserve judgement on all of these projects until I see them....but the bar is set pretty high.


Johanna said...

You really do need to watch my favorite and his "Shadow of a Doubt." The character scenes are amazing. Love, love, love it.

I read once that Vera Miles said that Hitchcock was a fiend about sound. He wanted her high heels to sound just a certain way when she was walking that boardwalk to the motel rooms snooping around.

Wish he had made more. I'm watching some of his 1/2 hour tv show reruns. It's a lot of fun because there is more of his humor and macabre twists at the end. Love them.

Oh, and the one with Anthony Hopkins all the way. Very interesting. HBO looks cheesy from the promos.

Sarah said...

I will say this for the trailers of the new Hitchcock movies, they definitely got the hair, make-up, and costumes right for the leading ladies. As for Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock? I don't think I can get past that absolutely terrible make-up job. He looks nothing like Alfred Hitchcock! It just looks...distracting. As for the classics, they are, well, classics!

Emily said...

Very interesting facts. And yes I have Seen Shadow of A Doubt....I watched it with you in fact silly!

I didn't think Hopkins looked so bad...but I know what you mean. Should be interesting though! When I looked up the guy who was to play Norman I was pleasantly surprised too. He kinda looks like Norman 2.0

courtney wightman said...

he really was a genius. rear window is one of my all time favorite movies. and the hitchcock trailer looked great! it looks like anthony hopkins pulls hitchcock off quite well. i'm excited!

Laurie & Clint said...

i agree with sarah. the make-up on anthony hopkins is terrible. He looks like quasimodo. They may as well have left him without make up. His voice sounds good though. And Scar-Jo? Not seeing it at all.