Thursday, 21 December 2017

HITCHCOCK: what we can learn from the Great Director

Alfred (Studio publicity photo, 1955, Wikipedia)
In the early 1970s that a friend took me to an art cinema in a seedy part of Los Angeles. It was a double bill: 'The 39 Steps' and 'The Lady Vanishes', both directed by Alfred Hitchcock. I was hooked. Loved some of his later movies, for instance, 'Rear Window' and 'Psycho', but it was the black and whites that I wanted to see. They were hard to find. Then one night I googled 'The Lady Vanishes' on youtube. A whole bunch of copies of the film showed up on the screen. I punched one and there it was, with a side-bar of more choices. I found at least 12 of his films. It was when I watched 'The Lady Vanishes' five times that I began to think I had to go into rehab. Then l I heard a Hitchcock lecture. Orsen Welles watched 'The Lady....' 11times. I found sites where he was interviewed about how, why and what he liked about making movies. He liked the planning. He didn't like when the actors came on board. He talked about mistakes he would never repeat (blowing up a kid on a bus), and how he accomplished certain scenes, such as the 'stabbing in the shower' in 'Psycho'. His genius was that he made art house movies that entertained and engaged the average viewer. Intellectuals and casual moviegoers were, and still are fans.

In 2017 there was a worldwide Hitchcock movie festival: Welcome Mr. Hitchcock', For me a dream come true. But at my art cinema, the choice was only half-good. Yes, the showed 'Psycho' and 'Vertigo' (along with 'The Birds', my least favorite). 'Jamaica Inn' – a minor movie. But they also show 'Young and Innocent' and 'Shadow of a Doubt', so the festival wasn't a total washout. Camilla, LMP story editor and Big Feminist always points out that Hitchcock was an infamous misogynist. His wife was his closest collaborator, but he had an obsession for beautiful blondes: for instance, Kim Novack, Tippi Hedren, Madelaine Carrol, Eva-Marie Saint.

His love-hate relationship with his female stars sometimes took an ugly turn. Tippi Hedren was put through hell when they were making 'Marnie'*. Some Hitchcock scholars think that 'Marnie', who gets raped by her husband on their wedding night was a Hitchcock fantasy. He could play cruel practical jokes on his cast and crew. Still, he had no trouble finding people who wanted to work with him. It was the meticulous planning of each project that sets him apart: each scene is a small gem and together they make a stunning whole. No detail was left to chance: dialogue (often sassy and sexy), the use of supporting players and animals for comic relief and to advance the plot, clothes, locations, lighting, camera angles which created suspense, unusual characters (often un-PC). This is where Erkki says 'Shut up Maggy'. The sad part is, we'll never see another new movie by him. But we're lucky to have a cache of old movies that still look fresh. You are always Welcome Mr. Hitchcock.

Source: Youtube
* 'Marnie' was made into an opera 

According to a google search, Hitchcock made 85 movies, here are 12 of my repeats.

Young and Innocent 1937
The Lady Vanishes 1938
The 39 Steps 1935
Shadow of a Doubt 1943
Saboteur 1942
Sabotage 1936
North By Northwest
Notorious 1946
Rear Window1054
Psycho 1960

PS: Littlemargie (and Erkki) will be on vacation for two weeks.

Maggy, I only tell you to shut up if you babble when I try to concentrate on something -  which does not apply this time ;-)

- Eki

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