Discussion in 'Community' started by solojones, May 15, 2006.
Tonight on TCM: "To Catch a Thief" with Cary Grant & Grace Kelly. Decidedly lightweight, but much fun.
I got an interesting DVD set; four DVDs of early Hitchcock films. As I watch them, I'll post brief snippet reviews here and also update my list from earlier in this thread. I'll bold the new films, so you can see where the new films landed on my personal ranking of his best to worst.
The Lady Vanishes (1938) - Alfred Hitchcock
I bought a set of early Hitchcock films, which I'm sure Zaz will be very interested in my reviews of. It started strong with this one, one of his best films from his entire career. A wonderful cast. Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave still rank up there as one of Hitch's best leading couple; they're hilariously funny and immensely likable. A real killer of a movie; I've seen it probably five times now and I still get a high off of it. I wish they still made thrillers like this.
The Farmer's Wife (1928) - Alfred Hitchcock
Stereotypical story of a widowed farmer who attempts to find a new wife by looking at every woman in the county except his own maid, who is, of course, the one for him. Hitchcock's talents are completely subsumed; this movie could have been made by anyone. There's not a single directorial flourish to be found here; it isn't as dreadful as other times Hitchcock subsumed himself (ie. Mr. and Mrs. Smith), but it's certainly too long for a silent film, though it does have a few snickers.
The Manxman (1929) - Alfred Hitchcock
Another silent film, albeit one with some small reputation in Hitch's early catalogue. And it more or less deserves it; it's a love triangle, but a love triangle steeped in guilt and sin. It's not a suspense thriller exactly, but it's still somewhat of a piece of with Hitchcock's later work, being ultimately concerned with transgression and the slow progress of the millstone of God's justice. One scene in particular, in a local mill, is brilliantly shot and acted. Sadly, Carl Brisson, as one corner of the triangle is absolutely horrible and annoying, like nails on a chalkboard. On the other hand, Anny Ondra, the female corner of the triangle, is oddly striking and extremly good, in the silent film style. I found this one very enjoyable. More Hitchcock reviews to come.
Secret Agent (1936) - Alfred Hitchcock
Another one from my DVD set and a really great one that I hadn't even heard of before. Gielgud is a bit stiff in the lead, as a war hero/author asked to go undercover as a spy in order to ferret out and assassinate a German agent in Switzerland. Peter Lorre, as his handler, is absolutely brilliant, a psychopathic, eye rolling Spanish spy who loves his job and loves it far too much. As the film progresses, it becomes a movie about murder and what it does to the soul; Gielgud is anguished about his part in finding a man just so he can be killed while Lorre is the gleeful, exuberant flip side, a man who loves killing far too much. A wonderful film really and one of Hitch's best early films. Definitely unjustly forgotten.
Champagne (1928) - Alfred Hitchcock
Silent film that is completely bizarre in the way many silent films are. Spoiled heiress runs off to marry her lover; father pursues with tragic news that they've lost everything in a stock market crash. Things unwind in various completely odd ways. Gleefully, joyously over the top; reckless abandon. Ferdinand Von Alten is completely riotious as a leering old lecher who's after the young girl. A film with no real sense of internal consistency and a lot of the things that might have been serious then just seem very hilarious now, but I enjoyed it.
Blackmail (1929) - Alfred Hitchcock
Starts off silent and then switches to a talkie about twenty minutes in. Apparently The Jazz Singer dropped during production and the whole production switched from silent to sound in the middle of filming. Like Secret Agent, a forgotten film that is very much on of Hitchcock's best. It's the story of a shopkeeper's daughter and her unwise involvement with a sleazy artist; the Scotland Yard detective who loves her must decide whether to shie
Of these, I have seen only "The Lady Vanishes", but I have "Blackmail" on PVR, having recorded it from TCM. I'll watch it and get back to you.
This movie is on TCM on July 5/6 (depending on your time zone)
Paradine Case, The (1947)
A married lawyer falls for the woman he's defending on murder charges.
Cast: Gregory Peck, Ann Todd, Charles Laughton, Charles Coburn Dir: Alfred Hitchcock BW-114 mins, TV-PG
I've seen it before, and my opinion is: misfire. However, it is extremely interesting for two reasons: 1) David O. Selznick was the producer and he and Hitchcock fought like dogs, being utterly opposed personalities; and 2) the real subject that interested both the producer and the director was a betrayal of a faithful and loving wife for another woman, which Selznick did literally and Hitchcock did emotionally. This doesn't add up to a good movie, mainly because Gregory Peck is insanely miscast in the lead, and has no clue on how to convey this in cultural terms. (He plays a London barrister). I also thought the film seemed truncated, so maybe things were cut out.
Anyway, a good opportunity to see for yourselves.
9:00pm [Suspense/Mystery] Spellbound (1945)
A psychiatrist tries to help the man she loves solve a murder buried in his subconscious.
Cast: Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Michael Chekhov, Leo G. Carroll Dir: Alfred Hitchcock BW-111 mins, TV-PG [Close Captioned] [Email Remind Me]
Not one of Hitchcock's best, but interesting enough.
I'm continuing to read the Hitchcock/Truffaut book and turned to the pages on this film just now. Apparently Hitchcock believes it's one of the first films ever about psychoanalysis and Ben Hect, who wrote it, was very interested in the subject. Hitchcock wanted to film the dream sequences outside in bright sunshine, but Selznick wanted them shot on a stage.
Hitchcock doesn't care for the violins that are heard when Ingrid and Gregory first kiss, but he likes the doors opening.
I'm surprised how often Hitchcock complains about his own work and his own decisions!
I've been interested in Hitchcock for a very long time and have watched numerous interviews with him on youtube and read lots of material on him before, but nevertheless this book is often quite illuminating.
Spellbound is OK. Leo Carroll does his best work in it, I think. But it's a bit too dry, I think. I just don't feel the Peck/Bergman romance at all.
It always holds a little magic for me, probably because I first saw it very young. Peck and Bergman are not my favourite actors, but here I rather like them. The fact it is shot in black and white adds to the atmosphere.
I enjoy Spellbound. It's not perfect or anything, but it's enjoyable.
That's wonderful stuff! I've heard that interview clip before. What really sells it in addition to the great animation is the Vertigo music.
I find Spellbound to be underrated where as I find Rear Window to be overrated.
Robert Osborne mentioned at the end of tonight's TCM showing of Spellbound that because of the combination of a budding new star, Peck, a very popular star, Bergman, and the popularity of Hitchcock too, this one was not just a success, it was a big success financially, one of the highest grossing films of the decade of the 40s. The fact that psychoanalysis was a big topic of discussion at the time probably didn't hurt. The public was really starting to take interest in it, so the timing was excellent.
11:00am [Suspense/Mystery] To Catch a Thief (1955)
A retired cat burglar fights to clear himself of a series of Riviera robberies committed in his style.
Cast: Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Jessie Royce Landis, John Williams Dir: Alfred Hitchcock C-106 mins, TV-G [Letterbox] [Close Captioned] [Email Remind Me]
Lightweight, but charming.
[link=http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/126922-sinister-footfalls-on-a-darkened-stair-hitchcock-and-his-continuing-]Very interesting article on the continuing influence of Hitchcock[/link]
Excellent article Zaz, I enjoyed it too. Thirty years after Hitchcock's death, people are still writing articles about him, buying books about him, and watching his films on DVD and on TCM. Amazing.
[link=http://www.bfi.org.uk/saveafilm.html]Save the Hitchcock 9[/link]
The Lodger and Blackmail are legitimately great films. The Manxman is very, very good. Champagne is absolutely ridiculous. Easy Virtue is dull. The Farmer's Wife is utterly bland. The Ring is of some interest. The other two I haven't seen.
8:45pm [Suspense/Mystery] Wrong Man, The (1956)
A musician is mistaken for a vicious thief, with devastating results.
Cast: Henry Fonda, Vera Miles, Anthony Quayle, Harold J. Stone Dir: Alfred Hitchcock BW-105 mins, TV-PG [Email Remind Me]
8:00pm [Suspense/Mystery] Strangers On A Train (1951) on TCM Oct 9
"A man's joking suggestion that he and a chance acquaintance trade murders turns deadly."
Cast: Farley Granger, Ruth Roman, Robert Walker, Leo G. Carroll Dir: Alfred Hitchcock BW-101 mins, TV-PG [Close Captioned] [Email Remind Me]
Perversity on the hoof.
On TCM Friday:
11:00 AM Foreign Correspondent (1940)
An American reporter covering the war in Europe gets mixed up in the assassination of a Dutch diplomat. Cast: Joel McCrea, Laraine Day, George Sanders. Dir: Alfred Hitchcock. BW-120 mins, TV-PG, CC
1:00 PM Strangers On A Train (1951)
A man's joking suggestion that he and a chance acquaintance trade murders turns deadly. Cast: Farley Granger, Robert Walker, Ruth Roman. Dir: Alfred Hitchcock. BW-101 mins, TV-PG, CC
2:45 PM Dial M For Murder (1954)
A straying husband frames his wife for the murder of the man he'd hired to kill her. Cast: Grace Kelly, Ray Milland, Robert Cummings. Dir: Alfred Hitchcock. C-105 mins, TV-PG, CC
4:45 PM To Catch a Thief (1955)
A retired cat burglar fights to clear himself of a series of Riviera robberies committed in his style. Cast: Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Jessie Royce Landis. Dir: Alfred Hitchcock. C-106 mins, TV-G, CC, Letterbox Format
6:45 PM Alfred Hitchcock (1972)
Alfred Hitchcock appears in an episode of The Dick Cavett Show that originally aired June 8, 1972. C-65 mins, TV-PG, CC
I've decided to start at the beginning and watch through Hitch's entire body of work. I'll post mini-reviews here as I do so.
Where are you starting?