Thursday, November 29, 2012

The film "Hitchcock" is a funny account of "how they made 'Psycho'"

I never saw the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock classic “Psycho” in a theater or had a chance to scream at the shower scene (and the later “momism” deployments) , having gotten to it on black and white TV in the mid 1960s (maybe on the old “Chiller” series).  The movie, viewed today, certainly seems to have an intricate horizontal plot, where a young woman steals some money from her employer’s client and is already on the lam before she meets her deserved demise in the Bates Motel.  There is just wonderful attention to detail in the way this director’s stories are put together.

The new comedy “Hitchcock” from director Sacha Gervasi for Fox Searchlight, gives us a tongue-in-cheek account of the filming of the classic, told through the eyes of the director (a corpulent and mushy Anthony Hopkins) and his devoted and industrious wife Alma Reville (Helen Mirren).  This was indeed marriage that works. She says, "I'm married to a man obsessed by murder" and herself suggests knocking off the "broad" in "Psycho" just thirty minutes into the film, not half-way through. 

The movie tells us a lot about the evolution of cinema into today’s diverse industry, filled with independent companies.  When Paramount won’t fund “Psycho” because of “production code” issues, Alfred and Alma mortgage their palatial house (and swimming pool) and raise the money themselves.  Paramount is still reluctant to distribute the movie, and initially shows it in only two theaters.  Alfred maintains tight security over leakage of any “spoilers” about the plot (which would have been impossible in today’s Internet age).  

The premier is shown in only two theaters, with tremendous lines, and the audience really screams.
There is a subplot where Alma works as another screenwriter’s partner, and people really did work together with manual typewriters on Malibu Beach in those days.

The movie ends with a cute foreshadow of Alfred’s next movie (“The Birds”).

The distribution of “Psycho” would eventually be taken over by Universal.

The official site is here.

How does Fox decide which films go on its regular brand and which are Searchlight?  I would have thought “Life of Pi” would have been Searchlight, too.  

There is a gay short film of the same name in past tense (see Oct. 13, 2007).

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Bodega Bay, CA, site of "The Birds".  I visited it in 1966 (with other grad students from KU) and in 1995.  

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