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Quality of Hitchcock programming and introductions


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I confess to being more than a little disappointed with some aspects of Hitchcock 50.

 

1.  Far too many of the early British films.  Those of us who love Hitchcock would naturally want to believe that every one of his films is a masterpiece.  Personally, I think that about 80% of his films from The Man Who Knew Too Much to Family Plot are somewhere between very good and masterpieces, and I'm including in that number some I don't particularly like, like The Wrong Man, The Birds, and The Trouble With Harry.  Except for The Lodger, the rest of the silents are darned near unwatchable--flashes of the emerging Hitchcock style buried in a soggy morass of exaggerated acting and silent film cliches.  And, to be candid, a lot of The Lodger is silent film cliche as well.

 

2.  Strange omissions and inclusions, besides the early films.  Why no Sabotage (a critical film in Hitchcock's development) or To Catch A Thief?  Why Number 17, the only interesting bit of which is the final sequence?  Why Mr. and Mrs. Smith, except to prove that Hitchcock had no sense for screwball romantic comedy?  If it was necessary to be comprehensive--show all of the surviving films.

 

3.  If I may paraphrase Casablanca--of all the Hitchcock experts in all the world, why on earth have a preening little nonentity like Alexandre Philippe, except possibly that there may be a TCM financial interest in his documentary?  His commentary has been, to put it charitably, banal, where it has not been inaccurate.  For example--Madeleine Carroll is not the first Hitchcock blonde.  Anyone forget June Tripp in The Lodger--not to mention all the blonde victims?  Or Anny Ondra, in The Manxman and Blackmail?  Making a point of milk in Suspicion and Spellbound (two instances does not a repeated trope make) and no mention of the repeated trope of vertical movement followed by a fall from a great height--suggested in The Lodger, present fully developed in Blackmail, Foreign Correspondent, and Saboteur, to note the obvious ones.

 

Guys, you can do better.

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I confess to being more than a little disappointed with some aspects of Hitchcock 50.

 

1.  Far too many of the early British films.  Those of us who love Hitchcock would naturally want to believe that every one of his films is a masterpiece.  Personally, I think that about 80% of his films from The Man Who Knew Too Much to Family Plot are somewhere between very good and masterpieces, and I'm including in that number some I don't particularly like, like The Wrong Man, The Birds, and The Trouble With Harry.  Except for The Lodger, the rest of the silents are darned near unwatchable--flashes of the emerging Hitchcock style buried in a soggy morass of exaggerated acting and silent film cliches.  And, to be candid, a lot of The Lodger is silent film cliche as well.

 

2.  Strange omissions and inclusions, besides the early films.  Why no Sabotage (a critical film in Hitchcock's development) or To Catch A Thief?  Why Number 17, the only interesting bit of which is the final sequence?  Why Mr. and Mrs. Smith, except to prove that Hitchcock had no sense for screwball romantic comedy?  If it was necessary to be comprehensive--show all of the surviving films.

 

3.  If I may paraphrase Casablanca--of all the Hitchcock experts in all the world, why on earth have a preening little nonentity like Alexandre Philippe, except possibly that there may be a TCM financial interest in his documentary?  His commentary has been, to put it charitably, banal, where it has not been inaccurate.  For example--Madeleine Carroll is not the first Hitchcock blonde.  Anyone forget June Tripp in The Lodger--not to mention all the blonde victims?  Or Anny Ondra, in The Manxman and Blackmail?  Making a point of milk in Suspicion and Spellbound (two instances does not a repeated trope make) and no mention of the repeated trope of vertical movement followed by a fall from a great height--suggested in The Lodger, present fully developed in Blackmail, Foreign Correspondent, and Saboteur, to note the obvious ones.

 

Guys, you can do better.

It sounds like you might have made a better host for the series, which will never happen though since it's probably who you know and not what you know that gets you gigs on things like this. I refuse to call anyone a "preening little nonentity" until I have done a complete CIA background check on their scholarship so wait for that and I may agree. I did not find him obnoxious and did learn one thing yet I can see some of your complaints are justified though I would think any Hitchcock fan might welcome seeing many of the more obscure and less screened films of his career to find a montage of stylistic inventions. As least Philippe has not as yet begun taking himself so seriously that he is billing himself as the Head Magistrate of Hitch as in the Grand Poobah of Noir does. Off now to check on Philippe's official record of scholarship and background.

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I watch more for the films than the patter. Since so few of his silents and early films are shown and I've seen his later films over and over, I dont mind them showing an assortment of his early work, but I agree about some of the choices and omissions. Getting tired of all the plugging for Phillippe's latest film (I'd never heard of him before), but I guess it goes with the territory. I think more of the blame for the patter should be on the shoulders of the host, as it is he who steers the conversation.

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Questions about inclusion and omission in any TCM programming theme like this can usually be at least partially answered by learning which studios released which film. TCM no doubt included Mr. and Mrs. Smith because it's an RKO release, and being in TCM's "library", they could probably air it for free. As for To Catch a Thief, well it's from Paramount. TCM included every other film from Hitchcock's run at Paramount: Dial M for MurderRear WindowThe Trouble with HarryThe Man Who Knew too MuchVertigo and Psycho. Trust me, that's a lot of Paramounts for TCM. That's probably as good as you could hope for.

 

In a similar vein, Audrey Hepburn was recently SOTM. I believe TCM managed to show every film she made at Paramount, which was most of her early American career, except for Sabrina, a fairly glaring omission, but I thought they more than made up for it by including the rarely aired War and Peace.

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sewhite is correct in that TCM can't just show whatever they want, a station rents broadcast rights-and not every movie is offered in an affordable package.

 

As for the original poster's whinings of what's "good" or not....a matter of opinion, isn't it? If TCM is going to showcase Hitchcock films, the more they can show the better.....how else will an interested viewer see the director's development, without a time line of output?

 

While I can enjoy many of Hitchcock's movies, there are a scant few I consider "masterpieces". Many of his films are good, but not for frequent viewing, due to the nature of suspense stories. And yes, many of them fail to illicit an emotional response...but that is only my opinion.

 

Looking over the schedule, I applaud TCM for offering so many movies as well as intellectual comments on one of the most celebrated directors whose films span decades.

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Questions about inclusion and omission in any TCM programming theme like this can usually be at least partially answered by learning which studios released which film. TCM no doubt included Mr. and Mrs. Smith because it's an RKO release, and being in TCM's "library", they could probably air it for free. As for To Catch a Thief, well it's from Paramount. TCM included every other film from Hitchcock's run at Paramount: Dial M for MurderRear WindowThe Trouble with HarryThe Man Who Knew too MuchVertigo and Psycho. Trust me, that's a lot of Paramounts for TCM. That's probably as good as you could hope for.

 

In a similar vein, Audrey Hepburn was recently SOTM. I believe TCM managed to show every film she made at Paramount, which was most of her early American career, except for Sabrina, a fairly glaring omission, but I thought they more than made up for it by including the rarely aired War and Peace.

 

 

Yes, in a perfect world. SIGH. Paramount is always the sticking point.........

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. As for To Catch a Thief, well it's from Paramount. TCM included every other film from Hitchcock's run at Paramount: Dial M for MurderRear WindowThe Trouble with HarryThe Man Who Knew too MuchVertigo and Psycho. Trust me, that's a lot of Paramounts for TCM. That's probably as good as you could hope for.

 

I think (and I am often wrong about such things) that PSYCHO is a Universal pic and always has been...but otherwise pretty good points (it's worth noting that one or two of the titles you mention were "lost" for decades because Hitchcock controlled the rights and left them to his obnoxious, no-talent daughter Pat, who sat on them rather than let the public see them.

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sewhite is correct in that TCM can't just show whatever they want, a station rents broadcast rights-and not every movie is offered in an affordable package.

 

As for the original poster's whinings of what's "good" or not....a matter of opinion, isn't it? If TCM is going to showcase Hitchcock films, the more they can show the better.....how else will an interested viewer see the director's development, without a time line of output?

 

While I can enjoy many of Hitchcock's movies, there are a scant few I consider "masterpieces". Many of his films are good, but not for frequent viewing, due to the nature of suspense stories. And yes, many of them fail to illicit an emotional response...but that is only my opinion.

 

Looking over the schedule, I applaud TCM for offering so many movies as well as intellectual comments on one of the most celebrated directors whose films span decades.

The benefit in not only familiarizing younger viewers to the "genius" of this excellent director, but also(believe it or not) educating older viewers who STILL connotate Hitchcock with the "horror" genre. 

 

Recently(and to my surprise) a brother in law of mine, several years my senior, was over when TCM last showed STRANGERS ON A TRAIN.  He had never heard of it before, therefore then also never SAW it before, and was shocked to discover it was a Hitchcock film.  Until then, he thought ALL of hitchcock films were in the same vein as PSYCHO and THE BIRDS.

 

Also amusing was that although he HAD seen NBNW almost as much as the average TCM viewer, he didn't know until recently that it TOO, was a "Hitch-flick".  I also loaned him my DVD of THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY(he also never heard of) because he's an admitted old LEAVE IT TO BEAVER freak, and I thought he'd get a kick out of it.  ;)

 

 

Sepiatone

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I think (and I am often wrong about such things) that PSYCHO is a Universal pic and always has been...but otherwise pretty good points (it's worth noting that one or two of the titles you mention were "lost" for decades because Hitchcock controlled the rights and left them to his obnoxious, no-talent daughter Pat, who sat on them rather than let the public see them.

 

 

No, Paramount did release Psycho originally.....

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ps- I think I'm going to just keep on spouting out incorrect film-release details. it seems to keep the conversation going....

 

 

LOL. I'm always appreciative!

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I used to think Psycho was Universal as I didnt see the film originally (way too young) and Universal took over the releasing later. Plus the house is on the Universal lot, so I'll give you some leeway!

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I used to think Psycho was Universal as I didnt see the film originally (way too young) and Universal took over the releasing later. Plus the house is on the Universal lot, so I'll give you some leeway!

 

Hitchcock,  in negotiations with Paramount,  said he would personally finance the project and film it at Universal-International using his Shamley Productions crew if Paramount would merely distribute. In lieu of his usual $250,000 director's fee he proposed a 60% stake in the film negative. This combined offer was accepted and Hitchcock went ahead.

 

Four years later Hitchcock sold his stock in Shamley to Universal's parent company (MCA) and his next six films were made at and distributed by Universal Pictures.  After another four years, Paramount sold all rights to Psycho to Universal,  making them the sole owner of the film.      

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I used to think Psycho was Universal as I didnt see the film originally (way too young) and Universal took over the releasing later. Plus the house is on the Universal lot, so I'll give you some leeway!

 

No!

No leeway!

Give me an inch and I will take a country mile!

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Anyone that is serious into this has to build a movie collection away from programming.  It's hard enough to see the movies that get rarely shown, but to see them a second time is almost impossible unless they are recorded.

 

P.S. Hint- forget the intros. Your mind will thank you.

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Hitchcock, in negotiations with Paramount, said he would personally finance the project and film it at Universal-International using his Shamley Productions crew if Paramount would merely distribute. In lieu of his usual $250,000 director's fee he proposed a 60% stake in the film negative. This combined offer was accepted and Hitchcock went ahead.

 

Four years later Hitchcock sold his stock in Shamley to Universal's parent company (MCA) and his next six films were made at and distributed by Universal Pictures. After another four years, Paramount sold all rights to Psycho to Universal, making them the sole owner of the film.

Thank you!

 

(still, I kind of have to wish that Disney had bought the rights. Can you imagine the ride at the theme park?)

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Questions about inclusion and omission in any TCM programming theme like this can usually be at least partially answered by learning which studios released which film. TCM no doubt included Mr. and Mrs. Smith because it's an RKO release, and being in TCM's "library", they could probably air it for free. As for To Catch a Thief, well it's from Paramount. TCM included every other film from Hitchcock's run at Paramount: Dial M for MurderRear WindowThe Trouble with HarryThe Man Who Knew too MuchVertigo and Psycho. Trust me, that's a lot of Paramounts for TCM. That's probably as good as you could hope for.

 

In a similar vein, Audrey Hepburn was recently SOTM. I believe TCM managed to show every film she made at Paramount, which was most of her early American career, except for Sabrina, a fairly glaring omission, but I thought they more than made up for it by including the rarely aired War and Peace.

We really enjoyed seeing War and Peace too. Mel Ferrer was kind of a stick figure but it still was good.

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They could have people from the wine club do unrehersed intros, now those would be entertaining.

Gee, yes those dazzling comments by Muller to that lady vino expert are fascinating and deserve to be broadcast a lot more. I'm sure Mr. Welles would be proud to hear his name selling wine, but not before its time.

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