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The World of Alfred Hitchcock


MissGoddess
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I watched two very different Hitch movies I had not previously seen (in their entirety)

and seeing no other thread dedicated to his movies in general, I thought I'd start one

and dump my thoughts here.

 

The two films were *The Farmer's Wife* (1928) and *Frenzy* (1972). Needless to say,

I preferred the earlier movie.

 

farmerswife.jpg

 

 

The Farmer's Wife is one of Hitch's few straight comedies, though it has a couple

of serious moments, mostly in the opening scenes which lead you to believe this is going

to be a rather creepy Hitchcockian thriller set in a rural English farmhouse (the scene

shows the farmer's wife dying in bed...not a really funny way to begin a comedy!). But

then it turns into the broadest kind of comedy, lampooning some typical English rural

"types" who each do their "turn" in some very funny sequences. It's kind of odd to be

in the sticks with Hitch. :D

 

The funniest scene is the party sequence---all the village "characters" seem to pile

into the farmhouse and each guest is more absurd than the next. I have to say, I

laughed quite a lot. The pacing is the only thing that is "off" about it, but the

characters were pretty funny, very broadly drawn and eccentric. So English.

Especially the women and the farmer's old man-servant, who looks a bit like

a cranky Leprechaun. The climax of the sequence is when one of the farmer's

prospective brides breaks out in hysterics because he insulted her hat, ha!

 

The plot is simply about how the farmer (Jameson Thomas), recently widowed

and his daughter married, seeks a new wife from this bunch. His maidservant,

"Minta" (Lillian Hall-Davis) is in love with him and, of course, the prettiest one in

the cast. Nevertheless, the farmer decides to make a list of all the other available

singletons in his district, and goes about one by one, asking them to marry him,

sure that any of them will die for the honor of it. He gets rejected one by one

and it's quite hilarious in the process.

 

Food is a big thing with Hitch and it's in his movies right from the start, it seems.

There's some funny business with the "spread" at the party and I spotted a tracking

"zoom" that Hitch must have enjoyed toying with...when a boy walks into the party

and sees all the candy and cakes and the food seems to rush forward toward him.

I think it was a fairly new technique, right? Maybe the experts can enlighten me on that.

 

"Minta" is the sweetest and most traditional heroine I've ever seen in any of Hitch's

films. He usually doesn't feature that type. She's quiet, unobtrusive, dainty and good

hearted. In fact, I rather felt the farmer himself was a bit creepy looking and she could

do better. Oh well, it's HITCHCOCK so I won't pick. I also liked the use of very "colloquial"

dialogue in the intertitles. Some of it reads quite funny.

 

frenzy.jpg

 

(This was my expression while watching many of the scenes in Frenzy).

 

*Frenzy*

What can I SAY? I hated this movie! I only liked the scenes between the Inspector

(Alec McCowan) and his wife (Vivian Merchant), where she tries all these terrible,

exotic recipes on the poor man who cannot get a decent morsel out of them to eat.

It reminded me a little of the schtick in John Ford's Gideon's Day (1958), where

the detective cannot get to enjoy his fish dinner due to all the interruptions.

(Another tie to the 1958 movie is Anna Massey, so sweet and fresh in the one, and here,

well, she gets dispatched rather rudely...)

 

Other than that, though, I found myself fast-forwarding through half the movie, it was so

crude. I blame most of it on the atrocious script. Gad, so much vulgar language, unfunny

"wit", and harsh treatment of women. I was bothered by a lot of it. And on top of it, no one

in the cast is really interesting or sympathetic. Maybe the two women involved with Blaney

(Jon Finch), Anna Massey and Barabara Leigh-Hunt, but they get treated so HORRIDLY

and I don't just mean the violence, but how Blaney talks to them. Ugh. Someone needed

to wash his mouth with soap when he was a kid. And this is our "hero". I suppose this film

has its fans? I can't say I was anything but disappointed. But I forced myself to watch

because there only a handful of HItch's available films I have never seen.

 

I have heard there is lots of "black humor" in *Frenzy* but I didn't find any of it. If

certain sequences were supposed to be funny, they just felt uncomfortably depraved

to me. He went too far overboard. The script was not helping him, either. And mediocre

music scoring. Oh, where was Bernie?! Why did you fight with him, Hitch? Big mistake.

 

What a change from the first movie to this. But food was still important and like I said,

the scenes with the inspector and his wife are really good and the most "Hitchcockian"

to me in style and tone.

 

Anyone else see either of these and would like to comment? And I hope this thread

will continue to serve as one option of where to post anything relating to any and all of

Hitchcock's films and television shows. There is SO much to discuss in his work, and

it surprised me not to see a current thread that was generally dedicated to his career.

Well, perhaps this can serve.

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I've also seen Hitchcock's THE FARMER'S WIFE and thought it completely delightful.

I wish this film was better known. It shows that Hitch had a good feel for comedy.

Some of his other silents like THE RING (1927) EASY VIRTUE (1928) and THE MANXMAN (1929) are also very good.

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I've never seen THE FARMER'S WIFE but FRENZY, yes. Barry Foster as Bob Rusk really terrifies me (as Grimes knows) and I think if I saw him in another movie (which I haven't) I'd probably jump ten feet. When he talks about his youth, and his "mum" imitating Mae West and telling him to "peel me a grape", that tells you probably all you need to know about why he turned out like he did. My favorite parts are with Alec (I've developed a crush on him in that part) and Viv too. This is another Hitch film where policeman are looking askance at wall paintings. The office death scene is so disturbing and frightening, I don't even want to think about it.

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> {quote:title=Scottman wrote:}{quote}

> I've also seen Hitchcock's THE FARMER'S WIFE and thought it completely delightful.

> I wish this film was better known. It shows that Hitch had a good feel for comedy.

> Some of his other silents like THE RING (1927) EASY VIRTUE (1928) and THE MANXMAN (1929) are also very good.

 

Hi, Scottman!

 

I've seen THE RING and recently, THE MANXMAN and enjoyed both. I can't be sure yet if I've seen EASY VIRTUE, but I just got a DVD set of most of his early films and will check it out soon. I really like Hitch's early period! I know it's not thought of as highly as his Hollywood era, but I like their "mood", they're still somehow rather Hitchy and have a mystique that's uniquely his own, with that damp, enticingly British aura that was hard to reproduce in La La Land. You can feel a difference between Rebecca/Suspicion and his real Brit films.

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> {quote:title=Bronxgirl48 wrote:}{quote}

> I've never seen THE FARMER'S WIFE but FRENZY, yes. Barry Foster as Bob Rusk really terrifies me (as Grimes knows) and I think if I saw him in another movie (which I haven't) I'd probably jump ten feet. When he talks about his youth, and his "mum" imitating Mae West and telling him to "peel me a grape", that tells you probably all you need to know about why he turned out like he did. My favorite parts are with Alec (I've developed a crush on him in that part) and Viv too. This is another Hitch film where policeman are looking askance at wall paintings. The office death scene is so disturbing and frightening, I don't even want to think about it.

 

 

Good eve....morning, Duchess!

 

I have seen Barry Foster in at least one episode of "Columbo", playing, of course, a villain. And a very clever one. Irish that time, I believe.

 

I really had a tough time watching lots of the scenes...too graphic for me and eew, Rusk is SO creepy! I agree, his little foray into his childhood explained A LOT. Ha! No need to put HIM on the couch to see what's what in that tortured brain.

 

I loved the bit with the wall paintings...it's funny, last night on one of the public stations they were playing Fritz Lang's SCARLET STREET and since nothing else was on that interested me, I fell asleep to it. I thought how HItch-like the whole aspect of Chris Cross's modern, "naif" paintings was. Especially the way Lang satirizes the snooty art world and its critics. I don't know if Lang did this first or Hitch, but they really are very similar directors in many ways I'm finding.

 

Edited by: MissGoddess on Apr 17, 2010 9:02 AM because it's "scarlet" not "scarlett" ha!

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I have never seen Hitchcock's " The Farmers Wife" but anything by Hitchcock is worth at least one viewing. "Frenzy" is his final great thriller- yes it's more explicit than his earlier films but that's Hitch keeping up with the more permissive sensors. The scene with the Inspector trying the new dishes is very funny- the other classic bits- the slow pull back from the killers flat and the struggle in the potato truck.

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> {quote:title=cinemafan wrote:}{quote}

> Miss G - Can you believe that I've never seen *Strangers on a Train?* I hope to be home in time to see it this evening.

 

OH, that one is a must. I hope you'll post your thoughts after. I may watch it again.

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Hi Joe---you're right, there were some very Hitchy camera moves. I wonder how he felt when making this movie, being back in England, where he started...working with English cast and crew.

 

For those interested, here is the potato truck scene *joefilmone* mentions (I'm

afraid it's one I fast-forwarded thru. I should have my Hitch-card revoked, I know. :D ):

 

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Alfred Hitchcock is one of my favorite directors. My two favorite Hitchcock movies are *Suspicion* and *Rear Window*. Both are masterpieces of suspense as they build to endings which are wholly entertaining.

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> {quote:title=joefilmone wrote:}{quote}

> "Strangers on a Train" is such a great movie- and it has one of the most exciting climaxes in the entire Hitchcock filmmography.

 

No doubt about that. The way he worked it out technically is just awe inspiring. Every time I watch just that one scene, I notice some interesting camera set up I didn't catch before. I can't begin to imagine the kind of planning and foresight involved not just to make it come off technically, but for it to register the right emotional impact, too.

 

Here is that scene:

 

 

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> {quote:title=JimL wrote:}{quote}

> Alfred Hitchcock is one of my favorite directors. My two favorite Hitchcock movies are *Suspicion* and *Rear Window*. Both are masterpieces of suspense as they build to endings which are wholly entertaining.

 

Hi Jim,

 

SUSPICION OF A SPOILER AHEAD!!!

 

 

So you are a fan of the ending of Suspicion...that's a real change of pace because many people rate it rather low, including Hitch himself. I've gone against the grain myself, preferring this ending to the originally proposed scenario where Johnny is revealed to be a real murderer. Since we're being led all along to suspect that he's a killer, to find out we were right would be no real pay-off.

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Watched Strangers on a Train last night and was blown away by Patricia Hitchcock. I was so worried all through the film that Bruno would kill Babs. I'm glad she got to be in on his apprehension. I take it Pat decided acting was not for her. A loss for us.

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Pat had a pretty big role in Stage Fright and several of her Dad's TV shows and even went to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, but she soon fell in love with a fellow and settled down and got married. We do have some great interviews from her, some of which are on the DVD's of HItch's work, and a marvelous biography she wrote of her Mother, Alma Reveille, which I highly recommend.

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> {quote:title=wouldbestar wrote:}{quote}

> Watched Strangers on a Train last night and was blown away by Patricia Hitchcock. I

 

This is a great movie, filled with all sorts of Hitchcockian tricks and techniques. The ending with the runaway carousel is terrific.

 

Robert Walker?s character is so irritating. So what would anyone do if they met someone like that on a train? Back in the old days, there weren?t as many nuts as there are today, so today I would expect that people would not talk much to strangers on a train. But in the old days, more people were friendly, and there were fewer crazy people wandering around on the loose, so I can understand why the Farley Granger character didn?t take him seriously in the beginning.

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> Robert Walkers character is so irritating. So what would anyone do if they met someone like that on a train? Back in the old days, there werent as many nuts as there are today, so today I would expect that people would not talk much to strangers on a train. But in the old days, more people were friendly, and there were fewer crazy people wandering around on the loose, so I can understand why the Farley Granger character didnt take him seriously in the beginning.

 

Fred, I think you are right. Lots of these movies show people meeting up and going out with people without any thought that they could be crazies and it's hard in our jaded eyes to imagine being so trusting (though aren't a lot of people still like that, with less excuse of ignorance?). But your point about his being irritating is my feeling exactly. Nothing about him suggests I'd want to get any closer than ten train cars from him. He's just too annoying! :D

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> {quote:title=FredCDobbs wrote:}{quote}

> This is a great movie, filled with all sorts of Hitchcockian tricks and techniques. The ending with the runaway carousel is terrific.

 

I like the movie too, BUT ... what kind of idiot cop would shoot into a crowded carousel? And what kind of amusement park keeps a 90-year-old guy around who is the only person capable of crawling under the carousel? And doesn't he know that when he pulls the lever everyone is gonna go flying?

 

> Robert Walker?s character is so irritating. So what would anyone do if they met someone like that on a train? Back in the old days, there weren?t as many nuts as there are today, so today I would expect that people would not talk much to strangers on a train.

 

Nobody talks to anybody anymore. They just text.

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> {quote:title=MissGoddess wrote:}{quote}

> > {quote:title=cinemafan wrote:}{quote}

> > Miss G - Can you believe that I've never seen *Strangers on a Train?* I hope to be home in time to see it this evening.

>

> OH, that one is a must. I hope you'll post your thoughts after. I may watch it again.

Ok, I'm back with my observations on the movie, which I enjoyed very much.

 

-Farley Granger was very young and handsome and Robert Walker was older and handsome.

-At the beginning, the shoes fooled me. I thought that the flashy pair belonged to Guy and the plain pair to Bruno.

-I finally (first time) spotted Hitchcock in this movie.

-Miriam's "coke bottle" glasses were amazing.

-The horrible painting by Bruno's mom. It reminded me of *The Picture of Dorian Gray.*

-Psychopathic Bruno in his garish bathrobe, still living with and indulged by his parents.

-Ruth Roman played such a strong character in this movie - I knew she would be helpful to Farley.

-The tennis scenes - were they really at Forest Hills? The courts looked like they were grass. I loved the formal look of the jackets with shorts and tennis shoes.

-The old-timer crawling under the merry-go-round - that I believed. There's always someone like that around. I found out his name is Harry Hines. Here is how his characters are listed on imdb -

motel owner, counterman, chess player, miner, news vendor, roustabout, old man in pool hall.

-When the merry-go-round was going so fast, I remembered a time when I was a kid. I was hanging onto to one of these park2.jpg which was going fast, and I flew off and landed on my back. It knocked the wind out of me. I kept wondering why Farley didn't jump off.

-I did have to suspend belief for the parts where Farley didn't call Bruno's bluff. Bruno was a true nut.

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> {quote:title=joefilmone wrote:}{quote}

> If characters in movie acted logically there would be no story-in case of "Strangers on a Train"- Guy is flattered by Bruno's attention.

 

You are right, Joe. I really do check my "logic" at the moment a film begins, otherwise I can't lose myself in it. It's fun sometimes, when chatting about it afterward to take it apart. But during the film? No, I'm in it fully believing it all will make sense. :)

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Hi, cinemafan!

 

So would you say this is one of your favorite Hitchcock films? Which is your very favorite, by the way?

 

I had a similar experience on one of those playground merry-go-rounds! They have always held a strangely sinister fascination for me. I mean, three movie I can think of had rather unpleasant associations: Strangers on a Train, Ride the Pink Horse and Liliom all feature rides on a carousel with not very pleasant people.

 

I can't believe it's "Aunt Clara" ("Bewitched") whenever I see Marion Lorne in this movie! :D (Actually, she is rather like her character and her son looks and acts like a "warlock").

 

Edited by: MissGoddess on Apr 18, 2010 11:06 PM

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> {quote:title=MissGoddess wrote:}{quote}

> > {quote:title=Bronxgirl48 wrote:}{quote}

> > I've never seen THE FARMER'S WIFE but FRENZY, yes. Barry Foster as Bob Rusk really terrifies me (as Grimes knows) and I think if I saw him in another movie (which I haven't) I'd probably jump ten feet. When he talks about his youth, and his "mum" imitating Mae West and telling him to "peel me a grape", that tells you probably all you need to know about why he turned out like he did. My favorite parts are with Alec (I've developed a crush on him in that part) and Viv too. This is another Hitch film where policeman are looking askance at wall paintings. The office death scene is so disturbing and frightening, I don't even want to think about it.

>

>

> Good eve....morning, Duchess!

>

> I have seen Barry Foster in at least one episode of "Columbo", playing, of course, a villain. And a very clever one. Irish that time, I believe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don't know if this is true or not, but I read somewhere that Michael Caine was considered for the part of Rusk. I see a physical similiarity actually between Michael and Barry.

>

> I really had a tough time watching lots of the scenes...too graphic for me and eew, Rusk is SO creepy! I agree, his little foray into his childhood explained A LOT. Ha! No need to put HIM on the couch to see what's what in that tortured brain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some critic called FRENZY (and I can't recall the exact quote) the work of a "dirty old man" or words to that effect. But I don't agree. I think Hitchcock was just taking advantage of cinema's openness at that time to explore his favorite themes. It's frank, crude, and unwatchable in parts, but I think it's a good movie.

>

> I loved the bit with the wall paintings...it's funny, last night on one of the public stations they were playing Fritz Lang's SCARLET STREET and since nothing else was on that interested me, I fell asleep to it. I thought how HItch-like the whole aspect of Chris Cross's modern, "naif" paintings was. Especially the way Lang satirizes the snooty art world and its critics. I don't know if Lang did this first or Hitch, but they really are very similar directors in many ways I'm finding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is fascinating to compare these two -- I tend to agree with your thoughts.

 

I just love Pat Hitchcock in STRANGERS ON A TRAIN. She's the audience, expressing our fears and desires. You know how I feel about Ruth Roman, lol. Just not right for the part of an upper-class woman with dignified Leo G. Carroll as her senator father. Most of the time she goes around with her mouth half-open in an unintentionally funny lustful/sexy way, and this is just when she's sitting around on a couch. The rest of her scenes have her trying to look demure, which is something Ruth Roman couldn't do if her life depended on it.

In addition to Pat, the best female performers are two "Bewitched" cast members -- "Aunt Clara" and "Louise Tate" (although I don't remember if she was the first or the second one)

 

I'm always amazed by Robert Walker's performance. I mean, where did that COME from?

 

Edited by: Bronxgirl48 on Apr 19, 2010 5:46 AM

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