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The World of Alfred Hitchcock


MissGoddess
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john, "ugly" is an interesting choice of words for "Frenzy", because Hitchcock certainly had it in him to cross the line. It reminded me of a scene in "Torn Curtain" which always struck me as "ugly". I may not have all the details right, but Paul Newman is pursued to a remote farmhouse by an agent on motorcycle and the inhabitants protect him by offing the goon in a prolonged, seemingly endless struggle in which every bit of energy is focused on killing the guy in any possible way: strangulation, whacking him with heavy objects, you name it. As the minutes tick by, it made me progressively queasier and I think I lost some respect for Hitchcock then. I get that the suspense was almost unbearable and that was his thing, but for me it crossed the line.

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Except TORN CURTAIN has all the Hollywood sheen for which Hitchcock was known.  He had the two biggest stars in the world, and there was certainly nothing "ugly" about Paul Newman; but I get what you mean.  I suppose that moment in TC was a precursor to his really crossing the line (and getting an R rating), in FRENZY.  He always stated that his intent with that scene was to show just how difficult it is to kill someone, because films always make it seem so easy.  He certainly succeeds.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ive been reading Charlotte Chandler's Hitchcock bio (which is much more interesting than her Crawford bio) and she says that Vivien Leigh tested for Joan Fontaine's role in Rebecca. I did not know that--she wanted to do it so she could work with Olivier, apparently. Hitchcock (or possibly Selznick or possibly both--either Im misreading or Chandler's not completely clear on this) turned her down. Hitchcock said she was born to play 2 roles: Scarlett O'Hara and Rebecca de Winter, but not the 2nd Mrs de Winter.  Vivien Leigh was a very good actress, but I think Hitchcock was right--I can;t see her in the role either, even if they "uglied" her up--she had too much star quality or screen presense to be convincing in the role of a shy, mousy girl who lacked confidence.

 

Joan Fontaine said that she felt left out of things both by the other actors and Hitchcock, but that ultimately it may have helped her portrayal by keeping her slightly off balance emotionally.

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Ive been reading Charlotte Chandler's Hitchcock bio (which is much more interesting than her Crawford bio) and she says that Vivien Leigh tested for Joan Fontaine's role in Rebecca. I did not know that--she wanted to do it so she could work with Olivier, apparently. Hitchcock (or possibly Selznick or possibly both--either Im misreading or Chandler's not completely clear on this) turned her down. Hitchcock said she was born to play 2 roles: Scarlett O'Hara and Rebecca de Winter, but not the 2nd Mrs de Winter.  Vivien Leigh was a very good actress, but I think Hitchcock was right--I can;t see her in the role either, even if they "uglied" her up--she had too much star quality or screen presense to be convincing in the role of a shy, mousy girl who lacked confidence.

 

Joan Fontaine said that she felt left out of things both by the other actors and Hitchcock, but that ultimately it may have helped her portrayal by keeping her slightly off balance emotionally.

 

Hi Tracey,

You can see Vivien's screen test for the role here at YouTube:

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Vivien Leigh was a very good actress, but I think Hitchcock was right--I can;t see her in the role either, even if they "uglied" her up--she had too much star quality or screen presense to be convincing in the role of a shy, mousy girl who lacked confidence.

 

Vivien seems much too strong in that screen test. I can imagine her marrying Max and within a few months she would have him opening a department store in Atlanta, running a lumber mill using Southern prisoner labor, and causing Max to go out and get shot and killed while cleaning out Shantytown, while she is chasing after their next door neighbor, Ashley. :)

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You know the problem with a thread this long - by the time I got around to reading and wanting to comment here and there it was so involved with so many topics that it all seemed hopeless. ( note to self - if a thread looks interesting - Don't wait )

At any rate - in the first few pages or so were a couple of posts I wanted to chime in on:

 

Re: Hitchcock wanting Anthony Perkins for "Torn Curtain". I've never heard this ANYWHERE and I've read much on Hitchcock including the Francois Truffaut interviews wherein Hitch discusses every film and cast members (must reading for AH fans) and never comments on this casting. Hitch loved working with both Perkins and Janet Leigh on "Psycho" , but told them both after the film's release that because of the nature of the film, its huge success and the characters they played (murderer/victim) he could cast neither again in a Hitchcock film because audience memory would disrupt their view of the new film. Clearly "Psycho" was a special case as generally he liked to cast his favorite actors more than once.(Grant, Stewart, Kelly, Miles etc). Perkins might have worked in "Torn Curtain" as a professor, but frankly the physicality the film required would seem like a stretch. Clearly Hitchcock (the producer) liked casting stars and had no problem with Newman in his movie.

Re: "Frenzy" - for his return to England Hitchcock wanted current British names. Michael Caine in his book says he was offered the role of the psychopath in the movie, but turned it down. He was taken aback by the violence and the nastiness of the character. (oddly though played a violent psychopath in the Hitchcock homage "Dressed to Kill" with no compunction) For various reasons, Alan Bates and Susannah York also were allegedly approached to be in it, but declined, so he went with unknowns.

Re: "The Birds" - is there a more beautifully ambiguous ending image? Beautiful blue skies and the cast safely gets away - but the birds were not defeated by any means...

Re: Pat Hitchcock - wonderful in "Strangers" and equally effective in the smallish role of Marion's co-worker in "Psycho".

 

Now I must read a few more pages in this voluminous AH thread...

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Hitchcock: “To be quite honest, I am not interested in content at all. I don’t give a -------bleep!---- what the film is about. I am more interested in how to handle the material to create an emotion in an audience.”

Read this wonderful, in-depth article on Alfred Hitchcock's incredible television success:
http://thelastdrivein.com/2014/06/03/the-women-of-alfred-hitchocks-hour-1962-1965/

 

alfred-hitchcock-yawning-over-book-of-bi

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