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Posts tagged ‘Janet Leigh’

“Hitchcock” Rules the Oscar Race He Never Won in Lifetime! And Helen Mirren as His Unsung Wife Alma WOWOWOW!

I have to declare that “Hitchcock” which I saw last night is now a leading contender in the Oscar Race! Cra-zee about it!

I haven’t enjoyed a movie so much in YEARS! LOVED LOVED LOVED IT! And Dame Helen Mirren could really win herself a second Oscar for playing Alma Reville Hitchcock, a woman whose little-known story, has fascinated me  for YEARS, as much as Hitchcock himself

I watch at least ONE Hitchcock movie a week! I HAVE to! I just watched, then re-watched with commentary “Vertigo” this weekend! In “Hitchock” Sir Anthony Hopkins was a joy to behold and absolutely indelible as the Master Himself.

I was ENTHRALLED by the great Hitch and Alma’s life-long  love story and by the actors’ great tennis game of playing off each other so magnificently. Acting Royalty showing the reason why they were knighted and damed, respectively. I’m on SUCH a high from this delightful, droll movie and “Hitchcock” totally establishes Alma Reville as a historic film presence in her own right. AT LAST! I thought this was a wonderful tribute to a woman whose contribution to world cinema as been overlooked. Until NOW. WOWOWOW!

Alma Reville,, in her lifetime, also was a woman who has beloved by all who met her. Everybody behind-the-scenes, in “the biz” knew who she was and the contribution she made to all her husband’s films. And they had nothing but respect and admiration for her. Read her daughter Pat’s “Alma Hitchcock, The Woman Behind the Man.”

Arguably, Hitch couldn’t have done what he did without her. And this film delightfully, but firmly shows that. It plants Alma firmly in the Cinema Pantheon of Greats, great editor, great screen-writer, great co-producer. great force of nature, and Dame Helen Mirren embodies all that intelligence and quiet power, and sex appeal, too, in a role that will surely get her nominated for Best Actress and may even win her her second Oscar. Her first was for “The Queen” a few years back.

Mirren embodies all those small moments of caring and support and chagrin, as well as the big ones of fury and resentment. And there’s definitely an Oscar Night excerpt scene.  The “fight” scene, which got applause tonight, in an audience of (usually)unresponsive critics! Where Alma unbottles and throttles Hitchcock within an inch of his rotond  life.

And Sir Anthony Hopkins was perfection, too! I think they will both be nominated and the Academy is going to Love,Love, Love this movie and maybe give the Hitchcocks their belated Oscar due. I’m serious! What a great holiday treat from Fox Searchlight! And how thankful am I as a movie goer and critic and Oscarologist that Searchlight DID plunk it right in the middle of the Oscar race! RIGHT WHERE IT DESERVES TO BE! This was the surprise last-minute entry into the “Derby” as Tom O’Neil calls it. Or rather the Oscar season, to be more precise. Tom’s at www.goldderby.com, of course.

I can’t wait to shout it from the housetops!  And I’m shouting it now! I LOVED THIS MOVIE! And Scarlett Johansson! She’s JUST like Janet Leigh herself! I thought I WAS watching Janet Leigh, the pro’s pro, interact with all of the above. Problem with that role is that J.Leigh was a evidently a very circumspect, tight-lipped lady in person, evidently, so this undemonstrative role doesn’t really allow ScarJo to cut loose except in the infamous shower scene, which is re-acted quite vividly and frighteningly here.

And “Hitchcock” is very, very funny too. Hitchcock on John Gavin, “Psycho” s leading man, “He’s as expressive as piece of plywood.”  And “Just call me Hitch. And hold the cock.”

And there’s many, many more droll Hollywood quotes that were zinging by so fast, I can barely remember them. Let alone recount them all here.

And up-and-coming British actor James D’Arcy is great, too as Anthony Perkins. Who of course plays Norman Bates in “Psycho.”

He, who recently played umpteen roles in “Cloud Atlas” and was the Duke of Windsor in  Madonna’s “W/E,” just nails Perkins into the gound and so does Raplh Macchio, who has all of three minutes, or less to make an impression of “Psycho” screen-writer Joseph Stefano.

Jessica Biel has the easier role of resentful Hitchcock cast-off Vera Miles. She, who got pregnant, just at the start of “Vertigo”, and was famously replaced by Kim Novak And the rest is history. Hitchcock never get over that snub. As he never got over Ingrid Bergman forsaking him for Europe  and Roberto Rossilini and Grace Kelly for becoming HRH Princess Grace of Monaco.

“Vertigo” is now considered the Number One film of all time. Beating “Citizen Kane” this year in “Sight and Sound”s tally of the Greatest Film of All Time. Clearyly Kim Novak was the right choice for that role and gave the greatest performance of her career in it.

Hitchcock won again, but he was still bitter.

Someone notes that the role of Janet Leigh’s sister (Vera Miles) in “Psycho” is a “thankless” one, and Hitchcock retorts, “A thankless role for a thankless girl.”

Buried under what seems like literally tons of make-up and a sixty-pound fat suit, Sir Anthony Hopkins acts through the layers of latex and padding and it just seems to become HIM. Hitchcock.

Based on Stephen Rabello’s book “Hitchcock and the Making of ‘Psycho'”, the classic film is here a back-drop to Hitch’s love affair with his, until now, unknown wife. Hitch is 60. And so is Alma.

And he’s longing for a “return” to his former creative powers that he has begun to feel are dimming with time. He wants to do a low-budget slasher film, which is what “Psycho” was first perceived as, and nobody wants to fund it, so he has to do it himself.

He mortgages his house and pool, without even consulting Alma. Something I don’t think Hitch would ever have done IRL. True, he did have to mortage his house. And bascially financed “Psycho” himself. But he would, in real life, have asked Alma first. And she clearly said “Yes. Do it.” He never did anything without her say-so.

Lew Wasserman (his agent) here portrayed quite cannily by the great stage actor & Tony Winner Michael Stuhlbarg(who is also in “Lincoln.” I’ll review that in two days)gets him a great deal and the happy ending is in real life “Psycho” made millions. And garnered Janet Leigh a supporting actress nomination and Hitchcock another best director nod. But neither won.

How ironic it would be if Dame Helen Mirren won an Oscar for playing his wife or that Sir Anthony Hopkins did for playing Hitch himself. The Academy is going to love this film. It could even get into Best Picture!

Meanwhile, the only suspense YOU’LL feel, is “When am I going to see this great, fun movie?” It opens Thansgiving Day! It was SUCH a luxuriant experience I can’t wait to see it again!

“Oscar Talk” Indiewire/Hitfix ESSENTIAL listening!

I don’t think I’ve ever been able to emphasize how really ESSENTIAL and marvelously entertaining the just-returned weekly podcast “Oscar Talk” is. Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood at www.indiewire.com and Kris Tapley once of In Contention but now of www.hitfix.com really do lay it down each week with gusto, comraderie and wildly divergent generational and gender-wise and yet respectful points of view. It’s the best two-critic mana a mano chemistry I’ve seen since it was Siskel v. Ebert every week. How I miss them both!

TV has just dumbed down its’ movie coverage soooo badly in the intervening decades, and for those of you who miss “At the Movies” as much as I do, “Oscar Talk” is the next best thing. But it’s only a podcast AT THE MOMENT. But for Oscar followers like I know you all are who read this on a daily basis(and check back to see if I’m posting or not posting) “Oscar Talk” can’t be highly enough recommended.

This week, Kris was in a car accident, and hasn’t made it to NYC yet, where he, now married, is going to be for a year. So he has not seen some films that Anne was raving about like “End of Watch” the stunning cop drama with Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena that is the best work of both of their careers to date. Anne wonders if they could even be part of the awards conversation this year and I vehemently say “YES! PLEASE!”

Best Actor(for Jake) is a jammed-to-the-gills category. Michael Pena might have more luck with the less jammed Supporting Actor round-up.

And talk about jammed! Both Anne and Kris were musing about the newly arrived avoirdupois of Sir Anthony Hopkins’ “Hitchcock” being jammed into the race at the last-minute by Fox Searchlight. It MUST be about Hopkins’ leading performance, that has caused the wiley Oscar Foxes’ at Fox Searchlight to go for this Leading Actor kind of gold.

They did this with Jeff Bridges and “Crazy Heart” three years ago. Another last-minute entry and HE WON! So…perhaps they feel they can do it again. Also, Anne Thompson posited that Dame Helen Mirren as Hitchcock’s wife Alma Reville would be a Best Actress contender and that Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh would be Supporting.

Anne also noted that the other actresses In Contention(the name of Kris’ prior Oscar blog) “are not happy about this.” Which could mean that not only is Sir Anthony’s Sir Alfred but also Dame Helen’s Lady Hitchcock and Johansson’s Janet (Shower scene)Leigh also good enough to be nomination-worthy.

And Anne added that “Hitchcock’s relation, his love story with his wife, is a story we haven’t been told.” And this version is reverential evidently, whereas the HBO flick “The Girl” about his predatory relationship with actress Tippi Hedren is the exact opposite.

In any case, this is quickly become a MUCH more interesting season to write about with all these new developments cropping up every other minute. But if you listen to “Oscar Talk” every Friday (it pops up around 12:45pm EST) you’ll feel VERY on top of things. As Anne and Kris are.

It’s like being there! I love it!

In other news, I’ve started attending the New York Film Festival and I’ll get to that in a minute. Two films I saw already are outstanding “Casting By” a doc by Tom Donahue who did “Guest of Cindy Sherman” and “Beyond the Hills” the Roumanian nun/exorcism/lesbian movie that won its’ two unknown student leading actresses a double Best Actress Award at Cannes, beating out Marion Cotillard for “Of Rust and Bone.” I recommend both highly.

Looking forward to “Amour” coming up, and skeptical about “Life of Pi” and “Flight” the Opening and Closing Films at the NYFF. We shall see.

“Hitchcock” biopic moved into heat of Oscar Race! Fox Searchlight nervous about “Beasts”?”Sessions”?”Marigold”?

Alfred Hitchcock is back from the dead in a big way. He’s always been my Numero Uno Cinema hero since Forever, and now Fox Searchlight has startlingly announced that they are opening their biopic on Hitch on Nov.23! Right in the middle of the Awards Race and nearly right on top of “Silver Linings Playbook!”

This is a very bold, last-minute move on the part of Fox S. And I’m sensing it had to do with a perceived weakness in some of its’ own entrants. Which are “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, “The Sessions” and most importantly “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

In the Gold Derby podcast I mentioned a few days back, Tom O’ Neil and Pete Hammond really dug into the Oscar season so far in a substantive way. And particularly the tough, no-nonsense Pete Hammond. This is at http://www.goldderby.com

He announced at the start of his convo that “Beasts of the Southern Wild”, a critical favorite, was not going to play so well with the Academy, in his opinion. And while Tom O. was quite enthusiastic, he was also shocked by Pete’s rather stubborn insistence that “Beasts” wasn’t going to fly. Neither he nor Tom O. could pronounce Qu’venzhane Wallis’s name. Not a good sign. And they made a joke out of it calling her “Miss Unpronounceable”.

I’m sure Hammond’s podcast didn’t cause Fox Jr. to throw the over large corpse of “Hitchcock” into the ring. Or did it? Or was Hammond sensing what Fox 2.0 had already known for a while?

And Dame Judi Dench’s Best Actress campaign for “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” doesn’t seem to be catching on. And Miss Upronounceable Wallis may also be seen as a non-starter. I mean, she’s only six years old(when the film was shot). Hammond said flatly, “These are ACTORS voting.They are going to see a performance by a child THAT young as a manipulated one by the director.” Uh-oh. He may be right about that.

Fox-Searchlight also did something strange with “The Sessions,”  a film which I personally was very moved by. The story of a man in an iron lung for life and his desire to have sex with a surrogate may not have been playing as well as they hoped.

Purporting to have a full-on press junket in NYC next week, they now are not. And only junketing in LA! There’s a press DAY in NY, but that’s a much smaller, less expensive deal. Basically it means they are cancelling the A&B camera crews, and just doing print, wherein the journos come equipped with their own tape recorders…Cheap. For a Film they are supposedly campaigning for in all the categories possible, including Best Picture. John Hawkes is a slam-dunk for a Best Actor nomination, but now they are putting Helen Hunt in Supporting, as I said last week from TIFF.

A big come down. And this also paves the way for them spending more money on “Hitchcock” This is also their way of trying to draw the helium out of the “Silver Linings Playbook” balloon, since “Hitchcock” is also supposed to be a love story like SLP is. But Hitch and his wife Alma, played most likely quite wonderfully by Anthony Hopkins and Dame Helen Mirren, is also a love story, it now turns out. And not just about the making of “Psycho.”

I think this move busts the whole race wide open again. Jeff Wells was saying in HIS podcast over at www.hollywood-elsewhere.com that he was suddenly feeling “trapped” by the “Silver Linings Playbook” s sudden ascension to front-runner as Best Picture and Best Actress and Best Director.

I’m sure he feels trapped no more.

This is also, I think, in response, to the rather weak reception the much heralded trailer of “Lincoln” got. Really quite tepid all ’round. Fox Searchlight saw this as a major new HOLE in the season, and they’ve run to plug it with Alfred Hitchcock’s huge self.

Directed by a documentary filmmaker, “Hitchcock” is his first feature. So I’m not seeing “Hitchock” as a Best Picture contender, but Anthony Hopkins could very well be. And on the weaker, constantly changing distaff side we now have Dame Helen’s Alma Hitchcock and also Scarlett Johansson’s Janet Leigh to figure out(which category we should put them in.)

It’s sounding more and more like “My Week with Marilyn”. Which was my #1 film of last year. Of course it didn’t get nominated for Best Picture, but Michelle Williams sure did as Best Actress. And Kenneth Branagh as Best Supporting Actor for his hilarious spot-on Sir Laurence Olivier.

To quote Oscar Goddess Sasha Stone on this hot topic “I can’t wait”!

I Always liked “Vertigo”Best! Now Named #1 Film, beating “Citizen Kane!”

I always liked “Vertigo”. I always liked it better than “Citizen Kane.” I never liked “Citizen Kane” THAT much. I saw it first in London at the National Film Theater around 1970, or so. I had stayed on in England, trying to get into the Drama Schools there, and become a British Actor, which is what I always thought was the best kind of actor you could possibly be.

And I was rejected by every single one.

Although I did get a call-back to the  Bristol Old Vic, and spent a lovely weekend, or at least an over-night in Bristol…and then was rejected by them, too.

I was always unimpressed, unmoved by “Citizen Kane.” It was named, at that time “The #1 Film of All Time” and I thought I was really going to see something when I saw it at the National Film Theater. But it left me sort of cold.

I loved and related to the Susan Alexander character, his second wife, who he tries to turn into an Opera Singer. But Kane? No. A bully. A blusterer. A millionaire. Who cared? Orson Welles was good. But when you’re supposed to care about him when Susan Alexander walks out on him, and he tears up her room, I just didn’t care ~ that much.

I was glad she left him.

And “Rosebud”? I thought that was always a very contrived device. One word to sum up a whole man’s life? Nonsense!

And Orson Welles. Well, there was “Citizen Kane” and that was about it.

Whereas Alfred Hitchcock was always my main movie idol, in terms of a filmmaker, whom I constantly revere, engage with, and watch and re-watch, on an almost daily basis.

I always thought “Vertigo” was very, very good. And it was grown in my estimation of it, as I have seen and re-seen it over the years. And “Citizen Kane” no matter how many times I have tried to watch it, and tried to love it, as “The Greatest Film of All Time,” I still can’t really warm to it.

I admire Gregg Toland’s amazing camera work. And the Bernard Herrman score. He wrote the “Vertigo” score, too. The one thing the two films now battling it out at the top of the Sight and Sound Best of All Time List, have in common. I have always loved Dorothy Cummingore’s bitter drunken Susan Alexander.

And as I became familiar with Orson Welles’ back-story, you can’t help but feel for him. And the talent stopped and wasted by his ostracism from the Hollywood community.

Whereas Alfred Hitchcock who made “Vertigo” so beautifully, made many, many, many films. In many eras spanning the silent films all the way up to the 1970s.

He was the ultimate craftsman. And I have mused for years on how someone so obsessed with the technique side of films could have made so many movies that have moved me so deeply, and not just scared me to death. His characters are really quite unforgettable, too.

I mean, Norman Bates in “Psycho”? An iconic name, too. And the Bates motel? That has passed from being a movie set into common parlance. Janet Leigh’s performance as Marion Crane earned her her only Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress(She didn’t win)

And no matter what, Alfred Hitchcock kept making and making movie after movie after movie. He was NOT outside the studio system. Never. Like Welles became so quickly after William Randolph Hearst’s powerful press machine, the mightiest, it was said, at the time, decided to virtually halt his career in America…

Hitchcock never did anything like that. He NEVER challenged the studio heads. He worked with them, and bent them to his will.

And it’s so strange to me that “Vertigo” was never until rather recently considered the great film that it is now acknowledged to be.

That LONNNNNNG car driving scene through the streets and up and down the hills of 1950s San Francisco, with the Bernard Herrman score pulsing underneath it as James Stewart  wordlessly follows Kim Novak’s car, the essence of “pure cinema” as Hitchcock himself would call it.

And since this “Vertigo” annointment, I’ve gone back to You Tube to search for just what people thought of it then. Interviewers like Tom Snyder never mentioned it. Never asked about it. Dick Cavett at least lists it…

What can you attribute the rise of “Vertigo” to? Well, for one thing, Francois Truffaut, and the Cahiers du Cinema, who recognized it and touted it long before others did.

More about this endlessly fascinating topic of Alfred Hitchcock, the Master of Suspense, who I just called The Master soon.

And you know, he never won an Oscar?

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