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Posts tagged ‘Master of Suspense’

Alma Hitchcock in “Hitchcock” as Played by Dame Helen Mirren, she’s the “woman behind the man” no more!

One of the main reasons, it is rumored that Fox Searchlight changed up the Oscar race, at this late date in the awards season’s already cast-in-iron schedule (with the announcement of their opening “Hitchcock” on Thanksgiving Day), is Dame Helen Mirren’s leading role portrayal of Mrs. Hitchcock. Or more correctly Lady Hitchcock.

Alma Reville Hitchcock will be the “little woman behind the man” no more. And when Academy Award Winner Dame Helen meets a role that could please Mr. Oscar ~ LOOK OUT!  AWARDS FIREWORKS AHEAD!

Portraying her husband of some 40 years, is no less than another Academy Award Winner, Sir Anthony Hopkins. He, who did so well, with Hannibal Lecter. He had the briefest Best Actor screen time in all of Hwood history! Yes, he did!  And he’s sure to make a meal of the delectably juicy Sir Alfred’s plumminess.

AND there’s the added bonus of the never-before-nominated Scarlett Johanson portraying Academy-Award Nominee Janet Leigh. She was the  naked-girl-in-the-shower-scene, perhaps the most famous scene Hitchcock ever shot.

The film was purported to detail the behind-the-scenes story of “Psycho,” but it seems now from rumors out of La-La Land, it is the marriage of Alfred & Alma that is taking center stage in the story instead.

And it’s  a great Hollywood love story that never has been told.

One way to catch up on it quick, if you can’t wait til November, and who can? Is to read their daughter Patricia’s recent biography of her mother “Alma Hitchock -The Woman Behind the Man.” It’s a delightful read and really fills in rather completely just who Alma Reville was.

A tiny British beauty, she was involved with movies even before her husband was. She was a film editor. And before that briefly an actress. And she and Hitch met when they were both making silent films. He was designing sets and writing the inter-titles for the Silents. It’s so interesting to me that both their careers spanned the entire history of movies!

Alma Reville wrote many of the scripts for her husband’s movies, though she did not always get screen credit for them. For instance on “The Lady Vanishes” she gets top billing, but it says “Continuity by Alma Reville.”

And her expert editing eye was involved in almost every artistic decision the Master made. This according to the man himself. Her roles in his life and work were many and varied, and she was a good cook, too! Her recipes are included in the back of Patricia Hitchcock’s loving memoir.

Every script would be run by Alma first, and if she thought it would make a good movie, Hitch then acted upon it. If Alma said “no!” it was a dead project. And Alma did much, much more of the writing and re-writing on many of his films that she was never credited with. Pat Hitchcock’s book, and now “Hitchcock” the movie seem intent on redressing this imbalance.

The Master of Suspense was not joking when he said, “The only critic I fear is my wife.”

Their dutiful daughter Pat was also an actress herself and her most memorable role was of the mystery-obsessed younger sister to Ruth Roman in one of Hitchcock’s many masterpieces “Strangers on a Train”

She’s quite petite and probably is more a mirror of her mother’s pleasant-minded-ness and orderliness, than her father’s famed dark side. Pat Hitchcock appears on the special features on nearly every DVD of her father’s work.

Alfred Hitchock always gave Alma all the credit for everything he did, if he was asked.

“I’m nothing without your mother,” he would say over and over again to his daughter, and any journalist who would listen, and I bet Fox Searchlight’s rushing “Hitchcock” into an awards season release is going to show us just HOW much Alma meant to him. And to his work, that everyone loves so much. And the eternal debt filmdom owes to her for everything that she did do behind the scenes.

Pat Hitchcock says, “Nobody ever gave my mother credit for anything. And she didn’t take the credit herself.” Though, as I said, her husband certainly did when asked.

I can’t wait for this movie! And I bet Patricia Hitchock herself is probably DEEE-lighted by this turn of events where at long last her mother is going to go “toe-to-toe” as Oscar Blogger Extraordinaire Scott Feinberg says in “The Hollywood Reporter.”

It will be a “Good Evening” at the movies indeed!

And then there’s “The Girl” ANOTHER movie on Sir Alfred, this time about “The Birds” and his tormented relationship with its’ star Tippi Hedren. That will be on HBO very soon, and tells, evidently ANOTHER story completely. There’s a book by Donald Spoto out on this topic, which this film is based on, and it’s hair-raising. And I believe, true.

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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