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Universal Cable Productions Developing Alfred Hitchcock Anthology Series As I said on FB, this is actually the opposite of the Hitchcock style and legacy, at least when it comes to television; the modern "anthology" format is the end-point of a trend toward serialization, whereas Alfred Hitchcock Presents was a "pure" anthology series. I'm also vague about how the Hitchcock brand "fits" here--are they contemplating re-imagining his movies as seasons or are they going to go the Fargo route and set each season in the same "universe" featuring callbacks and so on? Links (probably not exhaustive): Vertigo Notorious North by Northwest The Man Who Knew Too Much Rope Rebecca Suspicion Links to our first, second and third threads on Psycho (1960). Favourite Hitchcocks Hitchcock
I saw this tonight and thought it was so much fun that it deserves its own thread. Hitchcock did a brilliant job of creating and maintaining a lighthearted and hilarious atmosphere throughout the entire film. Each increasingly absurd scenario is blocked for maximum comic effect, and the camera focuses right on the most humorous aspect of each scene. I never thought a pile of dirt could be so funny. There is one recurring incident that interrupts the comedy, a door creaking open on its own. The first time, it is such a surprise that it creates a moment of suspense on par with anything in Strangers on a Train or North by Northwest. As the event continually recurs, it becomes a joke every bit as funny as the rest of the film. The plot points that initially seem like they don't make sense are tied into the story, such as a nonsensical discussion between a man and a child. Or, what initially seems like a bad makeup job is satisfactorily explained by another twist, which should simplify the mystery, but the characters are so nervous that they blow that out of proportion as well. One thing that struck me is all four main characters are clueless, yet totally loveable losers, who keep making more and more awkward situations for themselves, because they keep lying and breaking the law to protect themselves. Then I realized that "clueless yet loveable losers who keep making their situation worse in failed attempts to help themselves" could also describe Raising Arizona and The Big Lebowski. That made me think: the Coens should definitely remake this; it would be perfect for them. They could make The Trouble with Harry even funnier with their unique accents and highly quotable dialogue. If anything could be improved about the film, some of the supporting performances were slightly dull compared to the absurd scenarios. I also thought a few scenes could have had sharper, wittier dialogue; there were a couple times I thought the dialogue was functional and nothing more, which is why I thought the Coens could potentially improve it with a remake. However, for the most part I was laughing too hard to notice.
I nominated this for the top 25 films about memory. Regardless of which Hitchcock films make the list, if any, I think this one should be a strong contender, as the past and distortions of the past haunt the two protagonists throughout the film. The entire film is available on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vw0H48BSZ4A
I seem to remember talk or speculation about wanting to try for at least getting one Alfred Hitchcock film in A&F's Top 100. Interesting. I don't particularly care if it works out that way or not. But I just realized Vertigo has been nominated and seconded. Vertigo's a smashingly good yarn. I highly enjoyed it. But I can't say it ever really challenged me or tried to make me think. I can't say Vertigo ever made me ask any big questions about life and death, moral law, or the spiritual realm. But one Alfred Hitchcock film did make me do that, however, and it was Rope. It's rare that I try to watch a film that I suspect may make me sick. But, against my better judgment, I did that a couple years ago with Michael Haneke's Funny Games. I left the theater sick to my stomach. The entire film was torture. The camera was exploiting fear, cruelty, both psychological and physical torture, and I didn't see the point of it. All that talk about it being so incredibly hard to tell the difference between reality and fiction. Haneke thought all of that good fun. And it reminded me of Rope. In Rope, Brandon and Phillip thought it was all just good fun, just like Peter and Paul did in Funny Games. The themes and storylines between both films are very similar. Both involve murder(s) committed out of whimsey by college age young men, who are essentially bored, and have decided to amuse themselves with evil. Both sets of young men have developed philosophies to justify their actions. In Rope, Brandon at least has been reading and absorbing the philosophy of Freidrich Nietzsche, all about the will to power and supermen (superior beings). In Funny Games, they're more into postmodern philosophy - focusing on blurring the line between fiction and reality, between what is real and what isn't, between what is right and what is wrong. But, in both cases, the results are the same. You suddenly have human beings who amuse themselves by murdering other human beings. It's not that I demand a happy ending. It's the covert little smiles, and little amusing tricks Haneke does in his film that I immediately hated. Haneke was proud of breaking the fourth wall, both with his characters, and with his themes of taking pleasure in the distress and despair of others. In Rope, Brandon and Phillip are taking pleasure in the distress and despair of others as well. They invite certain people over for dinner on purpose, both because they want to glory in their own little ironies, and because they want to watch David's friends and family's reactions once they realize that he is missing. But, unlike Funny Games, Rope has a moral center. At first, it's just good ol' Sir Cedric Hardwicke, all by his lonesome, but Jimmy Stewart's character, Rupert, proves the most interesting. Stewart is the provokative college professor, who has almost unwittingly goaded Brandon and Phillip into committing the crime they committed. In every conversation he gets in, he's always asking questions. It's unclear whether he's just joking or searching for truths, but whoever talks to him has to pause and start thinking about what they say. Rupert obviously plays with ideas like those of Nietzsche, but as the oppressive 80 minutes continues, you start to notice that, while joking about right and wrong, he does believe in it. But while trying to explain a "higher" right and wrong, Brandon does not believe in it. As the story comes to an end, you see two completely opposing philosophies heading for collision. Once they understand each other, each side will not be able to abide the other. Anyhow ... it may be one of his slower ones, but in my opinion, Rope is Hitchcock's most thoughtful and provoking film. And it's appropriate that Hitchcock's most thoughtful film is a philosophical examination of the underpinnings for and against murder.