Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Reconsidering Hitch

(Illustration by Ryan Tym)

To prepare for the movie mania coming soon to these parts -- a list, in installments, of my favorite 100 movies (there will also be various posts by guests) -- I’ve been rewatching some movies and watching others for the first time. (Because I’ve been rightfully teased about the delay, and because I may never start without a deadline, I’ve set January 18 as the start date for the festivities.) Psycho was one of those classics I had never seen, and I rectified that a couple of weeks ago. It will definitely make my list, for reasons that I’ll get into (and are probably obvious) when the time comes.

It was part of a mini Hitchcock run that also included The Birds, which I’d seen a couple of times as a young kid. I was curious about how it would hold up. The results were mixed. On the one hand, Hitchcock does his usual brilliant job of building suspense. There’s that great scene in which Tippi Hedren sits outside the schoolhouse while crows slowly, quietly gather on playground equipment behind her. But the end of that scene is indicative of the film’s biggest weakness, which is effects: The children run away from the school as birds that were clearly added to the picture afterward chase after them. The attack scenes in general are pretty silly -- with the exception of the final one, in which Hedren is bombarded inside the house. That scene is exhausting and chilling, in part because her attackers are real. Hedren says that handlers with large protective gloves “alternately hurled [the birds] at me for five days.” There are plenty of creepy scenes in the movie, but I think it falls short of Hitchcock's best.

For an interesting look at the film’s originally planned ending, see here.

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Blogger Levi Stahl said...

Have you seen David Cairns's just-concluded year-long run through the 52 extant Hitchcock movies at Shadowplay? It's great fun, exhaustive and exhausting.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Dezmond said...

Yes! We have a start date! "Rear Window"?

8:36 PM  
Anonymous dre said...

I thought this was about that great Will Smith movie.

5:59 AM  

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