Hitchcock Haul: The Wrong Man (1956)

511M26LcwiL._SY445_The Wrong Man…more like the wrong movie (yikes). It’s been a while since I’ve really disliked a Hitchcock film that I’ve watched for this little project of mine, but wow did I disliked this one! The thesis of this film is, “all white men look the same.” This movie is bad. I was not only bored but also annoyed.

Hitchcock dips into true-ish crime with this one, basing the story off of the book The True Story of Christopher Emmanuel Balestrero by Maxwell Anderson. Hitchcock would actually hire Anderson to also work on the screenplay for The Wrong Man as well as Vertigo. There is a bit of a similarity in vibe between the films, except Vertigo is amazing and this movie is trash.

The beginning of the film features an intro that would have felt familiar to fans of Hitchcock’s television series. Hitchcock himself appears to tell the expectant audience that the story that was about to unfold was more horrific and compelling than any he’d ever told before, that it was a truth stranger than fiction! At the time, positive reviews mentioned its gripping realism. Folks viewing The Wrong Man today (like myself) would actually call the story tired, in part due to Hitchcock’s own familiar use of the trope.

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The Hitchcock Haul: Vertigo (1958)

Vertigomovie_restorationWow, I’ve really been slacking with my Hitchcock this year. Whatever, I’ve been busy. I revisited an old favorite of mine recently: Vertigo. Arguably Hitchcock’s strangest film, Vertigo was not universally loved when it was released in 1958. Hitchcock had been known for his romantic thrillers, and people pretty much expected more of the same. Instead, they got a strange passion project that seemed to reveal more of Hitchcock’s inner psyche than anyone really wanted to know. Overwhelming obsessions, paranoia, busty blondes — it feels like a two-hour long therapy session with you as the therapist and Hitchcock your patient. Most publications said it was a good film and visually appealing, but too long and convoluted. The plot has a strange structure that rubbed some critics wrong, and it didn’t help that the mystery is revealed well before the end of the film. It ended up breaking even, but that could be marked as a failure for Hitchcock at that particular time in his career. It wasn’t until recently that the film has been hailed as a masterpiece and even said by some to beat out Citizen Kane as best film of all time.

If you have never seen Vertigo, do not read this post. It’s riddled with spoilers and will ruin the movie for you completely. But chances are you’ve seen Vertigo. It was one of the first Hitchcock’s I was introduced to, and also one of my favorites. It starts as a strange investigation into a seemingly paranormal case and ends up being an incredibly calculated scam.

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The Hitchcock Haul: Psycho (1960)

Psycho_(1960)Of course I watched Psycho on Halloween week! Starring Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, and Vera Miles, Psycho is based on the novel by the same name written by Robert Bloch and adapted for the screen by Joseph Stefano. I don’t think I need to recap the plot or go into what a fabulous film this is. It’s pretty much universally known, but if you have somehow never seen Hitchcock’s masterpiece, you absolutely need to watch tonight!

Psycho was a game changer in a lot of ways, but I thought it’d be appropriate to stress the role it played in horror films, because, you know…Halloween. With Psycho, Hitchcock helped to create a new genre known as the slasher film, albeit not intentionally. It set a new bar for violence and deviance (sexual or otherwise) in film that was previously not there. This was mainly because the production code that ruled over film content in the decades previous had stopped such subject matter from ever being produced. The restrictive code had recently been thrown out at the time of Psycho‘s production (otherwise it would’ve never been made), but filmmakers were still hesitant to explore those once taboo elements. Psycho challenged the limits of respectability and paved the road for more graphic fair, such as John Carpenter’s Halloween (starring Leigh’s daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis) which opened the door for a flood of slasher films to burst through (such as Friday the 13th).

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