And no, you don’t have to be a film geek to enjoy it. Trust me, you will.
HITCHCOCK is basically the back story of the making of Hitch’s 1960 uber-thriller PSYCHO which starred Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin and Martin Balsam.
It told the gruesome tale of Leigh picking the wrong motel to spend the night, the creepy, old Bates Motel with 12 vacancies and 12 showers. It was run by a most peculiar innkeeper and his shadowy mother.
When the Motion Picture Association read the script they promptly threatened to withhold its Seal of Approval which would have kept the major theaters across America from ever playing it.
Hitchcock’s dealings with the board were classic.
And Paramount, the studio to which Mr. Hitchcock contractually still owed one more film, wanted no part of this one.
It should be noted that Hitch’s last movie for Paramount had been VERTIGO, a flop at the box office. Yet NORTH BY NORTHWEST, made for MGM, was a hit. So obviously Paramount wanted the great director’s final offering to be released through their studio to be more, well, mainstream. Their strong-arm tactic was to pull all of the financing for the film.
But that didn’t stop the thrill-meister who did them one better by financing the film himself and eventually ending up with a much larger share of the profits.
Of course, underwriting the entire production wasn’t easy. Hitch literally had to mortgage his home which didn’t set well with his wife Alma Reville, portrayed to perfection by Helen Mirren.
Alma was not only the uncredited force in his life but also Hitch’s movie collaborator who co-wrote his screenplays, cast and edited his movies. About the only aspect Alma didn’t involve herself in was the actual filming process—which allegedly gave Hitch ample opportunity to voyeur his female performers.
And about that famous shower scene in PSYCHO?
Suffice it to say there was plenty of controversy surrounding it at Paramount. The least of which was the music that would back it on the soundtrack—IF ANY!
We all now know the screeching noises that accompanied it. But Hitch’s hunch about its use didn’t really pay off until the picture’s star-studded premier. We see the master pacing the floor in the theater lobby as the scene is about to appear on the big screen. Bingo, it worked—and how!
Scarlett Johansson is perfect as Janet Leigh while James D’Arcy makes for a convincing cross-dressing Anthony Perkins. Also on board Jessica Biel as Vera Miles and Toni Collette playing Hitch’s right hand assistant Peggy Robertson.
Cinephiles will find themselves in hog heaven. Others will find the movie entertaining, informative and fascinating. And the film’s final scene is priceless.
Let’s just say it involves a bird.
HITCHCOCK—a provocative look, speculations and glimpses at the inner workings of a Hollywood institution.
The film opens today as a limited three theater Kansas City engagement then adds additional theaters—plus Lawrence—on December 14th.
I’m raising 3-1/2 out of 5 enigmatic fingers.
JACK GOES TO THE MOVIES: On Radio / On Cable / On Line.