November 19, 2012
Looking back at Alfred Hitchcock's film "Psycho," you can't help but wonder: What's all the fuss? Compared to all the violence, gore and torture we see in movies nowadays, "Psycho" was tame. But 1959 was a very different time and when "Psycho" premiered in 1960, the film was groundbreaking. A first of its kind and the beginning of a new genre, that has never been seen before.
'Hitchcock,' directed by Sasha Gervasi ("Anvil"), stars Sir Anthony Hopkins, as Alfred Hitchcock, and Dame Helen Mirren plays his wife, Alma Reville, the woman "behind the genius."
The story starts in 1959 ... Hitchock has just come off the success of "North by Northwest" and he wants to do something different. Something that will blow people away and prove to the critics that "he still has the stuff." He reads about a man named Ed Gein, a serial killer and transvestite, who lived with his dead mother. Hey, nobody is perfect. Gein's story inspired Robert Block's novel "Psycho."
Hitch is determined to make this his next movie. It might have something to do with the fact, he carries on numerous imaginery conversations with Mr. Gein. He brings this idea to the head of Paramount, Barney Balaban (the wonderful Richard Portnow) but even though Alfred has done over 40 movies with the studio, Barney basically says...no way are we making this piece of garbage.
So what does Mr. Hitchcock do? Mortgages his house with Alma's blessing. He puts up $800.000 of his own money for 40 percent of the profits. And the rest is history,
"Hitchcock" is not only about the making of "Psycho" it's also the story of Hitch's complex relationship with his wife Alma, a writer and editor in her right. And it's a really good story.
It's obvious that he loved her, but it's just as obvious that at times, he acted like Alma didn't exist. Too say Mr. H was an eccentric narcissist is pretty accurate.
The film was written by John McLaughlin ("Black Swan") and is based on the book "Alfred Hitchcock and the making of Psycho" by Stephen Rebello.
The cast is fantastic; James D'Arcy is dead on as Anthony Perkins, Scarlett Johansson is perfect in capturing the sweetness of Janet Leigh and Jessica Biel is excellent as actress Vera Miles who Hitch had a very contentious relationship with. I also loved Toni Collette as Hitch's long time secretary, Peggy Robertson.
Michael Wincott does a great job as Ed Gein, as does Danny Huston who plays writer Whitfield Cook ("Stranger on a Train") who Alma, starved for a creative outlet, collaborates with on a project causing Hitch to go deliciously mad with jealousy. "Hitchcock" gives us a fascinating look into a difficult and complex man who was a visionary that changed cinema forever.
Even though Sir Anthony wears a facial prosthetic, a hairpiece and blue contact lenses to resemble Hitchcock, it's his acting that shines through and brings this fascinating man to life.
Of course, as always Helen Mirren gives a beautiful performance as Hitch's talented but underappreciated wife.
"Hitchcock" opens on Fri., Nov. 23, and is a must see for anyone who is a film buff or just likes to be entertained. I gave this film 4 1/2 bagels out of 5 and John was just a bagel short of my score.
Also let us know what you think about 'Hitchcock'. Thanks everyone and Happy Thanksgiving.