Hitchcock ~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp
In the new movie, Hitchcock, Anthony Hopkins plays the famed movie director and Helen Mirren his long-suffering wife, Alma. Alfred Hitchcock is sixty years old and is looking for a project to direct after the success of North by Northwest. When the novel Psycho, by Robert Bloch, is brought to his attention, he decides that will be his next picture, a decision that meets with a chorus of opposition. The movie studio executives don’t like the idea of filming Psycho and won’t back the project. The office of censorship tells Hitchcock he will never get away with showing his lead character hacked to death in a shower in a motel. Members of the press believe that Hitchcock has lost his deft touch as the master of classy suspense films such as Strangers on a Train and Vertigo and has been reduced to making schlock. Even Hitchcock himself believes that he has possibly been cheapened by his association with television and has lost whatever it was that made him unique.
In spite of all the problems put in his way, Hitchcock perseveres. He mortgages his own house to finance Psycho. It’s an enormous gamble for him. If the film fails, not only is he ruined financially, but all the naysayers will have been proved right and his reputation as a director will be ruined.
Much of the one hour and thirty-eight minutes of Hitchcock is taken up with behind-the-scenes stuff about the making of Psycho. If you are a movie fan, a Hitchcock fan, or a Psycho fan, this is fascinating stuff and fun to watch. Ed Gein, the creepy Wisconsin serial killer who inspired the character of Normal Bates in Psycho, becomes a sort of alter-ego for Hitchcock during the making of the movie. The actors who play Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, and Vera Miles are all perfect. We see Hitchcock terrorize Janet Leigh with a butcher knife in the shower scene to elicit believable screams from her.
Of course, Alfred Hitchcock proved everybody wrong. Psycho was a critical and financial success. It is now considered his best movie of the dozens he directed and one of the best American movies of all time. If he had given in to those who were telling him it couldn’t be done or shouldn’t be done, we might have been denied the piece of pure cinema that is Psycho.
A companion piece to the movie Hitchcock is a film that HBO aired a while back called The Girl, a movie about the making of The Birds, which was Hitchcock’s next movie after Psycho. The “girl” in question is Tippy Hedren, who Hitchcock chose to star as his blond leading lady in The Birds. Apparently she was never the same again.
Copyright © 2012 by Allen Kopp