Alfred Hitchcock

First impressions of…Psycho (1960)

PsychoPosterWe all know that iconic shower scene accompanied by that specific music…don’t we? And we all know which movie it comes from. Yet…until this weekend I’d never dared (yes, “dared” because I’m scared of horrors…but how bad can a 1960s movie really be? And Hitchcock? Why am I such a scaredy Cat??? (no pun intended for those who know me…ok, ok, fine, I couldn’t resist).

So, with The Janet Leigh Blogathon I decided to tackle this one. In that way, it would go from my To Watch List to my Watched List because I’d obviously need to watch it. And it is another case of …why did I wait so long?

Absolutely excellent. The opening credits, or more so, the music sets the scene (gosh, I’m doing well today 😉 ) for a brilliant Hitchcock work. And off course, the symbolic music, those screeching strings have finally made an impact…I’d learnt about how they are the perfect horror music accessory but this movie really shows their ultimate usage. One thing is for sure, I’ll never be quite comfortable in a motel shower again. Ever. I’ll probably also check behind every picture too.

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Oh, the story. I won’t go too much into it. I think you’d best discover it yourself. Let’s just say that Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) ends up at the Bates Motel one rainy night. Run by Norman Bates, the creepiest guy out such a lovely, polite man. And well, the rest I won’t give away. I never knew the story until now, so will leave you in as much suspense. Just go watch it.

Moving on to our Blogathon subject…I’d never seen Janet Leigh before (bar the shower scene stills) and was really impressed. I absolutely loved her in this Oscar and Golden Globe nominated role as Marion. Even though we are introduced to her in what is a secret tryst, somehow she is still a sympathetic character from the start. So much so that, knowing the shower scene was coming, I was hoping that, having never seen it, she’d come out of it alive. And, spoiler alert (sort of), what she does to get the story going in the first place, is therefore totally unexpected. Janet Leigh‘s depiction of her inner turmoil is absolutely convincing yet there are moments when you wonder if she’s not a little psycho herself. Yet, somehow you really feel for her. Especially once she checks into the infamous motel (oh, that’s another thing that I “knew” of this movie but really didn’t, if that makes sense…amazing how popular culture impacts us). But somewhere, at the back of my mind, the unfair thought that she ended up in this situation because she wasn’t quite innocent crept in. Would any of this have happened had she gone to the bank?

Fascinating, yet disturbing, is the explanation/reasoning behind the shower scene. The personality/ies of Norman. It somehow reminded me of the movie I’d reviewed a while back, Peacock.

JL banner - Evil 1It isn’t only Janet Leigh who makes this all come together. Hitchcock‘s amazing imagery, the music, the actors, the story, everything just works so well together to present us with the perfect movie. Absolutely worthy of a watch. Maybe even a second or third.

Love Letters to Old Hollywood has more Janet Leigh post right here.

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To Catch a Thief (1955)…

To_Catch_a_ThiefI’m really (gosh…I’m embarrassed to admit) a newbie when it comes to things Hitchcock, so, any excuse will do to increase my repertoire…this time…Grace Kelly. Ah, I absolutely love her performances. Hence To Catch a Thief for Maddy’s Blogathon.

She’s Frances, who, together with her rich widow mother, is holidaying on the French Riviera where a jewel thief is at work. Here too we find, supposedly “former” or “retired”, jewel thief John Robie aka The Cat (Cary Grant). Naturally, suspicion falls on him. Even his former gang believe he is back in full swing of things ruby and such. However, John really is “clean” and sets out to find out the copycat Cat (ha ha, that wasn’t intended). Along the way he, or is it the other way, Frances, fall(s) in love…with each other, of course. And…yes, the identity of the roof-top-sneaking-burglar is revealed.

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But, it isn’t only the actors that count here. The story is, as usual, so clever. Tied up with some great cinematography and a perfectly fitting score (I think there’s a distinctive sound to Hitchcock soundtracks), the resulting movie is worth a watch. Having a weakness for romance (in non-romance genre movies), I quite enjoyed this who-dunnit. Even though I started having my own suspicions as to who was who…

This was to be the last of Grace Kelly‘s movies with Hitchcock and sadly, one of the last few movies she made at all.

Now, I guess it is about time I tackle the famous Psycho or The Birds…I suspect there is no romance there…

Maddy, thanks for hosting this Blogathon (more entries here) and getting me to watch more of these wonderful oldies.

I still like Spellbound the best (here). My thoughts on Notorious can be found here. And I’ll always have a special place for Grace Kelly as Amy Fowler Kane in the brilliant High Noon (here).

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First Impressions of…Spellbound

I’ve been anticipating Spellbound (1945) for quite a while now pretty much for Gregory Peck but also because I’ve been wanting to see who Ingrid Bergman is (soooorrrrryyy if you are in shock that I’d never seen her. And yes, that means I’ve haven’t seen Casablanca either but that will change soon). You’ll most likely be shocked to know that I’ve never seen an Alfred Hitchcock movie either. Shaking your head in disbelief?

I’ve rectified all that as of yesterday evening.

For those of you who don’t know the story, here you go: Dr Constance Petersen (Ingrid Bergman) is a psychiatrist who falls in love with the new Doctor “Dr Edwards” (Gregory Peck). However, she soon learns that things are not what they seem and that the new doctor is actually an amnesiac imposter who has periodic “attacks” triggered by certain visual cues. Determined to get to the bottom of this and convinced that he is not a murderer or dangerous, she risks her career and safety until the truth comes out.

So, what are my first impressions? Well, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Not sure what I was expecting but, as is usually the case, not this. I think I may have expected this high-tension thriller with (subconsciously) some birds thrown in together with some screaming shower scene. Instead, I got a suspense movie that had just enough tension and a great story (including some romance). Despite anticipating the ending, or at least, the outcome, it wasn’t all that obvious and I was kept wondering the whole way through as to how it would unravel.

I’m biased when it comes to Gregory Peck whom I always enjoy watching, but I really like/d Ingrid Bergman. Can’t believe I’d never watched her before. I’m going to give more of her roles a go and definitely more Alfred Hitchcock too.

Nominated for 6 Oscars, the only win went to Miklós Rózsa for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture. This is definitely deserving because the music was actually one thing that stood out for me while watching. Yes, it built up tension (as it usually does), but it was also a comfort mechanism for me because it noticeably preempted the upcoming scenes. This meant I could relax a bit, knowing this wasn’t the end of Constance.

A great movie. Definitely one I’ll watch again.

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