Hollywood biopic “Hitchcock” starring Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren was on more than one Year-End Worst Movie list, so I expected some serious, over-the-top awful. However, I found it simplistic at times, but basically enjoyable. It focused on Hitchcock’s relationship with his wife Alma, and exposed her huge behind-the-scenes influence on his work, in this case, “Psycho.”
Unlike the HBO movie about Alfred Hitchcock making “The Birds,” this film does not take itself too seriously. In fact, it begins and ends with a direct homage to Hitchcock’s whimsical appearances in his television specials, “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” in which he would stand in the scene and narrate, in his droll manner, the turn of events. I found this an effective and funny approach to a subject that is already so famous and has been examined so thoroughly. For a story so familiar already, suspense is no longer a factor, so I liked the way this film hooked in to the campy aspects that Hitchcock’s actual films have developed, naturally, over the decades.
This “Hitchcock” movie concerned the strain Hitch’s obsession with blonde actresses supposedly took on his long marriage to intellectually formidable wife, Alma, who is depicted as in every way his creative partner, rewriting scripts, sitting in on film editing, and even taking over directing the film on a day when Hitch himself was home sick. When she can no longer abide his attention to gorgeous actresses, she retaliates with a flirtation of her own.
If you believe the HBO version of Hitchcock’s personality, he was creepy and obsessive. On the other hand, this treatment is an unabashed tribute, with any and all problems ultimately brushed away and neatly solved. Hitch is a loveable and brilliant curmudgeon, but, if he ruined Tippi Hedren after working with her on “The Birds,” this film depicts a vastly different relationship with a confident and well-established Janet Leigh, portrayed rather vividly by Scarlett Johansson.
While Jessica Alba is on hand as Vera Miles, a would-be Hitchcock muse who ran afoul of him and survived to warn Leigh of Hitch’s controlling and jealous ways, this is also eventually swept aside. Nothing much slows down “Hitchcock’s” breezy and admiring tone.
This movie is a fun behind-the-scenes look at an iconic person and film. It is not profound or even particularly truthful, but I found it pretty fun to watch. Connecting Hitchcock’s psychological state to that of the real life killer on which “Psycho” the novel and film were based was basically as interesting and surprising as a viewing of “Psycho” is today; that is, not especially. That “Psycho” post-mortem explanation by psychologists doesn’t play anymore, and showing, for example, Hopkins’ Hitchcock working out his frustrations with various detractors while hacking at Janet Leigh during filming of the shower scene was not terribly effective either.
“Cute” might not be the first word that comes to mind when you think of Alfred Hitchcock, but that’s actually what this film ended up being. Some people hate cute, and I can see why they would hate “Hitchcock,” especially if one has any sort of emotional investment in the veracity of events depicted, which I understand to be wobbly, at best. At least serial scenery chewer Anthony Hopkins managed to disappear into a character, which is something I haven’t seen him do in quite a while.
“Hitchcock” is currently available to rent.
If a visit to the set of “Psycho” does not satisfy your Halloween movie requirements fully, check out The Village of Spring Hill’s “Screen on the Green” series, which continues until Halloween, at Lavretta Park on Old Shell Road. Oct. 19 at 7 p.m., you can check out “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” in a fun, free, outdoor screening. Smokin’ Gringos will be on hand selling food and drinks beginning at 6 p.m., and you can enter a carved pumpkin contest. Bring your carved pumpkin from home and a battery lighted candle to win some pretty great prizes donated by local businesses.
On Oct. 26, also at 7 p.m., “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” will be followed by the camp classic “Young Frankenstein,” Ernest’s BBQ Zone will be on hand selling food and drinks beginning at 6 p.m., while Cold Snap will be selling pre-made frozen yogurt cups for $4. Go all out for the costume contest, because the prizes, although too numerous to name here, are surprisingly choice! Visit http://thevillageofspringhill.com or like them on Facebook to get the full run-down of costume categories and tantalizing prizes.