Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hitchcock Films I've Seen: Day Six

Okay, so I didn't post yesterday because, um, it was Earth Day. Yeah, that's right. I saved the planet by not conserving enery and not posting yesterday. So if they is a Planet Earth existing as you read this, it's because I saved it by not posting yesterday. Or the day before. Because people who REALLY love the planet conserve energy on Earth Day Eve as well.

I CONFESS (1953) - This is a rather odd film that highlights the Catholicism of Hitchcock. The plot centers on a man who confesses a murder to a priest. But when the priest refuses to devulge the confession to the police, they suspect the priest of the murder. The weak link in the film is Montgomery Cliff, a great actor, but he does not give a great performance in this film. Rumor has it that Hitch didn't get along well with Method Actors who would want to discuss motivation and character backgrounds. It's said he had similar problems with Paul Newman in TORN CURTAIN. Anyway, the result is a merely average film.

DIAL M FOR MURDER (1954) - I would love to see this film some day in 3-D as it was originally meant to be presented. But by the time the film came out, that wave of 3-D was dying, so even at the time most saw the film in standard format. This is another adaptation of a stage play (as was ROPE which featured a different gimmick) but it works. Ray Milland turns in a solid slightly sinister performance and Grace Kelly is gorgeous and Robert Cummings is bland as ever. The oddest thing about the plot is it is kind of pro-adultry. The scissor murder scene is great and would have been cool in 3-D (seems to have influenced Kenneth Branaugh's "DEAD AGAIN".)

REAR WINDOW (1954) - Back to masterpiece territory with this Jimmy Stewart/Grace Kelly classic. Hitchcock again takes a limited area (a man's apartment and what he can see of other apartments from his window) and presents us with a full and rich world. We join Stewart in the vice of voyeurism, sharing the thrills and guilt. We follow the lives of several of Stewart's neighbors, including one who may be a killer. There are great moments of tension in the film as well as much black humor. A pre Perry Mason Raymond Burr turns in a wonderful dark and yet sympathatic performance.

TO CATCH A THIEF (1955) - This film seems to have been made just so people could gaze on Cary Grant, Grace Kelly and the French Riveria. Which isn't a bad reason to make a movie. The plot of finding the jewel theif usually takes a back seat to the romance in this film. Full of Freudian imagry (kissing disolves to fireworks, it was a new cliche, then) and double entrendres ("Do you perfer legs or breasts?" refering to chicken, of course) this is a slight, but fun film.

THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY (1955) - Before there was WEEKEND AT BERNIES, there was TTWH about a corpse that keeps popping up in unexpected and inopportune place around a small New England town where every had a motive to kill Harry. It hasn't age terribly well, but it did open the door for more cinematic black humor. It features an early performance from the talented Shirley MacLaine.

Back tomorrow or sometime sone with a remake that is actually an improvement on the original.

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