|Hitchcockian: The Master &
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This series is an Egyptian Theatre Exclusive!
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then surely Alfred
Hitchcock (1899 1980) must still be blushing from the praise heaped onto him by
other filmmakers whove borrowed from/paid homage to/ripped off the great maestro.
Hitchcocks inimitable style a combination of clockwork suspense, brilliant
camerawork, superb psychological insight, dark romanticism, with a strong dose of perverse
sexuality and still-shocking violence has long been known as
"Hitchcockian." (Along with Welles, Fellini, Chaplin and Hawks, hes one of
the few directors whose name has become an adjective.) Even more proof of Hitchcocks
groundbreaking creative genius is the fact that since his earliest days as a director,
hes inspired films both great and obscure in a style unmistakably his own (and still
continues to witness the much-criticized Gus Van Sant remake of PSYCHO).
So, to have just a little fun with the Master and His Disciples,
weve paired Hitchcock classics with films that owe more than a passing nod to him,
from early gems like Carol Reeds NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH (which even borrows
the two comic actors, Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne, from Hitchs earlier
train-themed THE LADY VANISHES!), to suave entertainments like Stanley Donens
CHARADE (which uses Hitch favorite Cary Grant). There are outright parodies (Mel
Brooks deranged comedy HIGH ANXIETY), feverish updates (Brian De Palmas
surreal BODY DOUBLE), and even a few surprises (Chris Markers LA JETEE, John
Gillings SHADOW OF THE CAT, Guy Greens THE SNORKEL) Hitchs
most famous film, PSYCHO, inspired a veritable flood of twisted thrillers in the
early 1960s weve picked one of the best (and most overlooked), Seth
Holts devious SCREAM OF FEAR from Britains Hammer Films (film buffs, be
sure to check out other Hammer "psychos" such as MANIAC, PARANOIAC,
NIGHTMARE, HYSTERIA and FANATIC - !) And of course, theres the sheer pleasure of
Hitchs unmatchable originals: VERTIGO, REAR WINDOW, TO CATCH A THIEF, THE BIRDS,
NORTH BY NORTHWEST
Thursday, January 5 7:30 PM
STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, 1951,
Warner Bros., 101 min. Dir. Alfred Hitchcock. A chance encounter between tennis
champion, Guy (Farley Granger) and psychopath, Bruno (Robert Walker) on a
train triggers an unstoppable race towards double-murder. Hitchcocks classic
thriller is a finely-tuned engine of suspense, taking barely a breath as it steams through
a spine-tingling story of fate, coincidence, guilt and psychopathy -- favorite themes of
noir writer Patricia Highsmith, whose novel was adapted by the great Raymond
Chandler. With Ruth Roman & Hitch's daughter Patricia Hitchcock.
New Restored 35mm Print!
HUMAN DESIRE, 1954, Columbia (Sony), 90 min. Director Fritz
Langs remake of Jean Renoirs LE BĘTE HUMAINE stars Glenn Ford as a
train locomotive engineer getting mixed up with the boss wife (sultry Gloria
Grahame)not a good idea when the boss is played by Broderick Crawford!
Based on Emile Zolas classic novel of murderous Fate and crisscrossed destinies (as
Lang graphically illustrates with the countless shots of intersecting railroad tracks),
but Lang hated the new title: "What other kind of desire is there?"
Friday, January 6 7:30 PM
70 mm. print!! VERTIGO, 1958, Universal, 128 min. With its stunning visuals and
gripping characters, Alfred Hitchcocks psychological suspense masterpiece
continues to entrance audiences. Showcasing Kim Novak in the startling dual role of
Madeleine and Judy, VERTIGO finds suspended San Francisco detective "Scottie"
Ferguson (James Stewart) becoming obsessed with Madeleine Elster (Novak), a
troubled woman he is privately hired to follow. Tragedy ensues and when Ferguson later
stumbles upon Judy Barton (also played by Novak), a young woman who bears a striking
resemblance to Madeleine, his obsession spirals out of control.
LA JETEE, 1962, New Yorker, 28 min.
Director Chris Markers most famous film (and his only work of pure fiction)
is an agonizing cry of love to a world gone by, the story of a man drawn through time by
the image of a woman standing on the jetty at Orly Airport. A candidate for one of the
greatest films ever made; certainly, its the most romantic.
Saturday, January 7 7:30 PM
New 35 mm. Print! TO CATCH A THIEF, 1955, Paramount, 106 min. Retired cat
burglar Cary Grant and ravishing American party girl Grace Kelly fall in
love against a backdrop of fireworks, the French Riviera and a string of unsolved jewel
robberies all the while wearing some of Edith Heads most singularly stunning
costumes. Alfred Hitchcocks tongue-in-cheek soufflé, complete with
surprisingly daring sexual innuendoes for the time, is perfect escapist fare. With Charles
Vanel (WAGES OF FEAR), Brigitte Auber.
CHARADE, 1963, Universal, 113 min. No
one is who they seem to be when Audrey Hepburn arrives in Paris to unravel the
mystery of her husbands death in director Stanley Donens masterful
homage to Alfred Hitchcock (in particular the maestros NORTH BY NORTHWEST and THE 39
STEPS). When Hepburn meets Cary Grant, supposedly one of the men who helped her
late spouse rob a post-WWII payroll, the two engage in a cat-and-mouse game of
wheres-the-missing-loot?, not only with each other, but also with a gang
of eccentric villains (including Ned Glass and an especially menacing George Kennedy
and James Coburn). When bodies pile up and Hepburn seems at her wits end,
diplomat Walter Matthau offers his help but can he be trusted? The emphasis
is on romance and comedy as well as suspense and thrills, and Donens previous track
record of seemingly effortless, effervescent entertainments stands him in good stead here.
With a captivating score by Henry Mancini.
Sunday, January 8 6:00 PM
SPELLBOUND, 1945, Walt Disney Co., 111
min. When bespectacled psychiatrist Ingrid Bergman discovers Gregory Peck is
not the famous visiting shrink, Dr. Edwardes, but a traumatized amnesiac, she suddenly
realizes shes in love with him. But is Peck a victim of circumstance or the missing
doctors killer? Director Alfred Hitchcock tackles Freudian territory as well
as repressed memories (ably abetted by surrealist, Salvador Dali, who designed the
startling dream sequence) and seamlessly blends the elements into a romantic and
HIGH ANXIETY, 1978, 20th
Century Fox, 94 min. Director Mel Brooks spoofs the maestros SPELLBOUND, but
there are countless other references as well, including nods to NORTH BY NORTHWEST,
VERTIGO, THE BIRDS, PSYCHO and more. Brooks stars as Dr. Richard Thorndyke, the
newly-arrived administrator of the Psychoneurotic Institute, suddenly beset by all manner
of madmen and mayhem. Many memorable laughs as well as co-stars Madeline Kahn,
Harvey Korman, Cloris Leachman and Dick Van Patten.
Friday, January 13 7:30 PM
PSYCHO, 1960, Universal, 109 min. Coming
off comparatively big budget NORTH BY NORTHWEST, director Alfred Hitchcock decided
he wanted to make a nice little, low budget B&W film for a change of pace. This was
the result, and the shock waves are still reverberating. Lovely embezzler Marion Crane (Janet
Leigh) takes refuge from a rainstorm off the beaten track on a lonely California
highway. Unfortunately, she checks in at the Bates Motel, presided over by young Norman
Bates (Anthony Perkins), a strange fellow living with his mother in a nearby
mansion. Hitchcock used the small crew from his popular TV show for this hair-raising
example of California Gothic, and it remains one of the most influential chillers ever
made. With Vera Miles and John Gavin.
SCREAM OF FEAR, 1961, Columbia
(Sony), 81 min. Director Seth Holts first Hammer Studios effort tracks
wheelchair-bound Penny (Susan Strasberg) who returns to her familys French
Riviera estate after her mothers untimely death. Shes surprised to find she
already has a stepmother (Ann Todd) and that her father is supposedly away on business.
But all is not as it seems. Handsome chauffeur, Bob (Ronald Lewis) and sinister Dr.
Gerrard (Christopher Lee) enter the mix, and someone seems bent on driving Penny
over the edge into madness or, worse, death! An altogether satisfying thriller with plenty
of twists and turns to keep you guessing.
Saturday, January 14 7:30 PM
REAR WINDOW, 1954, Universal, 112 min. "See It! - If your nerves can stand it after PSYCHO!" That
was the tagline for the 1962 re-release of one of director Alfred Hitchcocks
most rigorously structured thrillers. Adapted from a short story by noir master Cornell
Woolrich, REAR WINDOW stars James Stewart as L.B. Jeffries, an ace photographer
bound to a wheelchair after breaking his leg on assignment. Despite receiving visits from
his high-fashion sweetheart, Lisa (Grace Kelly), Jeffries is bored and soon resorts
to spying on his tenement neighbors through a telephoto lens. Suddenly, he has cause to
regret his indiscretion it seems the ailing wife of a traveling salesman neighbor
(superb heavy Raymond Burr) has taken an abrupt trip. Or has she? "The
experience is not so much like watching a movie, as like ... well, like spying on your
neighbors. Hitchcock traps us right from the first." Roger Ebert, Chicago
BODY DOUBLE, 1984, Columbia (Sony),
114 min. Director Brian De Palma has always openly expressed his admiration for
Hitchcock and has used various tropes common to the master in a number of his pictures.
This is one of his most jawdropping, melding influences from REAR WINDOW and VERTIGO as
well as giving a vigorous nod to the delirium of 1970s Italian giallo shockers.
When a claustrophobic and cuckolded actor (Craig Wasson) finds himself suddenly homeless,
he house-sits for a theater workshop acquaintance (Gregg Henry). But he finds himself
going from the frying pan into the fire after witnessing the murder of a beautiful
neighbor. To make matters worse, he falls for sweet, dysfunctional porn star, Holly Body (Melanie
Griffith) who may have been tricked into doubling for the victim.
Sunday, January 15 6:00 PM
New 35 mm. Print! THE 39 STEPS, 1935, Sony Repertory, 86 min. "What
are the 39 Steps??" And why is a network of foreign spies so desperate to stop
stalwart hero Robert Donat from uncovering the mystery of this most cryptic of
Alfred Hitchcock puzzles? And will lovely Madeleine Carroll really come to trust
that Donat is an innocent man and not an escaped criminal running from the law?? With its
non-stop suspense, breathtaking set pieces and brain-twisting plot turns, this set the
pattern for nearly all the great Hitchcock thrillers to come.
MAN HUNT, 1941, 20th Century
Fox, 105 min. There was mutual respect but also an unspoken rivalry between Hitchcock and
German expatriate director, Fritz Lang, and this excellent WWII-era nailbiter is
just one of the many reasons why. Walter Pidgeon is Captain Thorndyke, a renowned
big-game hunter stalking the most dangerous prey of all: psychotic dictator, Adolf Hitler!
Co-starring George Sanders as the Nazi bigwig who has Thorndyke in his sights and Joan
Bennett as a hapless Cockney street girl. NOT ON VIDEO!
Wednesday, January 18 7:30 PM
SWOON, 1992, Fine Line, 90 min. Based on the
same murder case as Alfred Hitchcocks ROPE, director Tom Kalin presents a
radically stylized and blatantly gay account of the notorious 1924 Leopold and Loeb murder
case. With the intoxicating look of a vintage Hollywood studio melodrama, SWOON tells the
sensational story of two wealthy, young and brilliant Jewish lovers whose thrill-seeking
crime spree culminates in the senseless killing of a Chicago schoolboy. Along with sly
winks at the camera (anachronistic props, stock footage, allegorical sound affects) SWOON
puts forth historical content that makes visible the homophobic exploitation of madness
that asks the question, "If you cant have a marriage ceremony to bind you, why
not a murder?" SWOON is a foundational film among the oeuvre of the New Queer Cinema.
Discussion following the screening with actor, Craig Chester.
Thursday, January 19 7:30 PM
SHADOW OF A DOUBT, 1943,
Universal, 108min. What starts out as a charming portrait of idyllic small-town life
gradually darkens into one of director Alfred Hitchcocks most devastating
thrillers. Teenager Teresa Wrights romantic illusions about her beloved Uncle
Charlie (Joseph Cotten) are gradually shattered by the suspicion he may be the
diabolic Merry Widow serial killer. Add to the mix a rewardingly rich tapestry of
eccentric characters (Henry Travers, Hume Cronyn, Patricia Collinge are stand-outs in the
cast), and you have one of Hitchcocks most brilliantly constructed films.
SHADOW OF THE CAT, 1961,
Universal, 79 min. Heres an ultra-rare screening of the best Hammer studios
film thats not quite a Hammer film -- although 90% of the credits reveal a Hammer
cast and crew, including underrated director John Gilling (THE REPTILE). In turn of
the 20th century rural England, Barbara Shelley (FIVE MILLION YEARS TO
EARTH) returns to her aunts mansion after the womans suspicious death, only to
find a household of homicidal relatives and servants (including uncle Andre Morell),
intent on making sure she never sees her inheritance. Oh, yes, the old womans cat
may have its own axe to grind as well! An extremely atmospheric suspense film with a
most appropriate score by Mikis Theodorakis (several years before he did ZORBA THE
GREEK!). NOT ON VIDEO!
Friday, January 20 7:30 PM
THE BIRDS, 1963, Universal, 119 min.
Director Alfred Hitchcocks love affair with northern California (begun in
SHADOW OF A DOUBT and continued in VERTIGO) climaxed with this stunning shocker about the
residents of picturesque coastal town Bodega Bay - who find themselves targeted by a
murderous invasion of birds. Starring Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, Suzanne Pleshette,
Jessica Tandy and Veronica Cartwright.
PHASE IV, 1974, Paramount, 86 min.
Pantheon titles designer Saul Bass created stunningly imaginative, opening title
credits for legions of great filmmakers (Scorsese, Preminger, as well as Hitchcock and
many others). His sole movie as a director is this visually hypnotic saga of two isolated,
research scientists (Nigel Davenport, Michael Murphy) suddenly confronted with a horde of
normal-sized, but super-intelligent ants fixed on integrating the human species into their
burgeoning colony. With Lynne Frederick. NOT ON VIDEO!
Saturday, January 21 7:30 PM
NORTH BY NORTHWEST, 1959,
Warner Bros., 136 min. Dir. Alfred Hitchcock. Cary Grant gives one of his
greatest performances as womanizing, mamas boy executive Roger Thornhill
whose cozy life of afternoon cocktails with the boys is turned upside down when hes
mistaken for elusive government operative "George Kaplan" by suave villain James
Mason and murderous crony Martin Landau. Eva Marie Saint co-stars as Masons
elegant mistress, with the wonderful Jesse Royce Landis as Grants fur-clad society
mom ("You gentlemen arent really trying to murder my son, are you?").
Brilliantly scripted by Ernest Lehman (THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS), and photographed by
veteran Hitchcock collaborator Robert Burks (STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, REAR WINDOW).
THE PRIZE, 1963, MGM (Warners), 133
min. Mark Robson (who started out helming atmospheric thrillers for Val Lewton in
the 1940s) directs Paul Newman as a cynical, hard drinking Nobel Prize winner for
literature who believes the Prizewinner for physics (Edward G. Robinson) has been
kidnapped by the Communists. No one, including beautiful Elke Sommer who has been
assigned to handle Newman, believes his story at least at first. Frequent Hitchcock
collaborator, writer Ernest Lehman adapted the Irving Wallace novel into a rollicking stew
of tongue-in-cheek intrigue and suspense.
Sunday, January 22 6:00 PM
THE LADY VANISHES, 1939, Sony
Repertory, 97 min. "Spies! Playing the game of love
and sudden death!" Ravishing British beauty Margaret Lockwood finds no one
will believe her when she claims a sweet old lady has mysteriously disappeared from a
moving train in fact, no one believes the old woman exists at all
suspense and nimble comedy co-mingle in this classic example of Alfred Hitchcocks
earlier British period. Watch for Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford as two cricket-obsessed
fellow passengers their pairing here was so successful, they co-starred in a
further ten films playing essentially the same characters! Co-starring Michael
Redgrave, Paul Lukas.
NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH,
1940, 20th Century Fox, 90 min. Director Carol Reed (THE THIRD MAN, ODD
MAN OUT) was no stranger to superb, edge-of-your-seat entertainments, and he supplies all
the elements here in one of his earliest, comparatively lesser known outings. British
agent, Rex Harrison, tries to spirit a refugee Czech scientist back to England
after the Nazis kidnap him as well as his newly-arrived daughter (Margaret Lockwood).
With Paul Henried, Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford.
Thursday, January 26 7:30 PM
DIAL M FOR MURDER, 1954, Warner
Bros., 105 min. Dir. Alfred Hitchcock. Suave, cold-blooded Ray Milland plots
to murder his beautiful wife, Grace Kelly, and leaves the key to their apartment
outside for his hired killer (Anthony Dawson.) But killer, Dawson, has a bit of trouble
with a pair of scissors - to put it mildly - and a new Pandoras box of complications
open up. Unfortunately, scheming Milland may still be able to pull off his plan
that is, unless Kellys old-flame, Robert Cummings and unflappable Scotland
Yard inspector, John Williams can determine what really happened that fateful night.
Maestro Hitchock masterfully adapts Frederick Knotts famous, hit stage-play to the
big screen (it was originally presented in 3-D).
THE SNORKEL, 1958, Columbia (Sony),
74 min. Guy Green (A PATCH OF BLUE) directs this virtually unknown, but
excellent, suspense thriller produced by Hammer Studios. After his wifes apparent
suicide, debonair, sinister Peter Van Eyck (THE WAGES OF FEAR) tries to pull the wool over
the eyes of his returning-from-school, teen stepdaughter (Mandy Miller). When his
subterfuge fails, Miller suddenly finds herself slotted for the same fate as Mom. Betta
St. John (HORROR HOTEL) is lovely and appropriately protective as Millers
unsuspecting governess. Once again, the plot hinges on the mystery of a locked room and
the seeming impossibility of entry from outside. Hint it has something to do with
the title device! NOT ON VIDEO!