HITCHING A RIDE - Content
HITCHING A RIDE
For Hicksflicks.com, Aug. 23, 2013
The Hitchcock festival moves from downtown to the Tower Theater and continues Friday, Aug. 23, through Thursday, Aug. 29, with three of the more offbeat scary pictures by the Master of Suspense: "The Birds," showing twice daily at noon and 7 p.m.; "Rope" at 4 p.m. and "Psycho" at 9:30 p.m.
"The Birds" (1963): In a remote coastal town in Northern California birds start attacking humans without provocation, individually and in flocks. They seem to have something in particular against socialite Tippi Hedren (in her film debut), who has traveled north from San Francisco to hit on Rod Taylor. But local schoolteacher Suzanne Pleshette gets the worst of it. Jessica Tandy plays Taylor's mother and young Veronica Cartwright is his kid sister. This is one of Hitchcock's greatest efforts; it just gets better with each viewing.
"Rope" (1948): Hitch's riff on the Leopold and Loeb killings is a gimmick film, shot as if in one long take, resulting in stiff, awkward performances from some of the cast, especially John Dall as the cruelest of the two collegiate killers (Farley Granger is the other). The result is very stagey, like a one-act play, a drawing-room mystery that echoes Agatha Christie. But James Stewart's excellent performance, laced with very black humor, keeps it afloat much of the way. This was also Hitchcock's first color movie and his first with Stewart.
"Psycho" (1960, b/w): Not much to be said about this one by now. One of Hitchcock's most startling achievements, his biggest moneymaker and one of the scariest horror films of all time. There's no question that it's the best slasher movie ever. An impulsive bit of thievery by hapless Janet Leigh sends her on the run, which inadvertently leads to her that fateful motel shower where she is attacked by the "mother" of manager Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). The shower scene is still horrifying and there is clever dialogue galore.
Next week, wrapping up the festival, will be one of Hitchcock's early sound films from his British period, "The Man Who Knew Too Much," and two of his later U.S. productions, both now considered among his best work: "North By Northwest" and "Vertigo."