Friday, April 29, 2005


[Pic Courtesy Rediff]

"When a bomb explodes, it is terror; when it doesn't explode, it is suspense" - Hitchcock

Its 25 years today since Alfred Hitchcock passed away and Rediff has a fascinating slideshow on the master's life to mark this. I really liked the fact that the slideshow talks more about his personal life(his epitaph, in vintage Hitchcock fashion, reads "I am in on the plot"!) and behind-the-scenes kinda information(his first project was supposed to be about the Titanic!) about his movies rather than an oft-seen 'favorite' list of his movies. Loved the photographs on the slideshow too.

A few years ago, some friends and I went through a 'Hitchcock' phase where we watched a string of his movies over the span of a few weeks. Not surprisingly, I liked every one of them, from the oldest among the ones I saw(39 Steps) to the most recent(Frenzy). Here's the list of all Hitchcock movies I have seen.

The Birds
North by Northwest
The Man Who Knew Too Much
To Catch A Thief
Rear Window
Dial M for Murder
Strangers on a Train
Foreign Correspondent
The 39 Steps

If I was forced to pick a favorite, it would have to be Notorious, followed pretty closely by Psycho. From a technical perspective, I found Rope, with its amazing continuous shots, to be the most fascinating though.


At 3:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually, i've never been a great admirer of Hitchcock...dont know...somehow was never my cup of bournvita! I watched "Rear Window" in a Film-Analysis class during my was awesome but was kinda disappointed with quite a few of the others...I just didnt enjoy Vertigo...and the problem with Psycho was that I'd seen too many rip-offs before watching the original!

At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No reviews today?

At 3:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Conjuring up dread from thin air - that's Hitch's USP. His usage of camera angles and lighting to accentuate terror were pathbreaking and have been ingrained into the consciousness of generations of filmmakers. It is perhaps this that makes it difficult sometimes to appreciate the greatness of Hitch!

At 10:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

‘rear window’ I agree is overrated, but ‘vertigo’… common ram

while I don’t agree w/ the majority of critics - who say it’s his best work… I do think it is definitely top 5 hitch

did you get the double meaning of the title btw??

as for ‘psycho’, I think it is one of hitch’s great films, though the best ‘rip-off’ (as ram put it) is by the ‘master of the macabre’ himself - da palma’s ‘dress to kill’ - I actually think it surpasses ‘psycho’, and it is one of my fav films of all time

I think if hitch ever had a successor it is definitely da palma

btw, bj, you have a nice list there.. but I notice ‘spellbound’ is not on it

‘spellbound’ is essential hitch! you must get your hands a copy bj

and ya I agree w/ the anonymous poster, hitch was tremendously influential

we still see the term ‘hitchcockian’ thriller used all the time

and speaking of ‘hitchcockian’ thrillers what are some good Indian ‘hitchcockian’ thrillers??

the two I can come up w/ are both by vidhu vinod chopra, who after making his oscar nominated documentary short, went on to make his first two films which were superb ‘hitchcockian’ thrillers - ‘sazaye maut’ and ‘khamosh’ - both starring my absolute fav actor naseer shah

anyone know of any others??


At 10:33 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I watched only Psycho :(

Dial M for murder pathi dad adikkadi tellings, but don get a copyof it!!

At 10:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recommend to anyone to watch Hitchcock's best British film THE LADY VANISHES (UK, 1938) and his two best American films SHADOW OF A DOUBT (US, 1943) and LIFEBOAT (US, 1944). It doesn't get any better...

At 11:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

good choices asokan

I agree w/ "LADY VANISHES" and "SHADOW OF A DOUBT" - both hitch classics!


At 12:35 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

one thing i've noticed about hitch's movies(and other classics) is to watch(or rewatch) the movie after reading reviews/analyses by well-known critics, film lovers, etc. They contain fascinating tidbits about shots, behind-the-scene information, etc. that really increase your viewing pleasure.

vic, 'dress to kill' is definitely going on my netflix queue :)
will have to think quite a bit to come up with Indian Hitchcockian thrillers. havent seen the ones u mention. think 'jurm' would qualify as one (as long as we r not specifically talking about 'good' Indian Hitchcockian thrillers :-)

praveen, ever seen 'saavi' with satyaraj and sarita? that was our freemake of 'dial m for murder'!

asokan, thanx for the recommendations. will try and get those from netflix...

At 6:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Itefaq' was a pretty good thriller in Hindi..One of the greatest murder mystery/thrillers I have ever seen is actually in Tamil - 'Nadu Iravil' by 'Veenai' Balachander..absolutely riveting film!..had elements of both Hitchcock and Agatha Christie. Speaking of good Hitchcock style thrillers, 'Puthiya Paravai','Naanal' and 'Puriyadha pudhir' also come to mind.
Not to mention 'kalangarai vilakkam' the tamilization of 'Vertigo'! :-)

At 11:47 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

don't think i have seen 'nadu iravil'. but 'andha naal' was by veenai balachander too, right? absolutely love that movie. one of the few real noirs in Tamil cinema.

'kalangarai vilakkam' was really a remake of 'vertigo'??! wasn't it an MGR film?

At 7:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes Balaji, KV was a rip-off of Vertigo..thought you knew that info..In all fairness, it was a decently made film..'Andha Naal' was another superior Veenai Balachander effort! If you get a chance, do rent 'Nadu Iravil', and I am sure you wont be disappointed!

At 1:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dont agree with people who say that they read this Ebert review and that review before "enjoying" the movie. Thats like brainwashing oneself into liking a movie. To me , you either get a movie ir you dont. For most desi guys and ppl brought up in India most Hollywood movies have themes with which one cannot identify with emotionally or otherwise. You either like a movie or you dont. I hate some of Stanley Kubrick's movies - I dont care what Ebert or anyone else thinks. Art appreciation is subjective. I feel I'll rather watch Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" documentaries than sitting through 2001, A space Odyssey.

The same Ebert would give 4 stars to a movie which you would have absolutely hated. Validating one's taste on foreign land movies based on opinions of that country's critics is almost hippocracy.

And yes, Robert De Niro is the MOST overrated actor ever!!

At 2:02 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

vijay, i wasnt talking about altering my opinion about a movie based on a critic's own opinion. whatever ebert or berardinelli(the 2 reviewers i read religiously) say is not going to make me like 'eyes wide shut'. i was talking about behind-the-scenes info(kinda like whats on the director's commentary) that makes me enjoy the movie(or certain scenes) more. For eg. i loved the climax in 'notorious' where the heroine and hero walk down the stairs with the family waiting below. thot it was incredibly suspenseful. reading later about the techniques hitch used to enhance the suspense in that scene helped me enjoy it more next time i watched it.

At 6:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Balaji, thats good. Its sort of coincidental that I have read only Berardinelli and Ebert too amongst the hundreds of online reviewers! They both disagree on a lot of movies in terms of the number of stars. If a movie fails to connect to me emotionally, no amount of reading is going to change it. If I find a great movie I prefer to find it and expoerience it on my own. I discovered "Groundhog day" out of the blue and loved it and kept watching it again and again. Then I found a few reviews underrating it. I didnt let that bother me. What appeals to a desi's sensibility is definitely different from what appeals to an American born and brought up on American movies. So Ebert's or anyone else's reviews should be used only as broad guidelines. I dont feel elated if I liked a movie and find that Ebert liked it too. It doesnt matter to me.

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