Friday Editor’s Pick: North by Northwest (1959)

by on March 1, 2012Posted in: Editor's Pick


Playing Fri March 9 at 7:00 and Sat March 10 at 6:00 at Museum of the Moving Image [Program & Tix]
 

There’s both everything and nothing left to say about Hitchock’s great comic thriller – thought by many to be his best, and certainly one of his most entertaining – revived in MOMI’s ongoing “See It Big!” series. Try to shed any thoughts of the bewildering Cirqu du Soleil homage at last week’s Academy Awards.

 

Let’s kick things off with a guided tour by Hitch himself:

 

J. Hoberman for the Village Voice:

North By Northwest is Alfred Hitchcock’s ultimate wrong-man comedy. An empty Brooks Brothers suit (played with splendid insouciance by Cary Grant) is pushed further into the void when he inadvertently assumes the identity of a nonexistent secret agent. Thus cast in a role he cannot understand, the Grant character is a superb textual effect whose fantastic misadventures include the most bravura piece of editing in the Hitchcock oeuvre-the nearly silent rendezvous with himself in the horrifying vacuum of a midwestern cornfield.

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Halloween Editor’s Pick: Psycho (1960)

by on October 24, 2011Posted in: Editor's Pick


Playing Mon Oct 31 at 1:00, 4:40, 8:50 at Film Forum [Program & Tix]
*Dbl Ftr w/ OBSESSION (De Palma, 1976)

 

Where to begin? Alfred Hitchcock’s psychological slasher film changed the face of the movies, and it will make fine viewing on all Hallow’s Eve at Film Forum before you head out to your party. You can go as Norman Bates in drag, or maybe do an homage to Janet Leigh’s white bra vs. black bra duality if you want to get lucky. I’m assuming nobody is going to want to go to a Halloween party as Vera Miles’s Lila or John Gavin’s Sam, but trust me, there are plenty of writers who have found interesting things to say about those characters, too.

 

(Editor’s Note: Psycho plays in the second week of Film Forum’s “Bernard Herrmann” festival, thru November 3. Read Dan’s Alt Screen feature on the prolific film composer here.)

 
First, the heavy hitters…

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Bernard Herrmann at Film Forum (Oct 21 – Nov 3)

by on October 19, 2011Posted in: Essay

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Monday Editor’s Pick: North by Northwest (1959)

by on October 17, 2011Posted in: Editor's Pick


Playing Sun Oct 23 at 1:00, 3:30, 6:00, 8:30 and Mon Oct 24 at 1:00, 3:30, 9:30 at Film Forum

[Program & Tix]

 

There’s both everything and nothing left to say about Hitchock’s great comic thriller – thought by many to be his best, and certainly one of his most entertaining – which screens as part of Film Forum’s two-week tribute to the composer and key Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Hermmann.

 

Let’s kick things off with a guided tour by Hitch himself:

 

J. Hoberman for the Village Voice:

North By Northwest is Alfred Hitchcock’s ultimate wrong-man comedy. An empty Brooks Brothers suit (played with splendid insouciance by Cary Grant) is pushed further into the void when he inadvertently assumes the identity of a nonexistent secret agent. Thus cast in a role he cannot understand, the Grant character is a superb textual effect whose fantastic misadventures include the most bravura piece of editing in the Hitchcock oeuvre-the nearly silent rendezvous with himself in the horrifying vacuum of a midwestern cornfield.

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Friday Editor’s Pick: Strangers on a Train (1951)

by on September 23, 2011Posted in: Editor's Pick


Playing Fri Sept 30 at 7:00 at The High Line [Program & Tix]

*FREE; enter at 14th St Passage

 

No matter how many times you’ve seen it, who can resist seeing Hitchock’s rousing thriller under the stars, out on The High Line? As Dave Kehr notes, “Some critics (famously Robin Wood) have claimed that the film cops out by relieving Guy of his end of the deal, but something else is going on here, particularly when Bruno’s father—elevated, unseen, all-powerful—is clearly more than a father. Perhaps Strangers on a Train still hasn’t yielded all its secrets.”

 

Pauline Kael in 5001 Nights at the Movies:

Hitchock’s bizarre, malicious comedy, in which the late Robert Walker brought sportive originality to the role of the chilling wit, dear degernate Bruno; its intensely enjoyable – in some ways the best of Hitchcock’s American films. The murder plot is so universally practical that any man may adapt it to his needs. Technically, the climax of the film is the celebrated runaway merry-go-round, but the high point of the excitement and amusement is Bruno trying to recover his cigarette lighter while Guy plays a fantastically nerve-racking tennis match. Even this high point isn’t what we remeber best – which is Robert Walker. It isn’t often that people think about a performance in a Hitchcock movie; usually what we recall are bits of “business.” But Walker’s performance is what gives this movie much of its character and its peculiar charm. It is typical of Hollywood’s brand of perversity that Raymond Chandler was never hired to adapt any of his own novels for the screen; he was however, employed on Double Indemnity and Strangers on a Train. Chandler provided Hitchcock with some of the best dialogue that has ever graced a thriller.

 

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Thursday Editor’s Pick: Rear Window (1954)

by on September 9, 2011Posted in: Editor's Pick


Playing Thurs Sept 15 at 7:00*, 9:30 at Chelsea Clearview [Program & Tix]
*7:30 show introduced by drag queen Hedda Lettuce

 

Yeah, yeah, you’ve probably heard it all on Hitchcock’s masterpiece. Allow us at Alt Screen to do a satisfactory roundup of analysis, some classic, some fresh.

 

David Denby synopsizes for the New Yorker:

The globe-trotting photographer James Stewart, his leg broken and in a cast (he has a furious itch that he can never quite reach), sits in his Greenwich Village apartment, staring gleefully through a telephoto lens at the personal problems of his neighbors across a garden courtyard. He has female visitors—the salty Thelma Ritter, a nurse, who rubs him down, and the glamorous Grace Kelly, who shows up bearing food from “21” and more sexual desire than he can handle. Alfred Hitchcock’s masterly “Rear Window” (1954), from the screenplay by John Michael Hayes (based on a Cornell Woolrich story), has never gone stale. (Moving Image is screening it on March 17, in its “Fashion in Film” series.) It is, as everyone knows, a supreme rebuke to the dubious morality of the spectator, who sits in the dark in what he assumes is safety. But it’s also one of the great films about sexuality and fear. Everything that Stewart sees across the courtyard—loneliness, marital entrapment, murder—reflects his own fantasies or terrors. The voyeur ends up spying on his own life, and it comes back at him and almost destroys him.

 

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Wednesday Editor’s Pick: Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

by on August 31, 2011Posted in: Editor's Pick


Playing Wed Sept 7 at 7:30 at 92YTribeca [Program & Tix]
*Special guest Rory Albanese

 

Somehow there are three Hitchcocks playing around town today and you’d do fine by any of them. However if you asked ole Hitch himself he’d likely steer you towards this one, his personal favorite. Bonus: introduced by Rory Alabanese from The Daily Show.

 

David Denby, upon selecting the film to play in the New Yorker fest:

“Shadow of a Doubt,” Alfred Hitchcock’s sixth American film, released in 1943, was one of his personal favorites among his work, and yet it’s not nearly as well known as some of the earlier, British films—“The 39 Steps,” “The Lady Vanishes”—or such later American masterpieces as “Strangers on a Train,” “Rear Window,” and “Vertigo.” Perhaps the quiet domestic setting of Santa Rosa, California, and the lack of obvious camera flourishes account for the movie’s relative obscurity, and yet the somnolent town is treated with a tenderness that can only be called ironic and even malicious, and Hitchcock’s use of the camera has never been more assured. The movie is about a glamorous roving uncle (Joseph Cotton) who joins his adoring sister and niece in Santa Rosa as he hides from the police. The movie is the most “psychological” of Hitchcock’s films, and the one with the clearest and most explicit exposition of evil, yet the director’s attitude is profoundly ambivalent. Goodness can be terrifying, too, and its collusion with evil is part of the movie’s enduring fascination.

 

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Early Alfred Hitchcock Film Rediscovered! The White Shadow (1923)

by on August 3, 2011Posted in: News on the March

Restoration Early Work Discovered New Zealand Film Archive Preservation Evil Twin
Joan Collins plays twin sisters–one good, one evil!–in Alfred Hitchcock’s The White Shadow (1923).
 

Great news from the The National Film Preservation Foundation and The New Zealand Film Archive:

After a world-wide search, a large part of The White Shadow (1923), thought to be the earliest surviving feature by Alfred Hitchcock[,] the celebrated master of suspense has been found in New Zealand—just in time for the filmmaker’s 112th birthday.

 
But just wait until you hear the plot synopsis:

The White Shadow [is] an atmospheric melodrama starring Betty Compson, in a dual role as twin sisters—one angelic and the other “without a soul” [!!!-ed]. With mysterious disappearances, mistaken identity, steamy cabarets, romance, chance meetings, madness, and even the transmigration of souls, the wild plot crams a lot into six reels. Critics faulted the improbable story but praised the acting and “cleverness of the production.”

 
Holy Hitchcockian doubles, Batman! New Zealand Film Archive has more stills on their site. Two favorites:
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Thursday Editor’s Pick: Dial M for Murder (1954)

by on June 29, 2011Posted in: Editor's Pick, Uncategorized

Playing thru Thurs June 30 at 2:00, 4:30, 7:00, 9:30 at Film Forum [Program & Tix]

 

Thursday is the last day of Film Forum’s ludicrously popular run of Hitchcock’s suspenser in its original double-system Polaroid 3-D format (FF is the only theater in town with the projection capabilites). “I enjoy it more every time I see it,” remarked François Truffaut, but what say others of Hitch’s dalliance with gimmick photography?

 

3-D aficionado Dave Kehr:

The film is confined almost entirely to a cramped apartment set—a constricted space that takes on a highly expressive quality in the picture’s original 3-D version…The screenplay tends to constrain rather than liberate Hitchcock’s thematic thrust, but there is much of technical value in his geometric survey of the scene and the elaborate strategies employed to transfer audience sympathy among the four main characters.

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Monday Editor’s Pick: “Vertigo” (1958)

by on June 6, 2011Posted in: Editor's Pick


Playing through Wed June 8th at 6:30 & 9:15 at BAMcinématek [Program & Tix]
 
What can one say about The Film of Films that hasn’t been said better before?
 
Dave Kehr from his recently published anthology, When Movies Mattered:

The dream of Vertigo–the dream of a love that leads to death, of a beautiful illusion that gives way to nothingness–is also a dream of the movies. Which is why, perhaps, Vertigo has always meant more to filmmakers and film critics than to the general public. More so than any other of Hitchcock’s works (more so, I would say, than any other movie), Vertigo speaks of a passion for film, a passion that isn’t always a healthy one. It’s a love for the illusory and the ineffable that is also a love for the false, the blood-less, the empty.
[…]
Vertigo is, of course, an intensely personal film, but it is also—uniquely for Hitchcock, the master orchestrator of audience response—a fiercely private one. Private not in the sense that it’s meaningful only for the author, but because it assumes an isolated viewer, a spectator alone with the screen. Unlike Hitchcock’s other films, Vertigo is not a social event; it gains nothing from the mass choruses of laughs and screams that usually accompany a Hitchcock film (and Hitchcock does nothing to encourage them), and may even lose a little. The film’s address is so intimate, so hushed, that it seems barely possible the film was made for commercial exhibition. Hitchcock’s ideal audience seems to have been a spectator sitting alone in a screening room—in short, himself, but also everyone who has ever understood movies as sufficient company.

 

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