First of all, I want to make it clear that though I am not asking for an apology, during the two weeks since I last posted, the energy of the handful of bloggers I follow has exhausted me. Their entries were thoughtful, interesting, and well-composed, which frankly ticks me off. Actually, I do want an apology.
On New Year’s Day, Turner Classic Movies ran a mini-marathon of Alfred Hitchcock films. Though it would be inaccurate to say we watched them all, they were playing quietly on the small screen here in our house the whole day.
Having seen all but one of them multiple times, it was easy to pause in the course of the day and watch a bit, then move on.
The ‘program’ began, reasonably enough, with the last movie Hitchcock directed, ‘Family Plot’, a movie so irredeemably bad on every level that the credits ran in roll-fashion at the conclusion, like an episode of a TV show. (When you recall the stellar graphics of the credits at the beginning of ‘Vertigo’, ‘North by Northwest’, ‘Psycho’, and ‘The Birds’, I think that observation gets some traction.)
In a long ago conversation with filmmaker James Herbert (a very intense gentleman) on the subject of Hitchcock’s ‘Marnie’, he said he believed the ‘big reveal’ in that picture was so subliminally effective because it was intentionally shot badly lit and grainy to mimic a porno film.
It occurred to me watching it last week that this would have no resonance with modern audiences. Alas, the punishment the passage of time inflicts on [alleged] intention: now that sequence just looks grainy and badly lit.
Speaking of ‘big reveals’, in spite of the fact that I (along with everybody else?) knew pretty immediately (even at thirteen years-old) watching ‘Psycho’ the first time, that Norman Bates and Mother were one and the same, I’m still astounded at what a perfectly nifty Japanese puzzle box the movie is. The craftsmanship of every single element is, well… gratifying. (No, really.)
(Juxtaposition trivia: The movie ‘Tall Story’, starring Anthony Perkins and Jane Fonda in her first movie role, was released the same year as ‘Psycho’, 1960. Directed by Joshua Logan, a frothier little romantic escapade you could not imagine.)
Included here are images of Mr. Perkins and your blogger. The one of me used to reside on the home screen of one (mine) of an identical pair of flip phones Stephen and I had before we surrendered to smart phones.
Stephen was forever grabbing the first phone (mine) he’d see walking out the door, and the idea was to see my accusing glare when the mistake would be discovered.
So, who’s scarier, Norman or me?