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Entries in Alfred Hitchcock (72)

Wednesday
May242017

Beauty vs Beast: All About Ellen

Jason from MNPP here with this week's All Sigourney edition of "Beauty vs Beast" -- everything should always be All Sigourney, don't you think? Most especially Alien movies. I can't tell you how much I missed the grounding presence of Ellen Ripley this past weekend, whiplashing around Ridley Scott's scattered Covenant. If only we were getting Neill Blomkamp's proposed sequel, I kept thinking. An Alien without a Ripley is a body without a heart or a brain - an exo-skeleton full of acid.

So that's where I stand on Covenant. And even if they're more positive than I am most (if not all?) reviews continue to point to the first two films as the franchise's high-water mark. But instead of facing Ripley off with Giger's literal Beast I thought it would be more interesting to do a variation on the eternal "Alien or Aliens" question, and face off Scott's Ripley against James Cameron's Ripley, as the low-key smartypants of the first movie is in many ways quite a different beast altogether from the ass-kicking maternal Cassandra of the second. Which Ripley's your jam, and why?

PREVIOUSLY We tackled Alfred Hitchcock's personal fave Shadow of a Doubt (1943) last week for Joseph Cotten's birthday and it was Cotten's Uncle Charlie who triumphed over his niece Charlie (Teresa Wright), although it was close (as it ought to be with such doubling going on). Said Dancin' Dan:

"This is impossible, pitting one of my favorite Hitchcock heroines against one of my favorite Hitchcock villains. But I'm going to give an EVER SO SLIGHT edge to Young Charlie, for the sole reason that, as much amazing work as Cotten does in the role, Hitch helps him with Uncle Charlie's creepiness much more than he helps Wright (never better) in building Young Charlie's character."

Monday
May152017

Beauty vs Beast: The Maniac From Uncle

Jason from MNPP here using this week's "Beauty vs Beast" to wish one of my favorite actors of Classic Hollywood a happy birthday today - the great Joseph Cotten was born on this day in the year 1905. Cotten got his start on Broadway, where he caught the eye of some fella called Orson Welles - I suppose you can do worse for yourself than have your very first movie in theaters end up being Citizen Kane.

Just two years later Cotten took the job I always identify him with, as "Uncle Charlie" opposite Teresa Wright as his niece (also named Charlie, cuz doubling) in Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt. Hitch considered this his greatest film and I'd rank it up there (although "greatest" is a bit much when everything he made between 1954 and 1963 is sitting there) and mainly due to Cotten's subtly deranged work. Wright is also wonderful though - her best work, I think, by far. So where oh where does the Merry Widow's Waltz stop...

PREVIOUSLY Speaking of waltzes we danced the week away with Fred & Ginger for last week's hoe-down, and y'all decided that backwards in heels was your winner, giving Miss Rogers an eight point toe up over her competition. Said Claran (and I'm surprised there wasn't more of this):

"This is CRUEL!!! I propose a tie, since Top Hat wld not hav been so successful w/o their magical chemistry together. As indv performers, they r not so memorable, but as a team, they are certainly on TOP. "

Friday
Apr072017

TCM Classic Film Fest Day 2: Is that Martin Scorsese?!?

by Anne-Marie

Only one day in, and the TCM Classic Film Fest is already full of surprises! The biggest news of last night was supposed to be the red carpet premiere of the new digital restoration of In The Heat of the Night. The event at the TCL Chinese Theatre did not disappoint - Lee Grant, Walter Mirisch, Norman Jewison, and Sidney Poitier himself all made appearances to a standing ovation before the screening.

However, several hours before the red carpet officially unrolled, the eyes of festival goers turned eastward to the Egyptian Theatre after a sudden mid-afternoon tweet from Turner Classic Movies...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Feb132017

Beauty vs Beast: Blessed Are The Forgetful

"Random thoughts for Valentine's day... Today is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap."

Jason from MNPP here, wishing everybody a happy Valentines (even if I do lean towards the incredulous sentiment expressed above). When you ask yourselves what the great romantic films of our times are, what answers do you come up with? Because I asked myself that question in order to choose this week's holiday-themed edition of "Beauty vs Beast" and it was Michel Gondry's Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (from whence that quote came) that was the very first movie I thought of...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Feb062017

Beauty vs Beast: Direct to the Death

Jason from MNPP here - for this week's "Beauty vs Beast" we're celebrating what would have been the 85th birthday of one of the most important figures in cinema, the French critic turned director François Truffaut. What's your favorite Truffaut film? I know the "right" answer is The 400 Blows (or possibly Jules & Jim) (or maybe Day For Night) but I've always had a real soft spot for Mississippi Mermaid - Catherine Deneueve and Jean-Paul Belmondo all sweaty and sexy ? Sign me up.

But it's a different sexy pair I'm going to focus in on for this week's contest -- namely the director himself with his seminal book (recently turned documentary) Hitchcock / Truffaut, which linked him forever with the "Master of Suspense" himself. That's right - I found a way to make this series about Hitchcock again! Life finds a way, you guys.

PREVIOUSLY Last week Dario Argento's candy-colored hallucination Suspiria turned 40, and so we pit the film's protagonist, Suzy the dancing girl, against the conspiring witches running her dance academy, and just like in the film Suzy was able to pirouette to safety, taking just over 60% of your vote. Said Tom:

"I feel like the race should be a close one. But in light of recent events, I think many might feel urged to vote against an evil establishment with control issues. I'm voiting for Suzy."

Friday
Sep302016

Exhuming Hitchcock's Grave... Again

Alfred Hitchcock was not above a remake. Or adaptations. Or self referencing. But this latest news is taking things too far in posthumous Hitchcock mania. A new show called Welcome to Hitchcock is going to "reimagine" Hitchcock stories one season-long mystery/crime at a time. The news gets worse: Chris Columbus will direct the pilot. Because, you know, Columbus has always excelled at taut psychologically provocative suspense (wtf?).

Sigh. After all the Hitchcock rip-offs and "sequels" and homages and "recreations" over the years, we do not need a ten episode reimagining of Psycho or Rear Window or Notorious; they're perfect the way they are. With the TV-making community scrambling to jump on the hot hot hot anthology train we all should have assumed that remakes were next. But if they must do this, let's hope they find a young director with an actual voice and gift for suspense to flesh out some of Hitchcock's less successful efforts instead. Any suggestions? 

Tuesday
Jun282016

Best Shot: Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief (1955) 

To Catch a Thief (1955) is minor Hitchcock. Let's get that out of the way. But even minor works by an indisputed master can look awfully major when you stack them next to regular ol' films which is why we keep hitting Hitchcock in this series. There's a clickbait article going around (no I'm not linking) that argues that The Shallows (Blake Lively vs shark) is a better film than The Birds (Tippi Hedren vs, well, birds). Which is crazy talk but film twitter always always takes the bait.

True story: the last two films I screened were The Shallows (2016) and To Catch a Thief (1953) and I would have never thought to pair them until this silly shark vs birds kerfuffle which erupted immediately after I had just seen both of the movies. Truth bomb: The Shallows is a really good "B" movie (I don't mean grade, but yes: B) but it's awfully slight. It's just girl, shark, a few good scares, smart direction, and not much meat to chew on beyond "wow, that was kinda good." To Catch a Thief is a pretty good "A" movie (I don't mean grade) and it's somewhat slight. But here's the thing. People aren't going to be talking about The Shallows in 2070. Please note: People are still talking about Hitchcock's entire oeuvre a half-century plus later.

Even in a trifle like To Catch a Thief, which is maybe too long considering it's shy on plot and stakes, is a joy to watch for a number of reasons, the first of which is its surprisingly robust sense of humor. [More...]

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Tuesday
Apr052016

TV @ The Movies: "Bob's Burgers" and The Birds (1963)

Please tell me that you watch and love Bob's Burgers. (It's safe to assume that if you do the former you also do the latter.) The most recent episode "House of a 1000 Bounces" was a brilliant children's birthday party heist largely focused on the animated sitcom's superbly written kids: Tina, Louise, and Gene. The characterizations on this show never disappoint. Each Belcher family member and nearly every supporting character are so defined they're hi-res. And yet it's more than just broad strokes with flat colors. It's not one of those (many) sitcoms that rests on five variations of 1 joke for per character. Six seasons in the show is still strong with variety and invention.

In the B plot of this episode a pigeon inadvertently gets trapped inside the titular restaurant and Linda (Bob's wife) and Teddy (his self described best friend) are surprised to realize that Bob is terrified of pigeons. When they ask him to explain he flashes back to a childhood memory that looks and sounds all too familiar.

Let's alternate between Bob's false memories and the real fiction as it were. 

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