SPIELBERG’S WEST SIDE STORY: Update or Improvement?

In 1957, when live theatre still rivaled movies for social relevance, and the latest Tin Pan Alley songs burst through the radio and were hummed everywhere, Broadway was teeming with musicals. Considering that the heyday of musical theatre was the 1930’s-1940’s, what’s interesting is how experimental the major composers got. Lerner and Loewe’s Brigadoon enchanted audiences with its … Continue reading SPIELBERG’S WEST SIDE STORY: Update or Improvement?

A FINE-FEATHERED FINALE: Hitchcock’s The Birds

“This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a – caw caw!”                                                              (T.S. Eliot, via Woody Woodpecker) All good things must come to an end, and the end of my ten-week course on the best of Alfred Hitchcock has been . . . apocalyptic. In our final class last night the … Continue reading A FINE-FEATHERED FINALE: Hitchcock’s The Birds

A CUT ABOVE: Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho

I can just imagine the Hollywood studios in 1959 watching North by Northwest and heaving a great big sigh of relief! At last - they thought – the Master of Suspense has finally gotten the message!! NO more art films, NO more experiments. Just good old fashioned exciting-but-wholesome entertainment. Certainly they had cause for hope: Alfred Hitchcock had come this close to … Continue reading A CUT ABOVE: Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho

HITCHCOCK TO THE NTH BY NTH DEGREE: North by Northwest

The many varied stories about the inception of North by Northwest are as entertaining as the film itself. Here are the bare facts: Alfred Hitchcock agreed to a first-time two-picture deal with MGM, and for the first film he wanted to adapt Hammond Innes’ best-seller, The Wreck of the Mary Deare. This would give Hitchcock the chance to … Continue reading HITCHCOCK TO THE NTH BY NTH DEGREE: North by Northwest

A KISS BEFORE DYING: Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo

Throughout most of his life, Alfred Hitchcock was both appreciated and dismissed as a maker of entertaining mystery thrillers. After his first American film Rebecca won the Academy Award, Hitchcock’s critics got wise and considered him first and foremost a genre filmmaker; the best of his movies might get nominated for Sound Design or Art Direction and … Continue reading A KISS BEFORE DYING: Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo

“SLAUGHTER AND BE GAY”: Hitchcock and Farley Granger

My opinion of actor Farley Granger changed forever last year when our film noir class watched 1948’s They Live by Night(aka Thieves Like Us).  It was only Granger’s third film, his first with top billing, and he is revelatory here. I wrote previously about that film, about his heartbreaking performance and the disappointing trajectory his career would take … Continue reading “SLAUGHTER AND BE GAY”: Hitchcock and Farley Granger

A DIVINE SYNERGY: Hitchcock’s Notorious

“Of all your pictures, this is the one in which one feels the most perfect correlation between what you are aiming at and what appears on the screen . . . “(Francois Truffaut to Alfred Hitchcock) Notorious is the shining light of Alfred Hitchcock’s output in the 1940’s and his first true masterpiece. Oh, Rebecca won the Oscar, Foreign Correspondent is … Continue reading A DIVINE SYNERGY: Hitchcock’s Notorious