Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Frenzy (1972)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Writers: Arthur La Bern, Anthony Shaffer

Composer: Ron Goodwin

Starring: Jon Finch, Alec McCowen, Barry Foster, Billie Whitelaw, Anna Massey, Barbara Leigh-Hunt, Bernard Cribbins, Vivien Merchant, Michael Bates, Jean Marsh, Clive Swift

More info: IMDb

Tagline: From the Master of Shock... A Shocking Masterpiece!

Plot: A serial killer is murdering London women with a necktie. The police have a suspect... but he's the wrong man.

My rating: 9/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

I haven't seen this in 25 years and I certainly don't remember it being this damn good.  I'm blown away.  It's magnificent and it's potentially his most-underrated film in more than 20 years.  Just about everything is expertly handled.  The reverse tracking shot down from the second floor, out the door and onto the street is masterful.  The use of silence or absence of sound except for dialogue is powerful.  It's the only Hitchcock flick with any nudity and it's rather startling to see but it's used to great effect and not for titillation.  The performances are fantastic and the ending is off the charts tense as hell.  I'd forgotten most of the picture so I was completely unaware of how it turns out for Richard (Finch).  It's a nail-biter finish, that's for sure.  The ONLY thing I wasn't wild about was Ron Goodwin's score.  Well, mostly the main theme which I find too upbeat and royally optimistic.  It screams, "PLEASE MAKE UP WITH BERNARD HERRMANN AND BRING HIM BACK...PLEASE!!!!".  Henry Mancini was hired to score the picture but Hitchcock fired him claiming if he wanted a score that sounded like Herrmann, he would have hired Herrmann.  The theme Mancini wrote for the opening credits exists.  Just listen to the difference in tone between Goodwin and Mancini.

Ron Goodwin's...

Henry Mancini's...

Goodwin did provide some good cues but I just don't care for the one he kept using as heard in the opening credits.  Outside of that, though, it's an outstanding picture all the way around.  TOPAZ (1969) is the only one from post-'54 that I haven't seen.  I need to remedy that.

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