Hitchcock (PG 13)

Directed by Sacha Gervasi
Written by John J. McLaughlin (screenplay), based on a novel by Stephan Rebello
On general release from 8th February 2013

Reviewed by John Owen

This was an acting theatrical battle royale between megalithic iconic actors Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren, nothing like a dame, with the little issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s silhouette looming large over the proceedings.

Based on the novel Alfred Hitchcock and the making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello, the film glides smoothly onto the portly rebel hitch, taking on Paramount to self finance Psycho - a trashy novel that attracts him. It was itself based on the true-life killer Ed Gein - a Wisconsin farmer who dug up and skinned bodies - a prototype for serial killers to come. Perhaps a forerunner of Silence of the Lambs even. The ghostly figure of Gein looms as a sort of father figure telling him how to go forward, bizarrely inspiring him - anti-hero as he is.

Hopkins - like Brando - has become hot stuff and movie gold whatever he pops up in. Scarlet Johanssen did well as Janet Leigh fighting for the shower scene, with cuts from all sides. The film coming under the post McCarthy witch hunt censorship era, somehow he managed to outfox the motion pictures hatchet man, and get some boobies in, some of them intentional too.

The overall feel of 50s Americana was created well as the new decade of the 60s was approaching and needed its own defining statement for teenagers jaded with Eisenhower, rock n roll or war. They were Hitchcock's target audience. but paradoxically he also tapped something gothic writers have observed since Poe a subterranean seam of human consciousness that wants to commit atrocity outrage or at least observe them from the safety of a seat in a theatre - a theme explored in Peeping Tom.

By making Psycho, Hitchcock became the father of them all, with something like an epiphany happened here and to cinema forever. Although observing the nearest practising loony tune carving someone up in a homemade Primark mankini is not the greatest of cinematic plot devices, it has spawned untold variations.

The film touches on his possible replacement by the new wave of French and other European directors, with their social realism driven by political developments in their countries - i.e. riots revolts and revolutions - while here in Blighty we had pie and a fight on Saturday, fish supper for Sunday as treat. Plus compulsory overcoat for everyone over the age of three.

The film is a must for all cinema lovers and especially loose cannons likely to go off and commit a unclean murder dressed in their dead mother's underclothes while peeping in the shower. Reminds me...I need a new rail.

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