||Kim Novak and James Stewart
On the set of Vertigo. I love the way his ankles look so long.
I am not a fan of horror movies. They terrify me. I remember going on vacation with my parents and seeing a glimpse of an old black and white movie about a race of alien lobsters that hid in the trunks of people's cars and then attacked them. Reading that back to myself, I realize how silly the premise is, but to a little kid it was genuinely scary. Probably moreso since I never saw what happened at the end. Resolution makes things better in that regard.
I can't watch slasher movies because they make me jump. I'm a jumper. I went to go see The Mousetrap
with my mom in London and I jumped when the gun went off. I wore earplugs to Snakes on a Plane
because loud noises scare me. My imagination runs wild; I just don't do well with scary movies.
Hitchcock movies are not scary. They are psychological thrillers, and I watch them for the quality of the direction, the movement of the people, and most especially the fashion. Everything I see in these films was a choice made deliberately by a very intelligent man who wanted his audience to think carefully about why he did those things. Tiny references here and there, self-insertion through wonderful cameos, and a beautiful (but sadly temporary) relationship with Bernard Hermann, who wrote the best film scores of the 1960s. Vertigo, Psycho,
and North By Northwest
are my top three. I do get a kick out of Marnie
for the weird German expressionism (and her mother's weird accent), but I also like some of the older ones, like Rebecca
. Who can possibly resist that famous line, so full of weight? "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again," and we never know the heroine's real name. Or most especially Judith Anderson as the deliciously evil (and I'm talking Maleficent-style evil) Mrs. Danvers? That dress, that portrait, the boat, the baby, the sexual ambiguity, the ending.
What is interesting is that Rebecca
is so unlike everything Hitchcock later became known for. He was contractually obliged to do the movie because of producer David O. Selznick strong-arming him into it, and Hitchcock rebelled against Selznick in the end by having a pillow embroidered with 'R' on it go up in flames, not a giant smoky 'R' rising from the house like Selznick wanted. Hitch got his revenge, but never got the Oscar he always deserved. When he did get an honorary Academy Award, all he said was, "Thank you."
|Mrs. Danvers and The Second Mrs. DeWinters
Mrs. Danvers will flip you. She will flip you for real.