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DVD Review: Hitchcock

March 12, 2013

Hitchcock Blu-ray CoverHitchcock – A Fox Searchlight Release

http://www.hitchcockthemovie.com/

DVD Release Date: March 12th, 2013

Rated PG for violence

Running time: 98 minutes

Sacha Gervasi (dir.)

John J. McLaughlin (screenplay)

Based on the book by Stephen Rebello

Danny Elfman (music)

Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock

Helen Mirren as Alma Reville

Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh

Danny Huston as Whitfield Cook

Toni Collette as Peggy Robertson

Jessica Biel as Vera Miles

James D’Arcy as Anthony Perkins

Michael Wincott as Ed Gein

Our reviews below:

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Hitchcock Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

After the success of North By Northwest, Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) struggled to find funding from Paramount for his follow up film, an adaptation of the highly controversial novel Psycho, inspired by the real serial killer Ed Gein (Michael Wincott).  The famous director mortgaged his house and put his marriage to the loyal Alma Reville (Helen Mirren) to the test as he became fixated on finishing the film, while tensions rose on set with both the support and reluctance of his brilliant cast led by Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson), Vera Miles (Jessica Biel) and Anthony Perkins (James D’Arcy).

Although Hitchcock clearly can’t show every aspect behind the making of Psycho and instead offers a surprisingly accessible look at the production, the screenplay by John J. McLaughlin is admirable for the way that it provides a good overview of the many stories that exist about the film.  The performances are also quite good from the entire cast, with Anthony Hopkins turning in a believable and compulsively watchable portrayal of the legendary director.  As a longtime fan of Alfred Hitchcock’s work, Hitchcock is worth seeing as a companion piece to his seminal masterpiece Psycho.

The Blu-ray includes commentary with director Sacha Gervasi and author Stephen Rebello, as well as a deleted scene and numerous featurettes on everything from the casting to the music by Danny Elfman.

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Hitchcock DVD Review By Erin V.

*** (out of 4)

Hitchcock tells the story of Alfred Hitchcock’s journey and struggle bringing the now-famous Psycho to the screen.  For its time, the film was very risqué, having to get past censors and funding issues, and it was because of the drive of those behind it that we ever saw it come to theatres at all.

Fronted by strong lead performances by Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock, and Helen Mirren as his wife and filmmaking partner Alma Reville, the film provides an interesting look into the struggle it can sometimes be to bring a groundbreaking film to the screen.

Hitchcock is well enough made, entertaining, and for those interested it is worth a look now that it’s come to DVD.

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Hitchcock DVD Review By Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Hitchcock tells an interesting tale about the making of Psycho, one of history’s best horror thrillers.  Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) has his eyes set on a new project, adapting the novel inspired by the true life horror story of serial killer Ed Gein (Michael Wincott) into a movie.  Hitchcock becomes fixated on the story, with its psychological twists and turns, creating a perfect and disturbing mystery.

Hitchcock’s wife Alma (Helen Mirren) is supportive, yet she feels her husband’s obsession with Psycho is putting a strain on their marriage.  Hitchcock is having other problems too.  The censor board has strict rules, which make shooting a real life horror story near impossible.  He must find a way to edit his film to imply violence without showing it.

This is an interesting film.  It reenacts how Psycho was shot, using Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh, James D’Arcy as Anthony Perkins and Jessica Biel as Vera Miles.  Their performances are uncanny, capturing not only the basic look, but the mannerisms of the original cast as well.  But the most intriguing character is Hitchcock himself.  He is portrayed not only as a brilliant man, but also a workaholic who just can’t see how his fixation on Psycho is affecting the people around him.

Hitchcock is well made, cleverly written and well acted, with a cool and mysterious score composed by Danny Elfman.  I would definitely recommended this one to classic film fans.

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Hitchcock DVD Review By Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

Alfred Hitchcock is known as a brilliant filmmaker.  However it’s his daring film Psycho that captured the attention of the world and set the bar high for horror movies and thrillers.  Director Sacha Gervasi’s film Hitchcock attempts to speculate what was going on in Hitchcock’s psyche during the making of Psycho.

Veteran actor Anthony Hopkins is both amusing and fascinating to watch as the larger than life Alfred Hitchcock.  The film shows us a man who becomes obsessed with a subject and fixated on his lead actresses.  In the case of Psycho, Hitchcock went against the advice of his beloved wife Alma (Helen Mirren) and Paramount studio executive Barney Balaban (Richard Portnow) and mortgaged his home to finance the film himself.

Trusting his instincts that the book Psycho is good film material, Hitchcock immerses himself in the mind of the real killer Ed Gein (Michael Wincott) and knows that for the film to work the casting has to be perfect and the famous shower scene shot in a way that will satisfy censors and still terrify audiences.  He gets the casting right with his selection of Anthony Perkins (played here by a strikingly similar James D’arcy) as killer Norman Bates and the beautiful Janet Leigh (played very nicely by Scarlett Johansson) as the unfortunate shower victim.

As for the shower scene, there’s an interesting segment with Hitchcock, wife Alma and Janet Leigh in a restaurant where he describes how he plans to film the scene so the audience will know she is naked without actually seeing her naked.  It becomes apparent that Alma likely accepted the fact that husband Alfred liked to look at pretty ladies.

It’s thanks to the really strong casting choices in Hitchcock that this movie works for the most part.  It’s the subplot about Alma’s suspected affair with writer Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston) that slows things down somewhat.  It’s also hard to know how much of this movie is fact and how much is speculation about Alfred Hitchcock.  Still, Hitchcock fans and fans of the film Psycho will find this movie to be an entertaining and interesting look at the iconic filmmaker.

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Hitchcock DVD Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Hitchcock is, like Lincoln, a glimpse into an important but brief period in the subject’s life rather than an extensive biography. As Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) in 1960 was turning 60 and following North by Northwest had a popular TV series, people were suggesting he might retire from the movies. To the contrary, he sought a new challenge with a book (Psycho) that everyone else had turned down as too disturbing, and it is the making of this film that is covered here.

Alma Reville (Helen Mirren) was married to Hitchcock since the mid 1920s when they worked together on British silent films. As a brilliant script and film editor, she was his closest (though generally uncredited) collaborator. The film depicts some strain in their relationship since he enjoyed hopelessly ogling his usually blond actresses, while she kept busy punching up a script for an philandering old friend, Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston).

The Paramount president (Richard Portnow) refused to finance the film so the Hitchcocks had to mortgage their house. They bought up as many copies of the book as they could, kept a strictly closed set, and kept the dénouement secret even to the cast and crew, so the film would have the most impact upon opening, which might never have happened if Hitchcock couldn’t placate the MPAA censor (Kurtwood Smith).

With a fat suit, mannerisms and voice, Hopkins is convincing enough, even though his more delicate features don’t resemble Hitchcock’s (likely saving hundreds of hours in makeup). Other notable cast members include Michael Stuhlbarg and Toni Collette as his agent and assistant, Scarlett Johansson, James D’Arcy, and Jessica Biel as Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, and Vera Miles respectively, Michael Wincott (in Hitchcock’s nightmares) reenacting the crimes depicted in the original book, and Ralph [Karate Kid] Macchio as the book’s author, Joseph Stefano.

Hitchcock’s quirky wit is evident throughout, including (like his TV series) opening and closing monologues. Beside the interactions between Alfred and Anna, the most memorable scenes for me are the interviews he has with Stefano and Perkins who were both clearly unhinged, a mood that Hitchcock playfully made no effort to alleviate. He wickedly invites Perkins, whose sexual orientation was the stuff of gossip, to “Call me Hitch…hold the cock.”

As the first feature directed by Sacha Gervasi, Hitchcock nicely reenacts the world of Hitchcock with a good script, fine supporting cast, period production design and wardrobe, and an excellent Danny Elfman score.

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Consensus: Directed by Sacha Gervasi, Hitchcock is an entertaining look at the storied production behind the 1960 classic Psycho, with a strong cast led by Anthony Hopkins convincingly portraying Alfred Hitchcock.  *** (Out of 4)

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