Psycho, Frenzy

I did my laundry early yesterday while watching CBS Sunday Morning.  They visited a fire station where the firefighters were vegetarians.  One of them predicted that in the future, eating meat would become as much of a social stigma as smoking.  It sounded like he was getting carried away, as all people who have found religion do.  They had a segment on Bea Arthur.  Maybe some people were grateful to her for those years as Maude.  The program ended with a visit to a 112-year-old man.  He was born when Grover Cleveland was president, and he couldn’t serve in World War II because he was too old.

My mom phoned me.  It seemed that she was aggravated with my younger brother, who has been screwing up horribly in his life.  I asked her if she’d seen “Slumdog Millionaire” yet.  The answer was no.  My dad wanted me to proofread a letter of recommendation for him.

Over at Longs Drugs, I bought a Sunday paper, a bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper, and an Easter Pez dispenser.  The Pez dispenser cost only 18 cents, marked down 75 percent.  In the CD Reviews section, the Little Man was jumping out of his chair for Bob Dylan, Booker T., and Dan Hicks.  Ben Fong-Torres reviewed the Dan Hicks CD.

I watched a bit of the Bulls-Celtics game.  It looked like the Celtics were cool and methodical and disciplined under pressure, while the Bulls were going to blow it.  I went to the library for an hour, then returned to lie down and fall asleep for a while.  After I awoke, I read the graphic novel of “Coraline.”  It was pretty good, but I preferred the way the characters looked in the movie, which takes place in February instead of the end of summer.

I watched “Psycho.”  It’s interesting how it opens on December 11, and it doesn’t seem cold outside, because it’s Phoenix, Arizona.  It instantly seems like something is wrong.  Marion was a terrible, blundering criminal, getting mouthy towards a cop, and arousing his suspicions immediately.  She trades in her car right in front of him, and almost speeds off without her suitcase.  She also isn’t terribly tactful to Norman, setting him off with the suggestion that he put his mother in an institution.

Marion is killed 48 minutes into the movie.  The shower scene is terrifying, of course.  Marion is there, naked and invulnerable and unsuspecting.  Dustin Hoffman was in a similar situation in “Marathon Man.”  What I found especially chilling was the closeup of Marion’s face after she was dead, her face pressed against the bathroom floor.  One second she was feeling the pleasure of a hot shower, and the next second her body is turning cold in death.

The second murder is also shot in a striking way.  It fuses terror and death with the fear of falling, like scenes from “Saboteur” or “Vertigo.”  It’s surprising that we see two major characters die.

There is one humorous moment in the movie.  It’s when Norman is getting rid of the car.  It is sinking in the swamp, and then stops sinking, alarming Norman for a moment.  However, the car does continue sinking until it’s out of sight.  For some reason, I took note of the California license plate of the car – NFB 418.

Lila, Marion’s sister, is too impatient to find out what’s going on, and so she’s reckless in wanting to search the house.  Women always start the trouble in a Hitchcock film.  I found it unlikely that she should reach backwards to knock the light with her hand and start its swinging.  Hitchcock just wanted that lighting effect, apparently.

One detail in the Bates house is that on the record player had a record of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony on it.

It seems like 1960 was a long time ago, when a psychiatrist has to explain to people what a transvestite is.  Another incredibly chilling shot is the last one, where we see Norman, his mother, and the evidence of the murder about to be uncovered.

The trailer for “Psycho” was probably the best of any of the Hitchcock films.  Hitchcock himself appears in it, and he’s very amusing.

I checked KOFY’s Retro Night to see which show they were airing.  It was “Mission: Impossible,” with Barbara Bain and Martin Landau, and I didn’t want to see it, so I went on to the DVD of “Frenzy.”  It was a good movie, far better than “Topaz.”  It was another of those stories where the wrong man is accused of a crime.  Richard Blaney was the obvious suspect, because he had a heated argument with his ex-wife Brenda, and he was down on his luck, getting fired from his job.  Brenda has money missing from her purse.  Blaney is annoying, with his hot temper and big mouth, causing scenes and not caring what people think.  It gets him into trouble, too.  One of the worst things he does in the movie is wasting a perfectly good box of grapes.

For the only time in a Hitchcock movie, there is nudity.  I counted three pairs of naked breasts.  Rape also occurs in one scene.

There are touches of humor, with the detective’s wife cooking gourmet meals very badly.  She also breaks a breadstick, simulating a bone snapping.  Also, a dead body’s foot kicks the killer in the face, almost gaining revenge after death.

One of the impressive shots in the film is the aerial shot during the opening credits.  It was taken from a helicopter over the Thames.  I also liked the shot where the camera pulls away from the apartment where is murder is about to happen.  It goes down some stairs, out the front door, and out onto the noisy street, where someone’s death is going unnoticed.  I thought that the women’s screams in this movie were particularly frightening.

Two women in the story are real bitches.  They are Brenda’s secretary Monica Barling, and Richard’s friend’s wife Hetty Porter.  They instantly dislike Richard and decide he must be the murderer.  They make his life hell.

It’s a shame that Hitchcock had only one movie left in him after “Frenzy,” and that was “Family Plot.”  “Frenzy” suggested what his movies could have been like during the 1970s.  It’s my movie of his movies after “Marnie.”

The special features included some actors and Peter Bogdanovich talking about the making of the film.  Originally, Henry Mancini did the music for the score, but it was replaced.  In addition, the ending of the book showed one of the two women who deserved to be killed as the murderer’s last victim.  In the movie, it’s a stranger.

I didn’t check the baseball scores last night.  I felt sleepy and didn’t care what happened between the Yankees and the Red Sox.

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