This week's diary quote:
'The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.'
Alfred Hitchcock, 1889-1980, British film director
When you've spent what appears to be forever watching Jude Law and Nicole Kidman look mournful, it becomes quite hard to argue with Hitch on this idea. Even Pirates, a film which contains absolutely no-one being angst-ridden (unless you count Orlando Bloom pouting a bit), could stand to lose five minutes. I suspect the habit of making movies a minimum of 2 hours these days is a side effect of two things:
i) no supporting features
ii) home entertainment
Even as a kid in the 70s, a Saturday at the cinema involved two movies, with a mad scramble for the toilet in between Spiderman and Sinbad & the Eye of the Tiger. Now films are standalone events, and should be watched in a reverie, with reverence. We're just not encouraged to pop out for a quick break. And if we're watching at home, we go the other way: just having the movie on whilst talking, making cups of tea, wandering off to the loo. So films sprawl in a way they never did in Hitch's era. Apart from the numbing Gone With the Wind (maybe it's just American Civil War films that go on forever?).
My top 5 Hitch films:
Yes, it's an obvious choice. Everything about this film works though. The camera trick to create the illusion of vertigo is still delightful. The strange Kodakcolor of the film stock gives it a slight sense of hyperreality. The plot is neat, simple, alarming and revealing. And I've not even mentioned the obvious superb titles and music.
Iconographic. A study in darkness. Cary Grant's faint air of erzatz charm used to disturbing effect.
We're into the lady thief genre here, as exemplified by Pyscho, and there's something vaguely sadistic about this story. Connery excels - it just makes you wish he'd not got typecast as Bond. (Gus Van Sant talked a little about what he was doing with his remake of Pyscho in the Guardian the other week)
Another cod-psychology piece but one which is definitely having some fun with symbolism. And a dream sequence by Dali...
5. The Thirty-Nine Steps
An action adventure piece. I just have an absurd liking for the boys' own adventuring of this story. It shows Hitch's background, with the sequences with the East End music hall etc. Perfect for a crappy winter afternoon in front of the telly.