MovieChat Forums > Psycho (1960) Discussion > From Hitchcock To Tarantino (And the Dec...

From Hitchcock To Tarantino (And the Decades In Between)


In my youth, I was a big Hitchcock fan(with only a few reservations.)

Right now, I am a big Tarantino fan(with somewhat more reservations.)

Why?

The answer is easy of course: Hitchcock made, and QT makes -- thrillers. Somebody is always getting killed in ALMOST all of their movies. In Hitchcock, nobody gets killed in Waltzes from Vienna(as far as I know) or in Mr. and Mrs. Smith(which is a screwball comedy) but the rest of the time..somebody dies. Often very violently.

QT "upped the ante" on bloodshed considerably over Hitchcock. By the time we reach Kill Bill Part 1, we're talking wholesale slaughter. Funny: QT's most recent film "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" ALMOST plays without murder -- until the bloody and satisfying climax, where the Manson Family killers get killed in a most satisfying way.

There is this division between Hitchcock and QT: Hitchcock stated somewhere "I have no interest in making movies about gangsters." Hitchcock's thrillers are, indeed , very particular to HIS view of the world. He made no gangster movies, but he made a lot of spy movies, and he made most of those when the Nazis were real life bad guys in the 30's and World War II 40's.

QT sort of makes gangster movies -- organized crime(in Los Angeles!) is a part of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. International organized crime is part of Kill Bill. But QT has also shifted his violence into WWII (Inglorious Basterds, mainly a war movie, but with a couple of undercover spies) and the Western(Django, The Hateful Eight, even the "TV series part" on OATIH.)

When Hitchcock wasn't making movies about spies(with both Nazis and later Communists as the villains) he was making movies about: psychos. Like Psycho. And Frenzy. And Strangers on a Train. And Shadow of a Doubt. And also: Rear Window and Rope and The Lodger. Take out the spies and the psychos in Hitchcock, and there isn't much left. Wife killers, I suppose(Suspicion sorta; Dial M, Vertigo...) Thieves(To Catch a Thief, Marnie.)

No, Hitchcock was his own "universe" and QT isn't really carrying that on - with the exception, maybe, of one movie -- Death Proof -- because that one is about a serial killer(Kurt Russell driving a car that kills from inside and out.)

Someone characterized QT's modern day movies as "crime movies" rather than gangster movies, and I suppose realistic, low-level down-and-dirty crime is what Hitchcock AVOIDED. Hitch wanted plots in which "this could happen to YOU" and YOU aren't dealing in crime. YOU are an ad man who stumbles into a spy ring; a photographer in a wheelchair who spies on his neighbors; a vacationing couple whose child is kidnapped, etc.

Now, a shift: between Hitchcock (particularly around Psycho) and QT(still practicing today, one film away -- he says - from the end)...who ELSE has caught my fancy as a director of thrillers and crime?

A caveat:

Between Hitchcock and QT, there have been a lot of "one or two hit wonder" classic thrillers, but their directors didn't make a habit of thrillers. To wit:

John Frankenheimer(The Manchurian Candidate, Seven Days in May, Black Sunday.)
Stanley Donen (Charade and Arabesque.)
Terrence Young(Wait Until Dark...and a coupla Bond films.)
Peter Yates(Bullitt, The Deep.)
Francis Coppola(Dementia 13, The Godfathers, The Conversation.)
Steven Spielberg(Duel, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Minority Report.)
John Schlesinger (Marathon Man)
Sydney Pollack(Three Days of the Condor, The Firm.)
Curtis Hanson(LA Confidential and some minor thrillers)
David Fincher(Se7en and Zodiac)
Jonathan Demme(Silence of the Lambs and really bad remakes of Charade and The Manchurian Candidate)...

...and many many more "one or two hit" thriller makers.

But still, between Hitchcock and Tarantino, who else has SPECIALIZED in thrillers or crime pictures?

No one, really, but these folks come close:

DON SIEGEL: Invasion of the Body Snatchers(1956) is SciFi, but it plays like Hitchcock: Friends, family and neighbors "change for the worse." "They won't believe him!"

Around 1964, less a few Westerns, Don Siegel became a "crime thriller specialist." The Killers(Lee Marvin as a hit man; Ronald Reagan as a crime boss.) Coogan's Bluff(Eastwood as a cowboy cop in NYC); Dirty Harry(a cop movie with Hitchcockian psycho overtones); Charley Varrick(a robber movie with Walter Matthau against type and a Hitchcockian tightness of narrative and visuals); The Black Windmill(Michael Caine, spies and a child kidnapping); The Shootist(John Wayne's final film, with an ornate saloon built by Hitchcock's frequent art director, Robert Boyle); Telefon(Charles Bronson in a late Cold War spy thriller); Rough Cut(Burt Reynolds doing Cary Grant - literally in one scene -- in a To Catch a Thief derivative) Jinxed(the final Siegel film; Bette Midler wants to kill her husband.)



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SAM PECKINPAH

He made his name in Westerns, but his "big one" (The Wild Bunch) is an exercise in Hitchcockian suspense and montage -- the bloody gunbattles in The Wild Bunch owe as much to Psycho as to Rio Bravo.

The Wild Bunch was in 1969. In the 70's and 80's(when he faded out to early death), Peckinpah worked modern-day more than Westerns. Straw Dogs becomes "house siege thriller"(ala The Birds) with a strong rape sequence, and Hitchcock himself can be seen raging in a film interview when asked if he made Frenzy in homage TO Straw Dogs("I NEVER make movies in homage to other people's movies.") Steve McQueen in The Getaway: a bank robber movie that plays like a sloppier Charley Varrick. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia(a Mexican noir.) The Killer Elite(spies and assassins on Hitchcock's San Francisco turf.) And Peckinpah's final film -- "The Osterman Weekend" -- very Hitchcockian, as suburban BBQ couples turn out to have some spies among them.

BRIAN DE PALMA

..but of course. If Hitchcock had one "out there, totally committed" copycat in the 70s and 80's, here's the guy. Sisters(Psycho meets Rear Window.) Body Double(Psycho Meets Rear Window Meets Vertigo.) Dressed to Kill(Psycho meets...Psycho.) Obsession(Vertigo.) Carrie(at "Bates High School" with Psycho screeching violins.) As SNL spoofed in 1981 or so (with "Brian DePalma's The Clams," a Birds spoof): "Once a year, Brian De Palma picks the bones of a great dead director, and gives his own wife a job."

CONT

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Though he directed some big hits(Scarface on video at least; The Untouchables, Carlito's Way, the first Mission Impossible), it seems that all those early Hitchcock homages kept DePalma out of the top tier. No Oscar nominations(though Hitchcock got dissed there, too.) A growing sense that DePalma 'couldn't sit at the same table with Spielberg and Scorsese and Lucas.) DePalma seems to have done better "for hire on other people scripts" than with his Hitchcock films(which extended into the 90's with Raising Cain and Snake Eyes, and into the 2000's with Femme Fatale.)

DePalma's suspense scenes were often bungled, super slo-mo botches of Hitchcock set-pieces, but he got better over time and probably DOES end up being "the most Hitchcockian of the post-Hitchcock directors." DePalma himself says he's the ONLY one. He may be right. Funny though: his movies don't look or feel or sound(dialogue) like Hitchcock movies at all.

And this: QT isn't much of a Hitchcock fan(how could QT relate to Rebecca or Under Capricorn?) but he's a BIG fan of DePalma. And DePalma rather launched off from the brutal Hitchcock of Psycho and Frenzy.

MARTIN SCORSESE:

I count only one "pure" thriller on Scorsese's resume: Cape Fear(1991) the remake of the very Hitchcockian 1962 original with Herrmann's scariest score this side of Psycho.

But Taxi Driver(1976) HAS a Herrmann score(his last), and ends with the same "three notes of madness" that Psycho ends with. Taxi Driver was sold as a "thriller" but it wasat once too gritty and too arty to quite play that "shallow." It was "serious" Best Picture material. The film depicts a "gutter world of poor people in filthy New York City" (complete with porn theaters) that Hitchcock wouldn't touch. Still, Hitch and Scorsese are linked here, not only by Herrmann and the Psycho notes, but by DeNiro's Travis Bickle as a stupid, sad variant on the more elegant Norman Bates.

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In the 80's, Scorsese brushed against Hitchcock with both The King of Comedy(deranged fan stalks and kidnaps TV star) and After Hours("regular guy" spends dusk-to-dawn nightmare trying to escape Soho and life-endangering events) but...neither of these pictures were really thrillers.

Hitchcock didn't make gangster movies, but Scorsese's great gangster movies are probably his strongest links to Hitchcock. GoodFellas, Casino, The Departed, The Irishman. All of these films(less, perhaps, the late in life Irishman) are,like Hitchcock movies, dazzling displays of pure, exciting cinematic technique and plenty full o' murders.

Indeed, though DePalma perhaps apes Hitchcock's style the most , Scorsese in many ways seems like Hitchcock's strongest spiritual child. Scorsese is a famous director of many decades fame now -- and(unlike the less generous Hitchcock) always willing to show up in a documentary to praise everybody from Hitchcock to Larry Cohen as a filmmaker.

I left Kubrick out. He went up against Hitchcock perhaps only once -- The Shining, which has elements of both the supernatural and art film ambiguity that Hitchcock never embaced. But the connection is there. I still think that, right behind the Bates Motel and House, the greatest SETTING for a thriller is the Overlook Hotel in snowy winter.

Eyes Wide Shut has Hitchcockian thriller elements too -- but they never really jell INTO a thriller. (Billionaire Sydney Pollack's final expository explanation to Tom Cruise about "what happened" rivals the shrink in Psycho for anticlimactic blather -- except I like the shrink scene, which means I kinda like the Pollack scene, too.)

And that's it. Except I'm sure I'm forgetting somebody.


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I'll note in passing that Hitchcock had some "peers" -- Fritz Lang, Clouzot, even William Castle -- in his time, but I'm here looking at my own journey FROM Hitchcock(in the 60's and 70's) TO QT (today) and I guess it adds up to this:

Alfred Hitchcock
Don Siegel
Sam Peckinpah
Brian DePalma
Martin Scoresese
Quentin Tarantino

...looking at them all together like that, I'll add that the films in question had (1) Great cinematic prowess; (2) Great style; (3) great scripts(self-written by QT) and great stars(Siegel worked with every tough guy in Hollywood of the time , it seemed, from McQueen to Marvin to Eastwood to Matthau(!) to Caine to Wayne to Bronson to Reynolds).

PS. Hitchcock's daughter Pat saw Spielberg as her father's match , but I feel like Spielberg veered away from being a name brand wonder and into a more anonymous presence as the producer of inferior films(The Goonies , Transformers) and as a director with all-over-the-place results. And he lacks an identifiable style.

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Thriller specialists are pretty hard to come by I agree... Shyamalan is probably the one relatively recent person I can think of who deserves that title, indeed who explicitly and self-consciously set out to be a name, twisty thriller-guy almost exclusively. Jordan Peele is the latest to have taken on this mantle a bit (not just Get Out and Us, he's also show-run a whole bunch of stuff on TV that I've not watched - a new Twilight Zone, Lovecraft County I think, and maybe more). It's hard tho': nobody wants to be mistaken for Eli Roth!

But let's face it, the thriller over the years has tended to blur in a couple of different directions - more psychological (which can often shade into art film moodiness) on the one hand and more action-focused on the other hand. And at least on one telling, action has mostly meant lots of sfx & CGI in recent times so that action itself now shades directly into both spectacle and fantasy, all of which has severely damaged the 'it could have have happened to you' and 'human scale' aspects of the traditional thriller. Think of Carpenter's, Cameron's, Jackson's or even Nolan's career in this connection.

That said, it is, yes, genuinely thrilling when someone decides to punch up the thriller aspects of, say, a typical modern superhero cgi-fest: Cap 2:Winter Soldier really jumped out at the time for this (and got its directors the Avengers 3&4 jobs). And there are people like Leigh Whannell who was part of the Saw franchise and who's had a couple of doozies recently, Upgrade and Invisible Man who's using a lot of Sfx but has got that genre-thriller gene big time.

The Coens' trio of Blood Simple, Fargo, and No Country obviously stands tall, as does Michael Mann's quintet of Thief, Manhunter, Last of the Mohicans, Heat, Collateral, as does about half of Fincher's output including his Mindhunter TV show. But I guess in all these cases the directors have a lot of other interests. Ditto people like Danny Boyle and Edgar Wright I guess.

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Thriller specialists are pretty hard to come by I agree...

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I suppose that is my "theme" here -- one reason that Hitchcock will remain unique and historic in film history is that he was, indeed, "The Master of Suspense" and he used the thriller as his near-exclusive calling card for five decades of movies. (Mr and Mrs. Smith, Juno and the Paycock, and Waltzes from Vienna seem the exceptions; and after Mr. and Mrs. Smith...it was thrillers all the way.)

Before he "went Hitchcock," Brian DePalma did some quirky early indie films("Hi, Mom!" was one of them), but but then it was almost all thrillers. ALMOST all thrillers. The disastrous "Bonfire of the Vanities" suggested DePalma couldn't really handle straight drama. Casulaties of War is a "Vietnam war movie" with a horror hriller inside it: good soldier Michael J. Fox versus Evil soldier Sean Penn and his group of rapist-murderer soliders(DePalma would return to this plot in the Middle East, with the unseen Redacted.)

Thus far, QT's movies have ALL have killings and violence, I suppose his veer into war(Inglorious Basterds) and Westerns removes him from the Hitchcock norm -- but I do think he's the "thriller guy" of our generation, in terms of ONLY making them(and his Westerns ARE thrillers -- especially the whodunit Hateful Eight.)

My choice of Sam Peckinpah may seem off -- wasn't he a WESTERN guy? -- but he made action thrillers too, he was a master of cinematic technique(I see The Wild Bunch as a Hitchcock homage just as much as a Western --think of the lit fuse suspense on the bridge), and one Peckinpah biographer said "in the early 70's, Peckinpah's name was just as famous as Alfred Hitchcock's as a star director."


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And I sort of feel that Scorsese is now where Hitchcock was as "the director everybody knows and loves." The Star Director. Spielberg rather gave that title up and he's not nearly as knowledgeable and interesting as an interviewee as Scorsese(I'll go further: some of Spielberg's interview answers look like somebody wrote them for him, as when he said that Psycho "has the smell of lilacs in undertaker's coffin room"" or some sort of silly thing.) No, Scorsese is the "cool guy director" and now(as Hitchcock became) the "old cool guy director."

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Shyamalan is probably the one relatively recent person I can think of who deserves that title, indeed who explicitly and self-consciously set out to be a name, twisty thriller-guy almost exclusively.

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There ya go, swanstep. When I made my little list, I KNEW I was leaving some folks out. You found them.

Though I think you are right -- M. Night is in that smaller group that's almost EXCLUSIVE to the thriller. And the twist ending in the Psycho tradition -- I've always said of The Sixth Sense twist that "it turned a horror movie into a tear jerker."

Though M. Night did that Last Airbender thing, right? That's more fantasy? Its like no one could JUST do thrillers. (But hey, neither did Hitchcock.)

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Jordan Peele is the latest to have taken on this mantle a bit (not just Get Out and Us, he's also show-run a whole bunch of stuff on TV that I've not watched - a new Twilight Zone, Lovecraft County I think, and maybe more).

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Peele's veer from film thrillers into The Twilight Zone certainly suggests that thrillers are where he wants to be. Of course, the break with Hitchcock is all the supernatural material. I declare only Hitchcock movie to be supernatural: The Birds. And even THEY might have had a logical explanation.

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It's hard tho': nobody wants to be mistaken for Eli Roth!

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And QT SPONSORED that guy! And put him in Inglorous Basterds(he's weirdly good and bad at the same time) and briefly in Death Proof. Indeed, QT's dip from the maturity and wryness of Jackie Brown into the campy bloodfests of Kill Bill and Death Proof...seemed to reflect that QT was getting influenced BY Roth...in the wrong way.

Hostel was pretty gory stuff...Eli spoke to its "Psycho" connnections. I rented it and one scene literally almost made me throw up. Not my idea of a thriller. (But one recalls that Time magazine in 1960 called Psycho "stomach churning," and so did Bosley Crowther.)

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But let's face it, the thriller over the years has tended to blur in a couple of different directions - more psychological (which can often shade into art film moodiness) on the one hand and more action-focused on the other hand.

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Yep. I don't want to give Hitchcock an "all encompassing influence" on modern genre films, but he did rather cover a lot of bases:

Shock horror(Psycho)
Disaster movie(The Birds, Foreign Correspondent plane crash, Strangers berserk carousel)
Action thriller (North by Northwest - leading to Bond, Indy, John McClane and Neo)
Romantic thriller(In their sedate way, Notorious and Vertigo influenced Basic Instinct)

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And at least on one telling, action has mostly meant lots of sfx & CGI in recent times so that action itself now shades directly into both spectacle and fantasy, all of which has severely damaged the 'it could have have happened to you' and 'human scale' aspects of the traditional thriller.

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Yes...perhaps the unique part of Hitchcock was that "it could happen to you" aspect. Few men can do what James Bond does(skydiving and skiing at top form), but various men could do what Roger Thornhill does(a brisk run from a plane; some manageable mountain climbing on Mount Rushmore.)

But the "regular people" protagonists like those in Saboteur, Shadow of a Doubt, Man Who Knew Too Much, Trouble With Harry, Torn Curtain(well , they are nuclear physicists, but still), Frenzy.. they just can't populate thrillers much anymore. Even "embezzler" Marion Crane was an amateur, in it for love.
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Think of Carpenter's, Cameron's, Jackson's or even Nolan's career in this connection.

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Those are three more with Hitchcockian roots...but making their own kind of movie, now. Carpenter tried to take that kind of "Alfred Hitchcock's" possessory title early on, but the movies he turned out got progressively more "B" -- he was closer to "William Castles'.

And how about that James Cameron? Finally making that "Titanic" movie that Hitchcock was brought over to make in 1940?

Nolan has ended up at once more arty and intricate than Hitchocck ever was (Inception, Interstellar) but his Batman films remind us that Batman is perhaps the most Hitchcockian of comic book heroes -- no superpowers, works the city streets in a "modern Gothic"(think Psycho), pitted against all manner of great villains, led by The Joker.

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That said, it is, yes, genuinely thrilling when someone decides to punch up the thriller aspects of, say, a typical modern superhero cgi-fest: Cap 2:Winter Soldier really jumped out at the time for this (and got its directors the Avengers 3&4 jobs).

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Yes..I liked Cap 1 for its "Indy Jones" like sense of WWII nostalgia(with a bit of The Dirty Dozen and great supporting perfs by a gentle Stanley Tucci and a grouchy Tommy Lee Jones), but Cap 2 "went all modern" and gave us Robert Redford's glorious heel turn as a nastier Philip Vandamm.

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And there are people like Leigh Whannell who was part of the Saw franchise and who's had a couple of doozies recently, Upgrade and Invisible Man who's using a lot of Sfx but has got that genre-thriller gene big time.

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Well, suddenly my theme is changing: its not that we "don't have a Hitchcock" anymore. Its that we have LOTS of them, but some of them work other genres and some of them are more "invisible" than Hitchocck was...because there are so MANY of them.

Which is really another of my points: Half of the modern movie output is some sort of thriller. Musicals died out. Westerns died out. War movies in the main died out. Drama remains. Comedy remains. And thrillers -- well, every action movie, horror movie, murder movie AND comic book movie is a thriller.

I would say, however, that Hitchcock has to share the honors with Ray Harryhausen, George Pal, and all those 50s SciFi makers for the other place the movies have gone: SciFi and Fantasy. Not really Hitchocck's turf at all...less The Birds and maybe, the Rushmore climax of North by Northwest(a sort of "Land of the Giants.")

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The Coens' trio of Blood Simple, Fargo, and No Country obviously stands tall, as does Michael Mann's quintet of Thief, Manhunter, Last of the Mohicans, Heat, Collateral, as does about half of Fincher's output including his Mindhunter TV show. But I guess in all these cases the directors have a lot of other interests. Ditto people like Danny Boyle and Edgar Wright I guess.

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More, more, MORE examples of fine successors to Hitch.

I'm reminded that while few people were making "thrillers" when Hitchcock was extant 1930-1960, there were plenty of gangster movies and noirs, and guys like Bogart and Cagney and Eddie G. are precursors of QT's wise-cracking bad guys. The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, Key Largo(a seminal hostage story), The Asphalt Jungle..THESE films pointed to some of the crime movies of today too.

Still, Hitchcock rather had the field cornered in all other thriller areas through 1960. I contend that once NXNW and Psycho hit big back to back, the 60's opened the floodgates on thrillers: Cape Fear, Dr. No et al, The Manchurian Candidate, Baby Jane The Prize, Charade, Strait Jacket, Homicidal , Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte, Mirage, Arabesque, Gambit, Wait Until Dark...maybe even Bullitt. As one Hitchcock scholar noted: "Hitchcock's competitors became legion." And then his imitators.

Hitch got out just in time.

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And I sort of feel that Scorsese is now where Hitchcock was as "the director everybody knows and loves." The Star Director. Spielberg rather gave that title up and he's not nearly as knowledgeable and interesting as an interviewee as Scorsese
Scorsese's professorial side has really served him well over the years. He's ended up having a second career really as a talking head (he *enjoys* being on mainstream, late night talk shows for example, and he *enjoys* opining on the state of film, e.g., recently complaining about Marvel and superhero films). And his sub-career as a documentarian with specializations in the history of rock music, of film, and of NYC, means that there's a range of different ways in which even someone who's not a movie buff can end up knowing Scorsese's name and face. None of the other 1970s guys ended up having quite the extroversion and multi-media zest and talent that Scorsese had and has. (Note that Scorsese had a *big* documentary hit on Netflix this year: 'Pretend It's A City' - 4 hours or so of him yukking it up with Fran Lebowitz. Not everyone liked it - I dug it; SNL snarked at it pretty fiercely for example. But there's no doubt it captured big audiences perhaps in part as pandemic comfort viewing.)

In this respect, of course, Scorsese *is* Hitchcock's true successor. Hitch wasn't professorial but he *was* a ham, loved going on talk shows, was a super-entrepreneurial, self-caricaturing, quote/one-liner machine who put his name and face about everywhere.

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And I sort of feel that Scorsese is now where Hitchcock was as "the director everybody knows and loves." The Star Director. Spielberg rather gave that title up and he's not nearly as knowledgeable and interesting as an interviewee as Scorsese

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Scorsese's professorial side has really served him well over the years. He's ended up having a second career really as a talking head (he *enjoys* being on mainstream, late night talk shows for example, and he *enjoys* opining on the state of film, e.g., recently complaining about Marvel and superhero films).

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Scorsese has always had an interesting angle to me: he proved himself early as a justifiably "great director" (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull) and developed a career that really took off in the 90s(GoodFellas, Cape Fear, Casino) but...his biggest hits are very violent and populated with the kind of "smart yet dumb" folks that DeNiro and Pesci play. In short, while Scorsese is "the erudite professor" about all SORTS of genres in his DVD appearances, his work as a director is often ultra-violent and filled with the F-word. (Of course, he made The Age of Innocence to prove he didn't have to be.)

Scorsese came in around the time that Hitchcock was going out, so Scorsese could "feast" on Hitchcock and Hawks and Ford and the rest as a scholar..while praising his peers and the next generation, too.

As for Hitchcock, given his age, you could find him indeed sometimes praising folks like Charlie Chaplin and Lang and whoever made Sunrise...but as the years went on, Hitchcock was anything but effusive or knowledgeable about other filmmakers. He didn't want to give up the spotlight.

THAT said, Hitchocck was clearly WATCHING other filmmakers all the time in his private screening room, and thus keeping up to date on new genres and techniques -- French films influenced Vertigo, Italian films influenced The Wrong Man, horror films influenced Psycho and The Birds, Cold War films influenced Torn Curtain and Topaz, etc..

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And this: Hitchcock may not have spoken much in praise of other filmmakers, but his TV series gave quite a few of them early, key directing jobs:

Sydney Pollack(The Way We Were, Out of Africa)
James Bridges(The Paper Chase, Urban Cowboy)
Robert Altman(MASH, McCabe and Mrs. Miller)
William Friedkin(The French Connection, The Exorcist.)

Friedkin is part of Hitchcock History: he directed the final Hitchcock episode ever aired: "Off Season" from 1965. It starred John Gavin and it featured the Bates Motel exterior(still there after five years, but not much longer.)

Gavin had to approve Friedkin as his director, and took him to lunch. Friedkin got the gig, and remained friends with Gavin for decades.

While filming the episode , Friedkin was approached by Hitchcock on set, and sternly given the final line of Frenzy: "Mr. Friedkin, you're not wearing your tie." A no-no with Hitch.

Years later, superstar director saw Hitchcock at an event. Friedkin was wearing a tux with tie and chided Hitchcock: "How d'you like the tie, Hitch!" Hah. But Friedkin's superstardom didn't last as long as Hitch's...

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In this respect, of course, Scorsese *is* Hitchcock's true successor. Hitch wasn't professorial but he *was* a ham, loved going on talk shows, was a super-entrepreneurial, self-caricaturing, quote/one-liner machine who put his name and face about everywhere.

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Yes, I think that's about right...it was the point I was trying to make. In certain ways, yet again, we HAVE no Hitchcock-like director to ham it up THAT way...Scorsese goes in a more in-depth, intelligent direction with his remarks.

But Marty's "the grand old man now." And clearly an influence on the great 2000's gangster epic "The Sopranos"(populated with so many "GoodFellas" actors) and also an influence on...QT! (The comedy violence, the F-words, some shared actors in DeNiro, Jackson and Pacino.)

Briefly on Spielberg: on an AFI special, Spielberg opined on Psycho and had a pretty good line about how the movie "had the musty smell of a undertaker's parlor" or something like that but it was clear that the line was scripted FOR Spielberg by somebody else. He just sort of lacks the sincerity that Scorsese has.

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Though he directed some big hits(Scarface on video at least; The Untouchables, Carlito's Way, the first Mission Impossible), it seems that all those early Hitchcock homages kept DePalma out of the top tier. No Oscar nominations(though Hitchcock got dissed there, too.) A growing sense that DePalma 'couldn't sit at the same table with Spielberg and Scorsese and Lucas.)

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I've thought on this a little more and this occurred to me: in Dressed to Kill and Body Double, DePalma staged bloody attacks on women that made the shower scene in Psycho look like the proverbial "Sunday School picnic." The Body Double killing was accomplished with a power drill filmed at an angle from behind and between his legs, to mimic the male killer's penis(DePalma was going for over the top satire here, but I think that backfired.) So in addition to the "poor man's Hitchcock" with poor self-scripted storylines in some of DePalma's films, he ran head on into the feminists, too.

I also thought of this one: in 1978, DePalma was given a big budget and a great John Williams score for The Fury, which mixed NXNW with telekinesis, and climaxed with a spectacular death for villain John Cassavetes(via telekinesis -- aka "bs magic" -- he is shaken like a milk shake in a machine until his body explodes and his head flies off.) Pauline Kael rather embarrassed herself with her rave review for this film("It has more set pieces than any Hitchocck thriller") but...it WAS kinda fun.

Except it has a set-piece at the end of the second act, that is just plain ridiculous and laughable and filmed in ultra-slow motion so that every badly planned moment in the action is streetttched out to make its silliness turn ridiculous. (Its a scene with Kirk Douglas, his gun, two female characters and some bad guy spies.) "The Fury" demonstrated early on that DePalma just didn't have what Hitchcock had.


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And yet: Scarface, The Untouchables, Carlito's Way. Three of my favorite films. Carlito's Way was my favorite of 1993; The Untouchables was my favorite of 1987 AND of the entire 80's. DePalma -- hate him. Love him.

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Except it has a set-piece at the end of the second act, that is just plain ridiculous and laughable and filmed in ultra-slow motion so that every badly planned moment in the action is streetttched out to make its silliness turn ridiculous. (Its a scene with Kirk Douglas, his gun, two female characters and some bad guy spies.) "The Fury" demonstrated early on that DePalma just didn't have what Hitchcock had.
This remark is a reminder to me that I don't remember The Fury that well. I saw it once back in the '80s and kind of dismissed it as 2nd rate, relatively corporate & impersonal De Palma. But, of course, later on most of us early De Palma fans were a bit sick of and sickened by De Palma's more personal side, and gradually grew more impressed by De Palma's corporate, for-hire work (The Untouchables, Scarface)...so I definitely owe The Fury another look.

It's funny looking at the '70s/'movie brats' generation and seeing where they've ended up: Lucas hasn't directed anything of real note since Star Wars. Coppola and Friedkin and Bogdanovich have made the odd good film since the '70s but nothing to top or even contend with any of their early stuff. Ashby died young and nothing after Being There (1979) mattered. Spielberg and De Palma we've covered - neither has the profile or late in life body of interesting work that Scorsese has, or his general breadth of interests. Scorsese wins (it's a little gauche to put it this way but that's our game in this thread).

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This remark is a reminder to me that I don't remember The Fury that well. I saw it once back in the '80s and kind of dismissed it as 2nd rate, relatively corporate & impersonal De Palma. But, of course, later on most of us early De Palma fans were a bit sick of and sickened by De Palma's more personal side, and gradually grew more impressed by De Palma's corporate, for-hire work (The Untouchables, Scarface)...so I definitely owe The Fury another look.

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This "personal DePalma, corporate DePalma" issue is probably key to my own hate/love of his career. the "personal" stuff usually involved a Hitchcock homage, a script at least partially written by DePalma himself(and hence, pedestrian in certain ways), and more of tendency to "go off the deep end" with too much slow motion or too rough a treatment of women, etc.

The Fury was the first really expensive DePalma movie, and he looked overmatched by his budget -- not really up to making a movie that FIT it. So back he went to "semi-indie" work...first with Dressed to Kill and then with Blow Out(1981.)

Blow Out to me is the best of the "personal DePalmas" -- it mixes Vertigo with Blow Up and has a powerful twist ending of great emotion.

For hire: Scarface has an Oliver Stone script; The Untouchables has a David Mamet script; Carlito's Way -- well SOME quality writer -- and voila! DePalma was making good movies where his Hitchcockian technique could shine.

But: The first Mission:Impossible has a script with some Robert Towne(Chinatown) work and some other quality writers on it, and some good "DePalma set-pieces....and..its rather incoherent and betrays the "team" aspect of Mission Impossible the TV show(that came BACK with later M:Is as Cruise lost his star standing a bit.)




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It's funny looking at the '70s/'movie brats' generation and seeing where they've ended up: Lucas hasn't directed anything of real note since Star Wars. Coppola and Friedkin and Bogdanovich have made the odd good film since the '70s but nothing to top or even contend with any of their early stuff. Ashby died young and nothing after Being There (1979) mattered. Spielberg and De Palma we've covered - neither has the profile or late in life body of interesting work that Scorsese has, or his general breadth of interests. Scorsese wins (it's a little gauche to put it this way but that's our game in this thread).

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Ha...that's a great wrap up and a reminder that there IS a game in this thread.

To me, its: How/why is Scorsese the Big Deal director now, the Top Name of History even as many younger directors are making their mark?

Answer: He survived. And thrived. I recall back in 2006 with The Departed being impressed that Marty could get Leo AND Matt AND Mark....and Jack as the "big catch"(Nicholson had never worked with Marty before.) That reflected both artistic and commercial clout on Marty's part.

"The Wolf of Wall Street" (not too long ago in 2013) was a huge hit for Marty. It seems to be loved or hated(I love it) but...it mattered. And Old Man Scorsese delivered a pretty eye-popping film about young people having sex all the time. Wall street stuff. Penny stock stuff. Sex. Drugs. Relevant as all get out.

Clever use of stars: You need bankable stars to get movies made, and Scorsese went from one(DeNiro) to another (Leo) and...hey, BOTH of them will be in that Murders of the Osage Moon if it ever gets made.

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swanstep, your review of the "crash and burn" careers of many of the 70's brats reminds me that DePalma was, actually , quite the survivor himself. He was making big commercial hits in the 80's(The Untouchables) and the 90's(Carlito's Way, M:I) LONG after guys like Friedkin and Bogdanovich had lost any clout at all.

Coppola seems to be a special case. in the 70's, all he needed was two Godfathers, The Conversation, and Apocalypse Now to get his "auteur forever" credentials but -- came the 80's, the struggle began and Coppola never really kept pace with Scorsese or Spielberg. He made "solid" films along the way -- Peggy Sue Got Married in the 80s and Dracula and The Rainmaker in the 90's but -- that wasn't a Hitchcock kind of career.

Note in passing: I actually saw Coppola once, sitting courtside at an NBA basketball game -- in the 90's -- and I gotta say: I was impressed. I knew I was looking at the man who made The Godfather and that was enough to feel like I was in the presence(along with 50,000 other people) of a Great Director. At one time.

I am reminded that Hitchcock thrived and survived in a rather "closed" Hollywood system that seemed to have room for about 10 name directors at any time. Because of his thriller specialty, his TV popularity, and his star credentials," Hitch was allowed to keep making movies (by Universal) til he couldn't anymore. It was a big deal: 50 years of filmmaking.

Well, that's about where Scorsese almost is now, yes? Start with Mean Streets(1973) and Marty's about two years away from matching Hitchcock's record.

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