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In His New Book, Tarantino Talks Psycho and Hitchcock


Quentin Tarantino(QT) says he is only going to make(write and direct) one more movie before calling it quits and retiring. He wants a total of 10, he says he's made 9 (not REALLY true -- what about Four Rooms?) and it has been three years plus since he made his last one -- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, with two of our biggest stars(Leo and Brad) one of our greatest legends (Pacino) the hot new female(Margot Robbie) and others. As QT says, that's enough to end on right there.

But...one more. He says he's in no hurry, particularly given how COVID crippled movie theaters and everybody's going to streaming. "I won't make my final movie until things settle down." Indeed , by sheer luck, QT released OATIH in 2019, right before the COVID hit the fan ("We flew in through the window right before it closed.")

I'm figuring QT might just maybe pull a Kubrick. It was TWELVE YEARS from Full Metal Jacket in 1987 to his final film Eyes Wide Shut in 1999(Kubrick conveniently died before that film was released.)

In the meantime...QT has found his calling: he's movie history buff and critic. He "snuck" some critical essays into the mind of Brad Pitt's Cliff Booth and other characters in his 2021 novelization of OATIH...and here just over a year later, he's released his "first" nonfiction book of film buffery: "Cinema Speculation."

The title of the book is actually also the title of one of its chapters, so to dispense with that: Cinema Speculation is basically "what if?" QT notes that Taxi Driver was originally to star -- young Jeff Bridges(!) -- under the direction of Hitchcock copycat Brian DePalma. So...speculate on THAT.

I was thinking if the issue is casting, there are a lot of "What ifs?" in Hitchcock -- casting choices he didn't get and who replaced them.

What if Grace Kelly starred in Marnie?(Not Tippi Hedren.)
What if Michael Caine starred in Frenzy(not Barry Foster.)
What if William Holden starred in Strangers on a Train(not Farley Granger)
What if William Holden starred in The Trouble With Harry (not John Forsythe)
What if Barbara Stanwyk starred in Saboteur(not Priscilla Lane)
What if Claudette Colbert starred in Foreign Correspondent(not Laraine Day.)

Cinema speculation.

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QT interviews and clickbait are all over the internet right now. He has no movie to promote, but he has a BOOK, so interviewers are clamouring for him (why, Howard Stern even got him.)

Biggest clickbait headline(of course): "Tarantino says Marvel stars aren't movie stars." He says a few more things about Marvel and joins Scorsese and Coppola in astutely calling a spade a spade and looking like old men. QT adds that he might have loved the Marvel movies as late as his 30's, but he's too old now. He says he will never direct one because "that's hired hand work for hire."

QT has put out some other nifty items for argument. I'll paraphrase right here:

"The 50s and the 80's were the worst decades for movies, except for right now."(The 20's? Trouble numbering decades ahead.)

And I mean in this book, he HATES the 80's ("that f'ing decade.") I can only paraphrase what he says, but he makes this point: "At least in the 50's there was the Hays Code, censorship and repression. Supposedly the 70's opened the door for the 80's to be free, too."

I've read THIS before. The culprits are "Spielberg/Lucas" and their ilk, and what one critic called "the infantilization of the movies." Now QT finds Jaws to be one of the most perfect movies ever made, but I get what he's thinking. Jaws REMAINS Spielberg's best work -- he was under the gun, not spoiled, doing a thriller, etc. He got a top grossing movie of all time out of that, and won that mantle again later with ET(great but perhaps too Disney) and Jurassic Park(good, but no Jaws.)

QT is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and world famous. I'm not. But his book shows we know some of the same things(we probably read the same books , like Biskind's seminal "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls.")How Old Hollywood died out (QT cites Topaz as part of that) and New Hollywood came in and the 70's was just the Greatest Decade ever for movies. (But what about Airport 75? Or The Klansman?)

This QT book is an odd mix of the familiar and the "QT unique."

The familiar:

Bullitt(my favorite movie of 1968) gets a chapter. Dirty Harry(my favorite movie of 1971) gets a chapter. Several movies don't get a chapter, but dominate them -- Deliverance(hoo boy.) Taxi Driver(which QT calls "the most prestigious of the Revenge-o-matic movies" -- a great term that covers Dirty Harry, Death Wish, Rolling Thunder and a whole lotta Blaxploitation.

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The less familiar:

QT goes after the "first string LA Times critics" of the 70's(Charles Champlin), 80's( Sheila Benson) and 90's(Kenneth Turan.) He hates them -- especially Benson, whose reviews are like a "matron's book report at a PTA meeting" and Turan (who hates all QT movies right back -- "I thought I'd get him on my side with Jackie Brown, but no dice.") QT amusingly writes how when he and Turan see each other at some events, they give each other the dirty eye and walk away. Hah -- a feud with a critic!

The problem with LA Times critics was and is that they write for a "company town" and so they often pull their punches. But not all the time.

QT says that Charles Champlin "never met a movie he didn't like" but that's not true. Champlin didn't like Frenzy. He didn't like Jaws("Lumpily written and a bore ashore.") He didn't like Grease -- because the movie says better to be a slut than a good student.

Indeed, my take on Charles Champlin is that he was a nice, middle-brow writer who got stuck reviewing some of the most hard-R cynical movies ever made: 70's movies.

QT champions LA Times second-stringer Kevin Thomas, who got stuck with "B movies and exploitation" but launched a lot of Roger Corman people with great reviews.

Note in passing: Kevin Thomas actually wrote the LA Times review of Frenzy. It was a rave ("Hitchcock's Best Movie in Years") with a warning: "the elegant sheen of the movie is marred by its sexual violence." Charles Champlin came in AFTER the Thomas rave to tamp things down a bit. "Its not as good as they say." I think the sexual violence drove nice guy Champlin to write that back-up review (in an essay about Hitchcock) contradicting his second stringer(not very nice.)

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OK. Here comes Psycho in the book:

There are quite a few index page references in the QT book marked "Psycho." (Only 2 for Frenzy. I'll get to that.)

When you go to the pages, you will find that he is almost always talking about the shower scene(QT dutifully honors it) and in concert with discussions of OTHER movies, other filmmakers.

Including DePalma of course. And in starting to discuss DePalma's set-pieces, QT gives us a "split decision" on HITCHCOCK set pieces. 4 he likes, 3 he doesn't. Here goes:

"Hitchcock either pulled off his set-pieces..."

"The merry-go-round sequence in Strangers on a Train. " (Good call QT, good for you.)
"Marion Crane's murder in Psycho "(what? not "the shower scene"? Still, great call, QT.)
"The difficult murder of the KGB agent by Paul Newman and the farmer's wife in Torn Curtain "(aha, QT's kind of gory fun; Torn Curtain may not be a great Hitchcock movie, but it has a great Hitchcock scene.)
"The Birds in the playground"(interesting, never heard QT mention The Birds; I prefer the attack on Bodega Bay.)

"Or he didn't" (QT is thumbs down on)

"The Mount Rushmore climax of North by Northwest" (Wait, WHAT? WTF? Well, that's only my favorite set-piece in all of Hitchcock so we have a problem here. I will concede that it lacks speed like the Foreign Correspondent plane crash, the berserk carousel, the crop duster run, and the runaway car in Family Plot , and I will concede that the matte paintings are a little noticeable but NO...thanks to Herrmann's thundering score and the giganticism of the heads(Martin Landau falling straight down Lincoln's cheek) this is the greatest "Get them!" chase in movies and a wonderful joining of action and true love(off to the honeymoon train.) Wrong, QT.)

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QT also doesn't like:

"The rushed rooftop chase at the end of To Catch a Thief." (Well, I think it is great -- a very small scale warm up for Rushmore four years later, but precise and dazzling on its own terms _- the opening camera sweep away from Grant to the rooftops, the oddly green nighttime, the daring leaps from roof to roof -- Grant, his double and ANOTHER PERSON. And a truly vertiginious shot of Grant looking down at the cops below -- its a death fall and soon he will hold the REAL thief over that abyss. To Catch a Thief was not much of a thriller, very mid-fifties(thrillers didn't get the action budgets, war movies and epics did) but this rooftop scramble was elegant, great on the eyes, and vertiginous.

QT also doesn't like:

"The degrading handling of Anna Massey's corpse in the "potato sack scene" in Frenzy."

Hmm. Now THIS one surprises me. QT -- the maker of Kill Bill , Death Proof(Grindhouse) -- finds a scene DEGRADING?More degrading than "Sam Jackson and Bruce Dern's son in the snow" in The Hateful Eight? More degrading than in Death Proof. Kurt Russell's car severing limbs and running over faces of young women in a killing that the local sheriff says was committed to "get him off"?

That said, QT has a point. The entirety of Frenzy is about a serial killer who rapes and kills women and Hitchcock elected both to make a serious statement about that, and to "cinematically stylize it." The potato truck scene is a mix of fine montage, macabre humor and (says I) incredibly gorgeous COLOR(Rusk's red hair, the golden potatoes, the blue night sky outside the truck.) Its cinematic and it indeed says something that several other Hitchocck movies said: corpses were living human beings and now...they are waste matter.

Anyway, QT generally handles Hitchcock and Psycho in the sideways way of citing him as an influence in general and the shower scene in particular. QT's not too interested in zero-ing on Hitchcock's work and I can see why. It just too long ago; it doesn't track with the raw R rated stuff he truly loves.
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QT also doesn't like:
"The degrading handling of Anna Massey's corpse in the "potato sack scene" in Frenzy."
Agree that it's interesting to hear QT strike such a moralistic note. The potato sack scene is exactly what Hitch wanted it to be: really cold and bleakly funny. Once a victim is dead their body is just a problem for Rusk's rapist/killer to solve and an obstacle and source of frustration for him to overcome, something that *we* can then find funny. It's awful and cold like a lot of the deaths in Fargo or like a lot of Dorothy Vallens' trauma in Blue Velvet (which Ebert famously couldn't deal with), and, yes, as you mention, in a lot of QT's own work.

QT strikes a related moral note in a recent podcast ep. with Roger Avary where they discuss Fosse's Star 80. QT argues that Star 80 is *obscene* for its focus on Paul Schneider and its relative lack of interest in Dorothy Stratten. QT thinks that the focus on a violent loser boyfriend is fine to have in fiction (in a Paul Schrader movie say) but not in a based-on-recent-fact narrative, and it's *obscene* and disrepectful to Stratton (and Bogdanovich) that Fosse made the movie he did.

Well, maybe. But I think it's clear from these examples that QT's getting more moralistic and judgy as time goes by. He's now not a million miles away from Charles Champlin harrumphing that Grease about-faces to salute sluttiness over goody-two-shoesness. Maybe we all eventually become the thing we start out hating?!

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Agree that it's interesting to hear QT strike such a moralistic note.

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Yes it is -- you would think that, given his basic feeling that Hitchcock wasn't R-rated ENOUGH(he couldn't be), when some scenes finally showed up that "rough" -- QT would be good with them. And this: he IS good with the Torn Curtain killing, which shares with the Frenzy killing of Brenda the angles of realism(no music) and overlong lingering cruelty (by the GOOD GUYS in Torn Curtain, which is all the more disturbing.)

Speaking of Torn Curtain, QT twice put Bernard Herrmann's "un-used" music for the murder of Gromek from Torn Curtain into OAITH -- for both scenes in which Leo wields a flame thrower. Scorsese used that un-used music in Cape Fear(for the hurricane climax) -- so Hitchcock's unused Herrmann music has been the MOST used music by two greats never used by Hitch himself.

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The potato sack scene is exactly what Hitch wanted it to be: really cold and bleakly funny.

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Yes. It is in the source novel(with a Dial M flat key here turned into a tiepin to match the movie's necktie motif) and Hitchcock must have felt at it was worth filming. The scene "merges" Robert Walker's desperate grab for a cigarette lighter in a storm drain(in Strangers) with Anthony Perkins extensive handling of Janet Leigh's corpse in Psycho. And on the "corpse" side of things -- you've got The Trouble With Harry for comedy and Rope for chills.

This was "Hitchcock copy-catting himself," but I don't think Hitchcock was EVER so shameless as Howard Hawks could be -- El Dorado is not only Rio Bravo -- it is Rio Bravo with a big scene from The Big Sleep!

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Once a victim is dead their body is just a problem for Rusk's rapist/killer to solve and an obstacle and source of frustration for him to overcome, something that *we* can then find funny.

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Boy did Hitch toy with us there. It is only when we REMEMBER Babs as the kind, feisty, vulnerable woman that she was that the stomach starts to turn. It is imperative to think of her as a corpse(and a naked one at that, Hitchcock "teases" how much we see by covering it in potatoes.)

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It's awful and cold like a lot of the deaths in Fargo or like a lot of Dorothy Vallens' trauma in Blue Velvet (which Ebert famously couldn't deal with), and, yes, as you mention, in a lot of QT's own work.

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Oh, yeah...I forgot: how about how in The Hateful Eight, Jennifer Jason Leigh's Daisy Domergue is constantly punched in the face, slapped around, and ultimately slow-strangled by hanging(Sam Jackson won't ALLOW her just to be shot, she must die slow.)

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QT strikes a related moral note in a recent podcast ep. with Roger Avary

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I forgot to mention how QT has this book "in concert" with the podcast. I have to ask -- is that podcast meant to be "regular programming" for weeks or months on end, like a TV series? (I'm just learning podcasts.)

If so, QT runs the risk of so overrunning media as "just a film critic"(and he HATESfilm critics) and slowly loses his relevance as a filmmaker.

Oh well, Ebert ran for decades, I suppose we get used to it.

I'd say QT has to "get out of the 70's" movie wise, but what do you know? Star 80 is from 1983.

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where they discuss Fosse's Star 80. QT argues that Star 80 is *obscene* for its focus on Paul Schneider and its relative lack of interest in Dorothy Stratten. QT thinks that the focus on a violent loser boyfriend is fine to have in fiction (in a Paul Schrader movie say) but not in a based-on-recent-fact narrative, and it's *obscene* and disrepectful to Stratton (and Bogdanovich) that Fosse made the movie he did.

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I read the news reports when the murder happened -- so horrific and yet "all the elements" for a movie. I saw the TV movie with young Jamie Lee Curtis as Dorothy Stratten(prettier and better body -- courtesy of Janet Leigh -- than Mariel Hemingway.) And I saw Star 80.

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As I recall, Star 80 wasn't a hit. "All the elements" for a movie were not really elements for a GOOD movie -- the tale was so tawdry, but I do think the movie/story made this point and accused us all: how much more "respectable" -- REALLY -- was Hugh Hefner's Playboy Empire with all those A AND B male showbiz guys hanging out to ogle chicks(and MORE.)

How much more respectable -- REALLY -- was Hugh Hefner than Paul Schneider(except for the psycho loser killer part.) Hef had "The Playboy Philosophy" columns and all the great movie stars and directors did long interviews with the mag but, at the end of the day, as some wag wrote, was he just "selling dirty pictures?"

Star 80 rather made that rather sick connection well, I thought. And I say that as a once-young fellow who certainly had no issues with Playboy(those GREAT interviews. Hah.)

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I suppose that QT is "allowed"(hah) to differentiate what's degrading or not -- recall that Daisy Domergue is part of a murderous gang and we see them murder many innocent people.

But that Frenzy remark was "off" to me.

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But I think it's clear from these examples that QT's getting more moralistic and judgy as time goes by. Its possible. He's now not a million miles away from Charles Champlin harrumphing that Grease about-faces to salute sluttiness over goody-two-shoesness. Maybe we all eventually become the thing we start out hating?!

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QT in his new book says that he should be able to make movies exactly the way he wants them, as outrageous as he wants them. He says "there won't be race riots...but there may be some angry think pieces, and that's OK."

A couple of the think pieces on Once Upon a Time in Hollywood looked to equate QT with Leo's Rick Dalton drunkenly raging at the "f'in hippies" in a car by his house -- they're the Mansons, but a think piece saw Rick Dalton as representing "Quentin Tarantino knowing he is an aging white guy who is losing relevance, so he rages at youth." Oh, maybe, but those reviews are getting as predictable as the hack movies which QT does NOT make. (QT qets quite snarky about critics in this book: "They write like they are superior to these movies, which is hard to believe given how badly they write.")

Still...a kernel of truth? Its clear to me visiting the Marvel pages at Moviechat that these movies, and their "myths"(religions?) and their iconic characters mean a LOT to a younger generation and I suppose the rest of us should just back off. The argument that Marvel movies are sucking up budgets, money and theater screens? Yes, I suppose, until somebody makes enough entertaining movies to take the screens BACK.

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On an unrelated note, I do wonder what genre of film Tarantino will tackle next. He has some Robert Altman in him in that he seems drawn to giving his absurd spin on various genres. His first three films were an homage to 1970s crime dramas. Then we had his tribute to kung fu films (Kill Bill I and II), B-grade Roger Corman drive-in fare (Grindhouse), war films (Inglorious Basterds), blaxploitation (Django Unchained), westerns (The Hateful Eight), and finally Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which I can't classify so easily. If anything, I'd say OUTIH sits comfortably in whatever genre the slice-of-life-in-Los-Angeles films like Shampoo and The Player belong.

What's next, I wonder? Would he dare do science fiction or horror (From Dusk Till Dawn and Planet Terror - Rodriguez films really - don't count). Will he end with a film that isn't quite so obviously an homage to the past?

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I do wonder what genre of film Tarantino will tackle next.

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In the pages of movie history yet to be written, Tarantino's "one more film and I'm done" pledge may well stand as one of the greatest GIMMICKS ever. Right up there with William Castle's tingle chairs and Hitchcock forbidding people to come into the theater after Psycho.

Speaking of Hitchcock, he DID do something almost as diabolical in terms of "making people wait":

He took five movies out of circulation while he was alive -- Rear Window, Vertigo, Rope, The Man Who Knew Too Much and The Trouble With Harry" and TOLD us "these won't be released until after I am dead." Talk about a WAIT. And THEN: Hitch died in 1980 but those movies were withheld another 3 years before being re-released.

So QT knows of what he does here!

And what another GREAT part of the gimmick: what genre of film will Tarantino tackle next?

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He has some Robert Altman in him in that he seems drawn to giving his absurd spin on various genres. His first three films were an homage to 1970s crime dramas. Then we had his tribute to kung fu films (Kill Bill I and II), B-grade Roger Corman drive-in fare (Grindhouse), war films (Inglorious Basterds), blaxploitation (Django Unchained), westerns (The Hateful Eight), and finally Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which I can't classify so easily. If anything, I'd say OUTIH sits comfortably in whatever genre the slice-of-life-in-Los-Angeles films like Shampoo and The Player belong.

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I like that classification of OAITH -- Shampoo and The Player are "of its type" and Shampoo was a 1975 film set largely on a November 1968 election day -- only four months before the February 1969 in which OAITH begins.

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What's next, I wonder?

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Part of QT's gleeful playfulness -- exposing, I'm afraid, how he can play the internet clickbait crowd like trained seals -- is to SUGGEST that he might make:

A Star Trek movie.
A sequel to Kill Bill.

Articles are written about both of those all the time(the Kill Bill sequel would have the black assassin's grown daughter coming for revenge against The Bride.)

And I don't think they will be made. But QT will keep teasing them -- and others. Its FUN.

QT was teasing a "Bonnie and Clyde" type movie after The Hateful Eight, to be set in Australia with his Aussie stuntwoman pal Zoe Bell. Maybe?

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Would he dare do science fiction or horror (From Dusk Till Dawn and Planet Terror - Rodriguez films really - don't count).

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Well, From Dusk Til Dawn had his script partially, yes? Did Planet Terror? I know he is IN both movies, but more in Dawn.

I'm thinking no -- he's done horror and horror actually has a limited audience. Money is made but not across the broad age range QT likes.

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Will he end with a film that isn't quite so obviously an homage to the past?

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Well', he's about 50/50 on contemporary films versus period pieces... but...

...I really just can't play this game. We have no idea, really. He teased Inglorious Basterds forever(we were expecting an all-star Dirty Dozen but didn't get it). Right now, he is teasing NOTHING. And like many great writer-directors he says he hasn't even really thought about it yet!

Last year, Paul Thomas Anderson got the "auteur internet coverage" with his little movie Licorice Pizza, which, he pointed out, came about when ANOTHER script he was writing hit a wall. So he collected a premise and a bunch of old true stories from friends(one PARTICULAR friend) and made a movie that got Oscar nominated for Picture, Director and Screenplay. QT has the capacity to do that, too.

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We've got YEARS to guess. Maybe a list should be started somewhere. Somebody just might get it right.

I recall when people tossed out possible endings for Better Call Saul, star Bob Odenkirk let folks know ahead of time: "About 1/5th of you guessed right."

I'm thinking maybe QT should go with a contemporary story. I'm not sure why.

And notice this about his last three films:

Django Unchained: About a freed slave who becomes a bounty hunter.
The Hateful Eight: About a black bounty hunter who meets a white bounty hunter, and the white bounty hunter "always brings his arrestees to the hangman alive."
OAITH: About a TV actor who PLAYS a bounty hunter and always brings HIS arrestees in DEAD, because "alive" is way too risky.

Thus, QT took one theme through three movies in a row. The Hateful Eight began life as a sequel to Django, with Jaime Foxx in for Samuel L. Jackson.

Thus: maybe his future film will tie in his PAST films?

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He's now not a million miles away from Charles Champlin harrumphing that Grease about-faces to salute sluttiness over goody-two-shoesness.

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I will add that this is how Charles Champlin felt, in his review of Grease. Not my take. Hell it was FUN watching OLJ go bad.

I read Charles Champlin pretty regularly in the 70's, but only a few of his review sentences stand out. I can SEE the phrase "lumpily written and a bore ashore," and I read that right before I went to see Jaws on opening day.

But this: Champlin I think elected to go after a movie "structurally" only when it insulted him personally. With Jaws, the review opened(from memory): "The first thing to say about Jaws is that the PG rating is devastatingly, horrifyingly wrong." He went on to say that the bloody attack scenes -- particularly on a child -- merited an R. There WAS some debate on that. But Spielberg didn't push for the PG-13 until Temple of Doom.

Champlin did the same thing on Frenzy. Obviously distressed by the sexual violence, he went after the film as "having too much exposition."

Champlin liked the more mellow Family Plot. I recall its truly moving opening sentence(paraphrased): "One is reminded, with a jolt, that the movies have not even been here for a century, a mere blink in history. And one is reminded that one of the earliest giants of cinema, Alfred Hitchcock, is still working." It was a great way to put Family Plot in context, though he liked the mood of the film ("like Ross MacDonald told funny") and he spoke of the "match play" of Dern/Harris versus Devane/Black...like mixed doubles. He wrote this elegant line, but he was wrong: "Hitchcock, who in Frenzy dabbled in overly graphic violence, here dabbles in profanity..no less unnecessarily."

No less unnecessarily. Great phrase. But I guess ol' Chuck forgot the cussing in Frenzy.

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Maybe we all eventually become the thing we start out hating?!

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It creeps up. For me, it was things like the "bloody horror" in Psycho slowly becoming mild, and the murders, too few. But some of the intestine-spilling horror of today is just beyond my ken. Same with torture of women. Or men for that matter.

And of course, I've grown to see a fairly disrespectful political scene. It is a fear of mine that if a US President is ever assassinated again...there will be joy and rapture on certain websites.

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Meanwhile back at QT. Ever notice how NON-VIOLENT OAITH is for most of its running time. Slyly, all the murders(for most of the film) are FAKE...on TV ("Bounty Law.") One starts to think: "Will this be the first QT movie without a killing? Like Peckinpah's Junior Bonner or Hitchcock's Waltzes from Vienna(or Mr. and Mrs. Smith, or The Wrong Man.)

Nope. We first get Brad Pitt punching out a Manson goon at the Ranch(bloodily in the face) and then Brad and Leo and a dog kill three Manson members with great bloody glee.

Thus, QT "holds".

I've always felt that the route from Hitchcock to QT is thus:

Hitchcock
Don Siegel
Sam Peckinpah
Brian DePalma
Quentin Tarantino.

Almost ALL their movies involve murder and/or the killing of bad guys. Thrillers are defined thus, as are Westerns and war movies. These guys have done all -- except no Westerns for Hitch or DePalma.

Scorsese made a lot of genre movies(gangsters mainly) but he also made The Age of Innocence and Silence. Still, he's CLOSE. A lotta blood spilled from Mean Streets to Taxi Driver to GoodFellas to Cape Fear to The Departed.

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Charade was "the best Hitchcock movie Hitchcock never made in 1963," but one reason why is because so FEW Hitchcock like thrillers were made. Guys like DePalma and QT do violence all the time but consider: John Frankenheimer -- Manchurian Candidate, 7 Days in May, Black Sunday. Stanley Donen: Charade, Arabesque. John Schesinger -- Marathon Man. A lot of "one to two hit wonders in there." They went off and made dramas and comedies, too. Oh, and let's not forget Terence Young: Wait Until Dark. A great thriller of a certain surface delight, plus some James Bond films.

QT in his new book gets "some of the above" because he spends a long time on Siegel, Peckinpah and DePalma.

Indeed, Sam Peckinpah is on the cover of the book, crouching down with Steve McQueen(gun in hand) on location with The Getaway (1972.)

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"Part of QT's gleeful playfulness -- exposing, I'm afraid, how he can play the internet clickbait crowd like trained seals"

A fine example of that is his recent exaggerated praise of "Top Gun: Maverick" and Spielberg's "West Side Story." Not bad junk food, mind you, but in my view two films that would have been relatively forgettable in the 1980s. Part of the box office allure of the original "Top Gun" was the rogue's gallery of rising-star hunks with their shirts off and the steamy romance between Cruise and McGillis, two components notably (and thankfully) absent in the superior sequel. I bet if Maverick was released in 1988 it would've been regarded as a major disappointment. Relative to the dreck surrounding it now that Tarantino and Scorsese have complained about, it was breath of aviation turbine fueled fresh air. Still, it seemed odd initially that QT was so effusive in his praise of it, but maybe less so if it's an instance of him playing his audience.

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"Part of QT's gleeful playfulness -- exposing, I'm afraid, how he can play the internet clickbait crowd like trained seals"

A fine example of that is his recent exaggerated praise of "Top Gun: Maverick" and Spielberg's "West Side Story." Not bad junk food, mind you, but in my view two films that would have been relatively forgettable in the 1980s. Part of the box office allure of the original "Top Gun" was the rogue's gallery of rising-star hunks with their shirts off and the steamy romance between Cruise and McGillis, two components notably (and thankfully) absent in the superior sequel. I bet if Maverick was released in 1988 it would've been regarded as a major disappointment. Relative to the dreck surrounding it now that Tarantino and Scorsese have complained about, it was breath of aviation turbine fueled fresh air. Still, it seemed odd initially that QT was so effusive in his praise of it, but maybe less so if it's an instance of him playing his audience.

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A good analysis, probably more nuanced than mine, about how QT plays to the internet (if not just to his audience.)

In a way, I understand this. Its capitalism 101. Whoever runs the sites that grab these interview snippets -- they WANT quotes on Marvel, they NEED quotes on Marvel.

Or on QT and "whatever movie he MIGHT make" (he stretched out that Star Trek tease a LONG way...and I do wonder: is he willing to do only SCRIPTS outside of his famous only one MOVIE left?)

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If he's playing up Top Gun:Maverick, I'd say one reason is that Tom Cruise is somebody QT evidently wants to work with -- he courted him for the Brad Pitt role in OAITH. So KEEP saying good things about Mr. Cruise, and Mr. Cruise just might end up in that final film. (As he ended up, way EARLY in the career of Paul Thomas Anderson in Magnolia.)

Here's something. In my own, ongoing "personal favorite movie of the year" list, 2022 doesn't really have one yet. That's OK -- last year it was Licorice Pizza and that wasn't in theaters until Xmas Day(I saw it on Xmas Day.) There may still be time.

But if nothing DOES show up by the end of the year, I'll likely put Top Gun: Maverick grudgingly in that personal favorite slot. Not so much for the movie, but for the EXPERIENCE...a full house theater(COVID be-gone) with a lot of older people(COVID no fear), with some friends I had not been out with in years. It felt "like the good old days" that I used to get a lot, I saw a LOT of movies with full houses, it was a way of life. I also salute Top Gun Maverick for its grafting of The Guns of Navarone and the first Star Wars Death Star attack into the plot. As I've said before, Cruise turned the original military training story of Top Gun into...another Mission Impossible movie.

I've had some hopes that Spielberg's "The Fabelmans" might get my 2022 slot. I was supposed to see it last weekend, but things fell through. Its evidently flopping as WSS did last year but awards season may help it. I will see it.

And there is this. In past years, I've rather "held a slot open" for a favorite movie of the year. I didn't see my favorite of 2011 -- Moneyball -- until 2012 on HBO: or some such. (The Descendants was my place holder, it stands at Number Two for 2011 - Pitt and Clooney proving their stardom.) I didn't see my favorite of 2018 -- The Ballad of Buster Scruggs -- until 2019, when I finally caught it on Netflix. Etc.

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I've always felt that the route from Hitchcock to QT is thus:

Hitchcock
Don Siegel
Sam Peckinpah
Brian DePalma
Quentin Tarantino.

Almost ALL their movies involve murder and/or the killing of bad guys. Thrillers are defined thus, as are Westerns and war movies. These guys have done all -- except no Westerns for Hitch or DePalma.

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In follow up. I stand by those guys as the "main men" in death-based genre works, but certainly there are directors who "follow off of them." Walter Hill for one, who helped write The Getaway for Peckinpah and then carved out his own career with Hard Times(Bronson as a hard knuckle brawler) The Driver, Southern Comfort, and a big one in 48 HRS.

Which triggers another thought: as others have noted, QT and the boys really are following in the tradition of GANGSTER MOVIES, not Hitchcock movies. Pulp Fiction and GoodFellas harken back to Little Caesar and Public Enemy more than to Dial M for Murder (though the dark humor, twists, and big violence of Psycho informs them, too.)

Hitchcock in an interview said he was always turning down gangster movies. He had no interest in such lowlifes, I guess. Though boy, his TV series had LOTS of mob stories -- I think as a TV producer, Hitchcock understood that mobsters are a mix of psychopathy and greed, and you can find lots of "Little GoodFellas" on the Hitchcock show. (Walter Matthau and Robert Vaughn played two of them.)

Still, Hitchcock as a "brand name genre man" still belongs on the list that leads to Peckinpah and QT.

A begged question: OK, if Hitchcock didn't do gangster movies, what did he do?

Spy movies, mainly. His bread and butter in the years before, during, and after WWII. When the Nazis were defeated, the Commies came in -- unnamed(The Man Who Knew Too Much 2, Nortb by Northwest) and named(Torn Curtain, Topaz.) So Hitchcock is very much the patron saint of James Bond, Harry Palmer, Matt Helm, Derek Flint...the Mission Impossible movies, the Bourne movies...

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Take the spy movies out, and Hitchcock has a smaller set of "psychopath movies" -- he had a career long interest in what makes the brains of men go haywire and turn them into killers: The Lodger, Shadow of a Doubt, Rope, Strangers on a Train...the definitive Psycho and the R-rated reality of Frenzy. Those movies are so powerful in the Hitchcock canon that he "spaced them out" and as I've noted, had One Big Psycho per decade: Uncle Charlie, Bruno Anthony, Norman Bates, Bob Rusk.

Take the spies and the psychos out, and things become a bit more diffuse. A few wife-killers(or wannabees): Suspicion, Dial M, Rear Window, Vertigo.

Some kidnappers -- The Man Who Knew Too Much and Family Plot.

And then things really turn into "specialty numbers": The Trouble With Harry(body disposal), I Confess(The church) The Birds(animals gone psycho -- hey they are on the psycho list.)

And of course as a "theme" running through a ton of Hitchcock from the spy movies to at least one psycho movie(Frenzy)...the wrong man. Especially in the great The Wrong Man.

That digressive review shows that Hitchcock perhaps remains an entity unto himself. But Peckinpah, Scorsese and QT carry on his "brand name and personality cult" reputation and a sense of suspense.

In his new book, QT points out that the suspense sequences of Hitchcock and DePalma are very similar, "but Hitchcock's set pieces rarely lead to as much violence as DePalmas." Well, duh. The Hays Code.

But also:

I'll zero in on the elevator slashing of Angie Dickinson in Dressed to Kill as an example of how DePalma set-pieces were often BAD set pieces.

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The Dressed to Kill elevator sequence falls apart for me in the "second half," when call girl Nancy Allen(with a broker client by her side who runs away) sees the elevator doors open and the bloody dying Dickinson reaching out to her. DePalma shifts to super slo mo and we get this: the psycho killer(a blonde woman in sunglasses) who wielded her straight razor with power on Angie, moves her hand with the razor towards Nancy Allen and the elevator doors "tap" the killer's wrist so that she drops the razor to the floor! It looks ridiculous, and more ridiculous in slo-mo.

That's bad and ruins the sequence.

But even the elevator slashing fails against the shower murder for a key reason: it is far more graphic and sickening, the audience ends up considering the PAIN of the scene in a way that didn't happen with the shower murder.

There are two versions of the elevator murder(which is a bad thing, PICK ONE) but in the worse version, that straight razor slashes Angie's open palm (outstretched in defense), her face(not done to Janet Leigh) and most graphically, her throat - blood spurts out. Then unlike Psycho(with all the blood running down the drain), we have to look at a blood caked, blood soaked Angie Dickinson as she dies. (Note in passing, in Bloch's novel of Psycho, Arbogast took a straight razor to the throat, clearly Hitchcock felt that was unfilmable in 1960.

And so:

QT in his book makes some might big guesses about why DePalma did those Hitchcock/Psycho knockoffs. I'll try to condense:

DePalma made his name with small indiefilm "countercultural comedies": Hi Mom and Greetings (both with Robert DeNiro.)

DePalma then got to make a BIGGER countercultural comedy for Warner Brothers: Get To Know Your Rabbit, with Tommy Smothers and Orson Welles!(A magician must get to know his rabbit.)

The rabbit movie sat on the shelf for THREE YEARS, then bombed.

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Now that you mention DePalma, it occurs to me that one prominent facet of his films that is 100% absent in Tarantino's work is sex. Carrie and Dressed to Kill have some of the most (in my opinion) gratuitous skin shots ever committed to otherwise serious R-rated films. I do see Palma's intent. In Carrie you have future trophy wife high school cheerleaders frolicking nude without a care in the world, in marked contrast to the hopelessly shy, awkward, and eventually vengeful Carrie. In Dressed to Kill, Angie Dickinson's body double engaging in self love with a bar of soap and losing sight of her man in billows of steam foreshadowed the dangerous path to which her loneliness and obsessive lust would take her. But Tarantino avoids female sexuality altogether, it seems, even in Kill Bill. Kiddo is more interested in having her own child than sex. Both Bill and the Texan yokel who sired her daughter were means to ends not involving sex or romance. The closest QT came to a DePalma moment - not all that close - was with Butch and his French girlfriend in Pulp Fiction. (note: I haven't seen Jackie Brown)

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The Dressed to Kill elevator sequence falls apart for me in the "second half," when call girl Nancy Allen(with a broker client by her side who runs away) sees the elevator doors open and the bloody dying Dickinson reaching out to her. DePalma shifts to super slo mo and we get this: the psycho killer(a blonde woman in sunglasses) who wielded her straight razor with power on Angie, moves her hand with the razor towards Nancy Allen and the elevator doors "tap" the killer's wrist so that she drops the razor to the floor! It looks ridiculous, and more ridiculous in slo-mo.

That's bad and ruins the sequence.

But even the elevator slashing fails against the shower murder for a key reason: it is far more graphic and sickening, the audience ends up considering the PAIN of the scene in a way that didn't happen with the shower murder.

There are two versions of the elevator murder(which is a bad thing, PICK ONE) but in the worse version, that straight razor slashes Angie's open palm (outstretched in defense), her face(not done to Janet Leigh) and most graphically, her throat - blood spurts out. Then unlike Psycho(with all the blood running down the drain), we have to look at a blood caked, blood soaked Angie Dickinson as she dies. (Note in passing, in Bloch's novel of Psycho, Arbogast took a straight razor to the throat, clearly Hitchcock felt that was unfilmable in 1960.

And so:

QT in his book makes some might big guesses about why DePalma did those Hitchcock/Psycho knockoffs. I'll try to condense:

DePalma made his name with small indiefilm "countercultural comedies": Hi Mom and Greetings (both with Robert DeNiro.)

DePalma then got to make a BIGGER countercultural comedy for Warner Brothers: Get To Know Your Rabbit, with Tommy Smothers and Orson Welles!(A magician must get to know his rabbit.)

The rabbit movie sat on the shelf for THREE YEARS, then bombed.

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DePalma didn't want to lose a movie career so he went to American International and made...a Psycho/Rear Window hybrid(but mainly Psycho) called Sisters. He even managed to hire exiled Bernard Herrmann to do the score(very scary, I might add.)

QT contends that DePalma "moved to Hitchcock" so he could keep working, make the studios money and "be able to afford crane shots."

Certainly DePalma wasn't alone in "doing a Hitchcock" to get noticed: try Coppola(Dementia 13), Bogdanovich(Targets), Spielberg(Night Garllery, Duel, Jaws...even a Columbo episode)

But somehow DePalma got STUCK doing Hitchcock homages. Contends QT, "I actually think DePalma was bored doing his Hitchcock movies."

And then QT says "Frenzy may be crap, but I doubt Hitchcock was bored making it."

Huh? That's outta nowhere and gives me pause.

This is the second -- and final -- reference to Frenzy in QT's book(the other was finding the potato sack scene degrading to Anna Massey, who wasn't even there.) So I guess QT thought Frenzy was crap?

I wish he had elaborated. It was clearly a movie he was of age to see in his young life and he saw them all. He had a fair share of the "ultra violence" that would mark his own movies(the strangling of Diane Kruger in Inglorious Basterds is practically an homage, as is the hanging of Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight.)

I'll guess that Frenzy was just too stodgy and British and expositional for QT's taste. It is weirdly genteel and offensive at the same time.

Also, QT is big(as an Oscar-winning screenwriter) on good scripts, and I'll guess he noticed the weird third act, in which Blaney TELLS EVERYBODY that Rusk is the real killer and still ends up convicted and in prison (one critic had the solution: just have Blaney waiting in a cell FOR trial while Rusk is caught.)

Oh, well, I guess we will never know what bugged QT about Frenzy.

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QT found just ONE other shower murder to be the near-equal of Psycho's: it happens in Russ Meyers "Ultravixens." A big muscular strapping blond actor named Charles Napier both stomps AND electrocutes his buxom lady friend in a bathtub.

I might just know something here that QT does not. Hitchcock in his private screening room was ALSO a fan of Russ Meyer, and of Ultravixens, and he actually signed Charles Napier(NOT one of the ultra-vixens) to a personal contract, around the time he was planning a Don Siegel-type action picture from an Elmore Leonard novel (Unknown Man...)

Charles Napier never worked for Hitchcock, but he DID work for Jonathan Demme in Silence of the Lambs. Of the two cops Lector kills in his "travel cell," Napier is the one who ends up hanging like a gutted butterfly. One film later, Napier got to play a TRIAL JUDGE for Demme, in Philadelphia.

But it all started with Ultravixens.

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Back to DePalma and OT:

QT says that DePalma segued from Hitchcock to action in the 80's, but that's only sort of true. Scarface and The Untouchables were action in the 80's, but Carlito's Way(great) was in the 90s and so was the first Mission:Impossible. DePalma KEPT sneaking Hitchcock homages in ..Raising Cain for one, Snake Eyes for another.

QT notes that DePalma couldn't do action in the 70's because "Eastwood and Bronson and Marvin never would have stood still for all those fancy camera moves." Indeed, QT (using Hitchcock as an example) notes that camera-move oriented cinema is BETTER SERVED by thrillers than regular dramas. I heartily agree.

Which brings us to how QT describes Hitchcock. He calls Hitchcock "Cinema first/camera first" and makes the pretty definite point that Hitchcock is one of those directors who did NOT want the camera to be invisible, who wanted to use the camera for all sorts of flourishes and storytelling. True enough.

I use as an example the shot of the camera following Norman up the stairs to carry down Mother in Psycho. Its a GREAT SHOT on general principles -- we twist and turn in the air and travel to the farthest upper reaches of the Bates house -- but of course it also serves a PURPOSE: yet again keeping Mother's face from being seen.

Another example is in Frenzy, of course: the camera coming DOWN the stairs while Rusk kills Babs upstairs, unseen. Great shots both.

On balance in his new book, QT treats Hitchcock with a certain deference and respect I had not heard from him before as a few decades ago when QT said: "I mean, Hitchcock isn't GOD, ok?" And I like that term "cinema first/camera first," which QT uses again and again and again in describing Hitchcock's work.

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Does QT mention the foreign greats which Hitchcock admired and was influenced by? Like Henri Clouzot’s Diabolique. I know Hitchcock utilized the “you can’t leave the theater in the last few minutes” for Psycho because of Clouzot. And did QT ever mention Chabrol’s The Butcher (Le Boucher) or Louis Malle’s Elevator to the Gallows or Melville. What about Monsieur Klein. Did he ever mention the writing of Georges Simenon who Hitchcock admired. I know he thought Blowup was a masterpiece.

“I’ve just seen Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blowup. These Italian directors are a century ahead of me in terms of technique. What have I been doing all this time?” He would watch the film repeatedly,. “

I wish Grace Kelly played Marnie. Even Catherine Deneuve. Tippi was good in The Birds. Marnie is one of my favorites because it could have been great. I love the concept. Trauma in a girl’s childhood develops into criminal behavior with sexual overtones as an adult. Isabelle Adjani in Mortelle Randonnée or Eye of the Beholder was similar.

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Does QT mention the foreign greats which Hitchcock admired and was influenced by? Like Henri Clouzot’s Diabolique. I know Hitchcock utilized the “you can’t leave the theater in the last few minutes” for Psycho because of Clouzot. And did QT ever mention Chabrol’s The Butcher (Le Boucher) or Louis Malle’s Elevator to the Gallows or Melville.

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Well, I found this (page 188):

"I can also imagine part of DePalma's inspiration to forge a career executing Hitchcockian set pieces was his frustration at how inept he felt the highly praised Hitchcockian homages from the French New Wave were. Particuarly messieurs Truffaut and Chabrol. I can't imagine DePalma appreciating a relatively decent one like Chabrol's Le Boucher(probably chalking it up to a thrilless thriller.) But I can absolutely see DePalma being appalled at Truffaut's amateur, clumsy fumbling of The Bride Wore Black." (END.)

So that's about all you get. This whole chapter on DePalma seems to reflect QT IMAGINING what DePalma thought or felt. For all of QT's admiration of DePalma, it looks like he didn't get to interview him, just to GUESS that DePalma...felt the same way that QT felt about Truffaut and Chabrol.

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A brief memory. The book Hitchcock/Truffaut came to my attention in a Time magazine article of 1968(even though the book has a 1967 date on it.) The review of the book was "combined" with a review of The Bride Wore Black -- Truffaut's first overt attempt at a Hitchcock (same writer as Rear Window, Herrmann on board.)

Eventually I got the book(after about a year of being terrified by the still frames of Arbogast slashed and aghast when I viewed the book in book stores.) Later still, I saw The Bride Wore Black and I think I can see the problem.

Hitchcock ALWAYS had big budgets and studios at his disposal. He could "fake" Mount Rushmore pretty darn good and fill the screen with it. Even the "low budget" Psycho has that BIG BUDGET house. and the "fake" shots of it to create a fantastical environment on screen.

Meanwhile, Truffaut had a low budget, French studio assistance and an entire "air of reality" that sucked all the Hitchcock out of this Hitchcock work.

Meanwhile, as I recall (from one viewing only) The Bride Wore Black had an uncomfortable premise:

Five drunk guys playing around with a hunting rifle accidentally shoot the groom on the wedding steps, he dies in the bride's arms. The Bride is Jeanne Moreau. She sets out to find, hunt down, seduce(if necessary) and kill all the men who killed her new husband. But as I recall, you ended up feeling SORRY for most of these men. It was a terrible accident, but they are hunted like murderers. Other than that, I don't remember much of the movie but I DID see a documentary on Herrmann which showed the tempermental Truffaut practically forcing Herrman to remove his usual sinister music from a scene and replace it with "light cute French soufflé type music." It was doubly hard to watch -- Herrmann being ordered to change his music, the new music being "wrong."

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I also saw Truffaut's "Missisippi Mermaid" a Hitchcock like romantic thriller with big French stars Jean Paul Belmondo(always rather an uglier McQueen to me) and Catherine Denueve (the Hitchcock blonde who got away). A Newsweek review had alluded to the murder of a detective as a perfect homage to Arbogast. I attended , watched and -- no -- it was a minor realistic death, no more no less.

I daresay that all the low budget films that captured Hitchcockian themes MISSED the fact that he was also a "maker of spectacle" whose set-pieces were big budget Hollywood affairs that presage Spielberg and James Cameron and Tim Burton. BIG sequences, with THUNDEROUS Herrmann music (sometimes.) Truffaut just could not compete with that.

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What about Monsieur Klein. Did he ever mention the writing of Georges Simenon who Hitchcock admired.

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No, none of that makes it in. QT shows some facility for foreign films, but he's generally got other fish to fry here. American violent genre work, in the main.

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I know he thought Blowup was a masterpiece.

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Hitchcock or QT? I know Hitchcock did. As you noted below:

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“I’ve just seen Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blowup. These Italian directors are a century ahead of me in terms of technique. What have I been doing all this time?” He would watch the film repeatedly,.

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Poor Hitchcock. If he could have just lived into the 1980s his matte painting/process shot/ studio based thriller adventure stuff would be right back in style with Lucas and Spielberg(and 5 of his movies were re-released IN the 80's after his death.)

Instead, Hitchcock had to deal , in the late 60s and early 70s, with the counterculture, New Hollywood, the French New Wave(where his critical fans were) semi documentary realism and the international explosion of film.

Actually he "got" the international part quite well. Torn Curtain, Topaz, and Frenzy all focus mainly on foreign lands to America: East Germany, Copenhagen, Paris...and a return to London. When he finally made Family Plot, it was like "Hitchcock's return to America."

Torn Curtain was timely with its Iron Curtain story (cleverly reworked as the title.) Topaz was about French spies in the main, so it was Hitchcock's love letter to Truffaut et al. Frenzy took him back to London AND brought him up to date on sex and violence. Hitch TRIED.

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I wish Grace Kelly played Marnie.

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She agreed to it, but ultimately, her subjects (and her husband) evidently said no(for tax reasons, I guess.)

Marnie would have been a rough role for a princess to return in. Me, I wish she had gotten to play Eve in North by Northwest. She WAS pitched that role, but I guess it was "too soon."

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Even Catherine Deneuve.

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I think Denueve came along a bit after Marnie.

Deneuve's professional diaries were published and evidently she met in NYC with Hitchcock in 1968. It might have been for Topaz..which he was about to make. Or it might have been for The Short Night, which he tried to make for years. Both were spy stories, but The Short Night had a juicy full length female lead. Topaz did not. For Topaz, Denueve was too young to play the mother in the story and too old to play the married daughter! Denueve's diary entry read "I just have too many projects to choose from." So she must have turned Hitch down. He tried again for her with The Short Night in the late 70's but he got too old to make it and then died.

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Tippi was good in The Birds. Marnie is one of my favorites because it could have been great. I love the concept. Trauma in a girl’s childhood develops into criminal behavior with sexual overtones as an adult. Isabelle Adjani in Mortelle Randonnée or Eye of the Beholder was similar.

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A good analysis. Marnie was a "wobbler" after a series of masterpieces, SOMETHING had to break the streak. I think the issue is that everybody saw that Marnie COULD have been another Rebecca, Notorious, or Vertigo -- but it missed the mark. The Universal backlot cheapo ambiance? (There are no scenes on location, just process.) Tippi Hedren overmatched by a part that needed a big star? Sean Connery not quite ready yet? The script?(the screenwriter, Jay Presson Allen, felt her script was "in Hitchcock's lower third." I think the script rather keeps REPEATING itself , in scene after scene of Connery bullying Hedren.

Enough of the great film that Marnie could have been is visible in the movie itself, so it has its devotees still. And this has Bernard Herrmann's last completed score for Hitchocck. He was fired off of Torn Curtain.

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Some odds and ends on the QT book:

Billy Wilder only gets one mention from QT in the book. QT says that of the "dead on arrival" films of 1969-1970, only Wilder's Sherlock Holmes and Blake Edwards Darling Lili were better than that. Topaz and Hawks' Rio Lobo...nope.

This: "Hands down the most horrifying movie I saw as a child wasn't any of the horror films I watched. It was the trailer for Wait Until Dark." (Bravo. That IS a scary trailer, what with a pounding heartbeat keeping the images on screen even more terrifying than they play in the theater.)

And QT notes something that I've felt all along: for all of his protesting about how he wanted his gunbattle at the end of The Wild Bunch to be "horrifying," Sam Peckinpah really turned in a gunbattle that was EXHILARATING. I believe that "The AV Club" internet magazine saw Bullitt in 1968 and The Wild Bunch in 1969 as "the beginning of the action film," and the gunbattle in The Wild Bunch - how ever horrific it seemed in 1969, really set the pace for John Woo and Lethal Weapon and Die Hard and Rambo. Exhilarating.

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QT goes after the "first string LA Times critics" of the 70's(Charles Champlin), 80's( Sheila Benson) and 90's(Kenneth Turan.)

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Note in passing. Its funny, I have no idea who the main film critic of the Los Angeles Times is TODAY. There are reasons for that.

In the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, I either lived in Los Angeles or worked places where the paper was delivered or could be read in the library. So I followed along as Charles Champlin gave way to Sheila Benson and as Benson gave way to Turan.

But somewhere along in the 2000s or 2010s to now, the LA Times disappeared behind a paywall and I only read it occasionally. I think Kenneth Turan continued well into the 2000s and may write a column there now.

And I must note this about Turan(because it really bothered me at the time.)

Turan reviewed Van Sant's Psycho in 1998. It wasn't a very favorable review, but I REALLY remember this line:

"They are using the same script that was used in 1960. Well, I was around for Psycho in 1960, and I can assure you that nobody cared to say much about the script. It didn't matter."

Or something like that. My blood boiled a bit and again I thought(in 1998): Joe Stefano is an old guy who hasn't had a hit in awhile and he LIVES in Los Angeles and he must have READ that review. Oh, well, you always have to have a thick skin. I've always said that the best thing about Van Sant's Psycho was that Joe Stefano got paid hundreds of thousands more to touch up his old script than he go to write his old script IN 1960. Yay!

As for Turan's judgment on Stefano's script. Wrong ("We all go a little mad sometimes.") Wrong ("Mother isn't quite herself today.") Wrong. ("Why she wouldn't hurt a fly.")

This was somewhat made up for with Richard Corliss's review of Van Sant's Psycho around the same time, in which he noted that he had written of Psycho as his favorite movie (in 1973) and that the remake benefitted from showing off "Joseph Stefano's terrific screenplay."

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For all of his protesting about how he wanted his gunbattle at the end of The Wild Bunch to be "horrifying," Sam Peckinpah really turned in a gunbattle that was EXHILARATING
. Yeah, it's the *opening* of The Wild Bunch that's horrifying. Not only do we begin with kids torturing scorpions, that first gun-battle is shockingly bloody, explosive, civilian-endangering. It really imprints on you that this film is going to happen in a West we haven't seen before, in what we'd modernly call a 'failed state'. At the time of the film's release, I think people saw the violence of that opening scene as being like Vietnam.

The film establishes its right to its Title in that first scene, then the film itself can quiet down for the next hour because now we know *exactly* what could break out at any moment. (I guess it functions much the way that Saving Private Ryan's opening does.)

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. Yeah, it's the *opening* of The Wild Bunch that's horrifying. Not only do we begin with kids torturing scorpions, that first gun-battle is shockingly bloody, explosive, civilian-endangering. It really imprints on you that this film is going to happen in a West we haven't seen before, in what we'd modernly call a 'failed state'. At the time of the film's release, I think people saw the violence of that opening scene as being like Vietnam.

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I saw The Wild Bunch at a fairly young age. I braced for the violence. I found the ending gunbattle indeed exhilarating -- and the lead up to it incredibly moving(as did everyone else.)

But I DO remember being mighty shook up by the violence of that opening for all the reasons you mentioned (I mean, REAL scorpions were tortured by REAL ants set up by the film crew and then all of the insects were BURNED alive.)

And the movie established early on that The Wild Bunch were far less than heroes, really mean brutal guys.

Vietnam was part of it, but so were the dark times. (The Manson Murders happened the same summer of the release of The Wild Bunch.)

You know, for as bad as today's times have proven to be -- from about 9/11 on, including COVID -- there was something about THEN that was just..nastier? Its like innocence was lost back then. The assassinations. The riots. The sense of a quagmire of a war.

It was a different time and if I may be a little bold I'll say I've always related to that song title "I was so much older then...I'm younger than that now."

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The film establishes its right to its Title in that first scene, then the film itself can quiet down for the next hour because now we know *exactly* what could break out at any moment. (I guess it functions much the way that Saving Private Ryan's opening does.)

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Yep. Though Saving Private Ryan keeps things gory and grueling all the way through and climaxes with the "up close and personal" hand to hand combat and slow stabbing of an American by a Nazi. That movie never really lets up until it does that total CGI-morph curve into a tearjerking ending. Some were annoyed by that but I think many were moved by it. Still...so ugly getting there.

Back to The Wild Bunch...between the indeed horrific opening and the indeed exhilarating climax we have the great train robbery and bridge blow up. The violence is minimal, the action is maximum and this is just one of many places in the movie where you see Peckinpah "doing Hitchcock suspense style and doing it right" as opposed to DePalma.

Also: The Wild Bunch DOES have a happy ending after all the slaughter. Robert Ryan reunites with Edmond O'Brien: Ryan's hell has come to an end. "Its not like it used to be...but it'll do."

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“I’ve just seen Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blowup. These Italian directors are a century ahead of me in terms of technique. What have I been doing all this time?” He would watch the film repeatedly,.
So, Hitch is seeing Blow Up when he's 66 or 67 years old. Isn't it just incredibly impressive that he could *get it*, *see* that both Blow Up itself and the larger body of work it represented was important and interesting, maybe even a sea-change, *confess* that he felt challenged by it, even dated by it. One doesn't often hear artists express admiration-tinged-with-fear like that. [I heard QT say *something* like this back in 2019 when it was clear that Parasite was a higher achievement than his OUATIH and had the Cannes and Oscar gongs to prove it. QT sounded wistful saying he'd championed Bong early (over Memories of Murder and The Host) but also a little bit resentful that Parasite was just *so* good at the wrong time for him personally. I think he compared his situation with Bong to De Palma's with Scorsese, where DeP often felt pipped for prestige by the latest genius film from Scorsese (Taxi Driver trumps Carrie & Obsession, Raging Bull trumps Blow Out, King of Comedy trumps Scarface, and so on).]

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Interesting all the way along, swanstep.

Yeah I guess Parasite smashed QT's Oscar chances both at a time when he had a "serious" work(for him) and a good screenplay -- and he had pushed for the Bong's career. You never know -- I'll bet QT didn't forsee "a foreign film" dominating American product. Me, I had a better time at OAITH.

Meanwhile, DePalma WAS trumped by Scorsese all the way along, wasn't he? Its a judgment call...Scorsese was the real deal in serious auteurship, DePalma was more of an exploitation guy. Indeed, I think the feeling out there is that if DePalma had made Taxi Driver...it would have been more of a thriller and less "real and sickening in places."

Indeed, though it took Scorsese and Spielberg a long time to get Oscar respect -- whereas Coppola ALMOST got it early on(no Oscar win for Best Director for Godfather I), it seems that Brian DePalma was NEVER considered Oscar worthy. I'd say it was his scripts in the 70's(sometimes co-written by him.) I guess it was his content in the 80's and 90's(big hits, non-respected scripts.)

Sean Connery won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for The Untouchables, but I don't think it got a Picture or Director nom. Maybe not even for Mamet's great screenplay. I'll have to check on that.
That said, I think Scarface EVENTUALLY beat out King of Comedy -- they were both kinda flops(though I saw Scarface on release and loved it), but Scarface eventually broke free as a cult classic and hip hop favorite.

DePalma can take solace in that his pictures were very good entertainment. And of course, Hitchcock never won a competitive Oscar. But DePalma wasn't that good at that level.

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And as for Hitchcock recognizing it in Blow Up? Some of it, I suppose was "giving himself cover as hip."(He was lucky; he had Lew Wasserman protecting him at Universal, other "old guys" got the heave ho.)

I'd say you can see a LITTLE of the New Wave/international flavor in the opening silent sequence in Topaz, and the sound tricks in Frenzy when Rusk suddenly appears behind Babs ("Got a place to stay?") just as the camera zooms into Rusk's face from soft focus.

BTW, QT may not have interviewed DePalma but he clearly watched the documentary on DePalma -- in which DePalma says everything after Psycho -- even The Birds -- just wasn't good. This no doubt fed QT's "old directors make lousy films" theory(not really true.)

And here I am quoting from Topaz and Frenzy...

PS. I forgot to mention. Hitchcock comes out OK with QT but John Ford? Fuggedaboudit. QT finds him a racist bigot. "White Supremacy" is mentioned and QT can't much love The Searchers accordingly . Well, Rio Bravo IS more fun. As for the rest, not for me to say except -- I do love The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and its story in particular.

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And as for Hitchcock recognizing it in Blow Up? Some of it, I suppose was "giving himself cover as hip."
I looks as though Hitch was set to ape Antonioni and other late '60s obliqueness and experimentalism quite explicitly in The First Frenzy. Maybe Hitch would have really embarrassed himself with that. At any rate, Hitch needn't have worried. Trippy experimentation was pretty much over commercially by 1970 and Frenzy (1972) showed the path ahead for Hitchcock if his health had only allowed that to happen. It's worth mentioning too that one of Hitch's European favorites was Luis Bunuel who was essentially the same age as Hitchcock. Well, Bunuel got on the hottest of hot streaks after Blow Up (and until the end of his career):
1967 Belle de jour (w. Deneuve)
1969 The Milky Way
1970 Tristana (w. Deneuve)
1972 The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
1974 The Phantom of Liberty
1977 That Obscure Object of Desire

It's funny that you (ecarle) mention Deneuve meeting with Hitchcock but being kind of spoilt for choice of roles during her 'it'-decades after Umbrellas of Cherbourg. She sure as hell doesn't regret her Bunuel films - they're both masterpieces - whereas her films with Truffaut are so-so at best. I saw the last and probably best of those on release: The Last Metro (1980). It's still only sort of OK - not Hitchcocky, very Awards-baity, forgettable.

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Deneuve had a challenging time with Bunel. He also dubbed her voice in Tristana. Brunel was one of my favorites. But 400 Blows is a classic. Day for Night. Jules and Jim. I even liked Confidentially Yours.

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The Searchers is one of the greatest movies of all time. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is one of the best westerns. Rio Bravo is fun and I love the song My Rifle My Pony And Me. Hitchcock’s favorites were the worst bigots ever. The Quiet Man is a great Ford movie.

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I liked Memories of a Murder better than Parasite. And I don’t know which one I like better MoM or Oldboy.

So true
Scorsese (Taxi Driver trumps Carrie & Obsession, Raging Bull trumps Blow Out, King of Comedy trumps Scarface, and so on). Scarface is memorable tho. Scorsese was influenced by Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes. So there’s that.

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Hitchcock refused to meet Spielberg. Calling Jaws a fish movie.

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Hitchcock refused to meet Spielberg. Calling Jaws a fish movie.

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Two aspects of one situation.

Spielberg has related that in 1965, as a young "nobody" he was always sneaking onto the Universal soundstages. He eventually found work there, but in the meantime, he was just sneaking around.

And in 1965, he got onto the "ballet theater" set of Hitchcock's Torn Curtain and watched some filming. Said Spielberg, "Hitchcock must have had an eye in the back of his head," for soon young Steve was ejected.

Flash forward 10 years. 1975. Jaws is ruling the summer box office even as Hitchcock is filming Family Plot(his final film) that summer on the Universal lot. Spielberg learns this and calls ahead to "come visit Hitch."

As related by Family Plot star Bruce Dern, Hitchcock panicked at the thought and left the soundstage before Spielberg could get there("I've never seen such a heavy man move so fast" said someone on the stage.)

Dern says that Hitchcock said, "I can't see him, I have just prostituted myself for a million dollars to do commercials for the Universal Studios tour." (Its true, I watched them -- in Los Angeles only -- in the 70's. Hitchcock actually stuck out his arms to fly like Superman against a process screen in one shot.)

Said Spielberg later, "So I got thrown off the Universal lot twice by Hitchcock, a decade apart."

Hitchcock was, indeed, asked about Jaws around this time -- probably during an interview about Family Plot. He said, "Oh, yes, the big fish movie. Its quite good." I think that was grudging respect -- it was the Number One movie. Once upon a time, Psycho had been the Number Two movie.

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I love Belmondo. I love Melville. And Belmondo. Delon. Lino Ventura are in his movies. I love McQueen too. Mississippi Mermaid somehow misses but I still liked it. It was originally for Brigitte Bardot which I think would have been better casting even tho I like Deneuve. I’ve been to Nice and know where he was staying when he had the breakdown. Woolrich wrote this novel as well as Rear Window. Angelina and Bardem’s remake was horrible.

Every time I see Marnie I try and recast. Sean Connery was at his best then. Tippi Hedren said it was difficult for her to portray this frigid character when she was with the sexiest man ever for this time period. I think Grace Kelly would have been great in North by Northwest. I had no idea it was offered to her. Deneuve would have been fine around 1965. Repulsion was fantastic.

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I love Belmondo. I love Melville. And Belmondo. Delon. Lino Ventura are in his movies.

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I sense we have a "foreign film" expert of sorts here in you, letess. Welcome. swanstep may be more equipped to respond to you than I, but I have seen some of those folks in some movies. Not many.

Like Belmondo in That Man From Rio(which Hitchcock noticed though not quite admired -- he felt it copied the NXNW crop duster chase in one scene -- boat chase?)

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I love McQueen too.

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I'm not quite sure why I find Belmondo(in his young prime) so close to McQueen, but I do. Something about the "ugly handsome" face maybe. The sex appeal. The bent toward action.

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Mississippi Mermaid somehow misses but I still liked it.

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I found SOME foreign films over the years. Even in my youth. An issue: these movies may have been dubbed rather subtitled in the 70s when I saw them. Certainly I saw Belmondo and Denueve in that film as "big stars" -- were they in The Last Metro too? Anyway, i have only the vaguest of memories of the plot -- which were rekindled when that American remake came out decades later(I didn't see it, I read about it.)

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It was originally for Brigitte Bardot which I think would have been better casting even tho I like Deneuve. I’ve been to Nice and know where he was staying when he had the breakdown. Woolrich wrote this novel as well as Rear Window. Angelina and Bardem’s remake was horrible.

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Angelina and Bardem in the remake. Yes...that's the one!

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Every time I see Marnie I try and recast. Sean Connery was at his best then.

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Yes, I think I may have mispoke about Connery "not being ready." I suppose I meant "not fully ready as a major movie star." Rock Hudson was announced for the movie in the trades, but backed out(perhaps over the "marital rape?") Marlon Brando was actually considered(he had a Universal contract at the time), but Hitchocck had said in an interview "two actors I shall never direct are Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra -- because they direct themselves." Interestingly, screenwriter Ernest Lehman first wrote NXNW with Sinatra in mind for the lead. I think Hitchcock gave some thought to Cary Grant -- when Grace Kelly was on deck -- but then dropped the matter.

Tippi Hedren said it was difficult for her to portray this frigid character when she was with the sexiest man ever for this time period.

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Ironically, I think that is part of what makes the plot "tick." Connery is SUCH a "catch" -- rich, handsome, macho, sexy, that HE can't BELIEVE that a woman would turn him down -- continually. So he blackmails her into marrying him -- and then takes forced "husband privileges" on their wedding night. Twisted Hitch -- even BEFORE the flashback.

And yes, Connery had that "star thing" going when he made Marnie. It was the same year as Goldfinger and right before it -- Connery EXPLODED as a "superstar" that year, 1964.

Eventually , Hitchcock couldn't get stars anymore (from Topaz on), but in the 60's, he DID land two of the biggest male stars around -- Paul Newman(who also turned down Marnie, I just remembered) and Sean Connery. If only Hitch could have found a project for Steve McQueen -- he'd have gotten all three.

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I think Grace Kelly would have been great in North by Northwest. I had no idea it was offered to her.

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Yes, it was...I have read that somewhere.

The Eve Kendall role was quite the "plum" and its interesting who almost played it. MGM wanted Hitchcock to use inexpensive contract star(and dancer) Cyd Charisse. Someone at MGM also suggested their sometimes star, Liz Taylor(Liz and Cary -- THAT would have been something.) But...brunette. Also likely too expensive with Cary already on board.

Grant had an on-again, off-again thing going with Sophia Loren in the late fifties -- The Pride and the Passion and Houseboat were their two movies. He wanted to marry her(he already WAS married) and Loren married rich old guy Carlo Ponti instead(he was a movie mogul.) Still, I've read that Grant was pushing for Loren in their. So, a LOT of possible Eves. Eva Marie Saint - -yet another Hitchcock blonde -- got the nod and her most famous movie ever (other than On the Waterfront, for which she won her Oscar, but she said NXNW got more questions over the years.) Saint is still alive as I write this.

Meanwhile, James Mason as Vandamm was, in an earlier incarnation, Yul Brynner as "Mendoza." But Hitchcock went for a different actor and hence a different character name -- and ended up getting a "bookend" to fellow transplanted Brit with a great voice, Grant.

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Deneuve would have been fine around 1965. Repulsion was fantastic.

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I just remembered that Deneuve "made her splash" as early as 1965 , but as one critic wrote of Repulsion, "it makes Psycho look like a Sunday School picnic." It took a LITTLE work to freshen her up for "regular stardom" -- which she never really went for, anyway. Belle du Jour, anyone? (I HAVE seen that foreign film, on HBO Max. Quite nice.)

Other than Grace Kelly, other names I have read to play Marnie were Lee Remick, Vera Miles(yet again losing a shot at a big Hitchcock lead, as in Vertigo, though she was such in The Wrong Man), a Hitchcock TV contractee named Claire Griswold, who married movie director Sydney Pollack.) Walt Disney recommended his young blond protégé, Susan Hampshire, but after forbidding Hitchcock to film in thriller in Disneyland(because Psycho was so horrible)...I doubt Hitchcock even entertained that one.

So Marnie ended almost dumped on Tippi Hedren as "the last kitten in the box," even as Hitchcock seemed to have some fancy for her.

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Lee Remick would have been better and with Sean Connery much better. Even Jean Seberg. And speaking of Remick, Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder which was exceptional - Laura was exceptional. Bonjour Tristesse. I think Otto Preminger was more of an American contender to Hitchcock than anybody.

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Loren met Ponti when she was 15. He was responsible for everything that happened to her. Grant wanted to marry her but she was in love with Ponti. In any case, I don’t see Hitchcock and Sophia Loren. It’s interesting you call Ponti the old man when he was 8 yrs younger than Cary Grant.

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Loren met Ponti when she was 15. He was responsible for everything that happened to her. Grant wanted to marry her but she was in love with Ponti.

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Well there you go. And she married Ponti? And it lasted for...awhile(movie star marriages, y'know?)

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In any case, I don’t see Hitchcock and Sophia Loren.

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Its funny. Hitchcock told Truffaut that he wasn't interested in "big bosomed women" like Sophia Loren and Marilyn Monroe.. He felt those women "wore their sexuality on their bodies." He famously prefrerred the "Nordic ice queen type, the cool blonde" -- Grace Kelly and then Vera Miles and then Kim Novak and then Eva Marie Saint and THEN (untested Tippi Hedren.) He often used the analogy of such women "ripping your clothes oft in a taxicab" -- which Brian DePalma rather reversed in a taxi cab sex scene in Dressed to Kill.

Hitchcock told his "taxi cab" story to a very tough, very mean magazine writer named Orianna Fallaci(or some such) and she turned on him: "How would YOU know, Mr. Hitchcock, what blondes do in taxicabs?) An angry Hitchcock -- aghast at one of his stories being turned on him, sputtered, "Well, one HEARS things, you know?"

(Oh how I wash someone as tough as Orianna Fallaci could have a shot at Quentin Tarantino, who ends interviews with ANY sharp questioning, sometimes with a petulant: "Don't you know that YOUR job is to sell MY movie?)

But for all of this Hitchcock DID want to hire Sophia Loren for a movie. Around 1965. It was called RRRR, and was to team Loren and Marcello Mastrianni in a tale of Italian jewel thieves at large in a NYC hotel. Hitch was trying out his "international period" here, but that movie never got made.

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It’s interesting you call Ponti the old man when he was 8 yrs younger than Cary Grant.

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Ha, well compared to SOPHIA LOREN, I recall the man looking old and ..bald.

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Wow. All interesting. Taxi cab scene was with Angie in DTK?? The RRRR sounds really fascinating. Hitchcock liked his leads to be good looking. He probably liked Marcello a lot and the two - Loren and Marcello were a great couple. De Palma didn’t have that detail. Ponti looked like an older man. Almost a father. But it’s amazing how Cary Grant at 50 was just so handsome with all those young actresses. In Charade, Hitch used Audrey so a brunette. Also. In the Lady Vanishes. A brunette.

Vertigo is the movie that is on everyone’s top movies list.

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Just realized you have a lot. I will respond to each separately. You have a lot of good stuff.

I think QT likes De Palma more than he likes Hitchcock. I think De Palma liked Hitchcock way more than I think Hitchcock would have liked De Palma. Do we even know what Hitchcock thought of Carrie? Le Boucher was great. I liked it more than any of De Palma’s. And Blowup is a masterpiece.

Cornell Woolrich or Wm Irish wrote Rear Window. Bride Wore Black. And Mississippi Mermaid or Waltz into Darkness. Simenon is the writer Hitchcock liked.

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I think QT likes De Palma more than he likes Hitchcock.

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Yeah. Me too. It is at once understandable (DePalma made far gorier, far more sexually graphic movies, than Hitchcock) and kinda silly. Hitchcock's career is just more important in "cinema."

Alfred Hitchcock died in April of 1980. Just a couple of months later, DePalma released his Psycho-homage-ripoff Dressed to Kill and when asked about its resemblance, he said "Who gives a f--k about Psycho anymore?" This comment evidently really hurt him with Old Hollywood, and helped set the course for some real hatred. I've quoted this SNL spoof line before, for a "fake" DePalma trailer called "The Clams" : "Once a year, Brian DePalma picks the bones of a dead great director and gives his wife(Nancy Allen) a job." Ouch. And Allen divorced him.

-- I think De Palma liked Hitchcock way more than I think Hitchcock would have liked De Palma.

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Yes. We have evidence of Hitchcock becoming real PALS with Mel Brooks when Brooks made his 1977 Hitchcock spoof "High Anxiety." But Hitch never spoke of DePalma to the press that I can find. Director John Landis said he showed Hitchcock an early cut of "Dressed to Kill," and called it an "homage." Hitchcock replied, "more like a fromage." (Cheese.) I expect Hitch had more reason to be jealous of the young DePalma than the harmless comic director Brooks.

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Do we even know what Hitchcock thought of Carrie?

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No. But I know what I think -- I think Carrie was not very good at all, really. I thought so when I first saw it in 1976, and I think so now.

I actually found some critic's "historic look back" at Carrie on the internet some years ago, and we matched up. He didn't like Carrie either.

For one thing, the movie is about 3/4th build up and 1/4th payoff and the payoff was always a little "light" to me -- the attack on the high school prom kids felt rather like Disney in odd ways(that fire hose). Some gory things happened to a male teacher and the sympathetic female gym teacher but...a bit too little too late. Still its really the only part of the movie I liked.

The famous "jump cut" of the hand coming out of the grave? It seemed forced and contrived to me -- a weak substitute for the MEANING and character of Arbogast getting hit at the top of the stairs. The actor Jon Voight -- then a young star, not the political guy he is today--sat alone at my late night West Los Angeles showing of Carrie and yelled out "total bullshit" at the shot of the Mother impaled like her Jesus statue. Word. I ALMOST felt that way. I thought Piper Laurie overacted.

And I thought the basic premise -- "telekinesis" -- was just a fancy way of saying: "What if you could make all your enemies fall down or blow up? What if you could make knives fly through the air and kill them?" It was "magic." It lacked the weird plausibility of the murders in Psycho(which were "cinematic" in their portrayal, but REAL murders.)

Anyway, not one of my favorites. And I remember the flyers on campus: "See the new movie Carrie -- its Psycho Meets American Graffiti." Two of my favorite movies. Ah...no.


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Le Boucher was great. I liked it more than any of De Palma’s.

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I guess maybe I should see it!


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And Blowup is a masterpiece.

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You mean Antonioni's Blowup and NOT DePalma's Blow Out? I LIKE Blow Out, btw...it had a brilliant, sad, brutal final twist but....still a bit too much of DePalma's weak scripting and overdone flourishes.

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Cornell Woolrich or Wm Irish wrote Rear Window. Bride Wore Black. And Mississippi Mermaid or Waltz into Darkness.

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Ah yes, one of those authors with two names. Why do they do that? Stephen King, Donald Westlake...

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Simenon is the writer Hitchcock liked.

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I think I remember Hitchcock praising Simenon to Truffaut and saying there was a story of his he wanted to make, or a story LIKE Simenon that he wanted to make.

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I found some answers to QT dialogue about Truffaut. QT had little respect for him. More with Chabrol as you said. I located an interview QT had with Sound and Sight earlier this year. Below. Oddly enough, Sight and Sound on DEC 2 2022 released their GOAT 100 films (released once a decade) and QT is not on it. Truffaut’s The 400 Blows is - gone is Jules et Jim. Vertigo is on it and is No. 2. Parasite is. But there are so many others not on it. Like Bunel, who I think is one of the greats. And then their no. 1 film I have never heard of. Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975). ?? QT liked Story of Adele H. I did too.

The September issue (2022) of Sight & Sound features an interview with Tarantino and his “Video Archives Podcast” co-host Roger Avary and highlighted several notable clips from their podcast. Per usual, Tarantino didn’t mince words when discussing his film opinions. When discussing the films of Claude Chabrol on an episode of the show, he found time to criticize the work of François Truffaut, particularly the thrillers that the director made later in his career.

QT: [Chabrol’s] thrillers are drastically better than the abysmal Truffaut-Hitchcock movies, which I think are just awful,” Tarantino said. “I’m not a Truffaut fan that much anyway. There are some exceptions, the main one being ‘The Story of Adele H.’ But for the most part, I feel about Truffaut like I feel about Ed Wood. I think he’s a very passionate, bumbling amateur.”

About QT’s favorites. I agree with many of his selections, especially Audition, The Insider, Unfaithfully Yours - of course Apocalypse Now, Easy Rider, Lost in Translation. But some of his movie choices just aren’t that good. QT as gospel is not the way to go. Preferring Carrie over Exorcist is absurd. And I like The Bird with the Crystal Plumage way more than Deep Red. Even Eyes of Laura Mars I thought was better than Deep Red. And I like Point Blank more than The Outfit. The ending at Alcatraz was phenomenal. I also like Payback better. It’s my favorite Gibson movie. I could watch Payback and Bullitt over and over. But these are only my opinions.

I also look and see some movies that are not on his list that I guess I think he would like, such as One False Move, Trouble in Mind, Asphalt Jungle, Le Cercle Rouge, Le Femme Nikita (French one). When he worked with Fassbender, why not Shame? What about the great movie Un prophete? Why is Social Network on his list? That’s not a movie I see that would be a favorite of his. Also Top Gun 2. I think he thought it was good and well done. An improvement over the the first, but I don’t see it being a favorite of his.

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And I remember the flyers on campus: "See the new movie Carrie -- its Psycho Meets American Graffiti."
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I'm just curious-- how in the heck is Carrie supposed to be anything like American Graffiti? The two films are so different, especially in tone.

Advertising can be so weird.

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And I remember the flyers on campus: "See the new movie Carrie -- its Psycho Meets American Graffiti."
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I'm just curious-- how in the heck is Carrie supposed to be anything like American Graffiti? The two films are so different, especially in tone.

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Well, I think the idea was to match Psycho(modern horror) to American Graffiti -- "teenagers in high school." Granted the kids in American Graffiti are shown on the last night of summer and school is out of session -- but there is a teenage "hop" dance at the gym, and the high school ambiance is there. The Carrie teenagers will die at the prom in a gym much like the one in American Graffiti.

What this advertiser was forecasting of course, were what Roger Ebert would call "dead teenager movies," all those 80 slashers of varying quality -- led by Halloween in 78 and Friday the 13th in 1980 -- in which teenagers would die the gory deaths, thereby allowing teenage audiences to identify with the victims.

This is another reason Psycho rather stands alone. As one writer noted, "there isn't one teenager in Psycho,' and the two principal victims are adults, a woman in her 30s and a man in his 40's...experienced, fully grown,and intelligent people whose violent deaths rather move us.

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Advertising can be so weird.

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Indeed.

Like "The Birds is Coming!" (to which Mad magazine added..."and good grammar in advertising has WENT!"

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It’s difficult to follow our discussion but I like the way you post what I said and then respond to it because we are all over the place with this conversation.

I am way more a QT fan than a De Palma fan. I don’t think De Palma is as good as QT thinks he is. His movies are formidable and entertaining. I saw Dressed to Kill many years ago and liked it, and then decided to watch it recently and I couldn’t get through it. Blow Out is nothing like Blow Up - although Blow Out is very good and I think De Palma’s best, Blow Up is right up there with the best movies of all time. It’s London in the 60s but the slow suspense is masterful. Hemmings and Redgrave. What can I say. I don’t like Nancy Allen that much. I know she was his wife but …. Certainly not the same as Cassavetes to Gena Rowlands. Ok how about Gena Rowlands as Marnie. You know Audiard’s Read My Lips is way better than Blow Out.

Belmondo is similar to McQueen. They did their own stunts. And had incredible appeal. McQueen was my favorite of all time and still is. There has been nothing like him to this day. Norman Jewison said he had to rewrite Thomas Crown to one liners because McQueen couldn’t remember the lines but he was a man of few words. He was difficult and temperamental. His movies are just so fantastic and no one has probably seen Love with the Proper Stranger but Natalie Wood deserved an Oscar for her role in that.

I can see Hitch liking Bunel. Especially Belle de Jour and Tristana. (And Polanski’s Repulsion which was fantastic.) I actually don’t think Hitch would like QT that much and definitely not De Palma. Clouzot for sure - Diabolique and Wages of Fear are far superior to anything De Palma did. Unlike QT, I like Wages of Fear better than Sorcerer but both are great, and most of Friedkin’s movies are just fantastic.

CONTINUED where I don’t know…

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It’s difficult to follow our discussion but I like the way you post what I said and then respond to it because we are all over the place with this conversation.

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Ha. Well...the style works for me. Just separate out various paragraphs and respond to them separately. I've been on "the receiving end" and it can be a bit unnerving to see multiple responses come back...but why let a topic remain unexplored?

Conversely , sometimes around here if one of us writes a "multi-topic" paragraph, a responder just chooses one paragraph to respond to , and leaves the rest unanswered. That's OK, too.

Or some don't respond at all. Ha.

I'm reminded of great lines Brad Pitt has to his protégé Jonah Hill in "Moneyball":

"Don't try to explain it. Don't explain it. The second you have to explain it, you lose."

Well...I just tried to explain it.

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I am way more a QT fan than a De Palma fan.

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Me too. I think the BIG difference is that while there are many fine directors out there, there are far fewer great SCREENWRITERS. And QT can write dialogue like nobody's business. That's how he got Reservoir Dogs sold. Its mainly a bunch of guys talking in one room (preceded by guys talking in a restaurant; then flashbacks to guys talking in offices and cop HQs.)

QT joins Billy Wilder, Joseph L. Mankewicz, Woody Allen and...few others in WRITING as good as (and sometimes better than) he directs.

DePalma simply could not write dialogue of any value. He did better once he worked on projects written by others.

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I don’t think De Palma is as good as QT thinks he is.

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I've pretty much seen every DePalma film made from Sisters through Snake Eyes. And a couple of later ones. He had an undeniable skill with camera movement, but his movies -- except for the "for hire" Scarface, Untouchables, Carlito's Way and(maybe) M:I == just don't have the lasting power of Hitchcock. Or Scorsese. Or QT. Or Sidney Lumet. Or The Coens(in the main.) He's a "fake auteur."

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Belmondo is similar to McQueen.

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I think so.

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They did their own stunts. And had incredible appeal.

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They were THAT kind of movie star.

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McQueen was my favorite of all time and still is.

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He's one of mine. Certainly of the Newman/Connery/McQueen crop of the 60s and 70s. He got a lot done standing still and looking. His performance in Bullitt is an exercise in non-reaction(compare him to the more whispery, angry Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry. Eastwood was an icon too, but he had to WORK at it.)

And I'm a big fan of McQueen in The Towering Inferno. Everybody else (including poor Paul Newman ) is in a soap opera disaster movie. McQueen shows up as a fire battalion chief, with his FACE(grease-faced and smoked stained at one point) selling the character, and his competent manner saving the day.

I say McQueen gets three great scenes to show his stuff in Inferno:

ONE: First meeting architect Newman and pretty much ordering the other star around(Newman matches him with technical architect/electrician know how, but McQueen RULES.)

TWO: Facing off against multi-millionaire developer William Holden. (I call this "Frank Bullitt vs Pike Bishop.) Holden's a bit of a colder Trump and we get this dialogue:

Holden: Look, I don't want to pull rank on you, but the mayor is here at this party.
McQueen: Look, mister, there's a fire, and when there's a fire, I outrank everybody in the room.

THREE:

Weary and near exhausted, McQueen gets the news from his bosses: he's got to go up top on the roof and detonate explosives to kill the fire.

McQueen: How do I get down?
Bosses (remaining silent with sad faces.)
McQueen: Oh...shit.

Three good scenes -- all sold as much by how great McQueen LOOKS as much as what he says.
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There has been nothing like (McQueen) to this day.

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"Close but no cigar": Kevin Costner. Daniel Craig. That guy who played McQueen in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

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Norman Jewison said he had to rewrite Thomas Crown to one liners because McQueen couldn’t remember the lines but he was a man of few words.

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McQueen famously had lines cut from his character and given to the "support." Cary Grant did, too.

McQueen once said that on screen, "I don't want to be the man who asks, I want to be the man who KNOWS."

Reportedly , after a scene between McQueen and Dustin Hoffman in Papillion reached "the cut!" point, McQueen looked at the mumbling method man Hoffman and said:

"....LESS!, man."

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He was difficult and temperamental.

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David Thomson wrote: "Evidently McQueen was only likeable between action and cut."

But everybody wanted to work with him. The trick was to stay clear of him as much as possible.

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His movies are just so fantastic and no one has probably seen Love with the Proper Stranger but Natalie Wood deserved an Oscar for her role in that.

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That's a good "early one" on the serious issue of sex and abortion circa 1963.

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I can see Hitch liking Bunel.

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He kept saying that in the seventies. I remember Hitch saying "I like Bunuel, the Spaniard." I think it was Hitch TRYING to look hip, and with a man his own age.

There's a great photo taken in a private home of a bunch of famous directors on or near a couch, circa 1972. Big shots like William Wyler and George Cukor and Robert Wise are in the photo...but Hitchcock (newly hot again with Frenzy) and Bunuel are sitting side by side up front.

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Especially Belle de Jour and Tristana.
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I daresay Belle de Jour put Hitchcock "hot on the trail of Catherine Deneuve" for a movie. Alas, he simply didn't have the project.

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(And Polanski’s Repulsion which was fantastic.)

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Different director , same actress...playing quite the razor-wielding psycho(or was it all a dream?)

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I actually don’t think Hitch would like QT that much and definitely not De Palma.

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Hitch was already "reacting against" folks like Spielberg and DePalma(says friend John Animal House Landis) at the time. I'll bet he hated how Herrmann turned down Family Plot and did the great Taxi Driver for Scorsese. Hitchcock was old and "knew the score" -- his time was over, these New Guys were young, brash -- and in a lot of cases from New York.

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Clouzot for sure - Diabolique and Wages of Fear are far superior to anything De Palma did.

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Sure. Recall that Hitchcock bought the book from which Vertigo was made because it was by the authors of Diabolique -- and Psycho was Hitchcock's ultimate "try" at making his own Diabolique(a better one, I daresay -- more spectacular and scream worthy.)

Meanwhile, Hitchcock tried to buy Wages of Fear for an American film but Clouzout beat him to it. (Hmm..Hitchcock could have made it with. Bogart? But he was near death. Lancaster? Douglas? Mitchum? Several of them? We'll never know.

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Unlike QT, I like Wages of Fear better than Sorcerer but both are great, and most of Friedkin’s movies are just fantastic.

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It took time for me to get to like Friedkin. When I went to The French Connection (in 1971) and The Exorcist(in 1973) somehow I was expecting MORE. Friedkin's reliance on semi-documentary realism and somewhere incoherent plotting didn't get to me. Plus -- back then at least, he was a real A-HOLE. He pretty much had grips deliberating break Ellen Burstyn's back for a scene in The Exorcist.

People forget -- all it took was Sorcerer and Crusing for Hollywood to gleefully shut Friedkin down. He still got jobs(To Live and Die in LA) but it was only he married Paramount chief Sherry Lansing that he got hired regularly again(for Paramount projects!)

As for Sorcerer, Steve McQueen told Friedkin he'd do it as long as he could find SOMETHING for wife Ali MacGraw to do ...if not on screen, then behind the scenes -- on the jungle location. Friedkin said no. McQueen walked. Roy Scheider -- not that big, really -- came in.



CONTINUED where I don’t know…
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Nor I...but that's a good thing!

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I'm going to use the QT book to cover a movie I just watched with great enjoyments and fond memories of its special place back in the 70s:

The Yakuza.

Its a very weird movie in many ways. From a script by Paul Schrader(Taxi Driver) and his brother Leonard, touched up by ROBERT TOWNE in the same year(1974) as his Oscar wining Chinatown, and two years after Towne touched up The Godfather with the final scene between Brando and Pacino)...this coulda/shoulda been a real raw, gritty ultraviolent 70's actioner.

But Sydney Pollack did it -- right between The Way We Were and Three Days of the Condor!

Now those two movies famously starred Pollack's best pal and collaborator -- Robert Redford. IMDB trivia says they tried to shoehorn Redford into the American lead in The Yakuza but...he was (at a minimum) too YOUNG for the part of a WWII vet returning to Japan for a 1975 kidnapping rescue caper.

Robert Mitchum got the part. The right man for the job. Mitchum had that great bullfrog-baritone voice, but he was borderline ugly. Still, he could "project" handsomeness and manliness with ease.

The Yakuza has a strong romantic subplot in it, and Mitchum still "had it" in looks and sex appeal in 1974. I see fellow drinker William Holden as too craggy by then(yeah, he was sexual in Network, but less believably), and Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas as too aging and roughhewn. Mitchum was still Joe Cool with a Heart, and The Yakuza is a great role for him.

Mitchum was paired with a great Japanese star named Ken Takakura(as a character called "Tanaka Ken") and the idea was an "East Meets West Buddy Movie" (but with heavy dollops of guilt and the burdens of loyalty.) In the great action climax, Takakura goes to town with his Samarai sword versus a bunch of Yakuza Samarai gangsters -- while Mitchum goes crashing through the paper walls like a bull , with shotgun and handgun at the ready.

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Martin Scorsese wanted to direct The Yakuza, but Warners wanted Pollack -- though he had just done the non-violent love story The Way We Were, he knew his way around action and violence -- Jeremiah Johnson, Castle Keep, The Scalpunters.

Its funny how "The Yakuza" matches up with both The Way We Were in front of it and Three Days of the Condor after it. All three movies are in wide screen Panavision and very "handsome and beautiful." If a little bit TOO polished around the edges. All three of the movies have a decided streak of melancholy in them, underlined by the beautiful romantic scores (Marvin Hamlisch for TWWW, Dave Grusin for Yakuza and Condor) and all three have failed love affairs to pull at the tear ducts in varying degrees, film to film.

But The Yakuza has far more gory bladed fight action - swords cut off hands, swords gut men's intestines(I don't recall any beheadings, though.)

I recall a Film Comment magazine from 1975. The main article was Pollack talking about his new film, Three Days of the Condor(in release). But a later article was about Hitchcock making his NEXT film Family Plot, for 1976 release.

Interesting conflict: Pollack said he ALWAYS worked in Panavision wide screen..."because you have to see where everybody is, you can't cheat with close-ups." Hitchcock said he NEVER worked with Panavision wide screen "because I use so many close-ups." Hmm.. Me I always thought that Panavision made a movie look more lush and expensive -- from Westerns like The Professionals to love stories like The Way We Were.

In that same article, Pollack spoke to his "melancholy" which is certainly there, in image, in music, and in story line, in The Way We Were, The Yakuza, and Condor. There are a weird trilogy(and their "streak" broke with the next one, Bobby Deerfield with Al Pacino.)

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Note in passing: gruff and amiable Brian Keith plays the old war buddy who sends Mitchum to Japan(as a private eye) to rescue Keith's daughter "kidnapped by the Yakuza." We first meet Keith in his California office...next to a big ship ... giving Mitchum his assignment...and my first thought was "Gavin Elster."

SPOILER: I was right. It was rather devastating to see Brian Keith turn total opportunist and out to agree to Mitchum's death AFTER MITCHUM RESCUED HIS DAUGTHER AND SAVED HIS LIFE. There's also a bit of Bob Rusk in how the red-headed Keith is such a cheery, warm guy(he was Uncle Bill in Family Affair, after all) and proves so cold-blooded.

En route to the film's climax, Takakuna Ken pledges to kill the Japanese Yakuza boss...and Mitchum pledges to kill his "old buddy" Brian Keith. Very satisifying.

True to the Schraders, The Yakuza ends with a VERY Japanese, ritualistic, and irrevocably disfiguring fate for BOTH Mitchum and Ken. Its quite stomach turning(especially for Way We Were Pollack) and evidently helped kill the film at the box office.

Meanwhile, QT in his book writes that Mitchum was great and heartfelt in The Yakuza, "but always played an oak tree after that. In Farewell My Lovely, he played an oak tree in a fedora."

Well, O, I just saw Farewell My Lovely and its sequel The Big Sleep('75 and '78 respectively) a coupla weeks ago and...i thought Mitchum was great, and cool, and empathetic...in all of these movies.

The Winds of War? Not so much. It was later, Mitchum suddenly turned into an old man with a pug face and no neck...

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Now that you mention DePalma, it occurs to me that one prominent facet of his films that is 100% absent in Tarantino's work is sex.


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Yeah. Tarantino and (for the most part?) Spielberg are two auteur directors who just never seemed interested in making much of the R rated in matters of sex and nudity -- even loving sex and nudity.

I recall Time magazine calling Dressed to Kill "hothouse Hitchcock" for its nudity. BOTH Angie Dickinson(with a body double) AND DePalma's wife Nancy Allen get shower scenes and nudity is a big part of them. Meanwhile, Allen comes on to shrink Michael Caine at the climax in some extremely revealing lingerie(with the kind of slightly plump, voluptuous and creamy body to wear it just right.)

Before taking note of QT and Spielberg NOT doing nudity and sex, its worth noting that Hitchcock DID, near the end. He snuck two body double nipples into the shower scene in Psycho, and opened the film with Janet Leigh and John Gavin half dressed and -- pretty clearly having had sex just minutes before we meet them. (Oh, it was shot so you didn't HAVE to think that, but...they did.) The various shots of Janet Leigh in bra and half slip(white as a "good girl," black as a "bad girl") I find rather in-erotic today(that bra is awfully big, like a chestpiece), but in 1960 -- evidently hot stuff.

Frenzy featured nudity, but some of it was during a rape so unappealing and Hitch made the odd decision to skip showing Jon Finch and Anna Massey having sex, but rather showing her after the event walking nude to the bathroom(body double.)

That skin aside, the sexuality across Hitchcock's almost four decades of American films was restricted to some of the most sensual kissing scenes ever shot(he SUBSTITUTED heavy kissing FOR sex) and some of the most suggestive man-woman banter the Hays Code ever allowed.

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DePalma went for skin and sex in many movies and elected to go "all out" with Body Double, which was partially set in the porn industry and showed some of it. (I always felt that he had to case non-star Craig Wasson in the lead because no well known actor wanted to be in that part.)

And then you have the "fake" slasher movie "Co-Ed Frenzy" in "Blow Out" to show all manner of college girl nudity and sexual activity, window to window as viewed from the POV of a slasher come to kill.

Hey...this was all fine by me!

So what gives about QT and the lack of sexual content in his films? I have no real idea, but one of my own thoughts on the subject is that, in the era of readily available porn all over the internet, certain movie directors just don't think they can compete with it, and don't wish to deal with the embarrassment of directing actors and especially actresses to undertake scenes which won't out-do porn, anyway.

QT is also a "man's director" most of the time anyone. Its all about the Reservoir Dogs. Its about Travolta nd Sam Jackson, not their women. Bruce Willis goes near nude in his scene with his REALLY WEIRD French girlfriend. Then you got you Inglorious Basterds(guys in the main.) And Brad and Leo leading OATIH (Sharon Tate is off to the side; the only other really GOOD female role is cold bitch Squeaky Fromme.)

I did a quick mental review and I think the one sex scene in all of QT is indeed in Jackie Brown -- Robert DeNiro and Bridget Fonda, quick, perfunctory and SHORT sex, actually filmed in a comic but certainly arousing manner. I love DeNiro's line right after its over: "Well -- that hit the spot." Beauty.

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I do see Palma's intent. In Carrie you have future trophy wife high school cheerleaders frolicking nude without a care in the world, in marked contrast to the hopelessly shy, awkward, and eventually vengeful Carrie.

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Its funny you should mention that. I've had reason to take a couple of meetings over the past year related to a high school reunion and sure enough -- the cheerleaders of long ago are indeed all trophy wives today. Married rich men, doctors...and not too MANY marriages. I find it all rather ...self-fulfilling. They fulfilled their destiny. And one or two of them -- look just like they did in high school! Diet and exercise with a little help, I guess. Good make-up.



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In Dressed to Kill, Angie Dickinson's body double engaging in self love with a bar of soap and losing sight of her man in billows of steam foreshadowed the dangerous path to which her loneliness and obsessive lust would take her.

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Yes. Angie's tale was meant to mimic Janet Leigh's "financial straying" in Psycho (up to an including a brutal sudden death) but Angie's tale was at once more about sex and ...sadder. One saw her quest for a sexual affair as a desire to end the emptiness of her life, even with a beloved son in that life.

BTW, it really aggravated me that DePalma had Angie learn just AFTER sex that her chosen stranger had syphilis or some such(she reads his prescription while he sleeps). Its a mean joke and Angie is devastated(how to avoid telling her husband?) and it comes right BEFORE she is slashed to pieces in the elevator. I would say that revelation was gratituitouis and a big "Hays Code-ish." SEE what happens when you have a sexual affair outside marriage? You get...VD!

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ut Tarantino avoids female sexuality altogether, it seems, even in Kill Bill. Kiddo is more interested in having her own child than sex. Both Bill and the Texan yokel who sired her daughter were means to ends not involving sex or romance.

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Good points.

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The closest QT came to a DePalma moment - not all that close - was with Butch and his French girlfriend in Pulp Fiction.

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At the end of the 90s, I chose LA Confidential (1997) as my favorite film of the 90s. Pulp Fiction ALMOST got that slot except -- I hate that scene with the French girlfriend. Her face looked weirdly unattractive to me and the dialogue QT wrote for her, and his direction OF her -- was insipid. WHY was Willis with THIS chick? I realize its overdone a bit how "schmoopy" he is with her -- that's part of the gag -- but it plays badly for me.

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(note: I haven't seen Jackie Brown)

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And, interestingly enough(on my mental review of QT's work, I may be wrong) that's the one movie where QT films a straight ahead sex scene with two name actors: Robert DeNiro(as a slow-witted ex con only recently released from jail and hence "girl ready") and Bridget Fonda(as Sam Jackson's "white surfer girl" mistress of the moment.)

Its an erotic scene in its frankness, but its also funny and it has that great last bit. DeNiro saying "well, that hit the spot."

(I mentioned this somewhere else on the thread, but it is relevant here.)

What's funny is the aftermath: DeNiro meeting Jackson in a bar and Jackson announcing that he KNEW if he left DeNiro alone with Fonda, she would seek sex with him, and it doesn't bother him in the least. DeNiro then admitting that yeah he had sex with her and by the way -- she asked him to go against Jackson. Jackson gets that, it figures.

You really should see Jackie Brown. Its my favorite of QT's work.

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Jackie Brown is my favorite film of QT’s. I think it is a masterpiece. It was Elmore Leonard’s too. I think. Out of Sight and 52 Pickup were exceptional too. I think you are responding to other guy. It’s hard to follow. But that’s my two cents. You both have a wealth of information about films. It is so refreshing and a delight.

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Jackie Brown is my favorite film of QT’s.

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I think perhaps QT using the "base"(and some of the dialogue?) of an Elmore Leonard book("Rum Punch") gave this movie more realistic and human character development and plot sense than his other works, all of which are great in their own ways.

Two key things(both mentioned by QT) are the film's laid back "hang out nature"(very much like QT's Western face Rio Bravo) and the emphasis on middle-aged characters with lived in lives, none more sympathetic than Robert Forster's quiet, laid back but tough enough bail bondsman, Max Cherry.

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I think it is a masterpiece. It was Elmore Leonard’s too. I think. Out of Sight and 52 Pickup were exceptional too.

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I never quite got into Out of Sight, even though Michael Keaton made a great "crossover appearance" as the same cop from Jackie Brown. Something about Clooney and J. Lo made the film a bit too lightweight (and weightless) for me.)

52 Pick Up -- the 1986 version with Roy Scheider -- starts mean with the world's most evil bad guy(holding Scheider prisoner for a gripping scene and killing Kelly Preston in her young, nude, gorgeous prime) and gives us a satisfying series of table turns as Scheider gets all the bad guys, one by one.

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I think you are responding to other guy.

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Yes, but to "anyone who would like to read."

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It’s hard to follow.

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I'm afraid so, but we can try!

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But that’s my two cents. You both have a wealth of information about films. It is so refreshing and a delight.

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Thank you!

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Jackie Brown - First all, the music. Solid soul. Delfonics’ Didn’t I Blow Your Mind. And then we have Robert Forster from the phenomenal and overlooked Medium Cool. And Pam Grier whose portrayal of the Snake woman prostitute with the razor blade in Fort Apache The Bronx - one of my favorite performances. Samuel L. Jackson’s, “She’s my little surfer girl.” I love Jackie Brown.

Out of Sight. It is interesting that you bring up Michael Keaton in this movie, where I probably wouldn’t bring him up at all. It was not a great character and the least memorable. They auditioned both Sandra Bullock and JLo, and decided on JLo. Great scene with her in the hotel bar with guys hitting on her. But it is Don Cheadle that had the best performance. And here is someone’s favorite in this, Nancy Allen.

As far as 52 Pickup, for me it was Vanity. I loved her and she was perfect dancing at a strip club and living in an apartment on Crenshaw. This movie was raw and cruel and real and violent. Kind of like One False Move.

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Jackie Brown - First all, the music. Solid soul. Delfonics’ Didn’t I Blow Your Mind.

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I realized, watching/listening to Jackie Brown in the 90s, that that Delfonics music had been all over the radio in my 70's youth...it was part of the "soundtrack of my life" without my evening noticing it. The movie themes "Across 110th Street"(from the 70's movie of the same name) and "Street Life"(from Burt Reynolds cop thriller "Sharkey's Machine" of 1981) were exciting and used in an exciting way IN Jackie Brown.

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And then we have Robert Forster from the phenomenal and overlooked Medium Cool.

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I've not seen Robert Forster in Medium Cool, but I've reads of it, and I followed Forster's career "out of the side of my eyes" for decades.

Jackie Brown was meant to give Pam Grier and Robert Forster new careers. It did -- but it also got HIM a well-deserved Oscar nom and(said he) gave him a new career. First stop one year later: playing the psychiatrist in Van Sant's remake of Psycho.

Forster said his agent sent him the script and he said "This is the wrong script. Its for the old 1960 picture. Can you send me the script for THIS movie I'm supposed to do? And they sent him the old script again.

Forster said he timed the speech exactly the same as in the original...but they cut half of it out for the remake.

QT says that he thought of Gene Hackman or Paul Newman for bail bondsman Max Cherry. Robert DeNiro wanted the role but QT decided on giving it to Forster to save him(and giving DeNiro an different, smaller, important part.)

I always noted this about Robert Forster: he played an Arab terrorist plane hijacker in "The Delta Force" and as I watched him play that role(with Chuck Norris nearly beating him to death before blowing him up) I thought: "This actor is too NICE for this role." Something about Forster's face, manner and voice projects sad decency.

QT says he liked Forster in "Alligator" and that was why he cast him in Jackie Brown.
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Indeed, I was just watching a really bad 1978 disaster movie(from Roger Corman and American International!) called Avalanche the other night, and as I watched the fading Rock Hudson and Mia Farrow embarrass themselves in the leads..there was good old reliable Robert Forster looking right at home in the cheesy material.

Forster did his time, but QT save him and he got about three more decades of great roles before passing recently.

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And Pam Grier whose portrayal of the Snake woman prostitute with the razor blade in Fort Apache The Bronx - one of my favorite performances.

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I remember that razor blade gambit. It reminds me of how something similar was used on "St. Elsewhere" when womanizer Mark Harmon picked up a woman who slid a blade out of her mouth during sex and disfigured his face. Yeek!

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Samuel L. Jackson’s, “She’s my little surfer girl.”

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And: "You can't trust Melanie. But you can trust Melanie to BE Melanie."

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I love Jackie Brown.

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It is my favorite of QT's work. Laid back, middle aged, endlessly rewatchable. For Forster overall, and then for DeNiro's sleepy/dopey ex-con who proves both dangerous AND more dopey near the end. But also for Sam and Pam and Keaton's edgy "villain" (a DEA man who won't let a frame-up slide.)

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Out of Sight. It is interesting that you bring up Michael Keaton in this movie, where I probably wouldn’t bring him up at all. It was not a great character and the least memorable.

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Well, it was the gimmick right? Same actor, same part, two different movies from two Elmore Leonard novels at two different studios. I really don't remember much of Out of Sight, but I remember thinking that Keaton had to fight for screen presence and was really pretty much a bad guy to our heroine Jackie Brown.

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They auditioned both Sandra Bullock and JLo, and decided on JLo.

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I did not know that. Back then, you got a sexier package with J Lo...and Clooney was at his most handsome. A good physical match.

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---Great scene with her in the hotel bar with guys hitting on her. But it is Don Cheadle that had the best performance.

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I just don't remember the movie. Only saw it once and it doesn't seem to turn up a lot on cable or streaming that I can tell.

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And here is someone’s favorite in this, Nancy Allen.

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The ex Mrs. DePalma? Working that far into the 90s? Good, I'm always glad to hear of actors working past when I remember them.

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As far as 52 Pickup, for me it was Vanity. I loved her and she was perfect dancing at a strip club and living in an apartment on Crenshaw.

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Here was a movie that knew from gorgeous women -- Kelly Preston and Vanity -- and convinced them to bare all because that's what their roles were ABOUT. I'm OK with it if they are. And Ann-Margret(as the gorgeous, politically connected wife that Roy Scheider cheats on with Preston) still had the looks too.

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This movie was raw and cruel and real and violent. Kind of like One False Move

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These are movies that don't kid around about bad guys. I would say that even as the bad guys in Lethal Weapon and Die Hard are "evil," they are stylized and a bit fantastical.

The criminals in 52 Pick Up and One False Move are REAL...totally amoral, sadistic, perverted. untrustworthy, the worst among us. And only one of the movies ends in a satisfactory manner for the good guys.

In passing: Roy Scheider once noted that he got three big movies that "made him": The French Connection(supporting), Jaws, and All That Jazz(when Richard Dreyfuss dropped out). All 70's movies.

But Scheider rather had to fight to hang on in the 80's. That lean, smashed-in fish face and that rather dry and dull manner couldn't quite power movies that weren't blockbusters already.

Thus, in 52 Pick Up, he's rather "fourth choice for the role." But its a good movie and he projects both the wealth and the engineer smarts of his character -- we know WHY he lands Ann Margret and Kelly Preston.

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Ann-Margaret was absolutely phenomenal. Kelly Preston as Cini in that snuff video was terrifying. John Glover excelled in being creepy and the most insane and scary person. It was so real. You saw the seedy side of LA. Western Ave. which I guess was supposed to be Crenshaw. And then there was Wilmington at the end. The beautiful home I believe was in Hancock Park.

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You should see it. If all you remember is Keaton, you definitely need to see it.

JLo in the hotel bar is phenomenal. One of the best as it shows women who sit at a table not wanting to be bothered but who are repeatedly bothered by guys who are most likely on a business trip betting on who is going to get lucky. Clooney at his best. The scenes in the prison in Lompoc. And the ending was actually very QT. The most forgettable unfortunately was Keaton’s character. Cheadle was the psychopath. Ving Rhames saying to Clooney/Foley, “that’s all you get.” The fantastic Catherine Keener with Luis Guzman. Viola Davis as Mosellle. Isaiah Washington doing a Herschel Walker - “girl, you want to tussle. Me and Tuffie (his dog) used to tussle before she got run over.” Steve Zahn as the dude. Adapted from the novel by Elmore Leonard. Just a really good movie by Soderbergh. And Nancy employed as Midge.

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Bobby Womack - Woman Gotta Have It, Across 110th ST (in the actual move), Lookin for a Love. Randy Crawford’s Street Life (also in Sharkey’s Machine (I love this move too).

Medium Cool was during the Chicago Democratic Convention. It is a relevant and very realistic movie and had a following. And, there was this nude romp with Marianna Hill that was way ahead of its time. I should think QT would like her. He liked Maria Ford and they are kind of similar.

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Ann-Margaret was absolutely phenomenal. Kelly Preston as Cini in that snuff video was terrifying.

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Yes, she was. This laid out the evil of the bad guys (particularly as Glover narrated the film to Scheider with a comedian's glee, SICK) so that we could not WAIT to see them go down.

A sobering thought: both Kelly Preston and Vanity are young and gorgeous in 52 Pick Up. And now they are both passed away, tragically in both cases. So -- can we ogle the beauty when they were young and alive? The movies put us in that position all the time. My answer is: yes, we can ogle them(or shall we say "admire their beauty.") We are taking a time machine to a time when they were young and alive.

Meanwhile: Ann Margret, such a gorgeous knockout in the 60's, here shows off how a woman in her 40s(50s?) could keep it together while still having to compete with the younger gals (in the story itself and as an actress.)

--- John Glover excelled in being creepy and the most insane and scary person. It was so real.

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Yes. Glover never really got this prominent a role again. But he was one bad due. Kind of like Scorpio in Dirty Harry except much more conversational and "around."

How Scheider finally kills him is "fun" but actually I thought he got killed too easy -- too quick.

One of the other villains was Clarence Williams III, a couple of decades after his stardom on "The Mod Squad" and much scarier.

And the third villain is an unknown actor who -- I thought -- was rather a dead ringer for the movie's director, John Frankenheimer. I wonder if that's why Frankenheimer cast him?



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You saw the seedy side of LA.

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That's for sure. Sche