MovieChat Forums > Frenzy (1972) Discussion > Why did Blaney search the drawers?

Why did Blaney search the drawers?


Possible spoilers:

After Rusk brought Blaney to his apartment and left him there, Blaney immediately started going through Rusk's drawers.
He had no motive to do so at that point so why did he do it?

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After Rusk brought Blaney to his apartment and left him there, Blaney immediately started going through Rusk's drawers.
He had no motive to do so at that point so why did he do it?

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As the Monty Python character said: "...a fair question, and one that in recent weeks has been much on my mind."

Its a good question.

Hitchcock plays it for suspense: WE know that Babs' clothes are in one drawer near the bottom and just when Blaney is about to open that drawer...the cops burst in and take him away and...

...since Hitchcock has planted in our mind that (a) the clothes are there and (b) Rusk was given Blaney's bag to carry upstairs...

...we know(and Blaney knows) exactly WHY Babs clothes end up in his bag at the police stations: "Its RUSK!"

Brilliant storytelling and filmmaking except...

...it has to play off there being a good REASON for Blaney to be going through those drawers.

All I can offer is this:

Human nature.

Terrible human nature.

Rusk has "entrusted" Blaney with the private entry into Rusk's own flat. And Blaney -- who knows why? -- just has to betray that privacy. He can't be looking for booze..Rusk told him where THAT was.

Nope, Blaney's just a not-very-nice person...yet another Hitchcock snoop/voyeur(see: Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window and Vertigo), can't keep his nose out of other people's private business.

Would YOU open those drawers? Would I?

Who knows....

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Thank you for your reply.

It didn't seem like just regular curiosity, he started searching through the drawers as soon as Rusk was out the door.

I would definitely not open those drawers. I have been left alone in other people's apartments a couple of times, and while I am curious to see which books they have on their shelves etc. I have NEVER opened drawers and the like.

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Thank you for your reply.

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You're welcome!

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It didn't seem like just regular curiosity, he started searching through the drawers as soon as Rusk was out the door.

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Yes...I think you are on to something here. As I noted above, Hitchcock(and his famous screenwriter Anthony Shaffer) really wanted to use the drawers to set up the roundelay of Babs clothes from drawer to Blaney's bag to police station and how quickly they spell out "RUSK!" as the killer to Blaney.

So perhaps we are talking..."forced plot contrivance" in Blaney moving so quickly to open the drawers.

Maybe another -- weak -- take on the scene: "Instinctively," maybe Blaney doesn't quite TRUST Rusk. Rusk's cheery, hearty manner is a bit suspect. Maybe Blaney feels there is GOOD REASON to investigate Rusk's flat.

I dunno. Its just too hard to get a "really good" explanation. Either Blaney's too snoopy or he subconsciously suspects Rusk...I'm not sure either explanation is "good enough."

I think, probably, you have caught Mr. Hitchcock in a "weak plot set-up" moment!

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I would definitely not open those drawers. I have been left alone in other people's apartments a couple of times, and while I am curious to see which books they have on their shelves etc. I have NEVER opened drawers and the like.

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Nor I. And I, too, have been left alone in people's apartments or homes. We're good people.

Also...I think I'm always scared that if I see the wrong thing, and my host KNOWS I've seen the wrong thing...

Hitchcockian guilt. And maybe a punch in the nose from my host.

PS. A "cinematic thing": Babs clothes in this scene are mainly a bright orange suit-dress. Its the dress she is wearing in her long scene where Rusk walks her to his flat, to kill her. Hitchcock uses that bright clothing to "cement the memory" of that clothing -- as BABS' clothing -- in our minds. We will remember the orange suitdress when we see it in the drawers, and we will remember the orange suitdress when it practically pops out of Blaney's bag at the police station. Contrived it may be, but its visually sweet in the payoff.

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I think you're offering difficult answers to an easy question. He was simply looking for drawer space to unpack the clothes from his bag. Nothing more than that.

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He would not unpack.
He is on the run. And even if Rusk has promised to hide him, Blaney would be ready to get off with just a few seconds warning. So he would keep his bag packed and closed most of the time

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I actually wrote my own answer literally as I was watching the film. He puts his bag right by the chest of drawers and then in the next instant opens the top one, clearly - IMO - innocently looking for clothing space - exactly the same as you might expect when you enter a hotel room. Of course we know it's also a plot device for him to happen upon the murdered woman's clothes in the bottom drawer but which is cut short by the arrival of the police. This then allows us to then find out that Rusk has planted the same clothes in his bag. Thus the implied but interrupted unpacking of his bag is actually quite pivotal to this scene.

(If you watch old movies - and I also noticed this in And Then There Were None screened by the BBC over the last three nights - you'll see that they almost always use drawers in rooms - whereas nowadays we're often happy to live out of a suitcase and rarely unpack unless we're somewhere for an extended stay).

The other, maybe less obvious, flaw to your answer is that Blaney continually protests he is an honourable, innocent man throughout the film - whether it be grudgingly accepting charity or being accused of stealing drinks, money or serial murder - and we're never given any reason to disbelieve him at any point. Plus when he was caught allegedly stealing drinks, Babs backed him up that he always does indeed pay for them and never stole. He even throws back his advanced wages so why would you now assume he is in fact a petty criminal?

IMO, the answer to the OP's question is the most dull and obvious... but ultimately correct one.

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blade101167 is correct. Watch the scene. He grabbed his bag, brought it to the dresser, and started looking for an empty drawer to put his stuff. Many people don't like living out of a bag. Even for one night, and Blaney had no idea how long he'd be there. Hotels have dressers. Why would they, unless people do this?

I, personally, don't unpack, and keep my stuff in my bags, but the scene was clear in its intent.

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I just think it was a moment of lazy writing. Quick and simple way to reveal the truth to Blaney.



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I thought he was searching for clothes to borrow. How long since he last changed into new clothes?

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That was my thought. But looking for space to unpack also sounds good to me.

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