MovieChat Forums > Frenzy (1972) Discussion > Frenzy and Deliverance and 1972

Frenzy and Deliverance and 1972




Total movie censorship ended in November of 1968 with the introduction of the “X’ and “R” ratings. Now filmmakers could show nudity, cussing, simulated sex, ultra-violence.

Consequently, the early 70’s were filled with films out to take advantage of the new freedom. And if you wanted to mix together the trifecta of sex, violence, and nudity – rape was the way to go.

Straw Dogs. A Clockwork Orange. Dirty Harry. All famous for scenes of shown or implied rape. In some ways, Hollywood (and England) went too far on this topic in the 70’s. But it was as if since they COULD show it, they had to.

In June of 1972, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Frenzy” --- about a strangler who rapes his female victims first (or at least impotently attempts to) -- was released, mainly to good comeback reviews. However, a feminist wrote a June essay in the New York Times attacking “Frenzy” and its emphasis on rape. She felt that Hitchcock glamorized both rape AND the rapist in “Frenzy” (“He’s the hero,” she sniffed.) Most tellingly, the feminist writer wrote that she wished that she could someday see a movie where a MAN was raped by a woman like the woman was by the man in “Frenzy.” She wanted to see the terror in a man’s eyes as he is overpowered by brute force and forcibly taken.

Less than a month later, in July of 1972, the feminist writer got “half her wish”: “Deliverance.”

“Deliverance” famously told men that they were not immune from the rape nightmare of so many other rape-the-woman movies of 1971 and 1972. A man DOES get raped in “Deliverance,” but not by a woman. Rather, he (and one buddy) are held at gunpoint by perverted inbred hillbillies and the deed is done.

Clearly, the early 70’s was a pretty sick time at the movies. “Frenzy” and “Deliverance” were mainstream films, not horror movies for a teenage audience like “Hostel” today.

At the same time, I think it can be said that “Frenzy” and “Deliverance” each took almost the same and salutary approach to rape: (1) There is only one in the whole movie that is shown. (2) The build-up TO the rape is far more lingering and terrifying than what is shown. (3) The actual rape is not sexy at all. It is an ugly act of violent domination.

Both “Frenzy” and “Deliverance” approach their rape scenes with the same powerful dyamic: making US feel the imminent horror. In both movies, the victims try to reason with their attackers, and the attackers take a long, long time in revealing that they are NOT reasonable men. They are deranged men, and they are human only to a point. At a certain point, the animal takes over, the rapist reveals himself, and the “reasonable” female and male victims, lose their sexual dignity.

“Frenzy” and “Deliverance” were both perhaps wrongfully sold to 1972 audiences. “Frenzy” was sold as a return to the old-fashioned London-based thriller of Hitchcock’s old 30’s career. “Deliverance” was sold as a macho-man shoot-the-rapids adventure thriller. Audiences showed up expecting those kinds of movies…and got those rape scenes to render everything else practically moot. Funny thing: “Frenzy” WAS an old-fashioned British thriller, and “Deliverance” WAS a shoot-the-rapids adventure. But they had those rape scenes to throw everything off. (And Hitchcock’s rapist was practically alone amongst all the 1970’s rapists; he was a brutal killer, too.)

“Deliverance” did better than “Frenzy” at the box office, and was Oscar-nominated for Best Picture, which “Frenzy” was not. “Deliverance” has the staying power as a classic; likely because of both the male rape scene AND its muscular early-seventies realistic action. Still, both "Deliverance" and "Frenzy" are good, disturbing, ADULT films.

What strikes me as most weird about them is that they are virtually identical in the feeling and approach of their rape scenes, and they came out only a month apart. Was Hitchcock aware of “Deliverance”? Was
”Deliverance” director John Boorman aware of “Frenzy” ? Both films were from novels, but “Deliverance” was a 1970 US bestseller and “Frenzy” (under another title) was an obscure 1966 British mystery novel. How, exactly, did two so similar thematic films end up in the marketplace at almost the same time? It’s a mystery.

One more thing: films about women being raped, like “Frenzy,” were never joked about. But the rape of a man in “Deliverance” was soon turned into a joke by the men of all ages who saw it. “You got a purty mouth” and “Squeal like a piggy!” became dirty joke lines for all sorts of men. Rape HAD to become a joke for guys. So “Deliverance” became a joke, too.





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Nice little essay.

"All this machine does is swim and eat and make little sharks and that's all." -- Matt Hooper, JAWS

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Thanks.

If anyone can stomach it, comparing the rape scenes in these two films is rather disturbingly educational. They are practically the same scene. There was a twisted vibe in the movies of 1972.

And: I like your underquote, from a decidedly less sexual shocker of three years later.

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"Most tellingly, the feminist writer wrote that she wished that she could someday see a movie where a MAN was d by a woman like the woman was by the man in “Frenzy.”

To my knowledge, this has still yet to be done. If i'm wrong, please refresh my memory. I guess that since these kinds of themes were represed for so long, it was only natural for them to abound once it was permissable to show them.

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"Most tellingly, the feminist writer wrote that she wished that she could someday see a movie where a MAN was raped by a woman like the woman was by the man in “Frenzy.”


That would be this article... http://tinyurl.com/lu44ao. The writer had obviously forgotten (or never seen) 1970's Myra Breckinridge.

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Sorta, kinda?



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That's the NYT article all right...I expect Hitchcock was pleased to actually generate such fervor.

Truth be told, Vincent Canby's positive review of "Frenzy" didn't exactly help, did it, with him rather "placing" the rape-murder of the film as "meaningless" and in the service of a good old-fashioned thriller.

The female writer DID have a point about the sadistic and sickening central effect of "Frenzy" -- people still debate why Hitchcock showed that rape and murder in so much detail. (I personally think it was as much to show, as he had in "Torn Curtain" the horrible reality of murder after years of stylizing it.)

ANd all these years later, I will say:

I never once considered Bob Rusk(the rapist-killer) the "hero" of the film. He gets all the big set-pieces, yes, and he has "surface charm" like most Hitchocck psychos("Otherwise," said Hitchcock, "they could never get near their victims") but he's no hero, and my one regret is that "Frenzy" ends without Rusk getting his face smashed in by Blaney's tire iron(non-fatally, but painfully.)

I think Hitchcock's intentions in "Frenzy" were far more dark and serious on the subject of man's inhumanity to woman than Vincent Canby could really comprehend. Hitchcock's film is not as lightweight as Canby makes it sound.

In any event, thanks for reprinting the article.

As for Myra Brekinridge, no, I've never seen it.

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In the article, Sullivan is correct, that life does imitate art. The 2 most blatant cases I can think of are "Fuzz" in which rowdies made a habit of setting derelict drunkards on fire and also the made for tv movie "Born Innocent" where Linda Blair was raped by the female inmates of a juvenile facility with a broom handle. In NYC some idiots re-enacted the ignited homeless person. In a girls school, some of the girls attacked one of their own with a broom handle. These acts were obviously lifted right from the films. But these were violent psychos anyway. The teen-aged pyros, being idiots would have found a more mundane way of killing a derelict. The school girls might have used a Coke bottle instead of a broom handle. The point is that film does not make people violent criminals or serial killers or rapists.

As a kid, myself and my friends played "3 Stooges". We would eye poke and boff each other's head to our hearts content. No one ever got hurt. But, on the next block, a kid tried to hit a much younger child over the head with a hammer, fortunately stopped by the kid's father. But even we monsters knew that the "hammer boy" "wasn't right". I could never evolve into a rapist, no matter how many media rape scenes I see. Leaving aside morality, I find the idea of a woman whom I have to FORCE to have sex with me because she doesn't find me attractive, is a sexual turn-off in and of itself! I KNOW "it's not about sex, it's about power". A raspist has to be excited by the struggle. For me it would be a BORE and a CHORE. Sullivan hates the feelings that such movies produce in her. Completely understandable. But censorship is not the answer...unless she exercises SELF-censorship and avoids such films. BTW the shower scene in Psycho was far scarier than anything in "Frenzy" and no rape was even implied.



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Feminist film scholar Tania Modleski points out: if you're going to portray a rape in a movie, *shouldn't* it be sickening?

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Charlie

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thanx for linking this.



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http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0124901/

In Thursday - a little seen and little known film written and directed by Skip Woods, who wrote Swordfish - Thomas Jane is raped by Paulina Porizkova.

www.nrab.blogspot.com

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You have a brilliant mind and express yourself eloquently.

I do not know whether Hitchcock or Boorman were aware of each other's projects, but they are curious bookends in an excellent year for film. Oddly enough, outside of the nudity, rape and fashions, "Frenzy" feels very much like Hitchcock's work in the '40s and '50s. I'm not sure if that's a good thing, but I enjoyed this film very much nonetheless.

As for "Deliverance," men cannot deal with homosexuality in general and male rape in particular, so both subjects elicit some very uncomfortable humor.

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Belatedly, thanks.

There is somewhat of an archaic quality to "Frenzy" outside of its nudity, etc. Some felt that Hitchcock was stuck in his memories. I say: so what? The resultant movie mixed nostalgia with up-to-the-minute sexual shocks(not to mention a rather trenchant study of men dealing with women circa feminist 1972. Rusk kills them, but the rest of the guys just sort of have to put up with the changes. Brenda is more successful than Richard; Mrs.Oxford is smarter than Inspector Oxford, etc.)

I think you're right on homosexuality and defensive humor.

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Another excellent point. "Frenzy" does have a bit of a "time warpy" feel, but it works as both a thriller and a time-capsule look at the sexual revolution and its backlash. Hitchcock was still very much at the top of his game here. Unfortunately, I'd say this is his last excellent film.

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[deleted]

I guess the only way for men to deal with rape is to make jokes about it, but if denial is the alternative, so be it.

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I'm afraid the "Frenzy" board brings out these kind of comments even when "Deliverance" isn't part of the discussion. Overtly sexual films can do that.

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This is true. I guess some topics just can't contain themselves to one board. I'm seeing Jack Nicholson references all over the place these days, particularly when someone dies.

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>>Oddly enough, outside of the nudity, rape and fashions, "Frenzy" feels very much like Hitchcock's work in the '40s and '50s. I'm not sure if that's a good thing

It was curiously dated, more circa 1966 and the opening scene where the public rush to view the body, further back than that. And as for the police, oh, dear.

Hitchcock had been accused of being out of touch before with the substandard Matte work in "Marney." The mention of those other films just puts it into sharper contrast.

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It does have a rather "mod" feel that was dated by the early '70s, doesn't it? I guess we were witnessing the decline of a talent rooted in past glories. "Family Plot" also feels out of sync with the era in which it was released (1976), perhaps even more so than "Frenzy."

I like both films, but they were far from Hitchcock's crowning achievements in a career that set the tone for thrillers for decades. By the '70s, Hitchcock seemed to be following the lead of his previous films rather than forging new territory.

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I find Frenzy and even Family Plot a lot more lively and fun than the 3 pictures that preceded them (yeah, Marnie included) - not at all desperate to keep up with the times. Frenzy in particular feels like a breath of fresh air right from the opening shot of Thames; I think it´s among his very best. And somehow I have a feeling his stuff would have been more macabre to begin with had it been permitted. Not "fleshy" in Cronenbergian proportions exactly, but less restrained.

Family Plot´s indeed a pretty old fashioned thing, but flows much better than the tired, clumsy Torn Curtain & Topaz.



"facts are stupid things" - Ronald Reagan

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>> By the '70s, Hitchcock seemed to be following the lead of his previous films rather than forging new territory.

(warning - multi-film spoilers)
But still there's a clear line from Rusk in "Frenzy" to Tom Berenger's character in "Looking For Mr. Goodbar" to Bob in "Twin Peaks".

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bump

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How, exactly, did two so similar thematic films end up in the marketplace at almost the same time? It’s a mystery.
Sometimes there seem to be unconscious movements within society - possibly images from what Jung called the collective unconscious - that generate a rash of something, such as films depicting rape in the early 70's. Both rape scenes sickened me because of the humiliation of the victims and pathetic perversion of the perpetrators in both. I suspect that the humour around a man being rape expresses deep discomfort. Male rape is still largely taboo and, as happens to female victims, a male rape victim's masculinity is called into question as a result of being raped. I think it not inconsequential that it was Ned Beatty rather than Jon Voigt or Burt Reynolds raped.

Btw you've written a number of times about the film being 'adult' - what do you mean by this?
I'm a fountain of blood
In the shape of a girl

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Btw you've written a number of times about the film being 'adult' - what do you mean by this?

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I'm think I'm looking at three aspects of the film that suggest it being "adult" to me -- and I'll save the sexual material for last (since, alas, Frenzy draws posts that can get rather pervy on these matters.)

Adult as a "horror film": "Frenzy," unlike "Psycho," doesn't have the elements of a haunted house or a Monster mother or other things that give that particular film a certain(welcome) "childish" aspect, even though "Psycho" is pretty adult, too. And "Frenzy" makes "Friday the 13th" or "Nightmare on Elm Street" look like the teen films that they are. "Frenzy" plays at times like very stylish drama with a dash of comedy...except for the rape-murder scene, the potato truck scene, and "Farewell to Babs" on the staircase.

Adult in the characters. Nary a teenager in sight. "Frenzy" takes up the adult matters of a divorced couple(notice the push-pull warmth and anger of Richard and Brenda Blaney), of a stagnate but polite married couple(The Oxfords, in which Mrs. Oxford frankly tells Mr. Oxford that he has lost sexual interest in her and he says "That may be, but at least I don't knock you about or make you do degrading things.") I also think that there is a very adult emphasis on Richard Blaney's long slide down from RAF hero to, pretty much, homeless man. The economic dimension of "Frenzy" is very adult...and relevant today.

Adult in the sexuality. How could Hitchcock top the horrors of "Psycho"? Well, in 1972, with the "R" rated additive of sex and nudity. Of which there is some in "Frenzy." The addition of rape to a Hitchcock movie(and pretty well shown, not suggested as in the "Marnie" symbolic marital rape scene) made it "adult" from the get-go. But there's more, and Hitchcock explored it more directly in his interviews than showed it in the film. Bob Rusk's sexual mania is based on the fact that he CAN'T really rape his victims. He's impotent, he fails at sexual congress, he gets enraged, he strangles his victim...and THEN he reaches sexual satisfaction. Inspector Oxford discusses this with his assistant; and you can actually "read" the killing of Brenda Blaney as happening in that sequence, if you look at Rusk's face during the attck. Which is no fun. (Barry Foster, so suave and funny in his "normal guy" scenes, went beyond the call of duty in creepiness in this one. A truly great and unique performance.)

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I just recently came across an article about an interview -- the interview is on paper that can only be read at the Motion Picture Academy library in Beverly Hills -- by a woman journalist of Hitchcock's (now late) assistant, Peggy Robertson. The journalist professes disgust at the Frenzy rape-murder, evidently, and Robertson says that Hitchcock himself was upset in filming it -- very anxious when he came on set the morning he first filmed it(it took three days.) But, Hitchcock told Robertson, he simply felt that "Frenzy" needed this scene badly to make the statement he wanted to make.

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Thanks for the reply.

"Frenzy" makes "Friday the 13th" or "Nightmare on Elm Street" look like the teen films that they are
Good point. The humour in the film seems to serve as relief for the dark deeds of the perpetrator that are treated with a serious respect, unlike a good many horror film baddies. That's why the scene in the potato truck is so funny because it's so horrific that the body Barbara who we've met is treated like a bag of potatoes.

Hmm I wonder what Hitch was up to re-the married couples. There was the third couple, the ones who accommodate Blaney for a couple of nights.
I just recently came across an article about an interview -- the interview is on paper that can only be read at the Motion Picture Academy library in Beverly Hills -- by a woman journalist of Hitchcock's (now late) assistant, Peggy Robertson. The journalist professes disgust at the Frenzy rape-murder, evidently, and Robertson says that Hitchcock himself was upset in filming it -- very anxious when he came on set the morning he first filmed it(it took three days.) But, Hitchcock told Robertson, he simply felt that "Frenzy" needed this scene badly to make the statement he wanted to make.
Thanks for the info. If you don't mind me asking, are you a Hitchcock researcher as opposed to just as an avid enthusiast? I wonder if the emergence of films featuring rape isn't also a counterpoint to the sexual mores and antics of the time. Might that be some of the statement Hitchcock was seeking to make?
I'm a fountain of blood
In the shape of a girl

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Thanks for the info. If you don't mind me asking, are you a Hitchcock researcher as opposed to just as an avid enthusiast?

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I don't mind you asking. I am not a Hitchcock researcher. Never been paid. I did research him and some of his films for graded papers in high school(yep, high school) and college. Won some minor awards for my stuff on him. That's probably why he "stuck" as an interest through the rest of my life, rather a hobby. As idols go, he's kind of neat: movies, TV, icon, colleague of many great stars...and Hitchcock can teach us all a great deal about business negotiation. (He was rich for a reason.)

I do recall that when I was in college studying for the usual hard classes, I would "reward myself" at the library with a half hour or so of reading about movies in general, and about Hitchocck in particular. Back then lots of books and magazines and newspapers were right there in the stalls, or on microfiche, and you could pretty quickly find lots of things by grabbing the materials from years of interest to you.

My "informal research" revealed that when "Psycho" came out in 1960, there wasn't all that much coverage. Though I did manage to stumble on a Tony Perkins interview where he guessed that he would be Oscar-nominated for Norman Bates(he wasn't -- NEVER say that!) Perkins was basking in the success of "Psycho" in 1960, telling the interviewer that he was about to quit as a movie star(too many flops) and focus on the stage...til Psycho changed everything. Also, I found single, rather miniscule Oscar ads in Variety for Perkins(as Norman in the cell) and Janet Leigh seeking nominations.

When Hitchcock and Leigh got their Oscar nominations, there was an ad in Variety with the two of them shaking hands over a huge "PSYCHO" word poster(Leigh was on a platform over it, reaching down to Hitchcock below.). Leigh wore her Marion Crane suitdress -- but with a much different, big hairstyle. Jarring.

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By the seventies, "movie media" was picking up the pace. "Frenzy" got a lot of publicity while it filmed in the summer of 1971(though only with shots of Hitchocck, holding his fake head and stuff like that, and not of his unknown cast) and then one year later in the summer of 1972, "Frenzy" got surprising raves and Hitchcock got tons of interviews in print and on TV.

In 1975, "Family Plot" had lots of journalists assigned to watch certain scenes being filmed at Universal Studios and nearby in LA. By the time "Family Plot" came out, I'd seen photos of practically all the actors in costume and I'd seen photos from about half of the scenes in the movie. And many interviews centered on Hitchcock as a "living legend," with the not-so-subtle hint that these were last chances to talk to him before he died.

So, ironically, there was a lot more research material avaiable on "Frenzy" and "Family Plot" than on "North by Northwest" and "Psycho."

And yet: I read of this Peggy Robertson interview where she talks about "Frenzy", in the archives of the Motion Picture Academy, only a few days ago. It seems with Hitchcock, he may be dead 30+ years, but there is always something new being found out about him.

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Hmm I wonder what Hitch was up to re-the married couples. There was the third couple, the ones who accommodate Blaney for a couple of nights.

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The Porters. They were interesting, weren't they? The wife (Billie Whitelaw, one of the better known players in the cast) was clearly a sexy beauty at one time, but hardened by some age. The husband looked (and sounded) goofy. Physically and facially, they are a very bad match.

This happens in marriage sometimes. The goofy guy probably had some money(he owned pubs in London and Paris). The pretty wife may have been a barmaid or waitress who "married for money." And the aging beauty now rather dominates and hates her goofy hubby.

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And one small OTHER example:

When Blaney first comes upstairs to the Blaney Marriage Bureau, he watches a "newly matched couple" heading down the stairs. They are middle-aged. Neither are beauties. The man is a tiny little milquetoast who can't get a word in edgewise as his big wife dominates him all the way down the stairs. She's a widow and she wants her quiet new husband to do everything for her the way her husband did. Cooking and cleaning mainly, but then the surprise: she wants to take her new mate home to bed("Let's go to my place")!

Maybe Hitchcock wasn't THAT feminist. These vignettes are kind of like comic strips about "the battleax wife and the henpecked husband." But the "Frenzy" couples are more adroitly drawn..and I think screenwriter Anthony Shaffer had a lot to do with creating them...these couples aren't that way in the book!

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A thematic issue with "Frenzy" and the Blaney Marriage Bureau. That bureau promotes marriage -- which is a theme of "Frenzy." But it also promotes SEX (the woman saying to the milquetoast man "Let's go to may place!") When Rusk comes into Brenda's office, we learn that, as "Mr. Robinson," he had been trying to use the bureau to get sexual partners for some pretty nasty stuff. Brenda Blaney realizes that her "Marriage Bureau" while ostensibly meant to match up lonely people in matrimony, can be viewed as a "sexual service." We can see that Brenda has had to throw out a few "Mr. Robinsons" who used her service for the wrong purpose.

Which makes what Rusk does to her ironic as well as horrific.

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Thanks for your replies. One of the pleasures of IMDb is getting the opportunity to chat to and read ardent enthusiasts of certain films/directors. It's really interesting reading your thoughts on Frenzy as well as the potted biog you've written of your hobby. Pity you can't write something for publication, especially the ideas about Frenzy and rape-themed films in the early 70's/1972.

The media interest that you note of Frenzy and Family Plot versus Psycho and North By Northwest now seems inversely proportionate to the popularity and knowledge of the films with the latter two enjoying more recognition as Hitch films than the others.

Hitchcock is quite a fascinating man. I haven't read much about him myself but his legend suggests strange obsessions with female actors and what you've noted of the married couples in this films seems to further his legend, though Hitch seems to be having a bit of a laugh at the expense of everyone (characters, audience, himself) all round.

A thematic issue with "Frenzy" and the Blaney Marriage Bureau. That bureau promotes marriage -- which is a theme of "Frenzy." But it also promotes SEX (the woman saying to the milquetoast man "Let's go to may place!") When Rusk comes into Brenda's office, we learn that, as "Mr. Robinson," he had been trying to use the bureau to get sexual partners for some pretty nasty stuff. Brenda Blaney realizes that her "Marriage Bureau" while ostensibly meant to match up lonely people in matrimony, can be viewed as a "sexual service." We can see that Brenda has had to throw out a few "Mr. Robinsons" who used her service for the wrong purpose.

Which makes what Rusk does to her ironic as well as horrific.
This reminds me, for some reason, that Richard Blaney had sex with Barbara before Rusk raped/killed her. Re-the marriage bureau: Brenada and her assistant (forget the character's name) are quite opposites in how they regard the bureau and those who use it. Brenda seems warm and encouraging in the quest for love and marriage whilst her sour assistant, Monica, who seems to dislike men, much more cynical and judgemental about the clientele. Brenda is blonde (Hitch's penchant) and Monica a brunette. Wonder what digs Hitch was making here about women and I wonder too if the assistant was a lesbian?
I'm a fountain of blood
In the shape of a girl

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Thanks for your replies. One of the pleasures of IMDb is getting the opportunity to chat to and read ardent enthusiasts of certain films/directors. It's really interesting reading your thoughts on Frenzy as well as the potted biog you've written of your hobby.

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Thanks. Yep, Hitchcock's my man. "Brand name" he may be. The thing of it is, I think, that I'm too mainstream in my tastes to have fully investigated all directors for comparative purposes.

I'll offer a real simple thought that occurred to me recently. In the 60's, there were lots of movies on network TV -- The ABC Sunday Night Movie, The CBS Friday Night Movie, NBC Saturday Night at the Movies. About 8 out of ten times, I watched the credits on those movies(liked the music), then a scene or two, then turned the movies off. I never watched most movies.

But anytime a Hitchcock movie came on, I watched to the end. The credit sequences drew me in...and I got pulled in the rest of the way.

That, simply put, fuels my love of Hitchcock. I turned all the other movies off. Found THOSE movies later, in college and after.

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Pity you can't write something for publication, especially the ideas about Frenzy and rape-themed films in the early 70's/1972.

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Thanks, maybe someday. Truth be told, I think Frenzy(and moreso Deliverance) and those other rape-themed films are as important to recall as ghastly to describe. It was as if Hollywood creative people nastily unleashed their worst sexual fantasies on people in the early 70's. There were other, bad mainstream rape films in that era. "The Klansman" with notables Lee Marvin and Richard Burton, just came to mind.

But: an interesting article that might be, but I'm not sure it would get a lot of readers.

My beef: I think the movies should have lots more scenes of loving, consensual sex with no consequences. Good luck with that.



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The media interest that you note of Frenzy and Family Plot versus Psycho and North By Northwest now seems inversely proportionate to the popularity and knowledge of the films with the latter two enjoying more recognition as Hitch films than the others.

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Well, the media folks who turned up late to salute Hitchcock had to work with what they had : Frenzy and Family Plot. But soon there was reason to write many more articles about Hitchocck's far more major early films. And when Rear Window, Vertigo and three other Hitchcock re-releases "came back" in the 1980's the "renewed interest in Hitchcock's old greats" REALLY kicked in.

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Hitchcock is quite a fascinating man. I haven't read much about him myself but his legend suggests strange obsessions with female actors and what you've noted of the married couples in this films seems to further his legend, though Hitch seems to be having a bit of a laugh at the expense of everyone (characters, audience, himself) all round.

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Hitchocck loved his wife Alma dearly, to the end of his life(she died two years later.) And yet he would snipe about marriage in late interviews. Promoting Frenzy, he opined that food replaces sex in long-term marriages(hence, the Oxford dinners, plus Hitchcock's decades-long celibacy and weight issues) and that many Hollywood producers and directors followed their wives' nagging orders. (Including Hitchcock?)

Hitchcock may well have obsessed over his actresses, but many other directors had AFFAIRS with theirs. It was an epidemic. (Many movie business men said that got into the business to get women.) Directors like Howard Hawks, John Huston and Joe Mankeiewicz practically saw their director's work as REQUIRING affairs. Hitchcock rather kept his desires under wraps until he got too old and Tippi Hedren came into his life.


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This reminds me, for some reason, that Richard Blaney had sex with Barbara before Rusk raped/killed her.

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Fraid so. They "shared Babs" so to speak,within a 24 hour period...which might be part of Rusk's motive in raping her. They "shared" Brenda, too, but years apart.

"Frenzy" posits an odd story. We don't have all the information, but it seems that at film's beginning,The Necktie Strangler is killing random victims all over London. And yet he shifts his attentions to the ex- and current of his "best friend," Richard Blaney. Why?

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Re-the marriage bureau: Brenada and her assistant (forget the character's name) are quite opposites in how they regard the bureau and those who use it. Brenda seems warm and encouraging in the quest for love and marriage whilst her sour assistant, Monica, who seems to dislike men, much more cynical and judgemental about the clientele. Brenda is blonde (Hitch's penchant) and Monica a brunette. Wonder what digs Hitch was making here about women

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Very good points, the contrast between the women is interesting. With Monica stiffly manning the front office and Brenda warmly staffing the private office, here, too, we see "women running things" and perhaps judging the men who come through their doors. Rusk/Robinson was a reject.

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and I wonder too if the assistant was a lesbian?


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Oh, maybe. Not really enough to go with there. Actor Barry Foster(Rusk) said that Hitchcock took a beautiful actress(Jean Marsh) and dowdied her up as Monica.

Hitchcock got some (IMHO) nutty interview questions about the "romance" in "Frenzy": two that I remember:

1. (Factually wrong?)That Mrs. Porter wanted Richard Blaney sexually and communicated that with her eyes. Yeah, she's got the goofy husband, but it looked to me like Mrs. Porter HATED Blaney.

2 (Fancifully wrong?) Another interviewer said that he felt Bob Rusk and Moncia Barling would be a fine CONSENUAL sexual Match. Something about their personalities, I guess. I can't see Bob Rusk in a consensual anything.

Now, in the book from which Frenzy was taken, Rusk's final victim in his flat IS Monica Barlling.

But Hitchcock obviously felt that would be "one coincidence too many."

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They "shared Babs" so to speak,within a 24 hour period...which might be part of Rusk's motive in raping her. They "shared" Brenda, too, but years apart.
This is some of the uncomfortable but also perverse pleasure to be found in this film.
"Frenzy" posits an odd story. We don't have all the information, but it seems that at film's beginning,The Necktie Strangler is killing random victims all over London. And yet he shifts his attentions to the ex- and current of his "best friend," Richard Blaney. Why?
I would imagine he hates Blaney who is successful in all the ways he, Rusk, isn't. What better way to sh/t on someone than to rape and kill those they love whilst framing them for the rapes and murders. This is partly why this film so reminds me of Patricia Highsmith. We know that Rusk and Blaney are old friends/acquaintances but no more than that about their relationship.
With Monica stiffly manning the front office and Brenda warmly staffing the private office, here, too, we see "women running things" and perhaps judging the men who come through their doors.
I like that contrast between their respective coldness and warmth and the public/private faces.
Actor Barry Foster(Rusk) said that Hitchcock took a beautiful actress(Jean Marsh) and dowdied her up as Monica.
I bet he enjoyed doing that!
That Mrs. Porter wanted Richard Blaney sexually and communicated that with her eyes. Yeah, she's got the goofy husband, but it looked to me like Mrs. Porter HATED Blaney.
I agree that it looked like she hated him, but to hate someone suggests a strength of feeling that might possibly at one time have been attraction -? I mean this is all speculative as it's not part of the film, but I guess her degree of hatred and hostility towards him begs the question of why and what happened between them in the past.
Another interviewer said that he felt Bob Rusk and Moncia Barling would be a fine CONSENUAL sexual Match. Something about their personalities, I guess. I can't see Bob Rusk in a consensual anything.
The idea of the pair of them is funny. It evokes some strange and purient thoughts about the type of sexual life they would have had.
Now, in the book from which Frenzy was taken, Rusk's final victim in his flat IS Monica Barlling.

But Hitchcock obviously felt that would be "one coincidence too many."
I think Hitchcock was wise to stop where he did. I presume you've read the book.

I really think Barry Foster should have won awards of some sort for his role. He was an incredibly convincing psychopath and so ordinary with it.
I'm a fountain of blood
In the shape of a girl

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I think Hitchcock was wise to stop where he did. I presume you've read the book.

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Hitchcock was indeed wise to stop before Monica. Keeping in Babs' death(from the book) was stunning enough(he kills off the woman we THINK is going to be the heroine to the end of the movie.)

Yes, I have read the book, it is called "Goodbye Picadilly, Farewell Leiceister Square."

The movie follows the book closely, but makes key changes along the way:

Richard Blaney is "Richard Blamey," 50-ish and with a limp(think Richard Burton.)

Rusk is not revealed as the killer until after he exits the potato truck(this being a book, we never "see him" and author Arthur LaBern doesn't name him beyond "the man" until just after the potato truck sequence)

Rusk isn't "the necktie killer." He strangles Brenda and Babs with his bare hands, Monica with a stocking. (Hitchcock "stylized" his killer.)

The book has a long, chapters-long trial of Richard (boring.)

The Porters HELP Richard, testifying in his behalf at trial.

The book ends almost like the movie, but stops with Richard bludgeoning the figure in bed and finding it to be Monica. A most unsatisfying ending -- Hitchcock and Anthony Shaffer took it about two minutes longer and brought Oxford and Rusk in .

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I really think Barry Foster should have won awards of some sort for his role. He was an incredibly convincing psychopath and so ordinary with it.


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Barry Foster...a near-lookalike, soundalike substitute for Michael Caine, who turned down the role...is incredible in this film. So cheery and funny as the "normal" Rusk. So sexually creepy and terrifying in his "murder mode."

I think he merited at least a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nom in '72.

And think about it, Foster as Bob Rusk was really the best villain since Norman Bates in Psycho:

The Birds...were just birds.
Marnie...had no villain.
Torn Curtain had Gromek(kinda) but then he dies and everybody else is East German bureaucrats.
Topaz switches villains...from Rico Parra to the two French guys, and none of them are very flashy as villains (hell, Parra works for Castro -- a hero to some in 1969.)

And then:

Hitchcock finds himself his strongest villain in years: funny, dapper, batsh--t crazy Bob Rusk.

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Interesting observation.

I can tell you that back in 1972 when I was 15, both those movies were discussed frequently with my high school pals.

Honestly, we laughed at both, especially the one in "Deliverance" - probably because the majority of us were gay (but not out of the closet yet).

The rape in "Frenzy" came off somewhat comical because of the female victim's recitation of a biblical verse - while the psycho raping her kept repeating "Lovely....lovely...LOVELY!!!"

One of my gayer friends was the one who saw "Deliverance" first - and he described the rape scene in detail while the rest of us listened intently.

THEN we all made sure we went to the movies and saw it.

AFTER THAT, we would repeat to each other "Squeal like a pig! WEE-EEEEE!!!"

WORSE - we would rub and slap our hands together as if we were slapping a guy's ass (we even did it while we were riding the monorail at Disneyland on "Teens Night" - and some black girls near us were getting grossed out). However, many of the str8 boys got off on it too!

"Don't call me 'honey', mac."
"Don't call me 'mac'... HONEY!"

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excellent discussion.
ecarle.. you are the best poster on IMDB.


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Thank you so much for that. Not sure what to say..just thank you.

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no need...
when you are in a thread...
it is always positive...
and full of interesting information...
it doesn't get any better than that.

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[deleted]

Thank you very much for reading them.

Frenzy was a comeback hit for Hitchcock...but on his own terms. Very rough terms, and I think, very profound terms about the reality of sex crimes and the terrors(for Blaney) of homelessness and his life falling apart as a prison cell awaits him for life. Of course, the sex crimes are the much worse scenario.

In 1972, Richard Schickel wrote that "Hitchcock's world has become our world." In terms of the madness, the violence...and a society learning to just "live with it."(And even joke about it.)

In 2016, that's more relevant than ever.

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