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ecarle (8457)


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A Tough Racially Themed Western from over 50 Years Ago Partial Re-Make of 'Down Three Dark Streets"(1954) What If? The Poster Gives Away The Ending (SPOILERS For The Stepford Wives and Rosemary's Baby) The Wacky Rumor that George "Superman" Reeves Was Signed to Play Arbogast, But Died My Favorite Part of Se7en (SPOILERS) OT: Mid-Year 2020: The Day The Movies Died? "The Killer Is Loose"(1956) , Hitchcock, and Psycho Kelly Preston: An Appreciation The "Very Early Seventies" Ending (SPOILERS) View all posts >


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thank you for reading! Jimmy Stewart had many attributes but looking young for his age was never one of them. -- Nope...younger people today seem to find him ridiculously old looking for his parts. But he appealed to American audiences in the 50's as a Top Ten star always. He was very "American" when that was the way to be in movies. He also had a great VOICE(important for stars of that time, see also: Grant, Cagney, Fonda.) And he purposely repurposed himself(after 1950) in Westerns as a tough, raging type of guy. No less than Clint Eastwood said that he related more to James Stewart as a Western star than to John Wayne. I never realized how much the two films had in common. But if it's okay with you, I'd much rather have a late supper with Scottie than with Norman. LOL -- LOL indeed. Scottie's a much safer bet...and even at the end of Vertigo, when Scottie SEEMS like he's finally ready to commit murder...I don't think he ever had it in him. You know, Tony Perkins was "sold" (before Psycho) as " a young Jimmy Stewart type" and in some sort of weird time warp where James Stewart is 28 years old and the young stingbean of his 30's movies, you could see Hitchcock casting STEWART as Norman Bates(again, against type.) Lucky for Jimmy he was way too old for Norman in '59/60. --- --- I'm sure Stewart had his share of female admirers. He apparently dated a number of beauties before he married at the age of 41. --- That's right. The woman he married was a divorcee with children, but Stewart raised them as his own. Her name was Gloria and she was a very stylish woman with a very sophisticated deep voice; she joined Jimmy on several Jack Benny episodes and proved a wonderfully sophisticated comedy actress with her husband. -- He was a Hollywood rarity. He never had affairs after he married. A guy who is known to be strictly off limits often paradoxically becomes even more attractive to women. -- Yes, the stories are there about the ladies liking him but...he seems to have stayed faithful. Also, Gloria had a habit of showing up on Jimmy's Hollywood soundstage sets -- especially on Rear Window after she heard of Grace Kelly's affair with Ray Milland on "Dial M." --- Tying Vertigo to Psycho: They DO have their intersects. The Psycho house was inspired by the REAL McKittrick Hotel in Vertigo(well, its a real building CALLED the McKittrick Hotel in Vertigo.) And the staircase in the McKittrick Hotel is like a bigger, more polished, more "Technicolor" version of the Bates staircase -- and a private detective in a hat(Stewart here, Balsam with hat in hand in Psycho) is in both movies. And both movies are about voyeurs who spy on women: Scottie. Norman. And both movies are about mentally unbalanced men. Scottie: somewhat. Norman: a LOT. And both movies are about a man who tries to bring a dead woman back to life: Scottie(Madeleine, through Judy.) Norman(Mother, through himself and some sawdust.) And both movies are about obsession. Of their fans. (Vertigo: others. Psycho: me, others, Brian DePalma, Gus Van Sant.) Referring back to Vertigo, it was to Jimmy Stewart's credit that he felt he was miscast in Vertigo and his next film which also co-starred Kim Novak, Bell, Book and Candle. He was a superb actor but he never had a very youthful look even in his youth. He was only fifty in Vertigo but definitely a mature looking fifty. --- Heck, he looked closer to 60. He had a "noble" reason for this: his WWII experiences, with command over many fliers who were killed in battle, took a toll on his mind and his body. Back-to-back romancing Kim Novak in 1958(Vertigo in May; Bell Book and Candle in December), Stewart and his handlers seemed to "get the message." After those movies , Stewart would play loners(Anatomy of a Murder, Flight of the Phoenix) Westerners, and happily married fathers, with one exception: he got a "too young" romance with Caroll Baker in How the West Was Won. Stewart also looks too old for Grace Kelly in Rear Window, but its four years earlier than Vertigo and the match is more 'elegant opposites attract." Interestingly Stewart is well matched with Doris Day in Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much. They are a married couple with a child, so the sexual tension thing is done; and Day looks pretty matronly herself(in that boxy 50's suit.) In Rope, not only is Stewart single...it is kinda/sorta implied that maybe he is...gay. By the way: rumor has it that Stewart may have looked old to us back then, but female co-stars like Grace Kelly and Kim Novak had the hots for him offscreen - -he was happily married and fended them off. Maybe. BACK TO VERTIGO: But I always come away with the same opinion that Jimmy Stewart whom I really like was too old and too miscast in the role of Scotty. It just gave me a weird feeling seeing him pining over not one but what he thought was two women half his age. -- That's right. TWO women half his age. And Judy -- with her bra-less look and tight sweater -- is even more "sexual a catch" than the ice queen Madeleine who, indeed, looks a bit OLDER than her age. --- I have all the Donald Spoto books and he really tries to sell this one. I guess I just don't share his opinion. --- Its weird about Donald Spoto. I think he met and praised Hitchcock while Hitchcock was still alive, but after Hitchcock's death in 1980, Spoto wrote that extremely insulting and accusatory book about Hitchcock in 1983("The Dark Side of Genius.") So Spoto is a "villain" who, nonetheless, helped lead the charge extolling Vertigo because, he wrote in 1977 "I fell in love with the movie the first time I saw it in 1958 and saw it (40? 50?) times since." Donald Spoto and Robin Wood seemed to single-handedly re-programmed Vertigo as the great one. And something has always seemed wrong about that. Indeed, Vertrigo was out of circulation for 10 years, and when it came BACK, I think a lot of young people wrote(and felt, and said) "what's the big deal about this movie?" It was more like he phrased everything so he could later say, "It's not my fault if the audience mistakenly inferred what I meant to imply." ha ha --- Ha. I suppose so...the trailer DOES obscure a few points...and flat out lies about the mother being real and alive. I personally like Hitchcock's summary of what the terror in Psycho is REALLY about: "These people had no idea of the type of people they were being confronted with in this house. Especially the mother..." That's Psycho in a nutshell. Neither Marion nor Arbogast REALLY know just how crazy Norman Bates is, and how much mortal(and bloody) danger they are in. Until its too late. And once WE know(about Monster Mother,not about Norman) the suspense and irony is acute, especially when Lila says to Sam about Mother: "I can handle a sick old woman!" -- I saw the trailer several times before I realized it was Vera Miles in the shower. Hitchcock probably wouldn't have used Janet Leigh even if she had been available. Another sly misdirection on his part! --- Yes, I suppose so. Maybe folks thought Janet Leigh would live til the end and Vera Miles would come along and get killed. But when Janet got in that shower... --- One other thing I really love about the Psycho trailer: Hitchcock and his writer James Allardice probably hatched the idea for this trailer when Hitchcock realized that the ENTIRE MOVIE was about the various "dangers and death traps" at the Bates Motel. The motel. The house. The shower. The staircase. Mother's room. The parlor. Its a great tour and it MISSES such vital locations as the fruit cellar and the swamp. The "topography of Psycho" is classic unto itself. -- Hitchcock 'gives away" that some murders will occur. -- Boy does he. Look at the DETAIL in which he describes the Arbogast murder(without giving name or sex of victim): "She met the victim at the top. In a flash there was the knife(in the movie, the knife DOES flash in the light) and the victim tumbled and fell with a horrible crash. The back broke immediately(a grisly detail we don't "feel" in the movie.) Its difficult to discuss the twisting of the...the twisting of the...oh, I can't discuss it further...let's go upstairs." Here's Hitchcock giving us a "mind picture" of the entire Arbogast murder, start to finish. And later giving us a "mind picture" of the shower scene("The murderer crept in, the water was running, there was no sound") AND a glimpse of the female victim screaming. Look, if I saw THAT trailer in 1960 BEFORE I saw Psycho, you can bet that I would be bracing myself when Marion entered the shower and turned on the water; and when Arbogast entered the foyer and looked up at the stairs. I can't imagine an audience member who did NOT. IF they saw the trailer. And this is why I find it "psycho" when writer after writer after writer(including Roger Ebert in his "Great Movies" essay on Psycho) say "everybody thinks the movie will be about Janet Leigh til the end of the movie-- and then she is killed in that shower.") These people did not see that trailer. And note this: Hitchcock centers his trailer telling the story of NORMAN and his MOTHER. He says nothing about Marion Crane and her story and her theft. He could have. He could have cut all references to the murders and said "And to this motel came a young woman named Marion Crane, who had just stolen 40,000...and her adventures at this motel are most terrifying indeed." Nope. That trailer is about a young man, his mother, a motel, an old house, and two murders. Janet Leigh was the star and up until then, I don't think the star of any movie bit the dust in the first reel. --- What's interesting about that, I suppose, is just how big a star was. The key: not THAT big. Imagine if you paid to see a movie with Tom Cruise(today) and he got killed in the first half. You might just want your money back. You came to see a TOM CRUISE movie. But the star of Psycho was really Alfred Hitchcock. And Janet Leigh was big enough for us to feel the pain when she dies...but not that big. Had Hitchcock cast Marilyn Monroe or Doris Day or Liz Taylor and killed one of THEM off...they might just want their money back. --- And Hitchcock cast Anthony Perkins, so boyishly handsome and totally unlike the Norman in the book. Who would ever suspect what lurked under his sweet yet sad demeanor? --- Funny. We never see one shot of Perkins in the Psycho trailer, but Hitchcock's constant discussion of "this poor young fellow" under his Mother's domination conjures up Perkins in our mind. His name finally appears in credits at the end. Looking at the trailer with the old 20/20 hindsight, I feel as though I understand exactly where the story will go and how it will play out. But realistically if I hadn't seen the movie, I'd have no idea what was going to happen! Hitchcock had that sly look about him through the whole trailer. -- Yes...he rather hams it up, but in a sophisticated way. I like when he points at the painting on the wall in the parlor and says "Now this picture is very important...BECAUSE..." And then he shuts up..."well let's go on to Cabin One." Think of ALL the people who wanted to come see Psycho and find out WHY that picture was so important. I tell you, the way its staged, I almost can't remember why the picture is so important, myself... --- He gave some misdirection cues of course. --- Mainly about Mother: "Now this young fellow, you had to feel sorry about him because he was under thumb of a controlling, manical woman..she was the WEIRDEST...well, come along to her bedroom." I also love how Hitch opens the closet cabinet in Mother's room, looks inside and shudders. Again...audiences would go CRAZY wanting to see Psycho and to see what's in there. (Mother's flowered dresses..which ARE kind of creepy and are also "Norman's uniform for murder.") In Mother's bedroom, Hitch sure gives something away, waving his hand over "the imprint of her figure on the bed." An imprint that could only be made by a dead body that never moves...and this clue is in the movie, too. Hitchcock opens the door to one room never mentioned in the movie(the upstairs bathroom) and says "The bawthroom..." Funny little joke -- that bathroom won't be shown again until Psycho II. View all replies >