Mancini, Hepburn, and Arkin could have used more thrillers in their careers. --- Yes, but I suppose the problem for Hepburn and Arkin was: once you've been in something as monumental as Wait Until Dark...its hard to ever find something as good. Could Arkin for instance ever have found a villain to play as great as Roat again? And he really wouldn't have been a great hero for a thriller. Mancini evidently wanted to do more thrillers. It must have hurt terribly when Hitchcock rejected the Frenzy score, maybe made him scared to seek more of them. --- Hepburn only had the godawful BLOODLINE after this one, also directed by Terence Young who rips off his own work in WAIT UNTIL DARK for the climactic scenes. Heck, he even rips off CHARADE with the twist and turn romance subplot. -- I've not seen this, nor did I know of the Wait Until Dark/Charade lifts but...you see? Its very hard to make something in comparison to the great film(s) you've done before.) Interesting that Hepburn and Young worked together again, though. Well, they sure are different voices...Russell, a bona fide movie star, has a movie star voice. (And its always had a bit of John Wayne in it...and in Death Proof for QT, Russell DID a John Wayne impression, and in The Hateful Eight , the character sounded pretty darn close to Wayne.) So..narrators in QT movies: Kurt Russell: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood QT: The Hateful Eight Samuel L. Jackson: Inglorous Basterds. Anyone else? hat has an opening monologue, spoken by Henry Silva, that sounds a lot like the one in OUATIH. I’m betting QT has seen it before. -- One of the things I find interesting about QT is that while evidently he's "borrowing" all these scenes and dialogues and "bits"(like how a character gets shot through a flower pinned to his chest in Django)... ...whereas there are always experts out there who can find the "originals," for about 98% of the rest of us...we just didn't know this. Its why I can't get angry at QT as a plagiarist. Its not like he's borrowing some famous Hitchcock scene that everybody knows. He's sharing things with us that otherwise we'd never know(like, say, some lines from an episode of The Virginian)...and usually putting a "spin" on them that is his very own. Another expert revealed that a lot of the plot of The Hateful Eight can be found in an old episode of the Nick Adams TV series "The Rebel" -- I trust that QT had to PAY somebody for the use of that TV show. Ha. When will he do HIS QT movie? There's supposedly only one left.... Money. Big shot though he may be, Russell is willing to be his own "collections man" on this road trip. As I recall, he is even given an envelope by the desk clerk at the motel. ..he got off the roof the same as James Stewart got off that rain gutter 10 stories above the street he was hanging from at the beginning of Vertigo. I like to note that one reason Family Plot satisfies is that it is a remake of Psycho. Honest. Just not as bloody. Its the PLOT: Psycho: Investigators following one story(the disappearance of Marion Crane) head into a second more dangerous story(a psycho mother with a knife). The closer they get to solving the mystery, the closer they get to death. Family Plot: Investigators following one story(find missing heir Eddie Shoebridge) head into a second more dangerous second story(a professional kidnapper willing to murder if cornered.) The closer they get to solving the mystery, the closer they get to death. Funny you should mention Spielberg because now that I think about it, FAMILY PLOT could have worked as a Spielberg project too! It has that sense of playfulness and whimsy. --- Yes...the John Williams score almost invokes "Hitchcock copies Spielberg!" --- He could have probably nabbed some stars for it by the late 70s. --- Yes. Unlike as with Frenzy, Hitchcock got some known actors for Family Plot -- Barbara Harris and William Devane stand out -- but, as with Frenzy , Hitchcock DID try to get bigger stars for the four main roles: Bruce Dern's role: Jack Nicholson /Al Pacino. Karen Black's role: Faye Dunaway. William Devane's role: Burt Reynolds/Roy Scheider. Robert Redford was offered a role...he could have played the hero(Dern) or the villain(Devane.) Barbara Harris seemed to be Hitchcock's first pick for Madame Blanche, though the studio pushed for Liza Minnelli and I think Hitchcock considered both Beverly Sills(opera singer) and Goldie Hawn. Its too bad that Family Plot lost that all-star cast but...the foursome we got were good. FAMILY PLOT does look cheap, but it has heart at least. --- Well, the "cheap" wasn't really Hitchcock's fault. Universal kept him on a budget and mainly on the backlot, save some location work in San Francisco and LA (the two cities are "merged" into one fictional place!) And the heart is definitely there. Again, I feel that Hitchcock must have felt that Frenzy was just too bleak and sexually savage a movie to end on...he WILLED himself into making a nice comedy(with just enough danger to qualify as a thriller.) And this: Family Plot was Hitchcock's first rather "family fun" thriller since North by Northwest -- and written by the same man! Ernest Lehman, who in between had written and produced big hits like West Side Story and The Sound of Music and Virginia Woolf. Hitch got him on the "downside" after some flops(Hello, Dolly, Portnoy's Complaint). --- But it's as close to comedy as Hitchcock's career came after THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY-- though even compared to that movie, it's a thousand times lighter. --- Yes, "Harry" rather lingers on the reality of death as a subject. And North by Northwest, though "light" has a lot of killings and real danger. Still, after the bleakness and violence of: The Birds, Marnie, Torn Curtain, Topaz and Frenzy...Family Plot was like a sweet breath of fresh air. Had to be "on purpose" from Hitch. I gotta hand it to David Thomson. He has gotten away in his new book with the ability to re-cycle his stuff on Hitchcock -- and Citizen Kane(Welles gets a chapter, and he didn't direct all those many movies...except the one Thomson says is the greatest) and Rio Bravo.. Psycho and The Godfather...while bringing in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and The Irishman to keep things current. Plus Spike Lee and Kathryn Bigelow. And Ozark(a streaming series he likes better than The Irishman. I don't. It started well but is running down.) He's done it again. Damn him... PS. A book about great film directors and he gives Billy Wilder not one chapter but..one SENTENCE. I don't think Thomson's much of a fan? Thomson is wrong about Pacino's role beyond having Pacino in it , by the way. He only has two scenes -- I wish he had more -- but in Scene One(the long one) he educates Rick Dalton about his crashing Hollywood career and need to go to Italy, and in Scene Two(the short one), he watches Rick on The FBI episode and makes the call that sends Rick TO Italy. A pretty important cameo -- and QT wrote it for Big Al. --- After writing a chapter of QT hatred, Thomson gets more respectful towards Scorsese in his chapter -- and centers it on The Irishman(thus, this book with its Hitchcock/Psycho retread material is "right up to date" for me.) Thomson has this funny line about Scorsese's "deal with the Devil" (Netflix) to get financing for The Irishman: "It opened for three weeks in theaters and then...like a Faust limo'ed to hell..it began to stream on Netflix." Where you can still watch it today -- and I do (seeing as I can't buy a DVD.) Thomson found the first 90 minutes of The Irishman to be a slog...but praises it no end for its second half. I find that whole thing picks up and kicks in when Pacino as Hoffa arrives(90 minutes?) but it is good enough in the first half, anchored by DeNiro with Pesci and Keitel and that guy from Everybody Knows Raymond "waiting for Al." Me, I love The Irishman and I'll "jump in" to watch a few scenes on Netflix every few weeks. In the beginning I thought it had six great scenes...now I think more and...yes...I write about them on the Irishman page. So there. I'll add this here: if The Irishman does nothing else , it gives us a chance to see Joe Pesci come out of retirement to do a GREAT performance in a "new tone": quiet, pensive, thoughtful(but just as dangerous) AND it gives us a chance to see Pacino -- in his first and maybe only Scorsese film -- giving us exactly what we want and love from Pacino. And I'm not sure we will ever see Pesci or Pacino get to deliver like this again. -- Of Reservoir Dogs, Thomson writes: "All you had to do to acclaim (QT) as the best new thing in movies was to overlook the meticulous vileness of Reservoir Dogs and its geometric nihilism." Its been ever thus with QT...and he likes it and we must deal with it. Thomson can't. I'll note that Thomson hated the "ear slicing scene" in Dogs; he almost walked out. It IS bad...but the actual slicing is not shown(the ear is) and what's more important is that early QT dialogue as "Mr. Blonde"(superhip Michael Madsen), left alone with a tied up hostage cop and saying, oh so cool "It doesn't matter if you tell me information, because I don't need to hear any information, I just want to hear you beg for a quick death that you ain't gonna get." Thus is Madsen -- who had been introduced in flashback as a seemingly stand-up guy of a crook...revealed as a psycho. And I guess folks forget the satisfying surprise at the end of the "ear scene." Anyway, Thomson's wrong again about how this all plays...to my mind. Thomson spends a good lot of time on Once Upon a Time in Hollywood...liking the buddy acting of Leo and Brad Pitt very much, struggling with much of the rest of the movie...and hating the kill-the-Mansons climax, of which he writes: "What a lark! What a wow! What a disgrace...and one that we have been accomplices to." Ah....no. I did consider this one complaint Thomson offers as well: "Why do we have the Al Pacino character? He does nothing for the storyline except to provide the pretext for Al in the picture." Hah. Seems to me that's good enough. Its great to HAVE Al Pacino -- doing his late era funny-talking Al Pacino Thing -- IN a QT picture. And a burst of serendipity in 2019: Pacino does his FIRST QT movie and his FIRST Scorsese movie(The Irishman) in the same year. Yay! (He gets more screen time in the Scorsese, but he looks better in the QT with his big fluffy hair , beard and Hollywood power suit.) Thomson's chapter on QT boils down to: He loves Pulp Fiction. He liked Jackie Brown. Everything else -- he hates. Disgusted by it. Really, Mr. T goes overboard here -- QT's taste in blood, outrage and race just seems to invite nothing but rage from Thomson. I like QT -- but I actually agree with Thomson somewhat. Up to a point. Take Kill Bill. Coming 6 years after the middle-aged cool and calm(plus murders) of Jackie Brown, this was a "shock to the system" with the wall to wall slaughter of part 1 (a spectacular bloodfest of a one-on-100 swordfight). The woman-on-woman fights to the death got to be wearing and perverse. The hell HAPPENED to QT in those years since Jackie Brown? Take Inglorious Basterds. I join Thomson(against others who love the scene) in finding the opening interrogation of the French farmer by Christoph Waltz(announcing his glorious overdone acting style to the world) ...not that good. I can't recall Thomson's beef, but mine is: it goes on way too LONG, it deflates before finally picking up at the end. QT was already demonstrating a "loss of pace" that he somehow turned into a calling card. His characters are SUPPOSED to talk too long and get into too much detail, otherwise it isn't a QT film. I like Basterds in "reverse" to the critics. They loved the Waltz scenes and hated the Brad Pitt scenes. I think the movie only entertains IN the Brad Pitt scenes(including the ones with Chris Waltz.) That was enough for me to name Basterds my favorite of 2009...even if I didn't like that opening interrogation. And this: Thomson ultimately here elects to write about Hitchcock: "Forty years after his death, Alfred Hitchcock is still the best known film director there ever was, or perhaps will ever be. A time may come where he stands for Movies in the way Attila the Hun bestrides the Dark Ages or Cleopatra signifies Ancient Egypt." Woah...and here I am figuring Hitch will more likely become a "classic author" in the vein of Charles Dickens or Mark Twain, except in movies. We've debated here if recent generations have ANY idea who Hitchcock was, but there are still a lot of us alive who came up on him, and I expect Psycho, Rear Window, and Vertigo are being taught in high schools and colleges with enough Dickensian regularity to keep Hitch going through the 21st Century. That fame of course, is one reason Hitch has/had as many haters as lovers. Still, he had the movie AND the TV show(gave him millions more fans,made him millions more rich) and the books and the magazine. But the movies alone could have made his name. So many are SO good. And thus, David Thomson must talk about him in this book about "The History of Movie Directors." I suppose that Thomson might also mean that "no film director ever got as famous as Alfred Hitchcock did." Spielberg's TV show failed and he's kind of faded into being a rich studio head as much as a director. Most directors known to film buffs aren't really known to the general public. I'm intrigued that a FEW Marvel/DC directors seem to have fans, but not all of 'em. Yes, I did read about KALEIDOSCOPE! I kind of want to see it only for the WAIT UNTIL DARK connection and the sheer 60s-ness of that title, but who knows if the script there was as good? --- I tried watching the Beatty Kaleidoscope on Turner Classic Movies once...didn't make it through. It was OK, as I recall..I just got bored. Aside from "Splendor in the Grass" and some other well-made non-hits, Warren Beatty actually struggled with poor projects for quite some time before hitting paydirt with "Bonnie and Clyde." -- With the low number of scripts the Carringtons churned out, they must have had other means of employment. That's how it often works with writers and artists in general. Gotta have a day job. -- Must be. Or good investments or family wealth. Honestly, I think a "hidden dark side" to Hollywood is all those writers whose careers seem to consist of one or two hit movies, and that's it. They are more famous than me -- this couple left behind "Wait Until Dark" the movie -- but they must have felt sort of "out in the cold" after the hits ended. I love making connections between movies though. So many of them are intertwined, influencing one another. --- There are various aspects to enjoying the movie life, and one of them is organizing films and making connections. Its just fun, and it helps one organize the mind inother pursuits, too. --- And sometimes finding small references to other movies into a film can be fun: like, I've always wondered if that shot of Arkin silhouetted in the apartment doorway, where you catch the outline of his hat and the glitter of his glases, is a sly reference to Igor Novello's iconic entrance to the apartment building in Hitchcock's THE LODGER. -- Never though of that! Interestingly, the 2013 Hatcher rewrite does redo that scene! Instead, they have Susy insist on going to him without help, which is such a better option: it makes Sam less of an ass and allows Susy to emphasize, "See? I know I'm not powerless!" -- Nice to know that this got fixed SOMEWHERE. --- I'm not fond of many of the changes in the Hatcher rewrite (like making Mike's participation in the plot a twist-- Hatcher omits him from the first scene with Roat laying out the blackmail), --- That doesn't seem very good. We need that first scene to establish Mike and Carlino as a TEAM versus Roat. --- (Another inspired choice in the rewrite is an interesting change in Roat's backstory: Hatcher makes Roat a draft-dodger since the play is now set during WWII. Roat maimed his own foot to get out of serving-- only for it to turn out the army didn't want him anyway since he failed the mental part of the examination! Instead of recognizing Roat through squeaky shoes, Susy recognizes the pace of his maimed foot.) -- Hmm...well, you got for a WWII setting, you have to bring it into the story. Another heresy: I actually enjoy FAMILY PLOT. It has flaws, but it's at least fun, blends contemporary characters with a more classic comic-thriller storyline, and I enjoy how it almost feels like Hitchcock making fun of his much-loved tropes. . --- I think that Frenzy -- start to finish -- always looks like a professional and polished film, but the subject matter is not for all tastes. Family Plot is awash in some bad Universal City backlot and soundstage stuff --it never feels as professional as Frenzy BUT -- the upbeat players, intriguing structure(two stories converge as one; two couples) and sense of fun make up for it. Its pretty clear to me that Hitchcock did not want Frenzy, however well reviewed, as his last film. He wanted to go out "nice."(Yes he tried to launch another film after Family Plot, but HE knew what his health was.) --- That and the John Williams score is actually very good compared to the unmemorable wasteland of Hitchcock's post-Hermann projects -- John Williams' score is almost too good for the movie...and here's Hitchcock using the composer of Jaws and Star Wars in the year between them! In fact, the movie rather sounds like a Spielberg movie. Best would have been Herrmann scoring Torn Curtain through Family Plot...but its too bad we didn't get ONE Mancini(Frenzy) and ONE Williams(Family Plot) at the end, either. My big issue is that I dislike the main character Blaney. He is such an unpleasant lunk. -- The funny thing is...he wasn't that unpleasant and tempermental in the book. Hitchcock and Anthony Shaffer rather converted him into this bum for the movie. And sometimes he really goes bad; in the restaurant with his ex-wife, with the friends who tried to help him but had to stop. So you've got a movie where the "hero" is very unlikeable and the villain is likeable...but not when he is raping and killing. "No one to root for." Keep in mind. Frenzy has a cast of British unknowns because major British actors turned down the leads. Think about it: the leads are (1) a rapist-strangler(Michael Caine turned it down; lookalike/soundalike Barry Foster was cast): (2) a tempermental loser(Richard Burton and Richard Harris both turned it down) and (3) a woman subjected to an extended rape-murder(Glenda Jackson turned it down.) --- When I watched the movie with a friend who had never seen it, during the restaurant scene where Blaney lashes out at his poor ex-wife, he turned to me and said, "Please tell me this is like PSYCHO where the protagonist is killed in the first half and then we switch to someone else. I hate this guy." --- Ha! Yeah. Very weird character. --- Unlike Roger Thornhill or even the more disturbed Scottie, I didn't care if Blaney got arrested and had a hard time investing myself in his fate. --- Frenzy "defaults to the villain." Rusk DOES things -- the big three set pieces don't have Blaney in them; Blaney literally has NOTHING to do but wander around whining with Babs at his side(for awhile.) Star casting is somewhat of an issue here -- Roger and Scottie were played by major stars, THEY got the set-pieces. I suppose Jon Finch as Blaney is meant to be as "lesser" as John Gavin in Psycho or Farley Granger in Strangers on a Train. The villain is the star. Yeah, FRENZY always came off as Hitchcock trying to stay with the current trends. You also get the sense that he was kind of excited that the blend of sexuality and violence of his earlier movies could now be more explicit. -- Frenzy matters in Hitchcock history because this film-maker who started in silent and worked largely during the Hays Code could FINALLY make a movie with an R-rating, and he thus left us this one example of what you get when you do that(a very disturbing movie.) He had the R available from Topaz on, but only really USED it this time. And then -- as if knowing that death and the end was coming to his own life -- he made the rather "nice" and non-violent PG Family Plot as his swan song(not as good a film as Frenzy, but a much nicer "good-bye.") ---- I'll admit that FRENZY improved for me on a second viewing, but only just slightly and really only in regards to my appreciation of its cinematic technique. --- I'll be torn on that movie for the rest of my life as a "movie buff" and Hitchocck fan. All those rave reviews in 1972 may well have been "making up" for the fact that Vertigo and Psycho had gotten disinterested or bad reviews on release. Sometimes I think Frenzy DOES belong on the list of Hitchcock greats and..sometimes I don't. In the Hitchcock chapter, Thomson offers an assessment of Hitch's life that makes sense and doesn't at the same time: "It was not much of a life...but I think Hitchcock wanted nothing more than to make movies..." Not much of a life? Well, Hitchcock didn't go for the big game hunting and womanizing of his more macho contemporaries, but from what I've read, Hitchcock got to travel the world(both to make his movies and between them), eat the best food in the best restaurants, drink the best wine(his house was fully stocked with an expensive wine cellar) and certainly ended life more rich and famous than David Thomson. Thomson notes the long marriage to Alma and opines, "it is possible that Hitch never had sexual relations with another woman." Very possible but then -- back then, yes? -- MANY marriages lasted for 50 years with only the spouse as sexual partner and...though some of these were probably unhappy marriages, I've certainly met some "oldsters" who were pleased to love only "that one" for 50 years. Hitch claimed celibacy for most of those 50 years and I suppose that's true for a lot of long-time marrieds. Given that his chapter on Howard Hawks points up THAT director's continual womanizing(including during marriage, natch), well..one wonders: was Hitchcock really a "good guy" and we should be celebrating for his celibacy? Or was he a chump? So many men in Hollywood -- certainly the single ones but also the marrieds -- took the business as an open invitation to have sex with as many people as possible. That wasn't Hitchcock's deal. -- Funny note: its a good thing that this Thomson book has chapters on Lang and Renoir and Godard and Tarantino(he gets a chapter to himself) because...the Hitchcock material I've read before. But Thomson keeps tweaking it. For YEARS now, Thomson has written that, in Strangers on a Train, when Bruno murders Miriam and he lowers her body in the eyeglasses shot..."it is as if he is presenting the dead woman as a gift to the audience." In this new book that becomes..."as if he is presenting a gift to Guy and the audience...a duck perhaps." A duck?