Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Here’s another fairly famous Hitchcock film, though this one, like Sabotage, is mostly famous for one particular sequence rather than the movie as a whole. Hitchcock himself was a bit dismissive of this one, referring to it as "just another manhunt wrapped up in pseudo-psychoanalysis," but while it’s a definite step down from Shadow of a Doubt, it does have plenty to recommend it.
The film follows Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck as a psychotherapist and her amnesiac patient, who may or may not have been a killer before losing his memory. As she tries to help him regain his memory (through lots of traveling, presumably because her other patients can fend for themselves), the police also begin closing in, due to that pesky murder that needs answering.

Now, the plot of this is honestly nothing special, though it’s interesting how Hitchcock appears to be channeling his inner Tony Scott to make up for it. Just like Tony Scott, when faced with a lackluster script, begins to ridiculously over-direct the film to try to deflect attention away from its flaws (such as with Man on Fire or Domino), here Hitch pulls out all the stops with the camerawork to make this a worthwhile film. He aims the camera down a glass of liquor, down the barrel of a gun, he has blood magically appearing on a coat, etc. In the film’s best sequence, he even brings Salvador Dali in to direct a dream sequence that, while tragically brief, is as incredible as it sounds. It’s two minutes of surrealist brilliance recalling Un Chien Andalou that everyone that has ever seen this film has wished would continue on just a little longer.

This wound up bring Hitchcock’s third Best Director nomination (after Rebecca and Lifeboat), and while I respect his decision to make it a little more visually inventive than he had previously here, I would argue that part of his job as director would have been to make the script a bit stronger and more inventive. Still, whatever its flaws, it remains an interesting film, and if it’s not really one of his best, it’s far from his worst (Easy Virtue), and you could do much worse than hunting this one down.

Rating: ***

No comments: