The Art of the Sell: “Psycho” trailer

These posts celebrate the movie trailers, movie posters, commercials, print ads, and other promotional material that stand as their own works of art.  There’s so much that’s marvelous about the original trailer for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. The virtues begin with the auteur himself, genially leading the viewer through a tour of the film’s sets as if they are real places, all the while alluding to grave horrors that took place within them. And then there’s the pleasant music that accompanies Hitchcock’s ambling, like the soundtrack from Leave it to Beaver was misplaced there. And its six minutes — six minutes! … Continue reading The Art of the Sell: “Psycho” trailer

Top Fifty Films of the 40s — Number Twenty-One

#21 — Shadow of a Doubt (Alfred Hitchcock, 1943) Family is a twisty, tricky thing. For Charlie (Teresa Wright), a cheery teenager in a small California town, the imminent arrival of her uncle, also named Charlie (Joseph Cotten), is cause for rejoicing. The two have an obvious connection through their shared nickname (he’s Charles, she’s Charlotte), but there are hints at other parallels, with director Alfred Hitchcock framing them in similar ways in their respective introductions. The connection is positioned as profound, which of course only serves to make an eventual spiritual betrayal all the more harsh. Shadow of a … Continue reading Top Fifty Films of the 40s — Number Twenty-One

Top Fifty Films of the 40s — Number Twenty-Eight

#28 — Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946) It seems Notorious began with a desire on the part of director Alfred Hitchock to cast Ingrid Bergman as a woman involved in deceits and duplicitous machinations at the highest levels. This inkling would have come to him at right around the time Bergman was collecting accolades and a bright, shiny Academy Award for her work in Gaslight and as he was on the cusp of working with the actress on Spellbound, a film similarly preoccupied with the way madness can infiltrate as person’s psyche, including through the manipulations of others. Whether or not Hitchcock … Continue reading Top Fifty Films of the 40s — Number Twenty-Eight

Top Fifty Films of the 40s — Number Thirty-Two

#32 — Suspicion (Alfred Hitchcock, 1941) Alfred Hitchcock had an abundance of theses he kept circling around to during his career, a natural outcome of his prolific nature and usual ability to take his pick of projects. That’s a significant part of the reason cineastes tend to flip over Vertigo: it’s the one instance in which the master filmmaker took a swing at the piñata of his creative psyche and every laced candy came tumbling out. Part of the fun of examining the best films of Hitchcock’s career, then, is considering precisely where they fit into the puzzle of his … Continue reading Top Fifty Films of the 40s — Number Thirty-Two

Top Fifty Films of the 40s — Number Thirty-Eight

#38 — Rebecca (Alfred Hitchcock, 1940) Rebecca holds a unique place in Oscar lore as the sole Alfred Hitchcock film to nab the Best Picture trophy (or Outstanding Production, as it was still called at the time). The famously unrewarded filmmaker lost out to John Ford (for The Grapes of Wrath) the second of four Best Director awards Ford collected in his career. Of course, naming Rebecca Best Picture without similarly honoring Hitchcock is patently absurd, given the director’s always distinctive stamp characterized by a nearly unparalleled skill at the interlocking of the mechanics of narrative with a striking visual sense (to be … Continue reading Top Fifty Films of the 40s — Number Thirty-Eight

Donahue, Hitchcock, Lang, Scorsese and Tedeschi, West

The Sacrament (Ti West, 2014). Following a couple elegant, artful horror features, West finally goes where all modern directors with a propensity to scare must. The Sacrament is a “found footage” that relies on the conceit of a couple Vice News reporters who tag along when a fashion photographer acquaintance goes looking for his sister, who has become a resident with a cult-like commune that has recently relocated to a remote area in South America. The plot draws heavily on the 1978 Jonestown Massacre, right down to the notorious beverage of choice when it comes time to draw the experiment … Continue reading Donahue, Hitchcock, Lang, Scorsese and Tedeschi, West