"Marital Love Conquers All"
What You Need To Know:
HITCHCOCK sounds like it could be a really serious movie, and it is. However, the filmmakers and actors give it a light touch, with plenty of witty banter between Hitchcock and his wife. There are also many instances of Hitchcock’s trademark wit and macabre humor. In the end, it’s the love between Hitchcock and Alma that saves them, the movie, and their marriage. Even so, HITCHCOCK still warrants extreme caution due to the darker themes shown in PSYCHO and Hitchcock’s personality.
(PaPa, B, Ho, PC, LL, VV, S, N, A, D, M) Strong mixed pagan worldview about artistic and commercial fame and fortune but with a solid moral premise where marital love solves the plot problem, with comments about the dark side of human nature, which is clearly shown in the dark vices and foibles of the title character, a reference to being homosexual and references to cross dressing, and a movie censor is mocked, a sign of some political correctness; four mostly light obscenities (with the harshest one being a double entendre), two strong profanities, and five light profanities; brief strong violence includes man hits brother on back of head with shovel, man drags murdered woman’s corpse into bathtub, another man looks at woman’s corpse in tub and sees what looks like bloody knife wounds, image of a corpse in a bed, fake corpse from movie shown twice, woman screams and hits light bulb with her hand, man angrily shows stuntman how to do famous shower scene stabbing in PSYCHO; light references to voyeurism, incest, being homosexual, cross dressing, potential adultery, and married film director’s obsession with the beautiful blonde actresses starring in his movies; upper male nudity in one scene; alcohol use; male lead smokes cigars; and, obsession, uncontrollable rage, manipulation.
HITCHCOCK is a serio-comic, behind-the-scenes take on the making of PSYCHO, the famous movie by acclaimed film director Alfred Hitchcock (REAR WINDOW, VERTIGO, NORTH BY NORTHWEST). The movie looks at the dark side of Hitchcock’s character, and how it affects his marriage with his longtime collaborator and wife, Alma. In the end, their love conquers all.
The movie opens in 1944 with notorious Wisconsin murderer Ed Gein killing his brother, Henry, with a shovel. Enter Anthony Hopkins, made up to look like Hitchcock, commenting on the event in Hitchcock’s typical macabre, but witty way.
Cut to July 8, 1959. Hitchcock has just achieved one of his greatest successes with NORTH BY NORTHWEST. A snarky reporter (is there any other kind?) asks Hitchcock if he shouldn’t just retire while he’s ahead.
Hitchcock, or “Hitch” as he liked to be called, takes the question as a challenge. For his next picture, he wants to make something really different, and even challenging. He picks genre writer Robert Bloch’s novel PSYCHO, which is partly based on Ed Gein’s story of incest, murder and homosexual confusion.
Almost everyone thinks this sordid story is beneath Hitchcock. Even his wife, Alma, who worked on most of Hitch’s movies, has her doubts. Especially since they’ve had to mortgage their house to make the movie because the Paramount Pictures execs won’t finance it themselves. Alma knows, however, that the darkness in the story appeals to the inner demons plaguing her husband.
Among those demons is Hitch’s obsession with blonde actresses, from the beautiful Madeleine Carroll in THE 39 STEPS to Grace Kelly in REAR WINDOW, and beyond. This obsession has led to tension in his marriage with Alma, who’s shown becoming more and more upset about her husband’s neglect.
Now, Hitch’s obsession with finishing PSYCHO, which features two blonde actresses, threatens to tear their marriage apart. In fact, Alma herself is in danger of succumbing to the charms of another writer. The writer wants Alma to help him write a screenplay of his latest suspense novel.
Meanwhile, Hitch is having nightmares about Ed Gein. The nightmares are further affecting his relationship with Alma.
Will the love that they’ve shared be enough to heal this rift? Will Hitchcock be able to put aside his obsessions before the macabre aspects of PSYCHO’S story overwhelm him?
Describing the plot in HITCHCOCK makes the movie sound like a really serious drama, and it is. However, it doesn’t capture the witty banter in the script between Hitchcock and his wife, Alma. Nor does it capture Hitchcock’s dry sense of humor and wit when talking in the movie about the frequently macabre subjects that fascinate him. Throw in a happy ending, and the movie seems more like a comedy.
That said, the HITCHCOCK movie does have its disturbing, dramatic moments. There’s a big argument toward the end between Alma and Hitchcock. Also, Hitchcock rightly suspects Alma has feelings for her writer friend. His rage over this potential betrayal comes out for all to see when he tries to show a stunt person the brutality he should display when appearing to stab Janet Leigh’s character in the famous shower scene in PSYCHO. His behavior is so disturbing that even the easygoing Miss Leigh is scared. Also, there’s a scene where Hitchcock secretly spies on Vera Miles, the other actress in PSYCHO, in her bra.
[SPOILER ALERT] Eventually, however, Hitchcock and Alma come to their senses. Alma realizes her friend is just using her, and Hitchcock realizes he truly loves his wife and is in danger of losing her. When it looks like the finished version of PSYCHO is a disaster, it’s their love that turns everything around.
Some secular critics have criticized HITCHCOCK for being too light and comical, considering the subject matter. However, the movie is really a story about personal and professional success. In the story, Hitchcock is focused primarily on maintaining his professional success as the “master of suspense.” His success, however, entails him being in touch with the darker aspects of his personality. In fact, this is what makes his movies more interesting. Sadly, Hitchcock’s darker obsessions drive a wedge between him and his wife. In the end, it’s their marriage and love that saves them both. If there’s anything today’s critics hate more than anything else, it’s a happy ending involving traditional values.
Despite its happy ending and very funny dialogue, HITCHCOCK involves some dark subject matter. Included are such subjects as murder, voyeurism, incest, cross-dressing, obsession, adultery, uncontrollable rage, etc. There’s also brief strong foul language. Consequently, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.
HITCHCOCK is an entertaining exploration of a significant period in the life of one of the most famous filmmakers of all time. PSYCHO is not one of MOVIEGUIDE®’s favorite Hitchcock movies. However, it does bring out some of the psychological themes and stylistic flourishes that make Hitchcock movies a source of endless fascination for film buffs. In that regard, this HITCHCOCK movie ultimately is an uplifting piece of filmmaking showing how important a role the master of suspense’s wife played in obtaining that moniker.