Rebecca, the Original 1940

In anticipation of watching the Armie Hammer remake, I had to first watch the original Rebecca from 1940, which is the only film Hitchcock ever won an Oscar (and this for film, not direction).
The 1940’s version starts Laurence Olivier as the oxymoronic man both aloof and temperamental. The character, at least portrayed here is a bit of a yawner, not compelling enough to elicit a response. Likewise, IMO, Joan Fontaine is also boring and mousey in character, hence again, evoking apathy rather than feeling. The characters with the most acting challenges and achievement were Judith Anderson and George Sanders*, the jealous chambermaid and Bedswerver respectively (thank you A fun runner up with a minor (but comedically shrewish) role is Florence Bates.
I will say for 1940, the cinematography is very realistic and impressive (George Barnes). The screenplay was also titillating enough to almost make it through the 2 and a half hours in one shot. And of course Hitchcock’s takes with photography were gorgeously done.
Fun actor/actress facts:
*George Sanders was married to two Gabor sisters; Zsa Zsa and Magda. And Joan Fontaine was the younger sister of Olivia de Havilland.
Joan was snubbed on the set by Oliver who wanted his then girlfriend Vivian Leigh to get the part. She was also snubbed by her sister at the Oscars after saying an unkind remark about Olivia’s husband.

Under the Silver Lake: Part Dos of Creepy Films

“Under the Silver Lake” (2018) Rated R graphic violence and at a tad bloated 2 hours and 19 minutes.

I’ve been trying to enlarge my podcast listening to more movie pods since I began my own with the super sharp Gus Mollasis. Already I know we need a sign off slogan, like how Siskel and Ebert said, we’ll save the aisle seat for you or Brother Wease’s ‘it’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice’, the latter oh so true.

At any rate, in an odd coincidence after seeing “Psycho” Saturday (see blog part UNO) I heard a gent I respect on The Big Picture Podcast say “Under The Silver Lake” was one of his top five of the year thus far. This intrigued me as I had heard mixed reviews, with some criticism saying it actually promoted what it was trying to negatively highlight (and that topic is: men who feel women owe them sex).
Hence, I decided to see for myself what I thought of David Robert Mitchell’s film.

The short answer is the movie definitely did NOT glorify patriarchal domination. In fact, if you choose to read on, the male main character has a heart. Sure, he enjoys sex, but from what I had read in the headlines, I was prepared for a date rape/sex by force scene which never happened (thankfully).

If you’re good at celeb dating trivia (and who isn’t, eye roll), you guessed at the end of Creepy Part Uno that the star of “Under the Silver Lake” is Andrew Garfield. Confession, I never really cared for this guy, mainly based on shallow reasons, like he’s too thin for me to find attractive, I know, a momentary shallow moment.
I do know that his acting has received accolades, one biggie, an Academy Award Best Actor nom for “Hacksaw Ridge”, and I had totally forgot his Golden Globe nom for “The Social Network” (lip bite, I don’t remember his part, but loved that movie and certainly recall Jesse Eisenberg).

But talk about ‘holy he could be Anthony Perkins son’…what an odd coincidence. If his character had been a bit more shrewd, he really would have nailed Norman’s persona. But here’s the rub, while his character Sam seems to be a drifting heartless pig, he actually redeems himself (won’t spoil it) by truly caring about the welfare of one of the gals he encounters.

I can see some of David Robert Mitchell’s possible influences, including David Lynch, Kwan & Scheinhart and Terry Gilliam in both the eerie sinister nature we all harbor, bizarre behavior and the magical realism of underground networks of hybrid human/animals respectively.

Is “Under the Silver Lake” as artistic as Hitchcock’s Psycho? No way, and not even as chilling. In fact, where Herman’s music added to the suspense of Psycho, the overly dramatic orchestral music took me out of the scenes in Under the Silver Lake.

Pretty typical for 2018 though where surplus or extreme is considered edgy when really good old black and white and a couple of violins are all you need to scare people.

On the other hand, Under the Silver Lake was worth seeing for Garfield, whose performance was multi-faceted and the story vivid enough to pain modern day Hollywood as a super sad and freaky place to live.

Strangers on a Train: another PPLL Review

Hey why not preserve some of your pre-pension finances, too, and head to your local library and borrow a classic like Strangers on a Train? Obviously no stranger to some of Hitchcock’s films, and also a fan of a fine documentary on Hitchcock’s legacy in film Hitchcock/Truffaut (2015), this was my first viewing of Strangers on a Train.

I loved it for the following reasons:

Hitchcock’s keen eye for detail, specifically three scenes:
1. The tennis match when all audience heads are exhibiting the classic back and forth watching of the match with the exception of Robert Walker as Bruno who stares straight ahead.
2. The murder scene filmed in the reflection of an eye glass lens.
3. The climactic scene on the merry go round, when a strange old geezer (carnie) crawls under the out of control amusement ride in order to shut it off. And he doesn’t just crawl, he stops and wipes his face (hysterically funny). In fact, in this scene in particular, I love the layering Hitchcock did, the geezer, the little boy having a blast as the merry-go-round speeds up, then the same kid starts to hit Bruno/Robert Walker to help Farley Granger, the cops who tell the old geezer it’s dangerous, then second guess saying, they don’t want to crawl under there, the Bruno shots from the floor with him kicking at Farley’s hands. Pure cinema gold.

Hitchcock’s playful sense of humor:
1. the sister of Ruth Roman/Anne, who was actually Alfred’s daughter Patricia, has the best lines in the entire film, calling Farley’s wife a tramp, saying her dad isn’t afraid of scandal because he’s a senator, her prescient “I see dead people” stare.
2. of course, his notorious appearance in each o his films, this time by getting on a train with a bass.
3. the aforementioned merry-go-round scenes.

I also appreciated how well done the tennis match was filmed and edited. This could not have been easy back in the manual days of the early 1950’s.
This has now become my favorite Hitchcock film.

A few Postscripts:
So sad that Robert Walker had a mental illness, but on the bright side, he had made it out of a sanatorium and was resilient enough to make several more films before succumbing to anxiety/alcohol/a Brian Wilson-like psychiatrist. His demise also goes to show how unrequited love (Jennifer Jones basically left him for Jeffrey Selznick) can destroy those less resilient.
Equally sad was that his son, Michael seemed to have a similar demise.
And if this story on IMDB is true, shame of Hitchcock for his sadistic trick of bullying his daughter Patricia’s fear of heights by paying her 100$ to ride the ferris wheel and summarily having the ride stopped at the top and the lights shut off.

A sick bastard, but a fun director, nonetheless.