© 1972 Universal Pictures

Frenzy (1972)

Hitchcock did a pretty amazing thing by making Frenzy in 1972. After the enormous success of Psycho and The Birds, Hitchcock made Marnie, a film that I like quite a bit, it was a commercial failure, and the director was bitterly disappointed by the break down in his working relationship with Tippi Hedren, who he was grooming to be a major star. Even the most ardent Hitchcock fans find fault with Torn Curtain (1966) and Topaz (1969). Meanwhile, Hitchcock was planning a movie inspired by the New Wave movies of Truffaut and Antonioni, with a title that kept shifting between Frenzy and Kaleidoscope, which would have as it central character a handsome serial killer. Although expensive test footage was shot in New York, MCA studios were dead against the dark subject mater, and the project stalled. At 72, Hitchcock had reached an age when many of his fellow directors were enjoying retirement, and his health was quickly failing, but after nearly a decade of failure, he returned to London, to the very area of his childhood, Covent Garden, where his father ran a grocery store, and filmed one of his darkest movies, which combined Hitchcock’s wrong man running for cover genre, with killer who, like Norman Bates, is detestable but at the same time almost pampered by the director. When Norman Lloyd, who was a close collaborator of Hitchcock’s, saw the film in an early rough edit, he stood up in the screening room and exclaimed “it is the film of a young man!” Lloyd was referring to the numerous trick shots and cinematic innovations. While this is not Shadow of a Doubt, it is certainly one of the better movies of Hitchcock’s later career.

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