Posts Tagged ‘alfred hitchcock’

The Man Who Knew Too Much

Friday, March 30th, 2012

The Man Who Knew Too Much [Blu-ray]

Tagline – A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing!

Starring – James Stewart (Dr. Benjamin McKenna), Doris Day (Josephine Conway McKenna), Brenda De Banzie (Lucy Drayton), Bernard Miles (Edward Drayton), Ralph Truman (Inspector Buchanan).

Released – June, 1956

Directed By – Alfred Hitchcock

Produced By – Paramount Pictures, Filwite Productions

Distributed By – Paramount Pictures

Description – Dr. Benjamin McKenna, his wife Jo, and their son Hank are on vacation in Morocco. While traveling from Casablanca to Marrakesh, by bus, they meet Frenchman Louis Bernard.

Bernard seems quite friendly, but Jo is a little uncomfortable with his many questions about them and his reluctance to answer questions about himself. She feels that he is hiding something. Bernard invites the family to dinner, but cancels after seeing a mysterious man who may be following him.

Later that evening, at dinner, the McKenna’s meet the Drayton’s who are from England. As they are speaking, they notice Bernard enter the restaurant, sit at another table, and ignore them. This behavior adds to Jo’s suspicions about him.

The next day the McKenna’s and the Drayton’s are shopping in a Marrakesh marketplace when they see a man in Arab clothing being chased. The man is stabbed in the back and staggers toward Dr. McKenna. It is Bernard in a disguise and, just before dying, he whispers to Ben that a foreign statesman will soon be murdered in London and the authorities must be told about “Ambrose Chappell.”

While being questioned by the authorities about the incident, Ben learns that Bernard was a French Intelligence Agent. At the police station during the interrogation Ben receives a phone call. Who would even know he was there and what could they possibly want?

The family’s dream vacation is about to turn into a nightmare.

The caller tells Ben that the McKenna’s son Hank has been taken and will not be harmed if they do not tell the police of Bernard’s last words. The McKenna’s travel to London and report all that they know, except Bernard’s last words, to Scotland Yard.

Inspector Buchanan tells them that Bernard was a spy and on an assignment to uncover an assassination plot. He instructs them to contact him as soon as they hear from the kidnappers.

The McKenna’s sense of urgency causes them to try and take matters into their own hands. They start with the only clue they have… Ambrose Chappell.

NOTABLE: The Man Who Knew Too Much won the Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song (Que Sera, Sera).

This is a remake of Hitchcock’s 1934 film of the same name filmed in VistaVision and Technicolor. Generally considered superior to the original, Hitchcock himself preferred the 1934 version.

The Man Who Knew Too Much was unavailable for decades as director Alfred Hitchcock left the rights to the film, as part of his legacy, to his daughter. This picture along with Rear Window, Rope, The Trouble With Harry, and Vertigo were also part of the legacy and known as the “Five Lost Hitchcock’s.” They were re-released around 1984.

Initially, Doris Day had no interest in recording the song “Que, Sera, Sera” feeling that it was no more than “a forgettable children’s song.” Not only did the song win an Academy Award, but it also became her signature song and the biggest hit of her singing career.

Doris Day was a life-long advocate against animal abuse. It was during the filming of this picture, where she observed gross mistreatment of goats, camels, and other animals, that fueled her desire to help animals.

While in London to film her location scenes, Doris Day (who was extremely popular in England) was asked to leave her hotel because of the number of fans who gathered there in the hope of catching a glimpse of the star.


Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman Scintillate in Hitchcock’s Notorious

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

July, 1946Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious, released by RKO Radio Pictures, is a suspense filled espionage thriller set in South America.

The film stars Cary Grant as a charming and calculating U. S. Intelligence agent who recruits Ingrid Bergman, the daughter of a convicted spy, to help infiltrate a group of Nazi’s, formerly friends of her father, that have relocated to South America and are planning something potentially catastrophic.

Bergman’s assignment includes the seduction of, and marriage to, one of the Nazi groups leaders, played perfectly as a mother-fixated sympathetic villain by Claude Rains. The film explores trust, its exploitation, and the classic conflict between love and duty. For some, the giving of trust will be redemptive, while for others, there will big a big price to pay.

Director Hitchcock delivers possibly his finest picture yet and manages to tip toe around the restraints of the Motion Picture Production Code with the longest kissing scene in screen history. There is no doubt that Notorious is, in every sense, a consummate Hitchcock film that includes some of the director’s most impressive camera shots.

Audience’s are applauding Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious as a superbly directed and acted romantic melodrama showcasing two of the screens most loved stars, Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman.


Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Notorious (Hitchcock) [Blu-ray]

Tagline – The screen’s top romantic stars in a melodramatic masterpiece!

Starring – Cary Grant (T. R. Devlin), Ingrid Bergman (Alicia Huberman), Claude Rains (Alexander Sebastian), Louis Calhern (Paul Prescott).

Released – September, 1946

Directed By – Alfred Hitchcock

Produced By – RKO Radio Pictures, Vanguard Films

Distributed By – RKO Radio Pictures

Description – The conviction of her German father for treason against the United States has sent Alicia Huberman into a period of depression, alcohol, and men.

While hosting a large party, Alicia is approached by an uninvited guest. That guest is agent T. R. Devlin, and he asks Alicia to work for her government. Although Devlin disapproves of her self-destructive lifestyle he is confident in her feelings of patriotism toward America.

Government agent Devlin wants Alicia to infiltrate a group of her father’s Nazi friends who have relocated to Brazil after the war ended. At first Alicia refuses, but Devlin is able to convince her of the importance of her assistance and she agrees to accompany him to Rio de Janeiro where they will await further orders.

While waiting for the details of her assignment, Alicia and Devlin spend an enjoyable week that leads to romance. During this time she tells Devlin that she is a changed woman and, although he still has some doubts, he realizes that he is falling in love with Alicia.

Their bliss is short-lived as Devlin’s boss arrives with the details of her assignment. Putting his emotions aside, Devlin explains to Alicia that she is to seduce Alex Sebastian, one of her father’s friends and one of the Nazi groups leaders in an effort to find out what his war machine combine is manufacturing.

Devlin’s attitude of duty over love causes Alicia to believe that he was only pretending to love her as part of his job.

A meeting with Sebastian is planned and is made to look like an accidental meeting in a park. Alicia proves to be very good at her job as her flirtations with Sebastian encourage him to invite her to a dinner party at his home.

While there, Alicia witnesses an odd occurrence. Another guest, Emil Hupka, nervously gestures toward a wine bottle on a mantle and is immediately escorted from the room. After dinner, Sebastian and some of the other male guests discuss this incident and decide that Hupka must be “eliminated.”

That same evening, Sebastian’s interest in Alicia turns romantic. When Alicia reports the evening’s affairs, she tells Devlin ” you can add Sebastian’s name to my list of playmates.” Their relationship continues and Sebastian proposes marriage to Alicia. She tells Devlin of the proposal, in the hope that he will finally confess his true love for her. He does not.

Again choosing duty over love, Devlin tells Alicia to do what she wants. Hurt, Alicia accepts the proposal and she and Sebastian are married.

Returning from their honeymoon, Alicia now has access to Sebastian’s home, but finds nothing unusual except the keys to the property given to her have one key missing. That is the key to the large wine cellar. This key is kept by Alex.

Devlin instructs Alicia to throw a party and to get him the wine cellar key so that they can find out what is in the cellar while Alex and their guests are distracted by the party. Alicia carefully gets the key from Alex’s key chain and she and Devlin access the wine cellar.

Devlin accidentally breaks a wine bottle revealing, not wine, but a black sand inside the bottle. Devlin takes a sample, which later is discovered to be uranium. Alicia and Devlin leave the cellar just as Sebastian arrives for more champagne.

Suspicious, Sebastian later returns to the cellar and finds the broken bottle and spilled sand hidden under a wine rack. He now realizes that Devlin must be an agent and that Alicia is helping him.

This poses a set of problems for Alex. He must now silence Alicia and do so without his Nazi partners finding out about the security breach that he is responsible for.

There seems to be only one solution… Alicia must die without any suspicion on himself. It is decided that she will “die slowly” as a result of poisoning.

NOTABLE: Notorious received Academy Award nominations for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Claude Rains), and Best Writing, Original Screenplay.

In 2006, Notorious was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Director Alfred Hitchcock has stated that the FBI had him under surveillance for three months due to the pictures dealings with uranium.

At the time of filming, the Motion Picture Production Code had a ban on a kiss lasting more than three seconds. To get around this rule, Hitchcock had Grant and Bergman engage in a two-and-half minute kiss that broke off every few seconds. The two stars would then whisper and embrace each other before beginning again.

Director Hitchcock and writer Ben Hecht consulted with Nobel Prize winner Dr. Robert Millikan on the making of an atomic bomb. While Dr. Millikan refused too detailed an answer, he did confirm that the principal component, uranium, would fit in a wine bottle.

After filming, Grant kept the “infamous” wine cellar key which he later gave to his close friend and co-star Ingrid Bergman for good luck. She would, decades later, present the same key to Alfred Hitchcock during a tribute to the great director. Hitchcock was both surprised and thrilled.


To Catch A Thief

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

To Catch A Thief (1955) (BD) [Blu-ray]

Tagline –  For a moment he forgets he’s a thief–and she forgets she’s a lady!

Starring – Cary Grant (John Robie), Grace Kelly (Frances Stevens), Jessie Royce Landis (Jessie Stevens), John Williams (H. H. Hughson), Charles Vanel (Bertani), Brigitte Auber (Danielle Foussard).

Released – August, 1955

Directed By – Alfred Hitchcock

Produced By – Paramount Pictures

Distributed By – Paramount Pictures

Description – John Robie is an American ex-patriot living the good life on the French Riviera. He is also a notorious, but retired, jewel thief known as “The Cat.”

A recent series of robberies, that closely resemble his style, have taken place and the police believe John to have ended his retirement. He is able to escape their attempt to arrest him and takes refuge with some old partners in crime.

With the help of Danielle Foussard, an old flame, John again slips through the fingers of the authorities and now realizes his only vindication will come from his capturing the “copy-cat burglar” in action.

Insurance man H. H. Hughson provides John with a list of the most valuable jewelry on the Riviera and a list of owners. Prominent on the list are widowed Jessie Stevens and her daughter Frances. John arranges a meeting and tells them he is an American industrialist.

Daughter Francis sees through John’ cover, but still finds him irresistible. Unexpectedly, she flirts with him and expresses the desire to possibly assist him with his “capers.”

The next morning Jessie Stevens finds that her jewels have been stolen and Francis believes that John has taken advantage of her in order to commit the crime. The police are called and once again John is on the run.

While staking out another possible location for a jewel theft, John must struggle with an unidentified attacker on a rooftop. The attacker loses his footing, falls, and is killed. It is Foussard, Danielle’s father.

The police are satisfied that Foussard must have been the burglar all along, but John knows that this could not be possible because Foussard had a prosthetic leg and would never have been able to carry out the crimes.

After the funeral a masquerade ball is to be held with everyone in attendance, including the real cat burglar who plans on stealing a fortune of priceless jewelry all in one evening.

NOTABLE: To Catch a Thief won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Color, and received nominations for Best Costume Design, Color, and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color.

To Catch a Thief was the first of five Alfred Hitchcock films to be filmed in VistaVision.

This was Grace Kelly’s last film for Alfred Hitchcock as she would become Princess Grace of Monaco in 1956.

Tragically, in September of 1992, Grace Kelly would die in an automobile accident in Monaco on the very same road used for the chase scene in the film. She was 52 years old and reportedly suffered a stroke causing her to lose control of the car.

The films initial release was delayed as it was feared that the audience would not believe Grant’s and Kelly’s characters falling in love due to the difference in their age. Ironically, when the film was released, it became one of the biggest hits of the decade.

French actor Charles Vanel, who play Bertani, did not speak English. All of his lines were dubbed.


Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Spellbound (Hitchcock) [Blu-ray]

Tagline – Will He Kiss Me, Or Kill Me?

Starring – Ingrid Bergman (Dr. Constance Petersen), Gregory Peck (Dr. Anthony Edwardes/John Ballantyne), Michael Chekhov (Dr. Alexander Brulov), Leo G. Carroll (Dr. Murchison), Rhonda Fleming (Mary Carmichael).

Released – December, 1945

Directed By – Alfred Hitchcock

Produced By – Selznick International Pictures, Vanguard Films

Distributed By – United Artists

Description – Returning from a leave taken due to exhaustion, Dr. Murchison, the head of Green Manors Mental Hospital in Vermont, finds that he is being forced out of his position. He is to be replaced by the much younger Dr. Anthony Edwardes.

Psychoanalyst Dr. Constance Petersen meets Dr. Edwardes at a welcoming meeting the evening of his arrival and finds herself attracted to him. However, she becomes suspicious of Dr. Edwardes after he exhibits some strange behavior during the dinner.

The attraction between the two is mutual and there are some shared tender moments. Still unsure, Dr. Petersen’s suspicions lead her to investigate further. She compares the handwriting of the man claiming to be Dr. Edwardes with a book known to have been written by the doctor. There is now no doubt, and Dr. Petersen realizes that this man is an imposter.

She confronts Dr. Edwardes and he admits to killing the real Dr. Edwardes and assuming his identity. He claims to be suffering from massive amnesia and does not know who he really is. Dr. Petersen’s instincts lead her to believe that he may be innocent of murder and suffering from a severe guilt complex.

The police get involved when it becomes public knowledge that the real Dr. Edwardes is missing and may have been murdered. The imposter of Dr. Edwardes leaves during the night before the police can question him. He leaves a note for Dr. Petersen.

He will be at the Empire State Hotel in New York City. With the police now hot in his pursuit, Dr. Petersen rushes to New York to try and unlock his amnesia and find out what really happened.
She realizes that she has fallen in love with him and hopes to prove his innocence, but is she blinded by love and may become his next victim.

NOTABLE: Spellbound won the Academy Award for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, and was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director (Alfred Hitchcock), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Michael Chekhov), Best Cinematography, Black-and-White, and Best Effects, Special Effects.

Although shot in black-and-white, there are two frames when a gun is fired toward the camera that have a red tint.

Artist Salvador Dali assisted with the dream sequence. The scene was originally supposed to run longer, but director Hitchcock and Dali were unhappy with some of the sequence and cut the scene. The edits are believed to have been lost.

The snow falling in the scene where Dr. Anthony Edwardes/John Ballantyne are skiing was filmed using cornflakes for snow.

Personal Note: Although Alfred Hitchcock made one of his usually understated comments regarding this film, “just another manhunt story wrapped up in pseudo-psychoanalysis,” it is much more.

A solid film and another triumph for the master director. Although included in the film noir genre not all noir purists agree with this classification, having suggested that Hitchcock owns his own brand of mystery/suspense picture.

Censorship reared its ugly head in this film with the required deletion of the words”sex menace,” “frustrations,” “libido,” and “tomcat,” in scenes regarding the character Mary Carmichael.