Film offers a different portrait of ‘Hitch’

Hitchcock tells the story not so much as the making of the film Psycho, but the behind-the-scenes story of the director and his wife.

Helen Mirren as Alma Reville and Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh toast the making of Psycho with director Alfred Hitchcock, played by an unrecognizable Anthony Hopkins.

Helen Mirren as Alma Reville and Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh toast the making of Psycho with director Alfred Hitchcock, played by an unrecognizable Anthony Hopkins.

Hitchcock, showing April 15 at the Vernon Towne Cinema, sets out to illustrate that behind every great man, stands a great woman.

Hitchcock tells the story not so much as the making of the film, but as the behind-the-scenes story of Alma and “Hitch.”

At the heart of the film is the relationship between Hitch (Anthony Hopkins) and his wife, Alma (Helen Mirren). Hitch is not a caring and understanding sort, but an arrogant, demanding man who wanted control over his leading ladies. He was a heavy eater and heavy drinker who never won an Academy Award despite directing such well-known films as Rebecca, The Birds and Vertigo.

Alma, on the other hand, is portrayed as the “wizard behind the curtain.” She helps guide Hitchcock through his film journeys, re-writing scripts and providing directorial and production support. All the while, Alma is always pushed out of Hitchcock’s limelight. And with Hitch’s increasing jealousy over Alma’s time spent with writer Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston) coupled with the financial burden of financing the film, the relationship between the two hits troubled water.

Basing the movie on Stephen Rebello’s Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, director Sacha Gervasi’s narrative covers 18 months, starting with Hitchcock acquiring the rights to Robert Bloch’s   horror novel as a vehicle to give his career a new lease on life and ending with the film’s popular success in the summer of 1960.  Paramount Studios, where Hitchcock was employed, was not eager to bring the gruesome tale about a transvestite and his murderous relationship with his dead mother to the big screen.  Hitchcock’s agent Lew Wasserman (Michael Stuhlbarg) disagreed vehemently with Hitchcock’s choice, as did Paramount chief Barney Balaban (Richard Portnow), despite the fortune he’d made from Hitchcock films.

Hitchcock is a portrait of an extraordinary artist, a crafty hoodwinker triumphing over the unimaginative front-office suits and bureaucrats of the studios and the censorship boards. It gives a revealing picture of the last days of the big studio system and the old Hollywood production code, while documenting some of the personal events that led to one of the most popular horror films ever made.

Hitchcock shows at the Towne Cinema Monday, April 15 at 5:15 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. Tickets are available at the door and one week ahead at the theatre and the Bean Scene for $7.

 

Vernon Morning Star

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