After a few hitches, Hitchcock is starting to appear in a few theaters. Originally announced for early December, the opening date was jogged to mid-January when Oscar hopes were in the air. After the Golden Globe Award nominations were announced, and only Helen Mirren in the role of Alma Reville (married to Alfred Hitchcock for close to 54 years) was recognized, the film was moved to a 12/14 opening and is now in a few, but not a lot, theaters nationwide. Alma was born August 14, 1899, one day after Alfred. He died in 1980 and she followed in 1982.
This film follows the Hitchcocks from just after the 1959 premiere of North by Northwest to just after the opening of Psycho in 1960. Anthony Hopkins plays the portly director. Helen M. plays his wife, co-film editor and screenwriter. For those who have not read the book on the making of Psycho – and that includes about 99.99 percent or more of the Earth’s population – this film is full of surprises and fun. Psycho was a film that Paramount did not want made. After it was made, Paramount did not like it and didn’t want it released. They refused to finance the project, agreeing only to a percentage of the profits to distribute the film. Paramount made a lot of mistakes about this film. Heads rolled, which no doubt pleased the real AH in many ways.
The movie chronicles the hardships of film finance and the pressure cooker of staying on time and within budget. The Hitchcocks were forced to mortgage their home. They had to cut back on food. They stopped having fun nights out. The swimming pool is not cleaned. The yard is full of leaves.
Adding to the woes, the Motion Picture Board didn’t want to certify the film as being fit to watch. And in 1960, if there’s no certification, there’s no release. Hitchcock wanted to borrow Norman Bates’ knife and drive it into the cold heart of the head government censor.
Scarlett Johansson plays the Janet Leigh part, coming across as a sweet young girl who appreciates her break. Real life serial killer Ed Gein is seen in the dreams of AH as the inspiration for Norman Bates (and Jame Gumb AKA Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs). Ed was a true inspiration to crazy psychopaths everywhere.
The movie follows two main stories, one being the long-term relationship between AH and his spouse. The other is the hard time Psycho had making it to the screen. The performances are all top notch and the film is perfectly cast. Only when the story drifts off to soap opera does it slow down and lose its sense of humor and charm. Those who remember the story and sensation Psycho made when it premiered in the theaters with Hitchcock’s marvelous promotional idea, will better appreciate the film. For those who have not seen the original Psycho, watch it first – as Hitchcock will give away way, way, too much of the story and its shocking surprises.
Rated 3.5 out of 4.0 reasons that if you see Hitchcock at a night presentation you will know you had a “Good Evening”.