Talking Movies

September 10, 2018

The Lighthouse Presents Alfred Hitchcock

The Lighthouse is putting the Master of Suspense back on the big screen in September and October with a major retrospective comprising ten films from nearly two decades of work. A new restoration of Strangers on a Train is a highlight of a season showcasing icy blondes, blackly comic moments, pure cinema suspense sequences, and the greatest of director cameos.

STRANGERS ON A TRAIN

From 13th September

People who’ve never seen the film know what is meant by uttering the title.  Robert Walker’s psychotic socialite Bruno propounds to Farley Granger’s pro tennis star Guy, who he’s just met on a train, a very plausible theory on how two complete strangers could both get away with murder. By swapping murders the complete absence of motive would stump detection. And Bruno means to prove it… Patricia Highsmith’s first novel epitomised her creeping unease and smiling sociopaths, and Hitchcock embellished it with visual flourishes (reflections of murder in a glass, one sports spectator remaining aloof) and nail-biting suspense.

ROPE

From 14th September

Farley Granger and John Dall are the two young men, clearly modelled on the infamous real-life killers Leopold and Loeb, who strangle a classmate they have decided is inferior in their Nietzschean scheme of things. Displaying a sadistic sense of humour they hide his body in their apartment, invite his friends and family to a dinner party, and serve the food over his dead body. Can their mentor Jimmy Stewart rumble the perfect crime? This was shot by Hitchcock in ostentatiously long 10 minute takes that cut together by means of ‘jacket-wipes’ to give the impression of one unbroken real-time visualisation.

MARNIE

From 19th September

Tippi Hedren’s second film for Hitchcock cast her as the titular compulsive thief, troubled by the colour red, and the touch of any man, even Sean Connery at the height of Bond fame. Bernard Herrmann’s final Hitchcock score (though his rejected Torn Curtain music appeared in Scorsese’s Cape Fear) buoys some dime store pop psychology as Hitchcock displays a less than sure touch in navigating the line between twisted romance and twisted obsession. There is an infamous scene between Connery and Hedren that is arguably the beginning of the decline towards ever more showy cinematic conceits housed in increasingly mediocre films.

VERTIGO

From 20th September

Hitchcock’s 1958 magnum opus recently toppled Citizen Kane from its perch as the ‘greatest film ever made.’ Hitchcock burned money perfecting the dolly-in zoom-out effect so crucial for depicting Jimmy Stewart’s titular condition; and Spielberg cheekily appropriated it for one show-off shot in Jaws. The twisted plot from the French novelists behind Les Diaboliques is played brilliantly by the increasingly unhinged Stewart, Kim Novak as the anguished blonde he becomes obsessed with, and a young Barbara Bel Geddes as the friend who tries to keep him grounded. Visually gorgeous, lushly scored, and dripping pure cinema sequences without any dialogue – see this.

SPELLBOUND

From 22nd September

Ingrid Bergman’s psychiatrist protects her new boss (Gregory Peck) who turns out to be an amnesia victim accused of murder. On the run she attempts to recover his memory, while her old boss Leo G Carroll insists that Peck is a dangerous killer. Salvador Dali famously designed the dream sequence to explain Peck’s trauma, but producer David O Selznick cut it to ribbons. He had insisted Hitchcock make this picture anyway to fulfil his contract because Selznick had had a wonderful time in therapy. Hitchcock had a less wonderful time, even Miklos Rozsa’s score introducing the brand new theremin irked him.

THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY

From 23rd September

The trouble with Harry is a bit of a curate’s egg. Foreign Correspondent’s hit-man Edmund Gwenn returns to the Hitchcock fold, and Shirley MacLaine makes her very winning film debut, but this is a black comedy that ends up more of a droll half-romantic drama. Four people in a Vermont village, led by his estranged wife, spend a Fall day running around with Harry’s dead body; one step ahead of the authorities, and each convinced twas they that did him in. After from MacLaine’s debut one must point out that from this unremarkable beginning grew the Hitchcock/Herrmann partnership.

NORTH BY NORTHWEST

From 26th September

Hitchcock and screenwriter Ernest Lehman abandoned a fruitless novel adaptation for a scenario dazzlingly showcasing scenes Hitchcock had always longed to film; a murder at the United Nations, a man attacked by a crop-duster in an empty landscape. Cary Grant’s MadMan (cough) Roger O Thornhill; a man as hollow as  his affected middle initial; blunders into spymaster Leo G Carroll’s elaborate ruse and is ruthlessly and lethally pursued across America by the sinister James Mason and his clinging henchman Martin Landau, all the while dallying with their dangerous associate Eva  Marie Saint. Hitchcock’s preoccupations were never explored more enjoyably…

THE BIRDS

From 30th September

Hitchcock spun out Daphne Du Maurier’s short story which had been inspired by her simple thought when watching a flock wheel towards her over a field, “What if they  attacked?,” into  an unsettling and bloody film. Socialite Tippi Hedren’s pursuit of the judgemental lawyer Rod Taylor to his idyllic small town on the bay seems to cause the local birds to turn homicidal, but don’t look for explanations – just enjoy the slow-burn to the bravura attacks. Watch out for Alien’s Veronica Cartwright as Taylor’s young sister, and a bar stool philosophiser allegedly modelled on Hitchcock’s bruising encounters with Sean O’Casey…

DIAL M FOR MURDER 3-D

From 3rd October

Warner Bros. insisted that Hitchcock join the 3-D craze, so he perversely adapted a play without changing it much, something that had bedevilled cinema during the transition to sound. Hitchcock has immense fun layering the furniture of Grace Kelly’s flat, but after the interval (sic) largely loses interest in 3-D and focuses on Frederick Knott’s, ahem, knotty plot in which tennis pro Ray Milland blackmails Anthony Dawson into bumping off rich wife Grace Kelly. John Williams, who also appears in To Catch a Thief, is in fine form as the detective trying to puzzle out the crime.

PSYCHO

From 10th October

Hitchcock’s low budget 1960 classic boasted one of the drollest trailers imaginable  and his direction is equally parodic in the first act, with its sinister traffic-cop pursuit and endless misdirection, because Hitchcock relished investing the audience  in a shaggy-dog story which sets up a number of prolonged blackly comic sequences as well as some  chilling suspense. Anthony Perkins’s Norman Bates emerges as a terrific resonant villain, especially in the chilling final scene scored by Bernard Herrmann with full-on Schoenbergian atonal serialism. The shower scene with Janet Leigh being slashed to Herrmann’s bravura stabbing strings orchestration remains an iconic ‘pure cinema’ scare.

Tickets can be booked at the Lighthouse’s website  (www.lighthousecinema.ie).

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September 28, 2010

Cinema in a Good Cause

A very special film festival will take place at Cineworld from Thursday the 7th to Saturday the 10th of October with all proceeds raising going to Action Breast Cancer. There is no set ticket price for any of the films, instead you’ll be asked to donate whatever you feel is appropriate.

The Cadbury Flake Film Festival organised by Cadbury and the Irish Cancer Society will showcase four iconic movies. If you’re booking seats you’ll be asked to make a donation to the Irish Cancer Society through dedicated fundraising pages on www.mycharity.ie while further information is available from www.cancer.ie or www.cadbury.ie. FlashForward star Joseph Fiennes, currently filming in Wicklow, is supporting the campaign saying: “I have been a supporter of Breakthrough Breast Cancer and other fundraisers for many years, after losing my mother to the disease. I prefer to be involved behind the scenes – working with major donors to generate funding or attending events and providing auction prizes. I am very happy to lend my support to Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Cadbury Flake Film Festival in aid of Action Breast Cancer. I would like to thank all of those who continue to donate their time, money and energy for the benefit of those affected by cancer”.

As well as the film festival Cadbury will donate 5 cent for each Limited Edition Pink Flake for Breast Cancer Awareness Month sold, potentially raising €70,000 for Action Breast Cancer. Petra Ryan, Brand Manager for Cadbury Flake, said “We hope to raise significant funds from these initiatives so that Action Breast Cancer can continue to provide much needed care and support to everyone affected by breast cancer”, while Jim O’Malley, Partnership Manager for the Irish Cancer Society said “Women living in Ireland have a 1 in 10 chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime so it is imperative that we continue to raise vital funds enabling Irish scientists to find new therapies to prevent breast cancer, better techniques to diagnose it accurately and ultimately new treatments which will cure it.” The charity web-pages are linked to below:

Casablanca: October 7th @ 8pm Tickets available: www.mycharity.ie/event/casablanca_cadbury_flake_film_festival

In a previous blog I dubbed this the film that summed up the 1940s. Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains and Paul Henreid star in one of the greatest films ever made. Quotable to a fault, this wartime tale of lost love and political intrigue still packs a hefty emotional punch. “Here’s looking at you kid.”

Dirty Dancing: October 8th @ 8pm Tickets available: www.mycharity.ie/event/dirty_dancing_cadbury_flake_film_festival

The female equivalent of Star Wars for a generation stars the late Patrick Swayze as the summer camp dance instructor who helps Jennifer Grey’s naive ‘Baby’ rebel against her stifling father (a pre-Law & Order Jerry Orbach). Altogether now: “Nobody puts baby in the corner…”

Pretty Woman: October 9th @ 6pm Tickets available: www.mycharity.ie/event/pretty_woman_cadbury_flake_film_festival

The film that catapulted 22 year old Julia Roberts onto the A-list remains the gold standard for modern rom-coms. Roberts’ unlikely hooker is hired by Richard Gere’s wealthy business man to be his escort for several business and social functions, but soon some My Fair Lady style transformations start to occur.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s: October 10th @ 6pm Tickets available: www.mycharity.ie/event/breakfast_at_tiffanys_cadbury_flake_film_festival

Audrey Hepburn’s most iconic poses and costumes feature in this adaptation of Truman Capote’s scandalous novella. Holly Golightly’s naive eccentricity bedazzles George Peppard’s struggling writer when he moves into her apartment building. Try to ignore Mickey Rooney’s outrageously racist Japanese character…

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