Monday, July 12, 2010

Hitchcock Double Feature, Part 2

Both of these pictures turned out to be Movies I’ve Missed (Until Now). I’m not sure how I managed not to see so many famous movies . . .


THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY is a gorgeous film, full of beautiful autumn scenery in Vermont. Dropped down right in the middle of it is a murder mystery, with a dead body found in the woods. The victim could have been killed by any number of people who turn out to have unexpected connections with him, and they keep burying and digging up Harry (the dead guy) for a number of screwball reasons. This is a comedy more than anything else and actually is pretty funny in places, but it’s more of a “This is a really weird movie” funny than laugh-out-loud funny. It also has a good cast, being the film debut of Shirley MacLaine as well as featuring performances by Edmund Gwenn (very odd seeing Santa Claus without the beard), John Forsythe (most famous for DYNASTY, probably, but he’ll always be BACHELOR FATHER to me), and Jerry Mathers (not yet The Beaver). I think this is a likable film, not great but fairly entertaining.

MARNIE is another one I’d heard a lot about but never seen. Tippi Hedren, another of Hitchcock’s icy blondes, is a compulsive thief with a host of other psychological problems who winds up being blackmailed into marriage by the head of a publishing company (played by Sean Connery, not long after he started being James Bond) who discovers her secret. It’s pretty slow-moving and the big reveal at the end is easy to guess, but it still held my interest all the way through. I generally like Sean Connery’s work, and he’s pretty good in this one. Tippi Hedren is much more inconsistent, fine in some scenes but not very believable in others. Bruce Dern shows up late in a small but pivotal role. I think this is regarded as one of Hitchcock’s lesser movies, but I thought it was okay.


More Hitchcock coming up, but probably not for a while.

4 comments:

Cullen Gallagher said...

"The Trouble With Harry" is actually one of my favorite Hitchcock movies. It was written by John Michael Hayes, Hitchcock's best screenwriter. He was from New England, and it seems he put a lot of himself into the script, which might explain why it feel a little different from Hitchcock's other movies. I've seen it several times, and it still makes me laugh and smile.

MP said...

I remember enjoying "The Trouble With Harry", but it's been ages since I've seen it. Hitchcock is generally thought to have gone into decline after "The Birds". And there are a couple of real turkeys ("Topaz" and "Torn Curtain") among those last five movies. But his last movie, "Family Plot", isn't bad; "Frenzy" is really good; and "Marnie" may well be his most underrated movie.

Chap O'Keefe said...

Cullen, The Trouble with Harry was based on a novel by British writer Jack Trevor Story. One critic describes it as a "faithful adaptation". Though Hayes may have switched the location from England to New England I believe the source of much of the wackiness would have been in the source material. It's certainly not what Hitchcock usually served up. For more info, go to www.jacktrevorstory.co.uk. The site's an excellent tribute to a respected but widely under-rated writer. Story maintained, probably rightly, that he was given minimal credit and money for his contribution to the Hitchcock film. I met Story when I was copy-editing for the Sexton Blake detective series, to which Story was a top contributor. And I had the privilege of working on his material, e.g. on Danger's Child (for which I suggested the title, incidentally).

Juri said...

MARNIE was based on a novel by Winston Graham who's best known for his historical novels. I think MARNIE was his only crime-related novel. Haven't read it, though.