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Old July 17 2012, 06:36 PM   #839
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Re: Movies Seen in 2012

105. Torn Curtain (C)
106. Marnie (A-)

Torn Curtain: I've seen most of the canon of Alfred Hitchcock, but little of his black and white output, and none of his films made after The Birds. It's the latter period that I attended to yesterday, with his films from 1966 and 1964, which I ended up watching in reverse chronological order.

The first, starring the great Paul Newman and Julie Christie, is at best inessential Hitchcock and at worst a tepid, laborious thriller. Both leads are woefully miscast -- Newman has too much of a glint in his eye to be believable as an everyday man inexperienced at espionage, and he and Christie rarely make a believable couple. Worse, there are so many poorly shot background plates and badly painted backdrops on display that the tension is often destroyed before it can build (the bus sequence, a key set piece, is made laughable by shaky rear projection). Then there's a late incident with a Polish woman, which I gather is supposed to raise the suspense and engender our sympathy, but the woman is so annoying and over-the-top that it results in neither. The MacGuffin here -- a mathematical equation for... well, something -- is too intangible, and too easily acquired after being built up. The film does have one effective sequence, however -- the farmhouse murder -- which is brutal and intense, and rather unlike the rest of the movie.

Marnie: This is a fascinating and well-acted psychological thriller starring Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery (hot off the heels of Dr. No), and possibly the last essential Alfred Hitchcock movie. More Vertigo than The Man Who Knew Too Much -- Connery's character shares Jimmy Stewart's obsessions from that movie -- I can only fault it for a couple of preposterous backdrops that betray the backlot locations. It's little surprise to me that this failed while Torn Curtain succeeded -- the public never turned out when Hitchcock made a movie focused on psychology rather than suspense -- but it's a shame it didn't do better during the filmmaker's lifetime.

Theatres: 41
Home Video: 57 +2
Computer: 8
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