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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 2.24.5.233
Posted on Thursday, December 27, 2012 - 02:44 am:   

Just seen this feature-length TV play about Alfred Hitchcock and Tippi Hedren. Wondering what any other RCMB members who saw it made of it.

In later life, Hitchcock was asked why he stopped working with Tippi Hedren. He said: "She committed the unpardonable sin: she mentioned my weight."

This play doesn't quote that comment, but it presents Hedren's side of the story exposing Hitchcock's 'explanation' as a self-serving lie that positions him as the victim when, according to Hedren and this play, she suffered three years of vicious physical and psychological abuse from Hitchcock because she would not go to bed with him.

'The Girl' portrays Hitchcock as a controlling, sadistic, delusional abuser and exploiter of women. Whether that is the literal truth I don't know, but the film resonated with a lot of my own feelings about his movies, which I've always felt to be emotionally hollow, self-consciously clever and based on a mixture of flattering and manipulating the audience.

I have to say I found 'The Girl' more intelligent and genuine than any Hitchcock movie I've seen.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.29.47.214
Posted on Thursday, December 27, 2012 - 08:01 am:   

Oh, you know how to make yourself popular at parties, don't you, Joel?
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 86.148.192.84
Posted on Thursday, December 27, 2012 - 10:13 am:   

It was a very good production but I hesitate to draw any conclusions from it about the ruthlessness of art.

Saw The Birds 'cold' in the cinema when it first came out. One of my major cinematic experiences for someone like me otherwise defilmicised.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.29.47.214
Posted on Friday, December 28, 2012 - 06:44 am:   

Watched it last night. I thought it was as sinister as Vertigo, but hardly surprising. In another thread, Joel talks about the banality of evil. Well, this film kind of demonstrates the banality of genius. That line from his wife is superb: "If she did drop her knickers, you'd run a mile." All great artists have a wound, and sometimes it's deep and profound, and other times it's trivial, like being too short, or too fat, or - as Ayckbourn once phrased it - a gigolo trapped in a haystack. Hitch was a sad little pervert. Quelle surprise?
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 2.24.39.131
Posted on Friday, December 28, 2012 - 12:48 pm:   

Yes, that line is memorable and one of the film's few moments of humour. The performances by Sienna Miller and Toby Long are beautifully nuanced and understated. And whatever it may suggest about Hitchcock's film-making methods, 'The Girl' does recognise his visual flair and attention to detail.

My problem with Hitchcock's reputation is not that I think he made bad films far from it. It's that he is ranked among the cinema's all-time masters when, to me, he is the Spielberg of the thriller genre: focused on pleasing audiences and giving value for money, not on serious engagement with themes. I could be wrong, of course.

This is at least the third time Sienna Miller has played a 'star' who is more than just a pretty face. She has that kind of presence.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.29.47.214
Posted on Friday, December 28, 2012 - 01:54 pm:   

Isn't it true that people who've had few lovers before marriage tend to romanticise other potential partners, ascribing to them impossible characteristics? Wasn't a lot of Hitch's work about this, especially Vertigo? And didn't this film dramatise the very "pathetic" roots of such a deep, quixotic and (frankly) kinky exploration of human desire?

I remember suggesting on this very board that Kafka's paranoiac fantasties were probably based on the way he was treated by his father, and that this offered him special insight into issues relating to self and Big Other (the State), but that his work cannot be reduced to this (psychological) source.

I'd say the same goes for Hitch vis-a-vis his sexual experience (to wit: what sexual experience?). Vertigo, especially, is as deep and disturbing and misguided and human as it gets.

Oh, and I know an even dirtier version of the Nantucket limerick. :-)
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 92.8.17.208
Posted on Friday, December 28, 2012 - 03:15 pm:   

You are indeed wrong, Joel.
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 92.8.17.208
Posted on Friday, December 28, 2012 - 03:22 pm:   

Let me skew it this way:

"It's that he is ranked among the cinema's all-time masters when, to me, he is the Mozart of the thriller genre: focused on pleasing audiences and giving value for money, not on serious engagement with themes."

Or

""It's that he is ranked among the cinema's all-time masters when, to me, he is the Shakespeare of the thriller genre: focused on pleasing audiences and giving value for money, not on serious engagement with themes."

In other words - and honestly, I should have thought this critical argument had been settled long ago - "pleasing audiences and giving value for money" does not preclude "serious engagement with themes".
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.29.47.214
Posted on Friday, December 28, 2012 - 03:28 pm:   

Yeah.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.29.47.214
Posted on Friday, December 28, 2012 - 07:02 pm:   

This is interesting: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00j09r4/Paul_Merton_Looks_at_Alfred_Hitchc ock/
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 2.24.1.151
Posted on Friday, December 28, 2012 - 07:28 pm:   

Ramsey the two things are indeed not mutually exclusive, but that does not mean they always go together. Being a proficient and professional commercial entertainer does not in itself make you a great artist. Is Agatha Christie one of the greatest writers? Is Andrew Lloyd-Webber one of the greatest composers?

There are many examples of proficient and reliably good popular entertainers for whom one cannot make any serious artistic claim. There are also popular entertainers for whom one arguably can, e.g. Raymond Chandler, Miles Davis, Tom Waits. The distinction is not a matter of principle: it comes down to what the audience/readership is able to derive from the experience. I don't agree with S.T. Joshi that artistic merit is defined by objective and 'absolute' criteria. I don't think it's objectively impossible to regard Hitchcock as being one of the greatest directors. I just don't think he is.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.29.47.214
Posted on Friday, December 28, 2012 - 07:49 pm:   

>>>Being a proficient and professional commercial entertainer does not in itself make you a great artist.

Obviously. But I don't believe there was any implication to the contrary above. The discussion was about one artist only.
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 92.8.30.9
Posted on Friday, December 28, 2012 - 11:26 pm:   

Well, having watched The Girl, I thought it was a good film about a great artist who may very well to some extent have been a shit. That doesn't detract from his achievement, and I find that the themes of The Girl are powerfully dealt with in Vertigo, which for me is the finer work.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 2.24.18.219
Posted on Saturday, December 29, 2012 - 12:20 am:   

Fair comments, both. I ought not to have diluted this thread with a judgement on Hitchcock's films, since the point was to talk about 'The Girl'. I was fired up by having seen the film the same evening, and sort of got carried away. I'm glad you both liked the film, anyway.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.29.47.214
Posted on Saturday, December 29, 2012 - 08:41 am:   

I love such biopics for the way they reveal the utter baseness of this kind of genius. It's rarely cooked up in some velvet-lined artistic laboratory (well, maybe Wagner's was, but he's the exception that . . .); it's pan-fried in the corner of a hovel. With lard.

Examples include COPYING BEETHOVEN, THE IMPRESSIONISTS (TV), a recent film about Tolstoy (whose name escapes me), and many more.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 2.24.39.65
Posted on Saturday, December 29, 2012 - 12:09 pm:   

Wagner was inspired by classic sixties American rock, biker culture and pulp-era heroic fantasy, I think. Celestial and base at the same time.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.29.47.214
Posted on Saturday, December 29, 2012 - 08:32 pm:   

The Trying Butchman.

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