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Non-Review Review: Rope

Rope occupies an interesting place in Alfred Hitchcock’s filmography. The director himself was less than fond of it, allegedly quite happy that it remained out of circulation for some time after its initial release. Jimmy Stewart has apparently been critical of his own performance in the film, although I think it’s a wonderful example of a beloved actor playing against type. In the years since, however, it has been somewhat re-evaluated. While most film fans would be hesitant to describe it as an unqualified success, it’s certainly a technically ambitious little film, and the tight script and set-up allow Hitchcock to indulge his knack for creating suspense.

I hope nobody choked with all those ten-minute takes…

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Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The Horse Player (Review)

As part of the “For the Love of Film” blogathon, I’ll be taking a look at Alfred Hitchcock’s contributions to his celebrated anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I’ll be looking at some of the episodes of the classic show that he directed. The “For the Love of Film” blogathon this year is raising money to keep one of Hitchcock’s earlier works, The White Shadow (which he wrote, edited, designed and assistant-directed), available on-line and streaming for free. It’s a very worthwhile cause and you can donate here.

The Horse Player actually makes for a nice conclusion to our run of Alfred Hitchcock Presents reviews. It aired in 1961, towards the end of the sixth season of the anthology show, a year before the show would be rebranded The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. It was the second last half-hour show that Hitchcock personally directed, but is generally agreed to be much stronger than his final effort, a morality play titled Bang! You’re Dead. Instead, The Horse Player is an enjoyable and engaging meditation on those cardinal virtues of faith, hope and charity.

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Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Dip in the Pool (Review)

As part of the “For the Love of Film” blogathon, I’ll be taking a look at Alfred Hitchcock’s contributions to his celebrated anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I’ll be looking at some of the episodes of the classic show that he directed. The “For the Love of Film” blogathon this year is raising money to keep one of Hitchcock’s earlier works, The White Shadow (which he wrote, edited, designed and assistant-directed), available on-line and streaming for free. It’s a very worthwhile cause and you can donate here.

Hitchcock’s collaborations with Roald Dahl are always worth the time, and I have to admit I have a special fondness for A Dip in the Pool, which is a bitter little comedy about a bet that goes very far wrong. It’s a wonderfully cynical little story about a compulsive gambler who makes an impressive bet on a sure thing. Of course, this being Alfred Hitchcock Presents, there’s no such thing as a sure thing. Filled with Dahl and Hitchcock’s trademark bleak humour and a wonderful central performance from Keenan Wynn, A Dip in the Pool makes for an entertaining little drama.

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Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Mr. Blanchard’s Secret (Review)

As part of the “For the Love of Film” blogathon, I’ll be taking a look at Alfred Hitchcock’s contributions to his celebrated anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I’ll be looking at some of the episodes of the classic show that he directed. The “For the Love of Film” blogathon this year is raising money to keep one of Hitchcock’s earlier works, The White Shadow (which he wrote, edited, designed and assistant-directed), available on-line and streaming for free. It’s a very worthwhile cause and you can donate here.

Mr. Blanchard’s Secret is a fun watch, if only for the joy of watching Hitchcock gleefully spoofing Hitchcock. Pitched by the director as “a tale of mystery and intrigue, played in middle-class suburbia” during his introduction, Mr. Blanchard’s Secret reads an affectionate parody of Rear Window, perhaps the Hitchcock film that lends itself so easily to comedic skewering. Mr. Blanchard’s Secret is hardly a groundbreaking or astonishing piece of television, but it is highly enjoyable and quite clever, proving that Hitchcock has a wonderful sense of humour about himself. (As if we needed proof.)

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Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Banquo’s Chair (Review)

As part of the “For the Love of Film” blogathon, I’ll be taking a look at Alfred Hitchcock’s contributions to his celebrated anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I’ll be looking at some of the episodes of the classic show that he directed. The “For the Love of Film” blogathon this year is raising money to keep one of Hitchcock’s earlier works, The White Shadow (which he wrote, edited, designed and assistant-directed), available on-line and streaming for free. It’s a very worthwhile cause and you can donate here.

Banquo’s Chair has a rather standard little plot. There’s no sense that any of the ideas are overcrowding one another, or that they’ve been rushed along to fill the twenty-five minute slot. Indeed, the plot and the script are about as standard as they could be, using a simple set up to play through a familiar drama and leading to a somewhat trite and predictable conclusion. Without being harsh, I think that’s a fair description of Banquo’s Chair. However, it is well served by an experienced cast and by Hitchcock’s direction. Neither truly distinguishes it from the rest of the series, but they do elevate a fairly simple set-up into an entertaining little adventure.

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Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Revenge (Review)

As part of the “For the Love of Film” blogathon, I’ll be taking a look at Alfred Hitchcock’s contributions to his celebrated anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I’ll be looking at some of the episodes of the classic show that he directed. The “For the Love of Film” blogathon this year is raising money to keep one of Hitchcock’s earlier works, The White Shadow (which he wrote, edited, designed and assistant-directed), available on-line and streaming for free. It’s a very worthwhile cause and you can donate here.

Good evening. I’m Alfred Hitchcock, and tonight I’m presenting the first in a series of stories of suspense and mystery called – oddly enough – Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I shall not act in these stories, but will only make appearances, something in the nature of an accessory before and after the fact: to give the title to those of you who can’t read, and to tidy up afterwords for those who don’t understand the ending.

– Hitchcock lays down the rules

It’s interesting to look back at Hitchcock as a director who had an exceptional gift for working with material that might be derided as “trashy.” Certainly, if one divorces the subject matter from the director himself, a significant amount of his work can be seen as somewhat exploitative, inside genres that are traditionally dismissed by those more serious and elitist film commentators. (Indeed, one could argue that Psycho laid the foundation for the much-maligned “slasher” genre.) I’ve actually found this a significant appeal in examining Hitchcock’s work. Like many of the very best directors ever to work in film, he has a knack for elevating his subject matter beyond the expectations of the genre. I think that his anthology television show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, is especially fascinating, because it illustrated the director taking an entire medium far more serious than many of his contemporaries.

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