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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: 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: Mrs. Bixby & The Colonel’s Coat (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.

As has been our custom, we shall present homy little stories of an unusual nature. We shall continue to give the little man, or woman, his due. When crime is occasionally dealt with, it will be crime as practiced by ordinary people, like the fellow next door. I think that, by Spring, a large number of you will be thinking of moving.

– Hitchcock’s introduction

Mrs. Bixby & The Colonel’s Coat is, in effect, one joke. It’s a single joke extended over a half-an-hour, with a punchline appearing mere minutes before the end credits. While that might make the episode feel a little insubstantial, it is a Roald Dahl joke, which means that it is never boring. The set-up, the characters and the world around them is a wonderfully fascinating and darkly comic place. It’s no wonder that Dahl and Hitchcock seemed to work together so well. I suspect that they shared a similar sense of humour.

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Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Lamb to the Slaughter (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.

It’s amazing to think of the talent involved in some of these Alfred Hitchcock Presents episodes. Obviously the director himself was the host and directed seventeen episodes, but he also had a star-studded cast on hand for a great many installments. That said, there was just much talent behind the camera. Robert Altman, Sydney Pollack and William Friedkin were among the other directors to work on the series, and author Roald Dahl contributed some episodes as well. Dahl contributed the much-loved Man From The South, featuring Peter Lorre and Steve McQueen, but he also offered this wonderful little murder tale about an especially inventive killing.

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Who Spoils the Spoilers? On the Right Not to Be Spoiled…

Apparently, spoilers are good for you. Well, that’s what one survey from August suggests:

UC San Diego psychology researchers Nicholas Christenfeld and Jonathan Leavitt wanted to test if being spoiled hurt someone’s enjoyment of a story. So they took 30 test subjects and let them read 12 short stories by famous authors like John Updike, Roald Dahl, Anton Chekhov, Agatha Christie and Raymond Carver. Some they just read straight, others they read with a paragraph beforehand that ruined the ending or major twist in the piece. In almost all of those cases, the reader liked the story more when they were spoiled.

Published way back in August, this generated quite a bit of on-line discussion, and a lot of people were quick to suggest that the logic held true for movies as well, and modern blockbusters at that. It seems like a ready-made defense for those posting a constant stream of spoilers for The Dark Knight Rises, or leaking plot twists for various popular television shows. However, I’m not necessarily convinced by this logic.

This survey is suspect…

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Non-Review Review: You Only Live Twice

This post is part of James Bond January, being organised by the wonderful Paragraph Films. I will have reviews of all twenty-two official Bond films going on-line over the next month, and a treat or two every once in a while.

You Only Live Twice was my favourite when I was younger. It was energetic, witty, bright, colourful and adventurous. The stakes were ridiculously high – no less than the Third World War. Bond’s trip to Japan painted the country as an exotic wonderland to a mind as young as my own. The script was smart and the action was fast-paced – the movie still breezes along even today. The cost of the speed is that the movie is ultimately fairly light – it doesn’t carry anything particularly heavy or thought-provoking. This means that it ends up feeling relatively light-weight when measured against some of Sean Connery’s earlier outings like From Russia With Love or Goldfinger, which worked at least as much with suspense as with action.

Is Bond turning Japanese?

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Non-Review Review: The Fantastic Mr. Fox

The Fantastic Mr. Fox isn’t a movie for everyone. It’s decidedly quirkily a Wes Anderson film above all else – above being an animated or stop motion film or a Roald Dahl adaptation. There’s the same dialogue and awkward poses and eccentric misunderstood characters at its core. It’s decidedly retro and it won’t win any awards for visual innovation. But – somewhat fittingly for a movie with a moral about being yourself – it is very much its own movie. Still, the suggestion that this isn’t a movie for kids is a little disingenuous. There are, I reckon, a lot of children who will enjoy the movie’s style and story and beauty. However, there will be a quite a few who won’t. But I reckon the same will be true of an adults as well. This is a movie for Wes Anderson fans, of all ages – even those who have never seen a Wes Anderson film before in their lives. But it’s also a film for those who can appreciate cinema in all its forms and with all its different trappings and styles. Those looking for a conventional animated children’s tale, or particularly light entertainment, will likely leave disappointed – but those looking for something with a bit more soul than usual will be right at home.

He's a foxy fella..

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