“Hitchcock” The Movie

If Ed Gein hadn’t whacked his brother over the head with a shovel for insulting their mother, well..we wouldn’t have our little movie, would we? image

And consequently we wouldn’t have this little TV show here today, would we? Funny how these chains of events take place, even spanning through more than half a century. If I also hadn’t been distracted and forgot to return a rented DVD of “Hitchcock,” I wouldn’t have ended up keeping the disc after an automatic payment went on my credit card for it. Word to the wise: try not to do that. But it was a happy accident because this movie does a fantastic job at telling the story of how Psycho the movie was conceived. Also the stories of the people who made it happen, not only “Hitch,” as his wife called him, but all the rest besides.

“Charming. Doris Day could do it as a musical.”

I can’t think of two better actors to play Alfred Hitchcock and his wife Alma Revielle than Sir Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren respectively. The relationship between these two is one of the most entertaining parts of the film; it gives it charm, wit and heart when it could’ve been much duller without it. These two are intellectual equals in every way, and she’s more than happy to dish the honesty out at him. The first (and one of the most ironic) roadblocks to making Psycho the movie: Alma initially dismisses the idea and “low-brow claptrap.” She does soon change her mind, however.

The casting of Hitchcock is all-around awesome, in my opinion. Someone else I was excited to see: Toni Collette as Hitch’s assistant Peggy Robertson. I didn’t even recognize her at first! Toni plays Dr. Ellen Sanders in another one of my favorite series: “Hostages.”

Another early favorite scene of mine is when Hitch passes around copies of the Ed Gein crime scene photos to a group of Hollywood types, effectively shocking them.

“But they can’t stop looking, can they?”

More resistance comes from Paramount Studios, as they refuse to finance the movie. Hitch ends up financing it himself. Well, he could, since he earned $29,000 per episode of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.” I’m not sure how much that was in 1959 money, but I’ll just say it was a shit-ton of it.

Something I also didn’t know: It was Alma who wanted Anthony Perkins for the role of Norman, when Hitch initially said “No.” She had him pegged as well, since he really was “pretending to be something he was not.” According to this movie, Perkins was also so close to his mother than he admitted he’d wished his father would drop dead. And his father ended up doing just that. I don’t know if some fictional liberties were taken with that, but it would be a terrific case of art imitating life..

“Am I making a terrible mistake?”

Even Hitch has his doubts, coming in the form of a nightmare. But he does get a fantastic cast in the form of “America’s favorite boy and girl, about to move into a whole new neighborhood.”

Things start to go downhill for Hitch and Alma when she gets too-close-for-comfort with writer Whitfield Cook (played by Danny Huston, who fans of “American Horror Story: Coven” will remember as the Axeman) Hitch starts to have some vivid imaginings of his own, where he carries on conversations with the unfortunately-Elmer-Fudd-doppleganger-Ed Gein. Jealousy and anger spill over into the set as Hitch himself shows the Norman/Mother stand-in EXACTLY how violent he wants the famous stabbing-murder in the shower to be. Look for a terrific visual of the pressurized machine that runs the shower on the Psycho set–complete with a gauge that’s about to max out. Quite symbolic, yes?

“Why do they do it, I wonder? Why do they always betray me?”

One of the best things about Hitchcock is the use of so many small visuals that fans of the original Psycho will recognize: candy corn, peepholes in the wall, see how many others you can spot :) They’re small, but they give the whole movie that much more depth and make it that much more enjoyable to watch.

“Beware. All men are potential murderers. And for good reason.”

Alma ends up getting a surprise of her own when it comes to Whitfield, and the newly-finished Psycho initially gets a four-letter review. And it’s not a good word. But Alma and Hitch put their creative genius together and cut it into the masterpiece we know today. The portrayal of audiences’ freaked-out reactions is priceless! And Hitch and Alma get to keep the house. And the swimming pool.

I’d give this movie a solid 4.5 out of 5 hearts. It’s just a fun ride all around for those interested in the behind-the-scenes story of how it all began.