Posted October 16, 2012 by Timothy Monforton in Features

Trailer Trashin’: The Master of Suspense Lives Again in Hitchcock

With the release of Argo this past week, we’re officially in the season of prestige films and Oscar contenders. With that in mind, this week breaks new ground for Trailer Trashin’, because it’s my first time writing about a biopic, with the first trailer for Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock.

Premise: The film centers on the relationship between director Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) and his wife Alma Reville (Helen Mirren) during the making of Psycho, spanning from Wisconsin murderer Ed Gein (Michael Wincott), the real-life inspiration for the character of Norman Bates, to the release of the groundbreaking film in 1960.

My take: I don’t think anyone would deny that Alfred Hitchcock is one of the most talented and influential directors in film history. Even now, more than thirty years after his death, his name and his films are still world-famous, and his influence is everywhere in modern movies. Now the man also known as “Hitch” or the “Master of Suspense” is getting not one, but two, biographical films about him One is The Girl, an HBO movie about the making of The Birds (1963), and the other is the theatrical film Hitchcock, the subject of today’s column. We’ve seen the first trailer for Hitchcock, and I think it looks pretty good.

The cast is an interesting mix of talent both young and old. Obviously, the two to focus on here are Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock and Helen Mirren as Alma Reville. They’re both amazing acting talents, and these look like roles they can have a lot of fun with. And while Hopkins’s face is still recognizable, it’s kind of eerie how much they were able to make him look like Hitchcock. Also prominently featured is Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh, who played the ill-fated Marion Crane in Psycho; Johansson isn’t the person I would have picked to play Leigh, but she’s a good actress and I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. We get brief glimpses of Jessica Biel as Vera Miles (Lila Crane) and James D’Arcy as Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates). Also seen are Michael Stuhlbarg as studio executive Lew Wasserman and Michael Wincott as Ed Gein, the real-life killer who inspired Robert Bloch to write Psycho. Not seen in this trailer are Ralph Macchio, Toni Collette, Kurtwood Smith, and Danny Huston. And as a graphic designer, I think it’s cool that we’ll get to see Wallace Langham as the legendary Saul Bass, who created the opening title sequences for some of Hitchcock’s best-known films.

Scarlett Johansson in “Hitchcock.” © 2012 – Fox Searchlight Pictures.

I know some people don’t care for these kind of “inside Hollywood” movies, but I love them. In period films like this, we get all the great visual aspects of the old days of Hollywood: the massive backlot sets, huge camera and sound equipment, crew members wearing suits, and so on. And when you combine all that with a legendary figure like Hitchcock, it’s like catnip for movie geeks like me.

There’s really not anything to complain about here. This is a type of film I enjoy, features a great cast, and offers a look at a fascinating figure in Hollywood history. If it lives up to its potential, I wouldn’t be surprised if its name comes up again during Oscar time early next year. In any case, I’m definitely interested in checking out Hitchcock this November, and I think that you should be excited, too.

ANTICIPATION: I would love to spend a “good evening” seeing it.

Release Date: November 23rd, 2012

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Biel, James D’Arcy, Michael Stuhlbarg, Ralph Macchio, Toni Collette, Michael Wincott, Danny Huston, Richard Portnow, and Wallace Langham
Director: Sacha Gervasi
Writers: John McLaughlin, based on Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello

P.S. This past week also saw the release of new trailers for Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty, both of which look extremely promising. I think those films could be two of the highlights of the December movie releases.

P.P.S. Good news, Marvel Studios has at long last announced a release date for the long-in-development Ant-Man film, directed by Edgar Wright. The bad news is it’s not coming out until November 6, 2015, so there’s still over three years to go.

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