18 August 2012

Happy Birthday, Hitch

As I wrote earlier, this week marked the 113th anniversary of the birth of Alfred Hitchcock. To celebrate, ArtsQuest screened three of his most beloved and enduring films: North by Northwest, Psycho, and Vertigo.

I attended North by Northwest on Monday with my friend Larry. After purchasing my usual movie theater treat of Hot Tamales and a Coke, we made our way into the theater. As usual, I was pleasantly surprised by the large turnout. We found our seats (at the top row, of course) stretched out our legs, and waited in anticipation for the movie to begin. Finally, the lights dimmed, and Bernard Herrmann's pulsing score filled the room. As the movie progressed, I could feel the steam filling the room from Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint's devastating chemistry and sexual tension. Seriously, these two wrote the book.

Although I've seen this movie many a time, I'm still completely involved every time I watch it. During the plane chase, I get nervous, and I (along with a few other people) screamed when the plane collided with the truck and exploded.

On Tuesday, I was escorted to Psycho by my friend Joey. This is my second favorite Hitchcock film, so I think I was most excited for this one. Plus, Anthony Perkins still has the ability to scare the hell out of me. That last shot of him always gets me every time. I've heard people say that Psycho is overrated, but I respectfully disagree wholeheartedly. I think everything about it is spot on, from the combination of Bernard Hermann's schizophrenic score, Saul Bass's frantic title sequence, and, of course, the casting of Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates. Psycho is true brilliance.  Afterward, a film professor from Lehigh University led a discussion about the gender roles, sexuality, and duality potrayed in Psycho. It was pretty insightful and the audience was engaged and really got into the participation, which was nice to see.

Wednesday night rounded out with Vertigo. Honestly, this is one of my least favorite of Hitchcock's films. I just never got the hype over it...maybe I'm just not smart enough, but I just never understood it. I mean, I get the plot, but the ending still confuses me to this day.

After the end of the movie, a discussion was again led about gender roles, sexuality, obsession, and masochism. It was also touched upon that Vertigo was recently voted the greatest film of all time, thus beating out Citizen Kane, by Sight and Sound and the semi-controversy/uproar/hooplah that caused. Again, the discussion was pretty interesting, and the audience was willing to participate.

Whenever I see a classic film in a theater, I am always surprised by the incredible turnouts. The ages always range from the very young (when I went to see Singin' in the Rain, I saw a couple of kids that had to be kindergarten age) to the old. I like to imagine that the older couples I see went to see the film when it was first released, possibly on a first date. It's really nice to know that these films still have an audience and that people are passing on their love of classic cinema to future generations. Here's hoping they never stop.

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