Posts Tagged ‘Alfred Hitchcock’

Best of the Decade, No. 96: The Hurt Locker

January 7, 2010

If filmmakers took their time before jumping on Vietnam, Hollywood was determined to report on Operation Enduring Freedom as it was happening. Indeed, rarely has mainstream film jumped on contemporary events so quickly. Audiences stayed away in droves, but history will hopefully one day return to films like Redacted and The Battle of Haditha. Those movies had points to prove. Kathryn Bigelow’s canny thriller prefers to tie her issues up in the sheer visceral routine of a bomb disposal unit. Locker first and foremost deserves to be celebrated for its suspense sequences—Jeremy Renner’s first day in the field could have made Hitchcock’s palms sweat, while the dispatch of a sniper seems set in the same absurdist desert where Bunuel planted St. Simon of the Stylites. Bigelow emphasizes stress over pyrotechnics. While big name stars are hurriedly put into the ground, the real casualty in this movie is American manhood and the audience’s nervous system. The most enduring image of the film, however, might just be when Renner’s cowboy sergeant returns to the United States and stands bewildered in front of a massive wall of cereal boxes.

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April Fool’s Day Goes to the Movies

April 1, 2009

janet-leighApril Fool’s Day has become too damn predictable. It feels like many newspapers write the fake stories so they can then include them in next year’s round-up of fake stories published on April Fool’s Day. The Onion spoiled it for everybody. Still, in celebration of one of our more moronic holidays, The Quietus’ David Moats rounds up the top ten Hollywood hoaxes. Included are Joaquin Phoenix’s rap career, Stanley Kubrick‘s rumored involvement in the moon landings, and The Blair Witch Project. It’s in an annoying gallery-type thingy, but here’s one of our favorites:

Hitchcock went to great lengths to ensure that audiences were genuinely surprised by the infamous shower scene, which abruptly halts the Janet Leigh plotline and switches to the main act. He even went so far as to enforce a ‘no late entry’ policy. No one would have suspected that Hitchcock would kill off the top-billing actress only part way through. Although it happened because of scheduling conflicts, for the trailer he ended up filming a different actress – Vera Miles – being killed, which only confused people further. More of a good-natured deception that a true hoax – Hitchcock was pretty much doing the audience a favour.

Any other Hollywood hoaxes? The career of Alan Smithee? Hitchcock’s earlier use of a flashback which wasn’t entirely the truth? The rumors that a ghost had been captured on film in Three Men and a Little Lady? How about the midget who supposedly hung himself in the background in The Wizard of Oz? That old saw about early film audiences fleeing L’arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat/The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station in 1896? Your contributions are welcome.