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We visit the MAC for a screening of the new 4k restoration of Psycho, one of the most analysed films of all time, and arguably director Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous. It’s a film we’ve both seen several times, but not for a few years, and in the cinema setting for which it’s meant, instead of the classroom, there’s a renewed and reinvigorated wonder to its imagery and editing.
We share our feelings about this screening, remark upon things we’d forgotten or had never noticed before, discuss how elements of the film have aged, and compare it to Brian de Palma’s Dressed to Kill, which was, shall we say, inspired by Psycho, and which we recently saw. We find plenty of room for criticism, but although we conclude that Psycho works for us more as a collection of a few iconic scenes than a thoroughly engrossing story from beginning to end, those scenes shine, and nowhere more vividly than on a cinema screen.
With José Arroyo of First Impressions and Michael Glass of Writing About Film.
The second of my filmed lectures. This time I experimented with visual citation of other works and using text within those citations as a critical tool:
Does anyone else fend themselves regressing to the comforts of childhood at this time? After a day of marking, I could have re-seen the Clouzot films on MUBI that I love — Le corbeau (1943)and Qaui des orfèvres (1947) — but I just couldn´t think anymore and found myself subscribing to the Universal channel, where I saw Stanley Donen´s Arabesque (1966), with Sofia Loren and a stiff Gregory Peck. The film´s a bit leaden but charming and as evocative of sixties glamour as anything I´ve seen, Sofia wearing Dior throughout, and Donen filming everything in an imaginative and colourful way, with a pop sensibility one associates with Swinging Sixties. Each shot is playful if not exactly meaningful. A film that doesn´t quite work but that remains a lot of fun.
I also saw Operation Petticoat (Blake Edwards, 1959) which made me understand the whispers around Blake Edward´s sexuality — all those half-naked sailers on the submarine and, despite all the talk, such a subdued look at the nurses –and where Tony Curtis is so good he outshines Cary Grant (yes, it´s possible). I ended the evening with The Black Shield of Falsworth (Rudolph Maté, 1954), where Curtis is not good. You can see he does many of his own stunts but without the grace of movement someone like Lancaster would have brought to them — every move´s an effort for Tony. but Janet Leigh is at her most beautiful, Herbert Marshall is recognisable only by his voice but that´s enough, and the whole thing is a lighthearted silly medieval adventure that looks quite good. These are films that were on rotation on tv channels when I was young and I found a certain comfort in the re-visit.
The Greta Gerwig Little Women needs to be great because the Cukor-Hepburn one is perfect. Plus having the additional bonus of being, along with King Kong and Mae West, the sociological phenomenon of 1933. It´s a pity it´s not more seen:
Watching the ´49 version of Little Women only made me appreciate the 1933 Cukor-Hepburn version more. The 1933 version roots it in the Civil War, privation, self-sacrifice, kindness, family, sisterhood, complicated interpersonal relationships, and with a kind of yankee fierceness that is completely lacking in the sop of the ´49,. To see June Allyson after Hepburn is merely to see lack, where Hepburn was romantic, tomboyish, determined, longing to be an artist and a free woman, Allyson simply lowers her voice and juts her jaw. And even with that she´s better than Peter Lawford. A starry cast almost entirely wasted, Mary Astor certainly is, though Elizabeth Taylor and Margaret O´Brian have their moments (if only a few). Comparing the two is like comparing the illustrated comic of the novel to the novel itself. Same plot, more gloss, more shine, less depth and way less charm. I´d forgotten how important the Christmas setting is to all versions