Sunday, October 21, 2012

Reel People: Anthony Hopkins is Alfred Hitchcock

The film is Hitchcock, directed by Sacha Gervasi. The screenplay is written by John J. McLauglin based on the book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello.

Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock was born August 13, 1899 in London England. His father, William Hitchcock was a Catholic grocer. He raised Hitchcock with a Catholic tradition, including sending him to a Catholic school.

William Hitchcock died with Alfred was fourteen. On the heels of WWI, Alfred attempted to enlist, but was turned down at least in part because of his obesity.

Having attended the London County Council School of Engineering and and Navigation in London, he went from being a draftsman and ad designer for Henley's, a cable company. He also began to assist with the in house newspaper, the Henley telegraph in 1919, where he was prolific contributor, including short stories he would write for the newsletter. From here he followed his interest in photography and film, where he was a title card designer for Gainsborough Pictures.

It would be five years before he released his first film, and after a series of less successful endeavors, he had his first success in January 1927 with the release of The Lodger: The Story of the London Fog. And it was after this film, he began to become much more prolific releasing multiple films a year.

It was also during this time that he married his assistant director Alma Reville. Alfred and Alma were married December 2, 1926. Together they would have a daughter, Patricia, born July 7, 1928.

Hitchcock's 1929 film Blackmail is considered by some to be the first British talking film, famous for the use of sound as audiences her the word "knife" in conversation. This film also features an extended cameo appearance of Hitchcock himself.

The next years brought a series of important and popular films to the developing Hitchcock brand, including The Man Who Knew Too Much, The 39 Steps, and The Lady Vanishes.

Following these successful films and the growth of an American audience, David O. Selznick signed Hitchcock to a seven year film deal beginning in 1939.

Hitchcock seemed to have less freedom with Selznick, which would include conflict in the filming and the selection of materials. Hitchcock would benefit from greater resources in filming. His first film with David O. Selznick, Rebecca, would go onto with the Academy Award for best picture in 1940, with Selznick winning the prize. Hitchcock did not win an Oscar, instead the director prize went to John Ford for The Grapes of Wrath.

Selznik and Hitchcock's second film Foreign Correspondent was also a best picture nominee for the 13th Academy Award ceremony, the same year Rebecca won.

The Hitchcock's settled in California at this time, buying the 200 acre Cornwall Ranch in the Santa Cruz mountains. The Santa Cruz coast provided the setting in Alfred Hitchcock's first film as producer/director, Suspicion, which in addition to being nominated for best picture, won best actress for Joan Fontaine.

Other films during the Selznick era included Mr. & Mrs Smith (1941), Sabatour (1942), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), and Lifeboat (1944), Spellbound (1945), Notorious (1946), The Paradine Cove (1947).

In 1948 he would do his first color film, Rope. Which was also his first film collaboration with James Stewart. While Hitchcock would return to black and white for many later films, this film, would start the trend of Hitchcock producing his own films for life.

During the 1950s found his own way by creating the films he wanted to, and further developing his own brand with a number of successful features, some of the best known include Strangers on a Train (1951), I Confess (1953), Dial M for Murder (1954), Rear Window (1954), To Catch a Thief (1955) and a remake of his own 1934 film The Man Who Knew too Much (1956).

It was also during this time that Hitchcock's popular soared in a new direction as host and producer of the TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1965). This type of branding was also  used on books and story series.

At the end of the 1950s, he would make some of his most famous films, Vertgo (1958), followed by North by Northwest (1959), which would then be followed up by Psycho (1960). Psycho was the last film Alfred Hitchcock would receive an Oscar nomination for (Billy Wilder won for The Apartment). Hitchcock would never receive an Oscar for any of his films.

The 1960s were not as prolific, with his most famous film being The Birds (1963), and cold war themed films Torn Curtain (1966) and Topaz (1969). His decline during this period is in part due to failing health.

His last two films were Frenzy (1972) and Family Plot (1976). Hitchcock died of renal failure at his Bel Air home April 29, 1980.

Hitchcock

The film Hitchcock focuses on the relationship between Alfred Hitchcock and his wife Alma Reville during the making of Psycho.

In addition to Anthony Hopkins portraying Alfred Hitchcock, Helen Mirren co-stars as his wife Alma Reville.

The film Psycho stared Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, and Vera Miles. Their roles are performed by Scarlett Johansson (as Janet Leigh as Marion Crane), James D'Arcy (as Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates), and Jessica Biel (as Vera Miles Lila Crane).

Michael Stuhlberg plays Lew Wasserman (talent agent), and Ralph Macchio plays Joseph Stefano (Psycho screenwriter). Danny Huston and Toni Collette also have roles in the film.

Anthony Hopkins hasn't been nominated for over a decade, and Hollywood is sure to be interested in his portrayal. Will he receive his fifth Oscar nominee, and potential his second win for portraying this Real (Reel) Person?

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