Director: Alfred Hitchcock
“Hitchcock’s only remake of one of his own films raises the issue of the superiority of his American work to his British productions. Though the original 1934 version is witty, the remake is more lavish and expert, with some of Hitchcock’s most powerful scenes.” (325, BP, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die) I am coming to the conclusion that I am not much of a Hitchcock fan. Sure he may be the ‘Master of Suspense’ and have created many of the forms now used in thrillers or suspense movies, not to mention in the horror genre, but I just don’t find his films all that remarkable. In all honesty I prefer films based on his works like Disturbia (D.J. Caruso, 2007) which is a re-make, I suppose you could say, of Rear Window (1954).
Doris Day is the obvious Hitchcock blonde. She is much more capable than anyone gives her credit for, even her husband played by the incomparable Jimmy Stewart. As BP says, “Stewart indeed “knows too much”, not valuing his wife’s (Doris Day) capabilities.” (325) Indeed she is the one thinking clearly enough to discover the true location of her kidnapped son as well as where the ultimate set piece takes place in the stunning Royal Albert Hall, “one of Hitchcock’s best-ever set pieces.” (325)
I found the ending to be somewhat of a disappointment – the entire film careens towards the rescue of little Hank, finally culminating in the successful rescue and yet the final scene is lack luster with the family returning to their hotel room to discover the guests they so abruptly left behind sound asleep. The set pieces do keep the film ticking along and retained my attention just enough to be interested in the outcome. I particularly enjoyed Stewart climbing out of the church he has been locked in by the church bell rope which is both daring and amusing at the same time.
The soundtrack heightens the tension – all the classic elements of a suspense movie. There were times however when the sound was heightened unbelievably such as the immensely loud echoing steps as Stewart hurries down the road in search of Ambroise Chappell. It annoyed me and took me out of the story albeit briefly.
As I said at the start I’m now pretty sure that I am not a Hitchcock fan but we’ll see if that changes as there are a fair number of Hitchcock films included in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.