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Frightday Night Hitchcock: Obsession
Friday, September 29, 2017 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Weird and scary is what we expect from Hitchcock and this series will deliver. Hitchcock always believed in making his audience suffer at least as much as his characters, and our first film in the series on September 15, Frenzy, offers us a lead character whose innocence makes us worry to no end. On our second night, September 22, we will see three unusual, rarely screened, Hitchcock TV films, and if the audience can guess the surprise endings they deserve a prize. Our final night, September 29, has Obsession, a real Hitchcockian thriller in spirit that is set in New Orleans and Florence. Both cities turn from beautiful to ambiguous in the blink of a camera lens.
Tom Zaniello was raised on Hitchcock TV programs. Since then he has been teaching, lecturing, and organizing film shows about the Master of Suspense … this is the fourth Hitchcock season at the Hill Center. He is the author of a number of books on film, but his most recent publication is a nonfiction mystery, California’s Lamson Murder Mystery: The Depression Era Case that Divided Santa Clara County. He is currently writing Hitchcock in the Funhouse: A Cinematic Psycho-Biography. He leads a film discussion group, The Cinephiles, for Capitol Hill Village.
Friday Sept 15: Frenzy
Hitchcock’s Frenzy is the only film in which Hitchcock attempted to out-Psycho Psycho and his most enduring London thriller. The villain is a charming greengrocer from the Covent Garden Market, while the pathetic hero is a misanthropic ne’er-do-well given to fits of anger and (minor) violence. Scotland Yard is here, of course, with an inspector who seems clueless, avoids his wife’s cooking, and in the end needs her help badly. The film seems to end with a trial of wrongful conviction, but Hitch never made such endings easy.
Friday Sept 22: Alfred Hitchcock Presents
I will screen three rarely-seen short TV films from Alfred Hitchcock Presents, the most popular broadcast showcase of its kind in the 1950s and 60s:
Speciality of the House: Robert Morley plays a food-obsessed businessman who belongs to an exclusive dining club whose patrons don’t really understand where the choice cuts of meat originate. Unfortunately for us, we suspect we know.
And So Died Riabouchinska: Claude Rains plays a ventriloquist in love with his female dummy. She seems to have a will and voice of her own, not to mention the body and personality of the ventriloquist’s lost love.
Human Interest Story: Steve McQueen plays a reporter who is assigned to interview a man at a bar who says he’s a Martian. Only a fool or a reporter would believe him. We know better, don’t we?
Friday Sept 29: Obsession
We will screen Obsession, a tale of lost love: Cliff Robertson plays a man whose wife and daughter both die in a botched New Orleans kidnapping. But on a visit to the glorious San Miniato al Monte Church in Florence the man sees his wife come to life right before his eyes as an Italian church restorer. In scenes that recapitulate Hitchcock’s Vertigo in which Jimmy Stewart finds and loses—twice—his beloved from the tower of Mission San Juan Batista, he is given a second chance to rescue his wife. Hitchcock’s favorite composer, Bernard Herrmann, scores this haunting tale that many people would believe Hitchcock must have directed right after he finished his final film in 1976. But in fact, his double, Brian de Palma, did.
Sponsored by the Capitol Hill Community Foundation