Monday, March 9, 2009

Day Forty-Four: Frenzy (1972) - Rank 3.5/5


Despite its R-rating for a grisly murder scene, much of this film is trademark Hitchcock. One staple element used quite frequently is an innocent individual becoming caught up in out-of-control situations through sheer dumb luck. Such is the case with Richard Blaney (Jon Finch), who is falsely sought after for the murder of his ex-wife. Another staple is the audience is introduced to the killer early on; this time the murderer is a serial rapist (Barry Foster) who caps his intercourse by strangling his victims with a necktie, muttering "Lovely...lovely!" all the while.

An element frequently in Hitchcock films is tricking the audience into rooting for the villain. A prime example would be the moment in "Psycho" when Norman Bates is watching Marion Crane's car sink into the bog. As it hesitates in its plummet, you hold your breath, hoping it will continue. In "Frenzy," we are treated to a "frenzied" struggle on the part of the rapist to remove a piece of evidence from the rigor mortis grip of one of his victims in the back of a potato truck as it soars down the highway.

However, there are two key components to all great Hitchcock films that are absent here. The first is Bernard Hermann's score. Hermann has the perfect knack for scoring Hitchcock's films in order to enhance or build appropriate amounts of tension or suspense. Ron Goodwin's score for the film was wholly forgettable. The trademark wit and dark humor of Hitchcock films were also absent, leaving the film feeling a little flat. While it may seem a little too pragmatic on my part to be nitpicking at the film by comparing it to Hitchcock's earlier works, I think it's valid to suggest that Hitchcock stick to a proven, successful formula. After all, if it ain't broke, then why fix it?

Watch the Trailer

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