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Film / Hitchcock

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"You shouldn't wait until halfway through. Kill her after thirty minutes."
Alma Reville Hitchcock

Hitchcock is a 2012 biopic about filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, directed by Sacha Gervasi and starring Anthony Hopkins in the title role and Helen Mirren as Hitchcock's wife Alma. The film revolves around the creation of one of Hitch's most well-known works, Psycho, from its inception as a titillating novel he is reading to watching the first theatergoers scream in fright at the infamous shower scene.

The film also deals with the couple's marriage, their struggles with each other and the occasionally petty jealousies that could drive them apart. We are shown their ability to work together to create great works, as well as their ability to work apart and create not-so-great works.

The film's Ensemble Cast is rounded out by Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh, James D'Arcy as Anthony Perkins, Jessica Biel as Vera Miles, Danny Huston as the Hitchcocks' friend and previous contributor Whitfield Cook, Michael Wincott as real-life murderer Ed Gein (whose crimes inpired the Norman Bates character), Ralph Macchio as screenwriter Joseph Stefano, Michael Stuhlbarg as talent agent Lew Wasserman, and Toni Collette as Hitchcock's script supervisor Peggy Robertson.

This film contains examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: When filming is wrapped, Janet Leigh finds the Mrs. Bates decayed corpse prop in her makeup chair in her dressing room. Janet's scream is heard, Hitchcock opens the door, then says, "I hope you don't mind. I told Mrs. Bates she could use your dressing room." Despite the fact that Janet looked displeased, rolling her eyes and shaking her head, she has a little grin on her face as she closes the door.
  • Adapted Out: Hitchcock and Alma's daughter Patricia, a heavy collaborator in her father's films who even had a small acting role in Psycho (and a more prominent role in Strangers on a Train), is not featured or even mentioned at all.
  • Adaptation Displacement: An unusually literal version in-universe, as Hitchcock tries to buy up every available copy of Robert Bloch's novel to avoid spoiling the ending.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Vera Miles was a blonde in real life. She's played here by the brunette Jessica Biel – though she does wear a blonde wig on the set of the film.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: A reporter drops one to Hitchcock at the premiere of his film North By Northwest, leaving him stunned.
    Reporter: ...But you're 60 years old. Shouldn't you just quit while you're ahead?
    • Whitfield asks Alma one after she catches him in the middle of an affair with another woman at his beach cottage.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: Alma gives one to Hitchcock after delivering her "The Reason You Suck" Speech to him, leaving him at a loss for words.
    Alma: Consider this a reminder: I am your Wife, Alma Reville, not one of those contract blondes you badger and torment with your specific directions.
  • And the Adventure Continues: A variation. The film ends with a bird landing on Hitchcock's shoulder, referencing the next film he would work on.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • A small one. The last scene of the movie implies (albeit humorously) that making a horror movie about birds was a completely spontaneous idea that Hitchcock got after making Psycho, when a bird perched on his shoulder. But as any Hitchcock fan will tell you, his obsession with birds was his well-known Creator Thumbprint that showed up all over his filmography—including Psycho.Specifically 
    • As Janet Leigh and Vera Miles were never filmed together in any scenes, only a few times were they ever in the studio on the same days, instead of what appears to be the entire period that Leigh was present and filming.
  • Biopic: The film tells the life of Hitchcock from the release of North By Northwest (1959) to the release of Psycho (1960).
  • Book Ends: The film starts and ends with Hitchcock speaking directly to the audience about a production he will soon start on.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Hitchcock will occasionally speak directly to the audience as he was known to do in real life. The Book Ends are the most direct example.
  • Business Trip Adultery: Hitchcock and Alma are both thinking about it, although neither has much success. Whitfield, by contrast, cheats on both his wife and on Alma.
  • Control Freak: Hitch. It's why Vera Miles opted for marriage and motherhood.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Hitch, of course! It was one of his trademarks in real life! Alma is also great at this.
    Hitchcock: I'll never be able to find a Hitchcock blonde as beautiful as you.
    Alma: I've waited thirty years to hear you say that.
    Hitchcock: And that, my dear, is why they call me the Master of Suspense.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: Alma and Whitfield go off to work on a story at his beach house, Hitchcock accuses them of having an affair, to which she responds by attacking him for putting her in that situation, but never denies the affair. Truth in Television: Both Alma and Whitfield would, after Hitchcock's death, admit that they did in fact have a brief affair during the production of Psycho.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Alma has this attitude, as she opts to work with Whitfield just so she won't be overshadowed by her husband on one production.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Hitchcock ogles his wife Alma getting dressed while he is taking a bath.
    Alma: Muhammad had the eyes of peeping toms gouged out with arrows.
  • Enforced Method Acting:
    • In-universe; Hitchcock torments Janet Leigh with increasingly explicit sexual fantasies while she's filming the car scene.
    • Later, he grows frustrated with filming the infamous shower scene and takes the knife himself, doing the slashing. Not actually physically harming Janet Leigh but enough to make her genuinely frightened and scream.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Ed Gein and his devotion to his long-dead mother. The film posits the theory that this actually resulted in Ed bludgeoning his brother Henry to death.note 
    Ed: You can't leave us, Henry. She needs us both.
    Henry: Can you stop being a mama's boy for one second? [beat] I'm not trying to hurt you, but Jesus, you gotta live your own life sometime. That woman can take care of her own god-
    [Ed bludgeons Henry with a shovel]
  • Fanservice: Discussed while editing the film as Alma notices a bit of nudity in a few frames of the shower scene.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The film details the production of Psycho and the personal risks taken by Hitchcock to make this movie. The viewer is probably aware that Psycho will be a success.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Hitchcock's investment pitch includes graphic photographs of Ed Gein's victims, or what remains of them. We never get a good look at what's in the photographs.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Alma is quite jealous over Hitchcock's schoolboy crush on Janet Leigh and his fixation with his blonde movie actresses.
  • Hard-Work Montage: The film editing sequence.
  • Historical Beauty Update: Alma Hitchcock in real life was very matronly and ordinary, very unlike the shapely and stunning Helen Mirren, and Hitch himself was far more wrinkly and flabby around the jowline than Anthony Hopkins in the fatsuit.
  • Hypocrite: Hitchcock chides Alma for supposedly having an an affair with Whitfield. Yet he harbors a crush on Janet Leigh and fixates over his 'perfect blonde' actresses for his films many times.
  • Imagine Spot: When Hitch attempts the shower scene by improvising stabbing at a frightened Janet Leigh, he's imagining he's attacking all the male producers who look down at him and catching his wife Alma and Whitfield together.
  • Incest Subtext: Ed Gein murdered his brother just to stay closer to his dying mother. Even going far as to crawl into what used to be her bed and cradle her decaying corpse like a child.
  • Kick the Dog: Hitch spitefully calling Alma's personal project "stillborn" is a moment of quite surprising cruelty, considering he understands better than most how much emotional energy creators invest in their works. After she calls him out for it and he has cooled down enough to think it over, he is genuinely remorseful and sincerely apologises for it.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Hitchcock complaining of the reviews of his film North By Northwest.
    Hitchcock: He said he found the climax to be "overdrawn".
    Alma: Well, I doubt Mr. Weiler has had a climax in years.
  • Male Gaze: Janet Leigh is introduced walking into her meeting with Hitchcock at a restaurant, with the camera focusing on her curvy shape from behind as she sashays on her way.
  • Meta Casting: Scarlett Johansson has long been noted in fashion circles for her love of gowns and hairstyles inspired by The Golden Age of Hollywood. So who better to cast as one of the stars of that era?
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Alma's friendship with Whitfield by Hitchcock. The cheating part is more ambiguous.
  • Mononymous Biopic Title: The film is titled Hitchcock, which is the last name of the protagonist.
  • The One That Got Away: Grace Kelly's marriage and abandoning of acting has cast a long shadow over Hitchcock's movies and his marriage.
  • The Peeping Tom: It shows up constantly as a theme for Hitchcock himself. A small hole in the trailer walls allows Hitchcock to do this to his female starlets.
  • Prima Donna Director: Arguably applies to Hitchcock.
  • "Psycho" Strings: Hitchcock initially rejects them, then changes his mind when he realizes how effective they are.
  • Real Footage Re-creation: The film briefly recreates backstage scenes from the making of Psycho.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Hitchcock and Alma give one to each other during a heated argument over their marriage and the work production of Psycho.
    Hitchcock: I'm under extraordinary pressures on this picture and the least you can do is give me your full support.
    Alma: Full support! We've mortgaged our house! I'm your wife! I celebrate with you when the reviews are good. I cry for you when they are bad! I put up with all those people who look through me as if I were invisible because all they see is the great and glorious ALFRED HITCHCOCK!
  • Sanity Slippage: Happens to Hitch as he suffers from some Hallucinations as his stress level increases during the filming and due to the perceived infidelity of Alma.
  • Set Behind the Scenes: The film details the production of Psycho.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Book Ends, as well as the closing credits music, reference Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
    • The scene where Hitchcock is silhouetted on Janet Leigh's dressing room door also references the series.
    • A non-Hitchcock example has Hitch needling the financiers by saying the finger cakes are actually fingers. Charming, Dr. Lecter...
  • Shower of Love: Hitchcock imagines catching Whitfield and Alma together in the shower as he violently method acts the stabbing for the shower scene in Psycho.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Vera Miles is shown with short hair, and has to wear a blonde wig on set, as she had shaved her head for Five Branded Women and hadn't yet grown it all back.
    • The book that Alma helps Whitfield write is a real one that was eventually published in 1981.
    • A reference to Janet Leigh's work before Psycho is made when Vera Miles warns her of Hitchcock's tendencies and Leigh brushes it off with "Compared to Orson Welles, he's a sweetheart." Leigh had previously worked for Orson Welles in his film Touch of Evil.
  • Sleeping Single: Hitchcock and Alma, who are also in a Sexless Marriage.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Vera Miles accuses Hitchcock of being one.
  • Stealth Pun: When Anthony Perkins insists on referring to Hitch as "Mr. Hitchcock":
    Hitchcock: You may call me "Hitch." Hold the "cock."
  • Sweet Tooth: Janet Leigh offers some candy corn to Hitchcock, saying how the girls love them. He indulges in some while Janet asks if he preferred chocolates over candy corn.
  • Trailers Always Lie:
    • The trailer makes it seem as though Alma suggests killing off Marion midway through Psycho as a grudge against Janet Leigh herself for being the object of Hitchcock's desire. Not only is that not the case, but also Alma carefully compliments Leigh at the end on her "professional" behavior—that is, on her ability to resist Hitchcock's attempts to seduce her.
    • Also, a cute moment in the trailer has someone asking how Psycho ends, to which Hitch replies "I promised Mother I wouldn't tell." This joke, alas, is not in the movie.
  • Transparent Closet: In-Universe, Anthony Perkins is relatively commonly known to be homosexual. In Real Life this claim is a more contentious subject.
  • Tranquil Fury: When chastised by his brother, Ed Gein doesn't say anything. He just whacks him in the head with a shovel and goes back to work.
  • Weight Woe: Hitchcock is on a perpetual diet, alternating with bouts of binge eating when under stress.
  • What Could Have Been: An in-universe example: Hitch turns down Ian Fleming's Casino Royale. He could have been the first director of the James Bond series.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: The filmmakers weren't allowed to use any footage from Psycho, resulting in the film's focus on the Hitchcock marriage as opposed to the nuts-and-bolts of the making of the film.
  • Wrong-Name Outburst: When Hitchcock picks up the phone, Alma is on the line and asks for Whitfield, mistaking the other person on the other line answering for Whitfield. This causes Hitchcock to become infuriated and start drinking before 3:00 PM.


Video Example(s):


Alfred Hitchcock projects

In order to elicit properly terrified screams from his star, Hitchcock pretends to attack her himself, and to make *his* performance more threatening, imagines himself attacking the people standing in the way of making his vision a reality (the head of the board of censors, who won't give him a certificate, the head of the studio, who won't give him any money, and his wife and her old friend, whom he believes are having an affair)

How well does it match the trope?

4.75 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / ImagineSpot

Media sources: