Hitchcock Or Hitchrocks?
Posted on Wednesday September 19, 2007, 11:42 by Glen Ferris in Empire States
With Disturbia reimagining Rear Window for the Asbo-savvy teen generation, I got to thinking whether taking inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock is ever a good idea. Sure the Shia LeBeouf vehicle makes a good fist of it but with a possibly ill-advised remake of The Birds in the works and the fat man's back catalogue providing inspiration for the most unlikely projects, how many Hitch homages should have been put out of their misery?
What’s the plot? Crook on the run Marion Crane (Anne Heche), checks into the lonely Bates Motel, where stuffed animals and strategically hung pictures make up the chintzy demo and the sum total of the friendly staff comprises timid Norman (Vince Vaughn) and his little-seen mother. A touch of onanism later, it’s time for a slash in the shower and some self-loathing as Norman tries to clean up his mother’s dirty work.
Was it worth it? No. No it wasn’t. Gus Van Sant’s shot-by-shot remake of the 1960 original may polish some of the tricksier shots but the appalling casting and the ever-present question of “Why bother?” hangs over the whole thing like the stench of a rotting mater familias.
Hitchcock or Hitchrocks!? As evidenced by Vaughn’s vigorous wanking scene, it’s a horror for all the wrong reasons.
Rear Window (1998)
What’s the plot? When recently paralyzed architect and now full-time voyeur Jason Kemp (Christopher Reeve) believes he has witnessed a murder from his apartment window, he talks his friend Claudia (Daryl Hannah) into checking out what shenanigans took place across the way. But things soon turn nasty as the unfriendly neighbour turns his homicidal attentions to the wheelchair-bound twitcher.
Was it worth it? Well, it’s a TV movie so the low-budget look is kinda justified and there’s a certain ghoulish interest in seeing Reeve act post riding accident (he does a decent job by the way). That said, it’s mostly devoid of shocks and unravels at a leaden pace - the Jimmy Stewart original remains unscathed.
Hitchcock or Hitchrocks!? Not bad but not good, better stick with the original.
Throw Momma From The Train (1987)
What’s the plot? Larry Donner (Billy Crystal) is an author and English professor with a literary grudge against his ex-wife. Owen Lift (Danny DeVito), one of Larry’s mature students, is suffering from the overbearing demands of his obnoxious mother. When Owen offers to kill Larry’s subject of malice in return for defenestrating mater from a moving locomotive, the writer thinks it’s a joke – that’s until his ex goes missing and the pupil expects his favour repaid.
Was it worth it? A comedy remake of Strangers On A Train (1951), DeVito’s cinematic directorial debut works surprisingly well thanks to spirited turns from the leads and a ferocious performance from The Goonies’ Anne Ramsey (surely a contender for the most unpleasant character actor of all time). The fact it plays for funnies rather than thrills diverts it away from direct comparisons with the Master.
Hitchcock or Hitchrocks!? Momma Fratelli’s in it – of course it rocks!
A Perfect Murder (1998)
What’s the plot? Wealthy industrialist Steven Taylor (Michael Douglas) has it all – except the fidelity of his young trophy wife Emily (Gwyneth Paltrow). On discovering his unfaithful missus is having it away with an artist (Viggo Mortensen in his second Hitchcock remake after Van Sant’s Psycho), Taylor decides the only way to ensure his lady’s faithfulness is to have her killed.
Was it worth it? A remake of one of Hitch’s more pedestrian thrillers, Dial M For Murder (1954), Andrew Davis’ version takes away the stagey constrictions and paints over the cracks with a very Hollywood gloss. The double-crossing plot plays out the same but a wise move away from the big-boned director’s MO ensures this effort stands on its own merits.
Hitchcock or Hitchrocks!? Surprisingly it’s a decent little thriller.
The Man Who Knew Too Little (1997)
What’s The Plot? Wallace Ritchie (Bill Murray) is an American on holiday in London who gets caught up in a most elaborate spy game - a plot to kick-start a second cold war by killing off some Russian dignitaries. The problem is Wallace thinks it’s all a big joke and the fate of the world hangs on the shoulders of a man who can’t even remember to drive on the left-hand side during a high-speed pursuit.
Was it worth it? Like Throw Momma From The Train, this plays proceedings for laughs but, with pre-Rushmore renaissance Murray suffering from creative funk, the farcical giggles are generally few and far between. Kudos, though, for aping the silly accents in The Man Who Knew Too Much.
Hitchcock or Hitchrocks!? Okay, it’s not a direct rip-off (Hitchcock even remade his own 1934 original in 1956 with Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day) but it gets two big thumbs down for not being funny.
Murder By Numbers (2002)
What’s The Plot? Spoiled schoolkids Justin Pendleton (Michael Pitt) and Richard Haywood plot to excite up their rich and bored existence by murdering a girl for the hell of it. Planning everything down to the last detail, they reckon they’ve plotted the perfect murder – but the snotty little yoofs didn’t reckon on the tenaciousness of homicide detective Cassie Mayweather (Sandra Bullock).
Was it worth it? Loosely based on the story of real-life thrill-killers Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, this decidedly bland effort owes plenty to Hitchcock’s Rope – the one where two students kill an associate, tie him up in an old chest and invite some pals round for a dinner party. An unimpressive effort on its own merit but in the Big Man’s shadow it pales into insignificance.
Hitchcock or Hitchrocks!? Move along, there’s nothing to see here.
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Posted on Friday September 21, 2007, 16:16
Dont remake the birds or Vertigo for that matter. Leave them alone.
Posted on Friday September 21, 2007, 16:17
I should probably start by saying that I'm a big fan of Hitchcock. As such I probably fall into that annoying 'irrationally protective' category that is usually reserved for obsessive music fans who won't accept a cover version of their favourite artist, no matter how good it is.
That said I find that there is a bizarre irony to trying to remake a Hitchcock film. It was the originality of his story-telling and directorial innovation that made him such a success in the first place.
If someone wants to make homage to Hitchcock, they should do something new and different with the so-called 'thriller' genre which, to my mind, is seriously floundering.
Of course this is easier said than done, but I'm sure someone out there has the talent and the balls to do it. Perhaps there's even a studio that will let them!
Posted on Saturday September 22, 2007, 11:31
No amount of Christopher Reeve sympathy should disguise the fact that the Rear Window remake was an abomination.
Posted on Sunday September 23, 2007, 20:58
The Man Who Knew Too Little is funny! how can you not laugh at lines like
"are you mafia? CIA?"
and what about the bit where murray tries to escape while the bad guys are playing ker-plunk?
or better still, on a window-ledge, three stories up, under fire:
"hang on a second fellas, i think i got something in my eye!"
Posted on Monday September 24, 2007, 12:50
Having fallen asleep (drunk) on two separate occasions trying to watch VERTIGO, I finally saw it for the first time recently. It really doesn't need another review, at least of of all from me. But I was impressed with the lack of script (okay, talking) and the tension.
In terms of the look, has anyone made anything remotely similar: a "dreamscape" in waking life? When I read reviews for films like TOTAL RECALL and years later AI etc, I envisaged something similar to what VERTIGO achieved.
But hey, what do I know right? ...Nurse!
Posted on Wednesday September 26, 2007, 11:27
I doubt any director will ever match Hitch, for his character as much as his wealth of great movies, but I reckon Christopher Nolan has to be up there as a contender to the Modern Hitchcock crown.
ThisIsntEvenMyDesk- Eyes Wide Shut has a very dreamy quality if you're interested.
Posted on Thursday September 27, 2007, 13:18
Time will tell...
I was thinking more of.. A Matter of Life and Death, Blithe Spirit, Red Shoes etc. (pre-Vertigo I admit). These films I admire for not pandering to the audience or not as much as today's cinema. I enjoyed Eyes Wide Shut for tackling that subject and doing so in an amusing way...as well Syndey Pollack.
For what its worth, my nomination for the "modern Hitchcock crown"...
Posted on Friday September 28, 2007, 11:56
Wow, not a mention of De Palma anywhere. Sure he never had any direct remakes, but most of his films do look and feel "Hitchcockian"
Posted on Tuesday October 2, 2007, 17:29
OK, there ARE some remakes out there that are great (Dawn of the Dead and Ocean's 11) and they say hollywood is running out of ideas, but how many books and graphic novels are coming out right now??? Soooo many and they just get forgotten...it might make a shit film but I'd rather welcome an adaptation that a remake. Hitchcock is waaaay too unique to be remade (however, both versions of THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH was excellent!) .
I am just so sick of of remakes that are worthless (remakes to improve a good story like Oceans 11 is OK) and sequels to films that only happen because of the money, and not because they are good (GET SERENITY A BLOODY SEQUEL!!)
i'VE SAID ALL i CAN I THINK LOL
x x x x x
Posted on Friday October 12, 2007, 08:52
I dont know why Hollywood feels it needs the remake or re imagine Hitchcock. He will never be outdone so dont even try. If Vertigo, The Birds or any othrs are remade I will go on a rampage I proise you.
F*** the teenage generation! I am 18 years old and have any Hitchcock movie thats been realeased on DVD so thats a good few DVD'S. I f you are too cool or more like to stupid to appreciate true cinema then dont even bother!!!