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Frenzy (rewatch)

Posted by martinteller on February 26, 2012

Kind of interesting to see this so soon after Strangers on a Train and notice the similarities.  Not just the usual common ground in Hitchcock’s “wrong man” films, but things like the protagonist having very public arguments with his wife, who soon ends up dead.  Or the charming killer who appears easy-going on the surface.  Or the prominence of a piece of jewelry the killer wears (Bruno’s tie clip, Rusk’s lapel pin… both narcissistic in design as well).  Or the tense scene where the killer struggles to retrieve a vital piece of evidence.

In other ways, of course, the two are worlds apart, I just enjoying making those little comparisons.  Frenzy finds Hitch at his most lurid, and I wonder if this was the type of film he’d waited his entire career to be able to make.  All those years of suggested sexuality and indirect leering… now he could finally do the real thing!  Tits and ass!  As I said in my previous review, it feels more like an imitation Hitchcock (or an homage) than the genuine article, but maybe that’s mostly because the gloves are off.  I’m not sure it suits him, this grittier, grimmer experience.  Isn’t one of the things we love about Hitchcock the way in which he so skillfully danced around the rules?

However, if one tries not to think about it in comparison to his body of work, there are some fine elements.  The comedy in this film is particularly strong, lots of morbid gags and observations about humanity’s fascination with the grisly.  Also the inspector having to suffer through his wife’s ghastly culinary creations (although surely in 1972 a simple margarita wouldn’t be considered some strange, repulsive concoction?  Maybe it took longer to catch on in Britain, or maybe it never has).  And there are some very good moments of tension.  I dunno… I’m feeling non-committal about it.  I think it’s well constructed and has some fine humor, but it feels almost mean-spirited and a little too desperate to shock its audience.  I guess it’ll probably be another long while before I watch it again, but in general I appreciated it.  Rating: Good


2 Responses to “Frenzy (rewatch)”

  1. kevlarcardhouse said

    It certainly does come off as far more lurid than expected, and as a result I think makes it more dated than his earlier works. In particular, the joke about how a homely woman would enjoy being raped made me cringe. One thing I did like about it, though, was how a lot of the suspense was created by having you follow the perpetuator’s desperate attempts to cover his tracks rather than the innocent man on the run. An interesting trick that is done in a lot of heist films but almost never when we are talking about a killer.

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