Hancock and Hitchcock: Movies viewed

HANCOCK (2008) stars Will Smith as the drunken, reckless, possibly immortal metahuman whose interventions cause more property and collateral damage than they’re worth, only he can’t seem to care. Jason Bateman plays a PR Man who offers to give Hancock a makeover into the kind of hero people want to be around — but why does his wife find Hancock so familiar? This is mostly a collection of familiar comics cliches — Hancock himself amounts to Superman with Guy Gardner‘s personality — but I’d suggest double-billing it with the superior The Old Guard for another immortal hero. “Do I have permission to touch your body? It’s not sexual.”

Alfred Hitchcock’s SPELLBOUND (1945) stars Ingrid Bergman as a pychoanalyst who falls for Gregory Peck as the new head of the clinic she works at, replacing her mentor Leo G. Carroll. Unfortunately it turns out Peck is an imposter and an amnesiac whose traumatic memory loss may be in response to murdering the real doctor; can Bergman find out the truth before the cops catch up with them?

Lovers On The Run (and posing as married) is familiar Hitchcock stuff but this lacks the tension of Thirty-Nine Steps or Young and Innocent; the police are ineffective so the real tension lies in Bergman’s efforts to break through to Peck’s repressed memories. It doesn’t work but the surreal nightmare sequence designed by Salvador Dali (see below) is certainly memorable.

Peck is another problem, a movie newbie who isn’t strong enough to make his role work. Bergman, however, is great. While the movie trots out the standard cliches of the era that as a professional Bergman is a cold fish who can’t be a real woman (“Women make the best psychiatrists until they fall in love, then they become patients.”), she’s the one who drives the action. Despite falling love she remains a good enough psychoanalyst to crack the case and expose the real killer; Peck is the equivalent of the pretty-girl romantic lead who needs the hero to save her. “You are going to hate me a lot before we’re through.”NOTORIOUS (1946) reunites Bergman and Hitchcock for one of the latter’s classics — though before this rewatching, I’ve never really liked it (I’ve no idea now why not). Bergman plays the patriotic daughter of an American Nazi, drowning her shame in wild parties and booze (the Production Code tidied this up a bit). American agent Cary Grant romances her, then reveals he wants her to spy on Nazi Claude Rains, who’s engaged in sinister doings in South America. Bergman agrees, becoming first Rains’ lover, then his wife, but will he catch on? Does Grant care about Bergman or is she just a tool for him to use?

This is a first-rate film all around, though it took a long trail to get there. Hitchcock, screenwriter Ben Hecht and producer David Selznick fought over lots of elements (Selznick vetoed having the Rains and Grant characters go over a cliff together) and the Production Code wasn’t happy with even a hint of immoral behavior (there are hints, but during the post-war period the Code’s Joe Breen loosened up some, particularly on prestigious A-list films). The final results are well worth seeing. “It’s a lot of hooey — there’s nothing like a love song to give you a good laugh.”

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4 responses to “Hancock and Hitchcock: Movies viewed

  1. Pingback: Klaatu barada Hitchcock! movies viewed | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  2. Pingback: Impossible spies, unconvincing actors: movies viewed | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  3. Pingback: Psychology and Mormon mages: this week’s reading | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  4. Pingback: The Three Faces of Dr. Jekyll: Movies | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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