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To Kill a Mockingbird

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To Kill a Mockingbird (1963)

I had the privilege of viewing To Kill a Mockingbird in the theater recently as part of TCM and Fanthom’s collaboration that puts classics on big screens around the country for one-day events. The theater I visited was stuffed with viewers, which is great to see for an old movie even if it is something as popular as this one.

I’m not sure how long it had been since I had seen To Kill a Mockingbird from start to finish. I saw it for the first time as a high schooler after reading the book in school and thought it was a good flick then. But to see it as an adult with a better appreciation for cinema, strikes a much stronger chord.

The plot is almost two separate stories, with the trial of Tom Robinson (Brock Peters) interrupting the tale of Scout (Mary Badham) and Jem (Phillip Alford) growing up in small-town Alabama with their father as a top-notch role model. It is the trial portion of the story that is the most impactful for me. Not only is the unjust trial of a black man for the rape of a white woman frustrating to no end, but Atticus’ (Gregory Peck) handling of the case is remarkable. The trial is emotionally draining for both us and Atticus and the unfortunate end always draws tears.

Somehow Atticus seems to be the only person who thinks as we do today on this matter who is also brave enough to seek out and defend the truth. The ignorance of Mr. Ewell (James Anderson) and his disgusting nature is unbearable to witness as is the willingness of the townsmen to convict a man before he has had his day in court.

Scout’s interference when a mob attempts to access Tom at the jail before the trial also grabs at my throat. These angry men, some of whom would claim to be friends with Atticus, place the attorney in a precarious position, but the innocent and ignorant bliss of a child is enough to shame the aggressors into a retreat. The moment is unforgettable.

But life goes on after the trial and picks up where the beginning portion of the movie left off. The surrounding story depicts the adventures Scout and Jem have, especially during their summers out of school. In the summers they are joined by a visiting boy Dill (John Megna) who alters Scout’s relationship with Jem. Whereas the siblings seem to have existed as equal partners in crime, the arrival of Dill into the mix puts Scout in a subordinate position where she is regularly reminding the boys that their mischief is not a good idea and being consistently ignored.

One of the regular sources of curiosity is the Radley home. The Radleys have a son that the children believe to be a lunatic who was once held captive in the basement of the jail until he became sick from the dampness. The legend creates a Boo Radley (Robert Duvall) far more terrifying than the man who would intervene and save the lives Scout and Jem. Again, Atticus seems to be the only person in town who takes a rationale and honest view of the boy, which we see at the film’s end with his all-so-natural introduction of one Arthur Radley.

But despite the fear the children face at the thought of Boo, the mysteries related to their interaction with the home suggest to us that the man is a kind, gentle sort. The surprise untangling and folding of Jem’s pants that had been stuck in the Radley fence and the conveyance of trinkets in the hollow of a tree are only friendly gestures by a man living in a lonely world.

The brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird and its on-screen enactment is that it reminds all of us about being a child. We might not have grown up in a small town in the 1930s, but we all experienced adventure, spooky legends and fear of some unknown. We also all wish we had parents –and perhaps some of us did– like Atticus Finch. Although perfectly capable of disciplining his children for their disobedience, he approaches every situation with a level head and utmost calm. The children plainly respect their father as much as they love him.

Despite the impressive look of the little town, it is not a place you can visit. Universal built it on the studio backlot after surveying the actual town of Harper Lee’s book, Monroeville, which had seen many changes in the 30 years since the story’s setting. The studio even went so far as to disassemble and reestablish clapboard houses on the set, which gives it much of its realism. The movie won an Oscar for Best Art Direction. Among its other awards were Best Actor for Peck and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Source: Ben Mankiewicz

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Mr. and Mrs. Smith

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Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941)

Alfred Hitchcock is most popularly known today as the “master of suspense”, and rightfully so. Most people remember him for the drama of his thrillers and some find his pictures terrifying. What is perhaps ignored by the average viewer, however, is the man’s astute sense of humor.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith was the only movie Hitchcock made in America that was strictly a comedy with no suspense whatever. This was not his only venture into the genre, however, as many of his early English films were suspense-free. In all Hitchcock flicks, however, the viewer can find evidence of “Hitchcockian humor”, many times slipped in under the nose of the Hayes Office. Much of the master’s humor related to sexual innuendo, and the director was constantly pushing the envelope to see what he could get away with under the Production Code. Mr. and Mrs. Smith is one movie that is all about what consists of proper behavior for an unmarried couple, even if they’ve been married before.

Perfectly paired are Robert Montgomery and Carole Lombard as Ann and David Smith. The flick opens with the servants wondering what is going on in the couple’s bedroom, where they have been holed up for three days. The duo has a policy of never leaving their bedroom until an argument has been resolved, David’s job as a lawyer be damned. We come in just in time to see the couple rekindle their affection, but over breakfast, Ann insists on another of their traditions: asking a question to which David must give a totally honest answer. The question is: If you could do it over again, would you marry me. The answer: no.

This answer becomes particularly important when later that day David learns that his marriage to Ann is not legal because of a mix up with the way the county and state in which they were married provided the paperwork. The man who delivers the news, Mr. Deever (Charles Halton), knew Ann when she was a girl and so drops by the home to give her the information. Ann is convinced David will marry her right away, but in trying to make a big surprise of the situation, he does not. That leads to Ann furiously throwing her non-husband out of their apartment and returning to her maiden name and life.

The remainder of the story involves David fighting to get Ann back while each tries to make the other jealous. Ann does this by dating David’s law practice partner (Gene Raymond). Both are too stubborn and too conniving to relinquish control until finally their games land each in the other’s arms.

The fun in Mr. and Mrs. Smith is not just the almost screwball-style of acting our stars bring to the screen –I’ll get to that momentarily– but the moral questions it raises. Hitchcock loved to create circumstances in his movies when an unmarried couple find themselves forced to share a bedroom (see The 39 Steps and Spellbound). In this case the viewer cannot help but wonder about just how wrong it was that the two have been sharing a bed for three years and whether they can continue to do so without redoing their vows. This movie could obviously never be made today and make any sort of sense.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith is pure gold for me. With my two favorite actors in the lead paired with my favorite director, the movie cannot go wrong. Lombard is as zany as she is in My Man Godfrey, although, her character is more on the sane side in this case. Montgomery really brings out his comedic side as well, both in dialogue and physically. The lines are so well written with such subtle humor and innuendo that the more you pay attention the funnier the movie is. I could watch it everyday.

Touch of Evil

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Touch of Evil (1958)

It had been probably seven years since I had seen Touch of Evil, so when the opportunity presented itself to see it on the big screen, I said, sure, why not? I probably should have been shouting from the rafters because in the interim I had completely forgotten just how much of a masterpiece the picture is.

The Orson Welles flick is most commonly celebrated for its 3 minute and 30 second opening sequence. This long take weaves the camera through the streets of the Mexico border area that is our setting after we witness a bomb placed in the trunk of a car. The camera eventually unites us with stars Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh, the newlyweds who are crossing into America. They pass over just as the ill-fated car does and are within view of the fiery blaze that occupies the screen after the movie’s first cut.

Heston’s Mike Vargas is a Mexico native and detective in that country, but the crime is sort of out of his jurisdiction because it happened on American soil. The American authorities, headed up by the grotesque Hank Quinlan (Welles), agree to work with Vargas because the bomb was planted south of the border. In the midst of this, however, Vargas has to find a place to keep the new wife, who is an American. Susan is too tough to spend the duration of the story in a hotel room, however, and the story follows her increasingly dangerous circumstances while Vargas is busy investigating.

The challenge Vargas faces is that Quinlan is far from an honorable cop in the typical sense of the word. He is well revered for bringing so many men to justice, but as the Mexican will eventually learn, he often goes outside the law to ensure convictions. Quinlan drills into a young Mexican man as his prime suspect for the explosion that murdered a construction magnate and his girlfriend. The man is dating the victim’s daughter, who would inherit her father’s fortune. Upon interrogation at the couple’s apartment, however, Vargas discovers Quinlan has planted the damning evidence but none of the American cops are willing to doubt their leader.

As Vargas digs into Quinlan’s corrupt past, Susan has already been twice threatened by a group of young Mexican greasers. The woman is being targeted to get to Vargas, although their motivation is not totally clear. Susan refuses to be frightened until she finds herself alone in a hotel complex. She is in desperate need of sleep, but when a group of party animals move in next door, she has more than exhaustion to worry about. What will transpire over the following day is more horrible than she could ever have predicted.

Touch of Evil was filmed almost entirely at night. The picture is incredibly dark and Welles uses the black and white film to his advantage in exuding a dark mood on all who watch it. Low-angle shots heighten the drama as we watch the shadowy faces of the unfriendly Vargas and Quinlan. Welles also uses sound to convey the solitude of night as our characters’ footsteps echo though streets and shadows run along walls. We have a sense that danger lurks around every corner, and are constantly on edge. Enemies attack from multiple angles as the American authorities offer no refuge from the Mexican criminals.

Welles might give his best career performance in Touch of Evil. Quinlan is such a despicable and powerful character and Welles is capable of intimidating the audience right out of their seats. I normally do not care much for Heston, but he is great as Vargas. His tan look, with dark hair and mustache, creates a convincing Mexican although he refrains from any accent. I think this helps to level the playing field between Vargas and the American detectives; although, we are still fully aware he is an outcast among this group. Leigh, meanwhile, has plenty of sex appeal and the sass necessary to make her arrogant enough to believe she is safe from harm. She reportedly broke her arm before filming and the cast was hidden during filming. During the hotel scenes, the cast was sawn off and her arm reset after filming.

Marlene Dietrich plays a small part as a gypsy to whom Quinlan goes for his traditional binge drinking. She delivers lines in her usual German drawl through a cloud of smoke she emits via the stogie on which she sucks. High-angle shots flatter her angular face while dark hair and lipstick transform her nationality. Welles alumnus Joseph Cotton appears in a tiny role, as apparently Keenan Wynn does, however, I did not spot him (so if anyone can tell me where he is, I’ll revisit the flick and find him!).

Touch of Evil is textbook filmmaking. It is artistic to the extreme while offering a riveting, convoluted story and powerful acting that has one biting his nails for half the feature. Seeing it on the big screen was a real treat, but it is a must-see movie no matter the venue.

Source: TCM.com

Throne of Blood

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Throne of Blood (1957)

I’m generally not a fan of Asian filmmaking. Outside of the occasional bad horror movie or bad other-genre movie getting ripped by Mystery Science Theater 3000, the only quality Japanese films I have seen have been by Director Akria Kurosawa. In truth, I did not care for Roshomon, but I did thoroughly enjoy Throne of Blood.

I became aware of this movie a couple years ago when seeing a play of the same name in Shakespeare Town, Ashland, Ore. The program referenced that the play was based on this movie, which is a Japanese adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”. The play was stellar in an unsettelingly creepy way, and now that I have viewed the film, I see that it drew heavily from its inspiration.

A feudal kingdom is in the midst of war when we open. The Great Lord and his advisory panel are convinced the land will fall to its enemies, but are relieved when word arrives that two warriors have led victories on two battle fields. Washizu (Toshiro Mifune) and Miki (Minoru Chiaki) are the heroes whom we meet on their journey back to Spiderweb Castle. En route they become lost in the woods surrounding the castle, the paths through which are spiderweb-like so as to protect the kingdom from enemies.

Soon the men hear a wicked laughter in the woods and come across a pale, white-haired androgynous person (Chieko Naniwa) who sits in a wall-less hut and manipulates yarn on a spinning wheel. The evil creature –as the men see it– prophesizes that Washizu is already master of the North Castle and Miki the commander of Fort One. The spirit also predicts that Washizu will become Great Lord of Spiderweb Castle one day as will Miki’s son.

Upon arrival at Spiderweb Castle, the Great Lord bestows upon the war heroes just what the spirit foretold. As time passes, Washizu becomes increasingly ambitious and eager to fulfill his destiny. When the Great Lord visits the North Castle, his wife Asaji (Isuzu Yamada) –possibly the human embodiment of the evil spirit– convinces Washizu to murder the lord and blame it on his guards. The man then seizes the throne even though many suspect he killed his way to the top.

Once established as lord of Spiderweb Castle, Washizu sees enemies on all sides. When he must choose an heir, he considers selecting Miki’s –his best friend since childhood– son, but Asaji suggests she is pregnant. The evil spirit visits Washizu once more to assure him he will not lose in battle until the trees of Spiderweb Forrest rise up against him. That prophecy unfolds.

When watching a foreign film, it is often difficult to judge the acting quality, but in Throne of Blood it is evident we aren’t watching the same cast as Goke, Body Snatchers from Hell. Mifune as Washizu is particularly impressive in his body language and facial expressions. His wife, played by Yamada, brings the creepy, manipulative role to dark places. She seems to be constantly in a subordinated position on the floor, yet yields great control over her man. The performance of the evil spirit by Naniwa is heightened by special effects. The white makeup, fog around her and warped voice would send a chill down anyone’s spine.

If you are looking for a great way to start off your Halloween season, or just want to see a brilliant rendition of “Macbeth”, Throne of Blood is not to be missed. The picture is also well restored on the Criterion Collection DVD, which I rented; although, it offers little in the way of bonus features.

 Meet the witch (it arrives at minute 3):

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House

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Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)

Despite being such a great romantic lead, Cary Grant spent a portion of his career playing very convincing family men. Grant is probably the husband and father we all might prefer to have, as he often played these parts subtly fighting for his position as man of the house while still convincing the women around them that he revered them. In Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, Grant takes charge of his family’s living circumstances only to be tripped up at every step along the way.

As Jim Blandings, Grant and his family live in a good-size apartment in New York City where he works in the advertising business. Despite living his whole life in the cramped metropolis, the man is starting to get fed up with sharing a tight bathroom with is wife Muriel, played by Myrna Loy, and the lack of closet space in part because of his two daughters. Seeing an ad promoting a country life in Connecticut, Jim makes up his mind to buy a home there instead of let his wife remodel the apartment for $7,000 on his $15,000 annual salary.

The city slickers get duped into buying a run-down “fixer upper” type home for $10,000 that has so many problems it ultimately must be demolished. The couple draw up plans for a new home with an excessive number of closets and bathrooms at a price tag of $11,000. Mishaps galore ensue that continually add to the cost of construction. The bills are driving Jim mad and the couple almost pulls out of the plan but a sketch of the proposed home is too perfect to walk away.

In the midst of this work is family friend and attorney Bill Cole, played by Melvyn Douglas. The man continually advises the family against their initial efforts but supports them regardless. In one scene when the skeleton of the home is in place, Jim and Muriel hear a pounding sound just after the workers have left the site. They ascend to the second floor where they find Bill had become locked in a closet and was there pounding a bucket against the floor. Mr. Blandings insists this special closet made just for him works perfectly. He goes in, closes the door, and comes out. Wanting to illustrate to Muriel the simplicity of an exit, he invites her in, and all three become trapped inside. Jim breaks the window in the small room to secure their freedom just as the door creaks open on its own.

As the hardships of homeownership surmount the family, Jim is struggling at work because of a new account for Wham brand ham. He spends a torturous night at the office trying to find a new slogan. Meanwhile, Bill has been forced to stay the night in the new home because bridge flooding has trapped him in Connecticut. The storm has also trapped the Blandings kids at a neighbor’s house. Muriel assures us from the get go we do not have to worry about an affair, but a jealous Jim is not so convinced in the morning. The house might cost Jim his job, send the family into bankruptcy and destroy a marriage, but the Blandings will endure.

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House reminds me of The Money Pit that also dealt with a couple’s endeavors to repair an old house. The latter is the sort of movie that can be too frustrating for some people to watch. This classic, however, is more tolerable because it brings more heart and spots of happiness to the screen and drives its characters to a lower degree of madness.

The best part of the movie is the witty dialogue and wonderful acting by Grant, who brings back shades of the screwball era in which he prospered. Loy stands in as the ever-devoted wife, who is not beyond making a financial mistake here or there. Douglas is charming and has his fair share of comedic lines as he watches the mistakes of his friends bite them in the ass.

Mr. Blandings is certainly among my favorite Grant movies. It helps that Loy is there to back him up, but the man really stands out as the star of this comedy.

  • Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House is set for 8 p.m. ET Sept. 4 on TCM.

The Best Years of Our Lives

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The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

The Best Years of Our Lives is one of the best movies I have ever seen. I thought it might be prudent to get that out front because this post will be nothing but praise for the masterpiece. But I’m not alone in my assertion as the flick won eight of the nine Oscars for which it was nominated.

The picture, which came out a year after World War II ended, was about just that: the end. It follows three soldiers who return to the same hometown and try to re-enter their past lives. The Best Actor award went to Dana Andrews who plays pilot Fred Derry and steals away the majority of our attention during the movie. The Best Supporting Actor Academy Award went to first-time actor and real-life soldier Harold Russell, who lost his hands and forearms in a training accident and had them replaced by hooks.

Joining both Fred and Homer (Russell) on a flight home to Boone City is Army Sgt. Al Stephenson, played by Fredric March. The three bond over their short trip home and share the same reluctance to leave their taxicab when it pulls up to each house. Al comes home to a surprised and overwhelmed wife in Myrna Loy, whose emotions overwhelm us as much as she in reuniting with her husband. The couple have a teenage son (Michael Hall)and a slightly older daughter who has been working as a nurse.

Homer, meanwhile, comes home to loving parents and a young sister. His mother cannot help but cry at the sight of his disability, frustrating the soldier who has become accustomed to it. He was set to marry the girl next door, Wilma (Cathy O’Donnell), before he left for the war. Although Wilma shows no hesitation around her beau, he is too self conscious about the hooks to believe in their future and so avoids contact with her.

Fred, lastly, stops at his parents run-down home to say hello and to reunite with the wife he married 80-some days before deployment. She no longer lives with the folks, however, and has taken a job at a night club and an apartment in town as well.

Unable to handle the home surroundings that are no longer familiar to him, Al takes his wife and daughter Peggy (Teresa Wright) out on the town, ending their late night at Butch’s Place. Homer too finds his way there after spilling a glass of lemonade he was unable to manage with his prosthetics. Fred, unsuccessful in locating his wife at any of the clubs, joins the gang. A very drunk Fred is forward but polite with Peggy and ultimately spends the night in her bed –although she is on the couch.

The next day, Fred finally reunites with his wife Marie (Virginia Mayo), who is thrilled to see him. The couple soon spend down the $1,000 in cash the man has, and the revelation that nightly outings are nixed from their lives frustrates Marie. The two are growing distant as Fred and Peggy are falling in love, a love of which Al does not approve.

Director William Wellman sets up from Peggy and Fred’s first encounter their destiny together. Seating them beside one another in a crowded booth at Butch’s, we naturally pair them. We also see a great degree of interaction between the two before ever meeting Marie, so we make up our minds early about the winning woman.

The two able-bodied men are finding employment to be a challenge but in disparate ways. Al has not only been offered back his job at the bank, but has been promoted to a post where he will consider GI loans. His idea of a safe bet is different from that of the execs, however, stirring some tension. Fred, meanwhile, returns to a job at what used to be a drug store and works beneath the man he used to oversee. He had sworn never to return to such a low position, but has no skills outside of flying a plane. Poverty challenges his home life.

Both men illustrate for the audience the frustration of returning to the mundane experiences of regular employment. Work is not chief among soldiers’ thoughts when imagining their return home, but it nevertheless remains a requirement to maintain a livelihood. Fred, who was a captain in the Air Force and a pro flyer, is disheartened to be placed in such a menial position where he has no control.

My favorite scene in The Best Years of Our Lives is the last. Fred and Peggy are among the guests in a crowded house awaiting the bride’s appearance. Seeing that Al has arrived, Fred goes on the hunt for Peggy, whom he has weeks before romantially rejected as a way to keep her father happy. When he spots the woman, he stops, standing arms at his side facing her across the room, unmoving. The camera’s high-angle shot does not seem to be focusing on anything in particular, but our eyes are drawn to him. Peggy, who has been in conversation, seems to sense his gaze and turns towards him and approaches. They exchange pleasantries but make not gestures of love. Later, as the bride and groom read their vows, Fred is standing as best man but is looking across the room to Peggy, who seems to glow in her light-colored dress, who is also watching him. The cinematography is subtle as the bride and groom take up half the screen and their speaking can distract us from the shot’s true meaning. The recitation of the vows and pronouncement of man and wife seems as much meant for the bride and groom as for Peggy and Fred. When the ceremony is over, Fred walks directly to Peggy and kisses her as though they are alone in the room.

The Best Years of Our Lives is a masterpiece in its gentle conveyance of the harsh realities of returning soldiers who are damaged goods to certain degrees in physical and mental ways. The prolonged friendship among the men is also a testament to how they could feel more at home with each other than with their own families because of the semi-shared experiences they had overseas. Both the men and their loved ones suffer under the circumstances with Peggy being one neutral and healing figure for Fred. This movie is apt to make you cry, sigh and smile and is one of the most touching pictures I’ve ever seen.

  • The Best Years of Our Lives is set for 8 p.m. ET Aug. 2 and 2:15 a.m. ET Oct. 10 on TCM.

The Best Hitchcock Movie (That Hitchcock Never Made)

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Tell No One (2006)

    There’s a reason Alfred Hitchcock remains probably the best remembered director in movie history. His unique style of both filming and storytelling have inspired directors for generations and continues today. A few years ago I caught the French film Tell No One (Ne le Dis a Personne) in the theater and it today is still one of the best movies I have ever seen.

     Although most of Hitchcock’s films were adapted from plays or books, they were always given a thorough rewriting, often by multiple scribes. The end result was always something Hitchcockian. When viewing his body of work, certain plot themes arise, primarily the “wrong man” scenario and the chase. Besides the movie The Wrong Manthat was based on a real-life incident that resembled a Hitchcock plot, the master of suspense used this approach in many others including The Man Who Knew Too Much The 39 Steps, To Catch a Thief, North by Northwest and Frenzy, among others.  A story centered on a chase is also used repeatedly in Hitchcock’s repertoire, whether that chase happens around a city or across the country culminating at Mount Rushmore.

     Tell No One has both these elements on top of a fantastic mystery. But the movie does not just draw from Hitchcock in its structure; it also has the characteristic of many detective stories of the past –such as the Thin Man and Pink Panther movies– that become so complex that a character must explain at the film’s close just what has transpired and what motivated the crime.

     In Tell No One, Alex Beck (François Cluzet) and his wife Margot (Marie-Josée Croze) are visiting their home town where they grew up together and go for a dip at the secluded lake they have visited every year. After a minor disagreement, Margot leaves the wooden raft they are lying on in the darkness and returns to shore. When Alex hear’s her call out, he panics and swims to the dock where he is promptly knocked out with a bat and falls unconscious into the water.

     Eight years later and Dr. Beck receives an anonymous email at his office telling him to click on a link at a specific time coinciding with he anniversary of his wife’s death. The link reveals a surveillance camera of a public area, and moments later Margot appears and looks straight into it. An email that follows instructs him to tell no one because “they are watching.”

     Unlike many Hitchcock films that have the wronged man working as a loner to solve the crime for which he is accused, Alex brings in his sister’s partner Helene (Kristin Scott Thomas) who is willing to believe that Margot is alive. Alex starts to ask questions, first of his cop father in law (André Dussollier) about the appearance of Margot’s beaten face when he identified her (Alex was in the hospital and in a three-day coma after being knocked out into the lake but somehow left on the dock where police found him). The woman had been tortured and left with dead animals therefore appearing to be the victim of a serial killer with that M.O. The story had many holes in it, however, and police had suspected Alex was the killer.

     Next, Alex inquires with Margot’s best friend Charlotte (Florence Thomassin) about new photos police have presented from Margot’s post office box (held under a fake name) that depict her severely bruised. Charlotte says the injuries were not a result of a car accident as she had been instructed to say, but she does not know their origin. Charlotte, however, is soon visited by some mysterious observers who torture her to discover where Margot is and ultimately kill her. As Alex was the last to see the woman alive, he is the police’s main suspect.

     Alex is informed the police are on their way to arrest him, but he has received another message instructing him to meet at a park and concluding with “I love you,” thus confirming to him that it is his wife he will find there. Unwilling to miss the date, Alex flees and leads a heated chase across the city before eluding the cops. From here Alex does some additional investigating and the police chief starts to think the man is innocent of all crimes.

     The mystery is difficult to follow; the individuals who are after Alex and Margot and the where and why of Margot’s absence are impossible to determine based on the information we are given. The truth has traces of conspiracy in it but not to the extent the viewer might think at certain junctures through the film.

     Tell No One has the additional Hitchcock theme of worthless law enforcement. Hitch was not a fan of police, but the extent to which his aversion manifested can be debated between truth and myth. As a boy, his father had him locked up in a jail cell for an afternoon because of some digression, and he allegedly from that point on feared police. He refused to drive, always having someone else take the wheel, because of that dislike. Most of his movies have police sniffing up the wrong tree and mis-accusing the wrong man. The same is true here where the plot not only involves Alex as suspect in his wife’s murder but the events are prompted by their new accusal when the bodies of two men are found buried at Margot’s murder site. It is because of police ineptitude in this and Hitchcock flicks that our everyday man finds himself in the role of detective, making the adventure more relatable for we everymen.

     A compliment I can give to Tell No One that does not find its way into my considerations of Hitchcock flicks is that it is far more emotional than any of the master’s classics. Cluzet gives a wonderful performance through his raw emotions as he discovers what he thinks is his living wife and fights his way to get to her. Although all Hitch movies had an element of romance to them, none created the connection between characters we have in Tell No One. Margot is painted as the perfect wife from the opening sequence, and the childhood romance and lifelong relationship she shared with Alex makes their separation all the more profound. You won’t see me crying during any Hitchcock films, but I’ll admit to some mistiness at multiple moments here.

  • A special thanks to Dorian at Tales of the Easily Distracted for hosting such a creative blogathon about the Hitchcock movies the master never made. See what else fits the bill on her site.
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