Good Evening…"The Master of Suspense" started each episode of his television show, "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," with that greeting, then proceeded to set the scene for the week's episode. The show ran at same time as some of the director's best motion pictures, including the subject of this movie.
In Hitchcock, we are introduced to the eccentric filmmaker and his wife and uncredited collaborator, Alma Reville, as he struggles to get Psycho made in 1959.
It was such a departure from his other movies, although also a suspenseful plot, that he couldn't convince Paramount to bankroll it. He was so convinced he had to make this picture (after buying up every single book he could so no one could reveal the ending), he financed it himself, mortgaging his home.
While this is the story of Hitchcock's (Anthony Hopkins) making of Psycho, it is also a love story between him and his wife, Alma Reville (Helen Mirren, who just snagged a Golden Globe nomination), who backed him 100% all the while putting up with his fixations on his young, icy blonde stars. Scarlett Johansson plays Janet Leigh very capably, looking striking in the wonderful period wardrobe. James D'Arcy nails it as Anthony Perkins – he's a dead ringer. And Jessica Beal is lovely as Vera Miles, who is at odds with "Hitch." Toni Collett, Danny Huston, and the familiar faces of Ralph Macchio and Wallace Langham of "C.S.I." flesh out supporting roles.
The screenplay also serves up a generous helping of humor, resulting in some hearty laughs. Hitchcock's pronouncements were often colorful and funny, here especially concerning his battle with his weight. There is also a poignant side to the story, well-played
Besides terrific performances by the whole cast, the movie boasts wonderful period clothes, home decor, cars – everything connected to 1959.
Those of a certain age who are very familiar with Sir Hitchcock's films will delight in learning more about the man and his home life, pulling back the curtain that has always veiled the director. They will surely enjoy this movie immensely (myself among them).
For younger audiences, the appeal may be in the star power and in the romance of film making in general. Fans of Psycho will love it, especially the shaping of the iconic movie and how it evolved.
In an interesting, and artsy, addition to the movie, we become acquainted with Hitch's apparent muse, the serial killer Eddie Gein (Michael Wincott), whose grisly deeds were unearthed in 1957, who "speaks" to the director during the planning and filming, inspiring some of Hitch's innovative shooting and editing techniques.
The score by Danny Elfman was right on; not surprising as Elfman's biggest influence was Bernard Herrmann, who scored Psycho.
A very entertaining, well-made movie with terrific acting and a good screenplay, Hitchcock deserves a rating of three and a half reels (out of four).