46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Droll and dark Hitchcock suspense film,
This review is from: Frenzy (DVD)
Frenzy was a homecoming of sorts as it was Hitch's first film shot in the UK since he left during the 40's. I would disagree with those who claim that Frenzy can't stand with Hitch's best work; Hitch's droll and dark sense of humor change what could have been a run of the mill thriller into a minor masterpiece. The best bits in Frenzy are every bit as startling and powerful as those in Rear Window, Vertigo and North by Northwest. Although his wife Alma's heart attack couldn't have informed the pre-production stages of the script and film, it certainly had an impact on the atomsphere captured in the film. There is an underlying darkness here only hinted at before (most explicitly in The Birds, Vertigo and Marnie).
The performances are uniformly excellent. The fact that Hitch chose stage actors and lesser known British film actors for this film gives it a bit more grit and reality than his earlier films. Anthony Schaffer's script plays with the routine cliches of suspense films. A number of sequences (including the scene where the murderer is trying to retrieve a bit of incriminating evidence from one of his victims) flirt with sardonic humor. The dialog like most of Hitch's films is outstanding. Here Schaffer, again, turns many of the cliches (some from Hitch's own films) from film dialog into a droll commentary on both the action and the film audience as observers.
The extras included on this DVD are particularly outstanding given the standing this film has with most film buffs. The new interviews with Anna Massey, Jon Finch and others sheds considerable light on Hitch's methods during the making of the film and discounts a number of myths about him (including the idea that he didn't really work much with the actors. While he trusted the actor's instincts he also recognized that a well rehearsed film is akin to a storyboarded film; it's clear that preparation for both aspects were equally important).
Why is this film a "lesser" Hitchcock for most critics? It probably has to do with the more contemporary edge in some of the scenes. Frenzy has more in common with the brutality evident in early Hitchcock classics like Murder than with Rear Window or Shadow of a Doubt (a film that shares a lot of the same themes although Frenzy is a darker, more contemporary take on the same type of story). Frenzy clearly is Hitch's last great film and although it occasionally slips, its best moments are every bit the equal of his best films. On the whole the strengths of Frenzy outweight the weaknesses and make this terrific film a must for Hitch fans. One interesting observation in closing about Frenzy. Everybody points to Hitch's classic films as influencing Brian DePalma. It's clear that DePalma (who had already begun making films prior to 1972)borrowed more from Frenzy than other Hitchcock classics. Even a film like DePalma's Sisters (released the year after Frenzy) owes a great debt to this film.