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Family Plot (Hitchcock's last film)

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Family Plot (Hitchcock's last film)

Old 03-19-13, 06:47 AM
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Family Plot (Hitchcock's last film)

Alright. I got that UK set last year and I saw them all during a period of 2-3 months.

Well ALMOST.

Family Plot. Hitch's last film. The film before that in the set was Frenzy, Frenzy probably would have a been a greater film..if it were made 15 or so years before. But I liked it.

Family Plot though? I couldn't get through the first 15 or 20 mins. It was too old. The methods were dated. The plot isn't good. The effects were bad.

I know Hitch had some health issues but goddamn. The little blonde was cute as fuck, stupid characterization or not. The jewel thieves were horrid. The production design at it's worst.

What did you guys think of the film?
Old 03-19-13, 07:46 AM
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Re: Family Plot (Hitchcock's last film)

I never finished my Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection DVD set (stopped at Torn Curtain), so when I got the UK blu set, I started from the end.

Maybe watching Family Plot first helped bc I didn't go into it with better Hitch preceding it, but I thought it was alright. It is definitely minor Hitchcock and it combines way more humor in than usual, but overall I enjoyed it well enough. It is very sitcom-ish.

For me the worst films in the Masterpiece set are his communism adventures, Torn Curtain and Topaz. They feel lazy in so many ways. Thematic retreads with very hollow jingoistic villains. Topaz is probably my least favorite Hitch film overall and Torn Curtain comes in a distant 2nd.
Old 03-19-13, 08:10 AM
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Re: Family Plot (Hitchcock's last film)

Torn Curtain is Hitch not modernizing his filmmaking. He was a man out if his era. It shows horribly. Topaz too. Torn Curtain took me off guard with its filmmaking. Aged.
Old 03-19-13, 09:56 AM
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Re: Family Plot (Hitchcock's last film)

I've owned Family Plot, Torn Curtain, Frenzy and Topaz through 3 sets I think and I can only say I've seen a little bit of Topaz a little of Frenzy. Something was just off about Frenzy but I could see myself watching all of Topaz because I didn't find it horrible.
Old 03-19-13, 10:01 AM
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Re: Family Plot (Hitchcock's last film)

Hitch should have stopped with Frenzy (one of my fave's in the Hitch arsenal). I've seen Family Plot twice -- hoping it would improve with a second viewing. It didn't.
Old 03-19-13, 10:51 AM
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Re: Family Plot (Hitchcock's last film)

FRENZY and FAMILY PLOT were the only Hitchcock films I saw in their original release. Everything else I saw in revivals. I remember seeing MARNIE, TORN CURTAIN and TOPAZ in a triple feature with my sisters and we were seriously disappointed in them. This might have been just after FRENZY came out. I eventually saw MARNIE many times over and came to enjoy it for its style and music despite its narrative flaws. I did eventually see TORN CURTAIN and TOPAZ again and thought some scenes were very well done, while conceptually the films really suffered overall. I remember liking FRENZY when it came out but I never considered it top-drawer Hitchcock. I saw FAMILY PLOT when it came out and didn't like it at all and have never seen it again.
Old 03-19-13, 04:03 PM
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Re: Family Plot (Hitchcock's last film)

Still need to see this one.

Topaz is much better than Torn Curtain or Frenzy, it's Hitch trying to play straight with a narrative while retaining his stylings and he does a very good job at it.

Frenzy is disjointed from the point where the main character gets framed and is on the run.

And Torn Curtain has so much potential but it was ruined by having Julie Andrews and that godawful cheery music which Hitchcock went to after firing Herrmann.
Old 03-19-13, 11:11 PM
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Re: Family Plot (Hitchcock's last film)

Originally Posted by gmanca View Post
Topaz is much better than Torn Curtain or Frenzy, it's Hitch trying to play straight with a narrative while retaining his stylings and he does a very good job at it.
I agree with you. I had never seen Topaz and watched it when I got the set. I didn't think it was great but it was a lot better than I expected.

I also saw Marnie for the first time and it is a very strange film. Not in a good way.

I've always had a soft spot for Family Plot although I know it's not real good. But I find it fun.
Old 03-20-13, 11:17 AM
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Re: Family Plot (Hitchcock's last film)

I didn't care for it. It just felt off for some reason. One of his worst that is for sure.
Old 03-20-13, 12:14 PM
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Re: Family Plot (Hitchcock's last film)

Surprised to see so much Marnie hate. I think it is the best and most ambitious of Hitch's late period films. It is the sort of sexual/psychological aspects was something right up his alley, but more overt than in his other films.

Also, features a shot (of Marnie's hand holding the gun with the ground moving beneath it) that is frequently used by Scorsese (most notably in Gangs of New York).

The overall message in Marnie is fairly chauvinistic, but I don't think anyone would ever argue Hitch was a feminist or even that sensitive when it came to his actresses.
Old 03-20-13, 02:00 PM
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Re: Family Plot (Hitchcock's last film)

I enjoyed the old-fashion style of Family Plot. It's certainly Hitch light but I embrace that. Kind of surprised by the negative comments on Frenzy. I actually feel the film was right in line with the seventies and not 15 years too late. I think the biggest problem was at the time Hitch wasn't as highly regarded as he was after having a string of disappointments.
Old 03-21-13, 11:41 AM
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Re: Family Plot (Hitchcock's last film)

Family Plot was the only Hitchcock I saw in the theater on it's original run, and I was 9, and I loved it. Loved Barbara Harris and Bruce Dern, and the lightness of it. Okay, so I was 9, and I've watched it again since then, and it's not a good film. But the 9 year old in me still kind of loves it!
Old 03-21-13, 12:04 PM
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Re: Family Plot (Hitchcock's last film)

And there is nothing wrong with that.

My initial reaction to my attempt of watching the film was of sadness. Just sad that Hitchcock hit this kind of low. At some point in the set it becomes a real endurance test in seeing the quality go as low as it did.

Once I hit Iron Curtain I saw that Hitch was out of the modern. His style was too old. At least that's what I saw.
Old 03-21-13, 01:16 PM
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Re: Family Plot (Hitchcock's last film)

Originally Posted by BambooLounge View Post
Surprised to see so much Marnie hate. I think it is the best and most ambitious of Hitch's late period films. It is the sort of sexual/psychological aspects was something right up his alley, but more overt than in his other films.

Also, features a shot (of Marnie's hand holding the gun with the ground moving beneath it) that is frequently used by Scorsese (most notably in Gangs of New York).

The overall message in Marnie is fairly chauvinistic, but I don't think anyone would ever argue Hitch was a feminist or even that sensitive when it came to his actresses.
For an interesting take on Hitchcock and his women characters, see this entry from Thompson on Hollywood, posted a couple of days ago:
http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsono...-ass-brunettes

As for late Hitchcock, I remember he was working on one last film after FAMILY PLOT. It was called THE SHORT NIGHT and I think the script was by Ernest Lehman (NORTH BY NORTHWEST) and one film magazine (American Film, I believe, which was then the AFI's monthly film mag) printed some storyboard scenes from the film. So there was a period of hope for a new Hitchcock film. But then one day at work sometime in the late '70s, a co-worker with a friend at Universal Pictures came in and said the word coming from the studio, where Hitchcock was still based, was that the film would never get off the ground and Hitchcock would never make another film. (Which begged the question, even back then, of why, since his storyboards were so detailed, couldn't someone else have undertaken the arduous task of actually directing it.)
Old 03-21-13, 01:18 PM
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Re: Family Plot (Hitchcock's last film)

Marnie is Hitch's last golden era masterpiece and one of his best films.

Torn Curtain is a lazy film with almost no suspense

Topaz is pretty amazing. Hitch is changing his style to look more like the continental espionage thrillers that were popular at the time. Love the look, love the cast, but the story is flawed and the ending is totally botched. I still don't know which ending I like or which one hitch preferred.

Frenzy is an excellent film. Classic Hitchcock suspense and horror set pieces. Hitchcock completely alters his style to what was then the current continental style and rather than an old man trying to look hip he fully pulls it off. His use of violence is amazing. This was in the era of Straw Dogs and Clockwork Orange and Hitch ups the gore and violence to levels he'd never previously gone, but he doesn't go too far and he never feels like the old man aping the young mavericks. It shows that he can play their ultraviolent game and still stay firmly within his unique style. He demonstrates that his style is infinitely elastic. It worked in every decade from the 20's to the 60's and with Frenzy he shows that even with the new more intense ultra violence his thriller paradigm could still work. Without Frenzy I think the David Finchers and Brian De Palmas of the world might not have had the confidence to continue to reinvent the thriller.

Then with Family Plot Hitch goes back to America and makes a film in his classic style. Family Plot looks every bit as much like The Trouble With Harry or Marnie. Rather than dated I am in awe that he could make a film that looked like that. If somebody made Family Plot today I would marvel at how they captured the look of 50's and 60's studio style. And it was just as amazing a feat in 1976 as it would be today. It was a lost art and he nailed it, because he was the master.

I feel much the same way about David Lean's a Passage to India which he made in 1984 but somehow made it look just like his 60's films. Amazing.

Last edited by Mabuse; 03-21-13 at 05:11 PM.
Old 03-21-13, 02:35 PM
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Re: Family Plot (Hitchcock's last film)

TOPAZ has an incredible supporting cast (Philippe Noiret, John Vernon, Michel Piccoli, Karin Dor, Roscoe Lee Browne, etc.) and some great scenes with them, but two really bland leads (Frederick Stafford, John Forsythe) that kind of throw the film's balance off.

FRENZY is memorable largely, I would argue, because of Barry Foster's intense performance as the killer. The killing scenes, in fact, are vicious and ugly and give the film its power. And we feel for the victims. These are what I remember most 40 years later. Now that I'm thinking about this, Foster's character has roots in Uncle Charlie in SHADOW OF A DOUBT and Bruno in STRANGERS ON A TRAIN.

All this discussion (and a very good one it's been--thanks, Solid Snake!) makes me want to re-watch all these late Hitchcock films being discussed, something I haven't done in many years. And I've still got ten days in the Action/Crime/Mystery Challenge over in the DVD Talk forum, where they would all fit.
Old 03-21-13, 04:18 PM
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Re: Family Plot (Hitchcock's last film)

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum View Post
For an interesting take on Hitchcock and his women characters, see this entry from Thompson on Hollywood, posted a couple of days ago:
http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsono...-ass-brunettes
That was indeed an interesting article. My minor quibble with it is in the paranthetical that addresses the reigning analysis of Hitch and his women as "sadistic" as merely a "simplistic." I think that analysis may seem simplistic b/c over time it has become something that is deemed common knowledge. But, I think the parenthetical is not framing the analysis correctly when he goes on to state, "Rather, I read his female characters as tenacious survivors..." I don't believe the two ideas are mutually exclusive.

Hitch ran his female characters through the ringer indeed, which has led to the sadistic analysis. Perhaps, if these females got to carry the day at the end of the film, then Hitch's sadism would have instead been read as female empowerment of the Tangled variety (would have been far ahead of its time). Only, Hitch's women would do the heavy lifting while the men still got the white horse hero treatment by film's end.

I think the author is trying to give Hitch credit for something that was merely a byproduct of his somewhat sadistic treatment of women in his films and not necessarily a conscious effort on his part. Still, a great article showing that Hitch's blondes were not wholly separate from the brunettes that preceded them.

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