OFFBEAT: Hopkins and Mirren dead-on in 'Hitchcock'

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2012-11-23T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Hopkins and Mirren dead-on in 'Hitchcock'Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

By the time director Alfred Hitchcock was working on his 1960 film "Psycho," he had already done more than 50 major motion pictures and earned his reputation associated with the macabre.

And this previous long list of work ranked as large feature productions with major studios, including enlisting major Hollywood players in the starring roles. Just think, by the time he got to his 1944 film "Lifeboat," his all-star cast included names such as Hume Cronyn, Mary Anderson, Tallulah Bankhead, William Bendix and Walter Slezak.

For this reason, though I was thoroughly engrossed watching the advance press screening of the new film "Hitchcock," I was also shocked (long before seeing the recreation of the famed stabbing "shower scene") to discover that in order to get "Psycho" made, Hitchcock had to borrow against the beautiful English manor estate he shared with beloved wife Alma.

It's clear this was a man who believed in investing everything in the projects he believed needed to be brought to life.

Fox Searchlight Pictures' film "Hitchcock," starring chameleon Anthony Hopkins as the master of suspense and crafty Helen Mirren as his dutiful wife, is fascinatingly, frighteningly fantastic.

All the secrets are revealed about the man behind the famous profile and the wife who was at his side for so many of his film successes. Both Hopkins and Mirren are transformed inside and out as each steps into the identities of one of Hollywood's most complicated couples.

Though the film is first opening today in limited release (Chicago) nationwide, it's a movie worth finding.

It is centered on the lengths "Hitch" had to go to get the movie "Psycho" made. Scarlett Johansson plays the director's "favorite blonde" for this particular film, Janet Leigh, and actor James D'Arcy does a spot-on turn as tormented and timid Anthony Perkins.

Along the way, there are plenty of other interesting portrayals to savor, from Toni Collette as Peggy, the director's faithful and ever-present secretary, and Jessica Biel as put-upon actress Vera Miles, to cameos, like Ralph Macchio as "mommy-issue" writer Joseph Stefano (who penned the screenplay for "Psycho") and even Mary Anne McGarry as fussy gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (none too humored about Hitchcock's reference to "finger sandwiches" during a press conference).

Director Sacha Gervasi and writers John J. McLaughlin (screenplay) and Stephen Rebello (book) do an outstanding job of leaving no stone unturned in revealing details ranging from "peep holes" in the studio dressing rooms to Hitchcock's perpetual diets and obsessions, as well as his constant battle with film censors.

But best of all, it's the exploration of the accepted relationship between Hitchcock and his wife that make every twist and turn worthwhile.

Before seeing this film, I had completely forgotten the film "Psycho" was based on on the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch about the real crimes of Wisconsin murderer and grave robber Ed Gein, who lived just 40 miles from Bloch.

See "Hitchock," and you'll appreciate his every film far more than you ever did before. The film is 98 minutes and rated PG-13.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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