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Alfred Hitchcock: The Shape of Suspense

Wednesday, April 24, 2013
7:00 p.m. Frenzy
Alfred Hitchcock (U.K., 1972)

Frenzy, arguably the last of the true Hitchcock oeuvre, is, like his early film The Lodger, set in London and about a killer of women. In both, a man innocent of the rape-murders he is accused of can barely control his own violence and plans deadly revenge on the real killer, with whom he has a disturbing affinity. The studio imposed a happy ending on The Lodger, and the heroine instead of getting murdered gets married. There were no such restrictions on Hitchcock when he came to make Frenzy. The world he depicts is a vicious one, without hope. The fear of being incorporated by another, dominant personality, so prominent in Hitchcock’s later work, is given grotesque literal expression in a complex of images that link food, sex, and death, and the film contains one of the most loathsome and disturbingly detailed rape-murders in the history of cinema.

—Marilyn Fabe

• Written by Anthony Shaffer, based on the novel Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square by Arthur La Bern. Photographed by Gilbert Taylor, Leonard South. With Jon Finch, Alec McCowen, Barry Foster, Billie Whitelaw. (116 mins, Color, 35mm, From Universal)