Blackmail (1929) + Stephen Horne

Blackmail [I saw the silent version of this.]
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writer: Alfred Hitchcock, Benn W. LevyMichael Powell
Based on: Charles Bennett‘s play
Cast: Anny OndraJohn LongdenDonald CalthropCyril RitchardSara AllgoodCharles Paton
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by: Stephen Horne [autoplay warning]
Seen on: 15.02.2015

Alice (Anny Ondra) has been dating Scotland Yard detective Frank (John Longden) for a bit, but she is a little bored by him. That’s why she accepts an invitation by an Artist (Cyril Ritchard). They spend an evening together and Alice agrees to visit his studio in the end. But there things go awry and the Artist tries to rape Alice. She fights him off and kills him. Dazed she runs away, only to be confronted with the deed when Frank takes up the investigation. He quickly connects the murder to Alice, but decides to keep it to himself. Especially when a witness (Donald Calthrop) turns up and tries to blackmail the both of them.

I came rather late to Hitchcock in my cinematic life and I still haven’t seen much, but with each of his film more I see, I appreciate him more as a filmmaker. His films aren’t always perfect, but they are always engaging. That is also true for Blackmail, especially with the musical support by Stephen Horne.

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Rear Window (1954)

Rear Window
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writer: John Michael Hayes
Based on: Cornell Woolrich‘s short story It Had to Be Murder
Cast: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter, Wendell Corey, Raymond Burr

Jeff (James Stewart) broke his leg and that means that he is trapped in a wheelchair in his appartment for the hottest days of summer. He spends his time watching the other people around his backyard – at least when he’s not visited by  his nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter) or his girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly). But then Jeff believes that he heard and saw a murder happening. Only that there is no body, no evidence and no way for him to investigate. And maybe he imagined it after all?

I enjoyed Rear Window. Despite the well-known plot, it was tense but most surprisingly for me was that it was really funny.


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Hitchcock (2012)

Director: Sacha Gervasi
Writer: John J. McLaughlin
Based on: Stephen Rebello‘s book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Danny Huston, Toni Collette, Michael Stuhlbarg, Michael Wincott, Jessica Biel, James D’Arcy, Kurtwood Smith

Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) just finished his last film and is looking for his next project. But nothing seems right to him. While his wife Alma (Helen Mirren) is happily working on a novel by her friend Whit (Danny Huston), Alfred gets increasingly jealous of both Whit and their creativity. But then he discovers a novel – Psycho – and is convinced that he found his new hit, even if everybody else seems to doubt it. Everybody but Alma, that is.

Hitchcock was partly really good and partly not that much. I was entertained but it smacked of “the woman behind the strong man should be happy that she gets to be there at all” syndrome. And it just ran a little long.


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Psycho (1960)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writer: Joseph Stefano, Alma Reville
Based on: Robert Bloch‘s novel
Cast: Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Patricia Hitchcock

Marion (Janet Leigh) works at a small company. When she gets her hands on a lot of money in cash for a business transaction, she decides on a whim to steal it and sets off to get her boyfriend Sam (John Gavin) and start a new life. On her way there, she stops at Bates Motel, though. There the young and a little weird owner Norman (Anthony Perkins), who lives alone with his psychotic mother, gives her a room. But when Marion takes a shower in said room, things end deadly for her.

[I should have seen Psycho ages ago, but better late than never, right?]
Psycho is brilliant. Tense and wonderfully acted and (contrary to many other movie classics who are wrongly called great) really delivers everything its reputation promises.


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The 39 Steps

The 39 Steps is a theater adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock’s movie. There was a production of it in the Theater Center Forum.
Director: Marcus Strahl
Writer: Patrick Barlow
Based on: Alfred Hitchcock‘s movie, written by Charles Bennett and Ian Hay and which was in turn based on John Buchan‘s novel
Cast: Paul König, Leila Strahl, Martin Gesslbauer, Natascha Shalaby

Richard Hannay (Paul König) is frustrated and depressed with his life. But then he meets a mysterious woman (Leila Strahl) at a theater who is obviously in some kind of trouble and who invites herself back to his place. Before Richard can really wrap his head around the goings-on, the woman is stabbed in his apartment, drops a mysterious hint and Richard finds himself on the way to Scotland, trying to figure out what exactly the 39 Steps are.

I was lucky enough to get free tickets for two different things in one week. I would have gladly spent money on the ballet thing. For this play, I was really happy that I didn’t have to.


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Le Surréalisme, c’est moi!

Le Surréalisme, c’est moi! Salvador Dalí & Louise Bourgeois, Glenn Brown, Markus Schinwald, Francesco Vezzoli” is an exhibition currently in the Kunsthalle Wien.

The exhibition shows Salvador Dalí in relation to other artists. In fact, there is mostly art from the other artists and very little from Dalí himself. Though the walls in the entrance area are covered with quotes by Dalí and since he’s got some great quotes, that’s pretty awesome. And there was the illustrations for the Maldoror Songs which were interesting, though definitely not my favorite Dalí drawings..

The artists shown are very different and I absolutely fell in love with Francesco Vezzoli‘s work and Glenn Brown‘s work, though Louise Bourgeois and Markus Schinwald were not so much my thing.

It’s a very short exhibition and if I hadn’t seen it in combination with the Space one, I probably would have been slightly disappointed and annoyed by that. As it was, it was a very good second course.

Also, coolest bit of trivia I learned: Dalí started signing empty sheets of paper and those still keep turning up as forgeries. (According to wikipedia, he was forced to do so. The exhibition didn’t mention that part.)

[Portrait by Philippe Halsman]

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