Mar 10, 2015

Alfred Hitchcock's 'White Album'

'... This tendency to praise Hitchcock for his flaws is most evident when it comes to Vertigo, a fulminous cloudscape boasting the most unsatisfactory ending of the director’s career yet “so purely a movie – so purely involved in what movies do — that we can almost let the plot go,” writes Wood. “It doesn't get lost. But it mimes the lostness of characters caught between conspiracy and desire, between sobriety and fascination.” This is an elegantly executed dive from the high-board, even if it sounds like an ad for a new fragrance ("between conspiracy and desire, between sobriety and fascination... Eau de Alfred"), and doesn’t shake one’s suspicion that Vertigo is the Hitchcock movie for those who, above all, wish the director had been French, in the same way that the White Album is the Beatles album for those who most wish they had instead been The Doors. Adapted from a French potboiler by the author of Henri-Georges Clouzet’s Les Diabolique, to which it was a direct response, the film is a maze with no exit, lots of wandering, looking, longing, and virtually no jokes. Which is not to say that it isn’t the also most wrenching of his works — if ever a film was meant to find a second life, it is this one, with its plot involving possible reincarnation, and a love story which pushes Hitchcock’s pygmalionism to its heartbroken conclusion. But excessive praise for it is something of a backhanded compliment to the rest of the oeuvre, as if Hitchcock’s fingers had first to be prized loose from the cookie jar of narrative before he could be rewarded.'
— from my review of Michael Wood's Alfred Hitchcock: The Man Who Knew Too Much for Intelligent Life

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