My Name is Alfred Hitchcock (2023)

July 17th, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir.: Mark Cousins; mockumentary narrated by Alistair McGowan; UK 2022, 120 min.

My Name is Alfred Hitchcock, by writer/director Mark Cousins (March on Rome), is anything but voiced and directed by the legendary British born director – as claimed at the start of this engaging compendium of Hitchcock facts – but a homage by Cousins, who comes clean at the end but not before two hours of pseudo-introspection by AH have passed. Entertaining as these hours are, in the end Cousins fails to amalgamate the contented pater familias (of wife Alma, daughter and pet dog) with the filmmaker who was perhaps most responsible for creating the “male gaze”, culminating in brutal rape scenes such as those seen in Frenzy (1972).

Captioned into six chapters (Escape, Desire, Loneliness, Time, Fulfilment and Height) ‘Hitchcock’ (an avuncular McGowan with Hitch’s signature East London accent) ponders his career from of a very subjective corner: the director as prime creator in a society that served merely as a backcloth in a world where women are victimised by men, to such a degree that two of his main stars (Annie Ondras’ Alice in Blackmail and Sylvia Sims’ Mrs. Verloc in Sabotage (1936) are forced to kill their torturers, both getting off scot free. Hitchcock’s later films are not only more graphic, they are also voyeuristic, to say the least, culminating in Frenzy.

Yet Cousins fails to explain the filmmaker’s position whilst directing Hollywood’s most glamorous actors of this golden era. “The evil genius” portraits have gone a long way to explain Hitchcock’s ‘dark side’ but Cousins circumvents any reflection on the psychological gap between filmmaker and family man. Only once, near the end – Cousins keeping us guessing in an ambivalent way – does this surface in the Paradine Case (1947): Peck’s lawyer Keane is so devastated by the brutality of his Lordship, the lecherous Judge (Laughton), that he leaves the courtroom after having displayed his passion for his client (Alida Valli). Hitchcock raises the camera to an overhead shot until Peck is diminished into a little boy leaving the classroom after a severe ticking off. Perhaps this is the way Hitchcock felt at end of a day’s shooting

My Name is flawed for obvious reasons, even a late 1960s critique would not have let AH get way with rape and murder, picturing the gruesome deeds with such heightened aesthetics, and leaving the camera to indulge itself in such a gratuitous way. That all said, the film will certainly prove box office catnip as fans and newcomers arrive to lap it all up. AS


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