he was forced to work in unfamiliar territories

Film On the dvd for Hitchcock’s penultimate film, Topaz, Leonard Malton offers a spirited defence of the director’s most maligned work. He talks about how by now Hitch had been shawn of the crew which had been his family for so many years, how he was forced to work in unfamiliar territories with foreign crews on an adaptation of rather pulpy novel that he didn’t know what to do with, but that it still features some wonderful sequences such as when a lady is murdered and as she drops to the floor her dress spreads about symbolically replacing a blood splatter.

What he fails to mention is how gruelling it is otherwise. Everything he says is true, and yet, between the confusing story about a defector and an assassin and the comedy Cuban stereotypes (every one a Castro) and the horrifyingly slow pacing and the aesthetic that reminded me of the 70s mini-series that used to clog up the schedules of ITV last time they had no money for programmes (and didn’t care about where they got them from) and the tasteless music and the on the nose performances which are essentially the dramatic chipmunk (see below) over and over and over again …

… it’s basically unwatchable. I know because I watched the first half one evening, got bored, my attention wandered, turned it off and then watched the whole thing again the following morning, knowing that I wouldn’t truly feel as though I’d completed this j-word unless I’d seen every frame Hitchcock directed, at least for the cinema, even the bad ones. As we reach the end of this marathon (one week to go), it seems as though I've criticised and praised the master's work in equal measure, which is a surprise. But it's a salient reminder that no matter how hard you try, sometimes you just fall short. But at least he was always interesting.

No comments: