Alfred Hitchcock’s penultimate film Frenzy, written by Anthony Shaffer, this delightfully grisly little tale features an all-British cast minus star wattage, which may have accounted for its relatively slim showing in the States. Jon Finch plays a down-on-his-luck Londoner who is offered some help by an old pal (Barry Foster).
In fact, Foster is a serial killer the police have been chasing–and he’s framing Finch. Which leads to a classic Hitchcock situation: a guiltless man is forced to prove his innocence while eluding Scotland Yard at the same time.
Spiked with Hitchcock’s trademark dark humor, Frenzy also features a very funny subplot about the Scotland Yard investigator (Alec McCowen) in charge of the case, who must endure meals by a wife (Vivien Merchant) who is taking a gourmet-cooking class. The film revolves around a series of grisly strangulations of women occurring around London that have the police totally baffled. The killer’s choice is a necktie, which pretty much leaves the door wide-open, since almost every man there wears a necktie.
Frenzy was a homecoming of sorts as it was Hitch’s first film shot in the UK since he left during the 40’s. Hitch’s droll and dark sense of humor change what could have been a run of the mill thriller into a minor masterpiece.
The best bits in Frenzy are every bit as startling and powerful as those in Rear Window, Vertigo and North by Northwest. Although his wife Alma’s heart attack couldn’t have informed the pre-production stages of the script and film, it certainly had an impact on the atmosphere captured in the film. There is an underlying darkness here only hinted at before, most notably in The Birds, Vertigo and Marnie.
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Year of Release: 1972
Character to watch: Jon Finch as Richard Ian Blaney.
Journal your answers to the following questions after you watch the movie.
- How does this particular character’s journey compare with yours?
- Did the character develop certain characteristics during the movie that you have or that you would like to have? If so, what are those characteristics?
- What obstacles did this character face? What was his or her biggest challenge?
- What would you have done differently if you had been in the same position as the character?
- Is this character the type of person you would be friends with? Why or why not?