“Master of Manipulation”

“Hotshots” looks at a movie!


Hitchcock is about the famous British director, Alfred Hitchcock, who was known as the Master of Suspense, and takes place in Hollywood when he was making his most famous film, the 1960 Psycho.


We see Hitchcock in 1959 Chicago at the opening of his previous movie, his 46th, and a reporter points out that Hitchcock is 60 and says shouldn’t he just quit while he is ahead.

Thankfully, Hitchcock didn’t, who is played by Anthony Hopkins made up to look like the director and using a voice as reminiscent of the popular figure on television that we soon begin to believe that he is Hitchcock.

In fact, Hitchcock says that he is looking for a nice clean, nasty little book to make into his next movie.

That book becomes Psycho, a novel by Robert Bloch, based on Ed Gein and the murders he had committed in Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, we meet Alma, Hitchcock’s wife, played by Helen Mirren, and we learn that she had even been Hitchcock’s boss in England when he was first starting out in the movie business, and they had collaborated on some of his early movies.

So, Alma helps Hitchcock with some of the casting and even makes suggestions for the plot, such as killing off the leading actress after the first 30 minutes instead of waiting halfway through.

Scarlett Johansson plays Janet Leigh, James D’Arcy plays Anthony Perkins, and in their first meeting, Hitchcock says, “Call me Hitch.  Hold the ‘cock.'”

Then we see all the difficulties that Hitch had making this movie, with the studio, the censors, and even an actress with whom Hitch had a previous history, Vera Miles, played by Jessica Biel.

At one point, the picture is two days behind and $60,000 over budget, Hitch gets sick and confined to bed, and Alma goes to the set and takes over, showing everyone that she knows what she is doing.

One thing that might confuse you is that Hitch dreams and fantasizes about Ed Gein, the real murderer, and we see those scenes, but there is enough humor and lightheartedness in the movie to make up for these distractions, just like Hitch had in his own movies and TV shows.

Hitchcock is about the Master of Suspense, but he could just as easily have been called the Master of Manipulation.

I’m Dan Culberson and this is “Hotshots.”