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United Kingdom 1972
Directed by
Alfred Hitchcock
116 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars


There has been much discussion about Hitchcock's misogyny and this film fuels the fires in no uncertain terms. Made after the empty failures of Torn Curtain (1966) and Topaz (1969) it was hailed as a return to form for the director and that it is, although it is a rather gruesome film that is not likely to appeal to the uninitiated.

Based on a novel Goodbye Picadilly, Farewell Leicester Square by Arthur LaBern and adapted for the screen by Anthony Schaffer, best known as the author of the stage thriller, Sleuth, it tells the story of "The Necktie Strangler" of Covent Garden.

The trumpeted return works on many levels. Hitchcock is back in Britain and in his home turf of the East End (there is some nice location photography in and around Covent Garden prior to its conversion to a tourist mall in the 90s), the wrong man theme re-emerges, and of course there's the sadistic killer of women, a theme that first emerged in Hitchcock's work in The Lodger in 1927. What is different about this film is that for Hitchcock it is unusually graphic, partly due no doubt to the relaxed censorship laws of the times but there is also the sense that the director is pushing the envelope of self-concealment and his poker-faced humour borders on the macabre.

If one looks at the film as a refinement of Hitchcock's themes explored repeatedly over a lengthy career  Frenzy is a impressively well-made film with one long shot that tracks away from the killer's door, down a stairwell and out into the street with the level of aural hubbub rising in tandem is as striking as anything the director had ever done.




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