Frenzy (1972)


Alfred Hitchcock directs Jon Finch, Barry Foster and Barbara Leigh-Hunt in this grisly thriller about a dislikable man framed for a series of necktie murders by his more charming friend. 

One of The Master’s most dismissed later films is in my opinion one of his very best. A grim yet lively chiller that is unconstricted by Hays Code rules or studio morality. Nudity, violence, sex. A frank, unfettered treat then from a director who always took glee in dancing along the unmarked border of good and bad taste. Part of what makes Frenzy work is it has no permanent protagonist. We shift loyalties with a pompous bartender, a leering sexual attacker, a sweet girl and a traditional cop. None really drive the narrative, they just dance into its spotlight have their time to be centre of attention, then relent so the next player can have their turn as our anchor point. If the film has any kind of consistent lead actor it is Seventies London. Hitch captures a city he loves… the bustle of the Covent Garden fruit market, the crowded bars with their optics and salacious gossip, the alleys and park benches, the roadside cafes and hotel receptions. London is always onlooking yet uncaring, a city to get lost in despite the nosy snooping tabloid attitude of its locals. There are a couple dark set pieces that Hitch wouldn’t have been able to commit to celluloid even in his Psycho heyday. A rape / murder (“Luvverly… Luvverly…Luvverly”) where we are trapped intimately between victim and killer. A struggle with a corpse with growing rigor mortis, it gripping onto some tell tale evidence with the clock of discovery ticking. Alfred, dirty old man, deadly prankster, revered auteur finds himself in an new era where he no longer has to draw the line at innuendo and suggestion. He can show boobs and bums and necks being wrung. There’s little finesse to Frenzy but there is lot of freedom being explored. And Barry Foster is a creepy delight as the cheery nutter.



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