The penultimate week of my Hitchcock challenge brings to Frenzy. The story of an estranged ‘neck-tie strangler’.

WHAT HAPPENED?

With a ‘neck-tie strangler’ on the loose murdering woman left right and centre, a down on his luck man (Jon Finch) finds himself framed for the murder and must go on the run.

THE GOOD

The film has an interesting storyline with several key moments which where dleightyfully put together; for example there is a flashback of the real necktie murderer remembering his most recent crime which works wonderfully. The film also builds great tension as it is revealed to the audience early on who the real murderer and we are forced to watch as the police ignore obvious clues and convince themselves its Finch.

Watching the film I was unsure whether or not it was supposed to be an out and out black comedy or only be slightly amusing. There are several jokes and witticisms with the dialogue that are obviously their for comedic value however there are also moments within the murders (which are quite shocking) that appeared to be as humorous; without being explicitly so. This confused me and I still remain undecided as to whether I have a horrible sense of humour or Hitchcock was targeting laughs.

Murder

Some of the more obvious jokes work wonderfully as a contrast to the tension of the chase for the murderer, for example a policeman’s wife cooking horrible food, and her husbands reaction to this had me giggling like a moron.

Food

THE BAD

The main let down of the film comes from the performance of the lead actor, Jon Finch; with whom I felt no real connection and whose attitude on the run didn’t create any sympathy for him. In o the Hitchcock films which tackle a similar subject of the wrong man accused such as North by North-west, the skill of the lead actor plays a huge part in creating empathy with the audience and giving us someone to back. In this film Finch was extremely lack-lustre and just didn’t seem like a nice person.

My main problem when watching this film is one that I find difficult to explain; the film as discussed is very Hitchcockian in style and narrative. Yet something is not quite right; it felt at time like an imitation of the best Hitchcock film; as if it was not created by the man himself but a team of people who had studied his work. There is no spark in the film that makes it stand out in his career or the challenge and the reasons for this I cannot fathom.

CAMEO O’CLOCK

Cameo

After originally wanting to cameo as a murder victim – and even going as far as having a model of himself built – Hitchcock decided that for the good of the story (the strangler only murders women) he would make a much more standardised cameo standing amongst a crowd of people wearing a hat.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Frenzy is a tough film to rate because although it is enjoyable, tense and extremely Hitchcockian there is no aspect that is truly memorable; it feels as if it’s a film one could watch and forget with no worries. For this reason I award it 4 Hitchs.

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