Alfred Hitchcock's penultimate film, written by Anthony Shaffer (who also wrote Sleuth), this delightfully grisly little tale features an all-British cast minus star wattage, which may have accounted for its relatively sli... more »m 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. --Marshall Fine« less
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 03/18/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Frenzy was a homecoming of sorts as it was Hitch's first film shot in the UK since he left during the 40's. I would disagree with those who claim that Frenzy can't stand with Hitch's best work; 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 atomsphere captured in the film. There is an underlying darkness here only hinted at before (most explicitly in The Birds, Vertigo and Marnie).The performances are uniformly excellent. The fact that Hitch chose stage actors and lesser known British film actors for this film gives it a bit more grit and reality than his earlier films. Anthony Schaffer's script plays with the routine cliches of suspense films. A number of sequences (including the scene where the murderer is trying to retrieve a bit of incriminating evidence from one of his victims) flirt with sardonic humor. The dialog like most of Hitch's films is outstanding. Here Schaffer, again, turns many of the cliches (some from Hitch's own films) from film dialog into a droll commentary on both the action and the film audience as observers.The extras included on this DVD are particularly outstanding given the standing this film has with most film buffs. The new interviews with Anna Massey, Jon Finch and others sheds considerable light on Hitch's methods during the making of the film and discounts a number of myths about him (including the idea that he didn't really work much with the actors. While he trusted the actor's instincts he also recognized that a well rehearsed film is akin to a storyboarded film; it's clear that preparation for both aspects were equally important).Why is this film a "lesser" Hitchcock for most critics? It probably has to do with the more contemporary edge in some of the scenes. Frenzy has more in common with the brutality evident in early Hitchcock classics like Murder than with Rear Window or Shadow of a Doubt (a film that shares a lot of the same themes although Frenzy is a darker, more contemporary take on the same type of story). Frenzy clearly is Hitch's last great film and although it occasionally slips, its best moments are every bit the equal of his best films. On the whole the strengths of Frenzy outweight the weaknesses and make this terrific film a must for Hitch fans. One interesting observation in closing about Frenzy. Everybody points to Hitch's classic films as influencing Brian DePalma. It's clear that DePalma (who had already begun making films prior to 1972)borrowed more from Frenzy than other Hitchcock classics. Even a film like DePalma's Sisters (released the year after Frenzy) owes a great debt to this film."
The Last Great Hitchcock Thriller
John McElwee | North Carolina USA | 03/01/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Think about this.The man was 70 when he directed it---6000 miles away from home.For someone who had enjoyed the comfort and routine of shuttling each day from Universal to Bellagio Road for the last twenty years,this was pretty radical---and it couldn't have been any picnic sitting all day on those wet,chilly London streets either. I never appreciated all of this at the age of 21 when I was running "Frenzy" as a 16mm college rental.At that time,I enjoyed a good,tense---maybe not top drawer,but certainly up to standard---Hitchcock thriller.Having seen it many times in the intervening years, I have modified my opinion---"Frenzy" is a GREAT Hitchcock thriller.I won't say "one of his best",because how much room do we have in a pantheon that includes "Shadow Of A Doubt","Notorious","Strangers On A Train" and so many others?Let's just say that "Frenzy" is utterly different from the rest----another bold stroke from a director who was always ahead of the cutting edge. It's also one of the wittiest pictures ever made---funnier than any one of a hundred celebrated comedies I can think of.Anthony Shaeffer had a lot to do with that---he was the writer---and it's a masterful job he turned in---if only these two could have done a whole series of thrillers together!Besides the well-known set-pieces(the potato truck,the back-tracking shot from Barry Foster's doorway,etc.),there are so many wonderful little throwaway moments to treasure---Jon Finch stepping on the grapes,Foster picking his teeth with the tie pin---so many priceless details.Hitchcock obviously loved being in that Covent Garden---it's teeming with moving crates of fruits and vegetables---people hiding out among the deliveries,casually picking samples and eating---it's all so relaxed and evocative---you feel as though you're right there in the bustle of a typical London day. It's great that Hitchcock was able to share such a vivid and colorful homecoming with us---the fact that it's such a marvellously grisly and twisted ride is like the icing on the cake.Yes,the first rape/murder scene is truly disturbing,and I wish he'd toned it down,but Hitchcock was clearly pushing the limits here---releasing a few of those demons that had been pent-up through so many of the code-compliant pictures he'd made for so many years.It's a lapse in taste,but I've forgiven it.There's so much to love in "Frenzy",it's hard not to---besides,you've all got fast-forward buttons.MCA should release this on DVD---truly a buried treasure among Hitchcock classics."
Not the Hitchcock of old...but brilliant nonetheless
keviny01 | 03/08/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hitchcock's second last film is a tightly-written, well-acted suspense thriller featuring a luckless and underachieving hero being framed for murder, a cunning and psychotic villain whose murderous itinerary is detailed, a gritty and realistic directorial style from Hitch, a story set in a working-class milieu that is far apart from the glamorous and exotic settings of his earlier films, and one horrific murder scene in which the depiction of brutality and evil reached a new height for the director. This film is quite a world apart from the elegant, smooth, urbane suspense pictures he made in the 40s and 50s. But with the increasingly jaded audiences in the 70s, the change was probably inevitable. Still, Hitchcock's craftsmanship made FRENZY as exciting and memorable as his more traditional thrillers.This DVD from MGM/UA presents the film in a new, widescreen video transfer and a Dolby Digital monophonic sound track. The picture looks a bit dark for my liking; unfortunately there is no "color bars" on the disc for me to test the display. Colors are bright and realistic, however. The audio is bright and sharp.There is an original 45-minute 'Making-Of' documentary that features new interviews of actors Jon Finch, Barry Foster, and Anna Massey, a theatrical trailer (showing Hitchcock floating on the Thames), 100 or so B&W production photos, and the usual "production notes" and "cast biographies"."
The Master's Last Psychological Thriller
Erik North | San Gabriel, CA USA | 04/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For the first time in twenty-plus years, Alfred Hitchcock returned to his native England to make what turned out to be his final psychological thriller FRENZY. Despite a series of only modestly successful films since his 1963 triumph with THE BIRDS, Hitchcock had not lost his touch when he was handed Anthony Shaffer's fine screenplay (based on the Arthur LaBern book "Goodbye Picadilly, Farewell Leicester Square"). And although his approach to sex and violence is more explicit here (thanks to the ease in censorship restrictions that happened only a few years before), Hitchcock still delivers a film quite typical of his work--suspenseful, chilling, and often quite funny in a blackly humorous way.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. We are then introduced to Richard Blaney (Jon Finch) an ex-RAF officer and divorcee who has this tendency to drink too often and get a little bit too rough with people, including his ex-wife (Barbara Leigh-Hunt). The only real solace he gets is from his friend Robert Rusk (Barry Foster), a fruits-and-vegetables salesman in Covent Garden. What Finch doesn't realize, however, is that Foster is, in fact, the necktie strangler. And when Leigh-Hunt is found strangled in her office, the police, having interviewed her secretary, who had heard Finch arguing with her violently only half an hour before she was killed, immediately suspect and later arrest Finch, while Foster gets away. But an alert detective (Alec McCowen) suspects that there is something to Finch's story that could prove him innocent of the crimes.Although it was only a moderate hit here in America, owing to an all-British cast (all of whom are extremely good), and also quite controversial because of the grisly nature of Foster's strangulation of Leigh-Hunt, FRENZY is nevertheless a brilliant movie, far more concise and better plotted than many of today's serial-killer films of this day. Foster's performance is extremely complex; instead of the typical mad-dog killer, he is a suave businessman with a thing for women--for seducing and then strangling them. Finch's performance is, by necessity, less sympathetic so as to keep the audience off-balance, thinking that he is indeed the killer.And unlike too many pseudo-Hitchcock films of our time, FRENZY has moments of dry British wit and morbid dark comedy. One involves two policemen chatting in a bar about the killings, where one remarks, "We haven't had a good murder since (Agatha) Christie", and that such a spree "is always good for tourism." Another involves Foster having to get an incriminating piece of evidence off of the corpse of one of his female victims in a potato truck--and he has to actually break off her fingers to do it. Hitchcock later said, "The remarkable thing about that scene is how it improved the taste of the potatoes." Still another is McCowen enduring the "gourmet cooking" of his dotty wife (Vivien Merchant).A superior piece from one of the all-time great directors, a man who was an influence on everyone from DePalma to Spielberg and beyond, FRENZY is a disturbing but always intriguing horror opus well worth re-discovering."
Good Hitchcock Fun!
Alex Udvary | chicago, il United States | 08/12/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Hitchcock returned to one of his favorite themes in his movies,and also one of the most enjoyable to watch. That of the innocent man trying to prove his innonence. Barry Foster and Jon Finch are simply wonderful to watch in the master's second to last film. Hitchcock really made in a sense a "come back" with this film. Proving that he still had what it took to scare the living daylights out of us. But,of course this does not compare to Hitchcock's earlier masterpieces like "Shadow Of A Doubt","Lifeboat",and "Foreign Correspondent". A good movie to start off with Hitchcock films though and a good one to watch on a lonely Friday night with some friends. A very witty and suspenseful Hitchcock gem."