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Frenzy (#110 of 3)

Homosocialisms David Greven’s Psycho-Sexual: Male Desire in Hitchcock, De Palma, Scorsese, and Friedkin

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Homosocialisms: David Greven’s Psycho-Sexual: Male Desire in Hitchcock, De Palma, Scorsese, and Friedkin
Homosocialisms: David Greven’s Psycho-Sexual: Male Desire in Hitchcock, De Palma, Scorsese, and Friedkin

In an early scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, the panning camera reveals a framed photograph of a young, smiling blond woman—except, the image is on negative film, which serves as a presumable correlation for disabled protagonist Jeff’s (Jimmy Stewart) outlook on women, which is tested in his gaze and projected desire from a lofty apartment window throughout the film. The well-known premise of Rear Window serves as a basis for David Greven’s Psycho-Sexual: Male Desire in Hitchcock, De Palma, Scorsese, and Friedkin, a provocative monograph that examines often casually dismissed “negative” images of non-normative sexuality, while offering serious reconsideration of not just Hitchcock’s critical legacy as a misogynist filmmaker, but key works within the oeuvres of New Hollywood directors like Martin Scorsese, William Friedkin, and Brian De Palma, the latter of whom receives considerable analysis and discussion in relation to his intertextual engagement with Hitchcock, but also his treatment of women and use of melodrama. Primarily, however, Greven details how these New Hollywood filmmakers “seized upon Hitchcock’s radical decentering of heterosexual male dominance, devising contemporary narratives of heterosexual male ambivalence that allowed for, at time depended on, an investment in same-sex desire as well as an awareness of its dangerous, pernicious seductions.” The end result is a rigorously researched, personal, and passionate work, worthy in style and content of the frenzied films and filmmakers being engaged.

Take Two #10: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) & The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

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Take Two #10: <em>The Man Who Knew Too Much</em> (1934) & <em>The Man Who Knew Too Much</em> (1956)
Take Two #10: <em>The Man Who Knew Too Much</em> (1934) & <em>The Man Who Knew Too Much</em> (1956)

[Editor’s Note: Take Two is an occasional series about remakes, reboots, relaunches, ripoffs, and do-overs in every cinematic genre.]

Like Leo McCarey, Alfred Hitchcock returned to one of his signature 1930s works two decades hence, armed with stunning color cinematography, A-list movie stars, and the commercial license to tell his story more leisurely. And there’s where the similarities end. As I wrote, McCarey’s An Affair to Remember feels like the director’s ultimate vision of a very personal story made manifest; Hitchcock’s film, while as handsome and expertly made as one could expect from the Master in the ’50s, also routinely feels like a technical exercise. Granted, even the guy’s technical exercises rank as some of the most fully realized films ever made, but the 1956 Man Who Knew Too Much doesn’t so much add to the 1934 original as repurpose its plot for a couple bravura suspense sequences and some luscious Morocco-set photography. It’s an uneven film, an indisputable breather between masterpieces, but still so technically ravishing that it renders the initial film almost moot.