By Christopher Redmond

Mailed on December 18, 2012

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Dear Emma Jacobs
Blonde Fan

Dear Emma,

In case you didn't know before taking this role, director Alfred Hitchcock had a thing for blondes. He took pleasure in punishing his fair-haired muses in a series of thrillers that established him as one of the most important directors of all time. Vertigo (1958) is the classic case study, as it elegantly reveals both the auteur's obsession and his mastery of the medium (despite being a financial flop, it was recently ranked the #1 film of all-time by the highly influential Sight and Sound poll). But the public will always know him best for Psycho (1960), and in the cheeky new biopic _Hitchcock, _director Sacha Gervasi proposes that ol' "Hitch" was even more consumed by his material than we presumed.

The story begins in 1944 on the farm of Ed Gein, the killer who would inspire the character of Norman Bates in Psycho, along with countless other movie villains. Believing this grizzly tale could be more than just a schlocky B-movie in his hands, Hitchcock went against the studio (and common sense) to finance Psycho on his own. Of course, that's not entirely true; he depended, as well, on the support and creative abilities of his wife Alma Reville (Helen Mirren), whose devotion was overshadowed by the leading ladies Hitch fawned over.

The main blonde here is Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson), playing the role that would make her cinema's original scream queen (years before her daughter Jamie Lee Curtis would inherit the title). To the film's credit, Hitchcock never tries to parallel the story of Psycho . Rather, it elicits a playful tension throughout by mimicking certain of Hitchcock's most famous films (most frequently Rear Window). Peepholes into the girls' changerooms and lewd commentary during takes to "inspire" his actresses help paint the picture of an artist who longed to experience the thrills of his own films. Emma, your only scene as the Blonde Fan, after the premiere of North by Northwest, lingers just uncomfortably long enough to set the stage for what's to come. But that's only the start.

Between imaginary conversations with Ed Geins to the psychoanalysis of his actors to make sure they can live their parts, Hitchcock does a great job of indulging our own desires to expose the man behind the legend. It's an unapologetically fun film, even with its disturbing undertones (much like Hitchcock's own work).

Re-imagining the making of a Hitchcock horror classic is a la mode this year, after The Girl went behind-the-scenes of _The Birds _(poor Toby Jones-- he plays Truman Capote the same year as Philip Seymour Hoffman, and now has Anthony Hopkins to contend with in his portrayal of the Master of Suspense). I guess we just can't get enough of this sort of nostalgic pop-culture voyeurism. Neither could Hitch.

Tell me, Emma: what would the real Hitchock have discovered if he got to know you? You're clearly not just a pretty face, having worked in the make-up department for The Black Swan, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and… Piranha 3DD.

Yup, he would have loved you too.

Just another fan,


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