Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hitchcock, headaches, NASCAR and Nancy Drew

So it's Saturday night, and I'm finally starting to feel better.

Haven't done too much today. Slept mostly.

I'm alternating between NASCAR on TV and watching the old "Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries" on DVD. When I was a kid, I had a big crush on Pamela Sue Martin's Nancy Drew. I wanted to grow up and marry a girl just like her -- good looking, smart, feisty, full of vinegar.

Ahh, the sweet bliss of youth.

Last night, I watched the underrated Hitchcock classic "Rope" while I was sick. May be one of the best movies of the director's distinguished career. If you love Hitch and have never seen the film, give it a look.

I know one thing. It has one of the most ingenious trailers of any movie I've ever seen. A couple is sitting together on a park bench. They agree to meet later at a party. The woman watches the man walk away.

Cue Jimmy Stewart:

"That's the last she will see of him. And that's the last you will see of him..."

"Rope" is best known for Hitchcock's experimentation with shooting a film in "one take." That was, of course, impossible in 1948, so Hitch shot a series of extended takes, hiding the breaks by zooming in on an actor's clothing.

The plot is rather simple. Two friends (Farley Granger and John Dall) murder a school chum (Dick Hogan) and temporarily place him in a chest in their New York apartment's living room.

The duo then host a perverse dinner party -- with the food laid out on top of the chest! Dinner guests include the boys' school headmaster (Jimmy Stewart), an old girlfriend (Joan Chandler), another schoolmate (Douglas Dick) and the murdered boy's father (Cedric Hardwicke) and aunt (Constance Collier). Providing comic relief is the smarmy housekeeper (Edith Evanson).

Stewart, whose offbeat philosophy has inadvertently inspired the boys to commit the murder, eventually unravels the deed in this true classic of a picture. It made me forget all about my migraine.

Tonight, I may screen Hitch's 1943 classic (and a film he considered his favorite), "Shadow of a Doubt," starring the great Joseph Cotten and the beautiful Teresa Wright -- that is if I can take my eyes off Pamela Sue Martin long enough to find the DVD.

Schoolboy crushes die hard. Sigh.

(What's sad is Pamela Sue Martin is probably about 50 years old now. I've led a screwed up life, what can I say?)

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