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Now in our sixth calendar year
PCR #293  (Vol. 6, No. 44)  This edition is for the week of October 31--November 6, 2005.

 by Mike Smith
Peeping Tom....Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds
 by Vinnie Blesi
Halloween Prophesy Fulfilled....Al Lopez
 by Matt Drinnenberg
My Bad....The Challenge....Brownie....Al Lopez Field....Everything But....You Want What?...Ape News....Musical Notes....Good Movie/Bad Movie....Jaws: The Story, Part 40
 by Mike Smith
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Couch Potato Confessions by Vinnie B.

Peeping Tom             
This 1960 film, directed by Michael Powell and written by Leo Marks, has in recent years attained some cult status. Upon its original release the movie was received so poorly both critically and commercially that it was pulled from theaters and essentially ended the directing career of Powell. The legend has it that Martin Scorcese found Powell living in poverty in the '70s and helped restore this film, which had become lost.

Unlike Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, which dealt with a more passive innocent voyeurism, Peeping Tom takes voyeurism head on with all its perversity intact. Mark Lewis is perfect as Carl, a social misfit, who works at a movie studio by day, shoots softcore porn photos in his spare time, and likes to film the fear in women’s faces as he kills them.

With web-cams and voyeur-cams on the Internet, no one today would bat an eye at this film. But in 1960 it was still taboo for the general movie going audience.

Carl tells people several times throughout the movie, “I am making a documentary”. This is the most disturbing part of the film for me. Obviously very much aware at what he is doing, Carl is making his deviant art. When he murders an actress at the studio, he is excited as it gives him the chance to film the investigation. Ultimately there is a love interest for Karl, who tries to help him albeit too late.

My initial reaction to this film was that I wanted to see it again. Mixed in with some blatant directorial self-indulgence is some great filmmaking. This is a film of nuances, something to be enjoyed over time and savored like a fine wine, not slugged like a cold beer.

After doing research on director Michael Powell, I found that he also directed a favorite film of mine Black Narcissus (1947), another film that is subtly perverse and full of nuances that need to be appreciated with repeated viewings. Plus it features the hottest Nun ever, Deborah Kerr.

Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds            
After repeated watchings of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds I am still trying to figure out this mess of a film. Hitchcock’s film career spanned back to silent movies and included such work in the 1940’s as: Rebecca, Suspicion, Lifeboat, Notorious, Rope and in the 1950’s as: Dial M for Murder, To Catch a Thief, Rear Window, The Trouble with Harry, The Man Who Knew too Much, Vertigo, and North by Northwest. In 1960 he essentially blew what was left of his creative wad with Psycho. But like an old athlete he did not know when to retire.

The Birds is Tippi Hedren’s film debut and she is a pleasure to watch. She is the only bright side to this disjointed black comedy/horror/love story. Early in the film as she delivers a pair of lovebirds to the Rod Taylor character, she is driving on the coast highway and we see an obvious fake pair of lovebirds moving side to side as she takes curve after curve. Sorry, not funny.

The one good scene is when Tippi Hedren is sitting outside the school and behind her on the monkey bars blackbirds begin to slowly fill it up until it is full.

While not as bad as the embarrassing Family Plot, this film lacks cohesiveness and does not know what it wants to be. Essentially this film and the one after, Marnie, are clear examples of Hitchcock’s obsession at dominating attractive blonde female actresses, while at home Mrs. Hitchcock dominated him.

Best watched in small doses, there are redeeming qualities to this film, but over all this a sad reflection of a filmmaker who did not know when to go out when he was on top (just like Ridley Scott).

"Couch Potato Confessions" is ©2005 by Vinnie Blesi.  Couch Potato main graphic by Vin Blesi and Nolan Canova.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.