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U.S House of Horrors
Flush Forward
Bells & Wassails
The Haunted Manchin
The Missed of Time

Gift Rapt
Red Meet
Crystal Bawls
The Gift of Grab
Monster Rally 2020
A Hitch in Time
WHAT NOT 2017-2018
WHAT NOT 2014-2016
WHAT NOT 2012-2013
WHAT NOT 2009-2011
WHAT NOT 2005 2

A Hitch in Time

Our resident cineaste, E. Basil St. Blaise, has begun work on his sure-to-be dispensible guide to classic cinema entitled The Auteur Limits. This magnum opus will include his pithiest and pissiest capsule reviews of the greatest films of our finest directors, many of which he has actually seen. He will also consider the misfires of these masters' canons in the interest of providing subsequent generations with the fullest portrait of their oeuvres, and the opportunity to experience schadenfreude at the highest possible level.

Alfred Hitchcock, the much-heralded Master of Suspense, is the first subject of these rough cuts. As St. Blaise explains, "When I first took in Psycho I was a relatively green film critic, mostly because all that violence made me sick to my stomach. And believe you me, I couldn't take a shower for a year, which explains why I still insist on a bidet in my mobile home. I had to slip my original review into a letter to Popular Hostelry Magazine when I pretended to be describing a stay at the Bates Motel and I summed it up as 'Shower scum.' Once I trained my Affenpinscher, Josef, to stand guard at the bathroom door, I gradually got over my ablutophobia (a fear of bathing, not of Popeye's nemesis), and softened my opinion somewhat.

Hitchcock began by making silent films and early talkies in England, with titles like The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog ((1927) –– Err B&B.), Blackmail ((1929) –– Has a familiar ring.), and Murder! ((1930) –– On my backside!), but who would waste time critiquing those? The only thing American audiences hate more than having to read subtitles when actors are chattering away is having to read them when they are not. Or having to read, really. So I begin with a 1934 thriller of which Hitchcock was so proud, he felt compelled to remake it in 1956.

One could admire Fred (as his really good pals called him) for his cleverly-crafted persona as much as for his films, if admire was something one did. Droll and portly, he hosted the long-running anthology TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents looking like a Rod Serling who had quit cigarettes and given up on the Twilight Zone Diet. And he regularly made cameo appearances in his own flicks like some prediebetic Stan Lee. In his later, stouter years, I marveled that he wasn't called the Master of Suspenders.

But ya gotta love any entertainer who has his own theme song and I kept humming Funeral March of a Marionette ((1872) –– No strings attached.) as I composed the following McGuffin-free notices."

Hear E. Basil St. Blaise read this essay and more in the Critic's Corner Podcast.

A Hitch in TimeThe Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) –– A Brit dodgy.
The 39 Steps (1935) –– Pace offering.
Secret Agent (1936) –– Spyin’less.
Sabotage (1936) –– Spotted plant.
Young and Innocent (1937) –– Dull raw.
The Lady Vanishes (1938) –– Disappearing link.
Jamaica Inn (1939) –– Smuggly customers.
Rebecca (1940) –– Dead of deWinter.
Foreign Corespondent (1940) –– Press: The Panic Button.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941) –– Hitched cock.
Suspicion (1941) –– Hunch backed.
Saboteur (1942) –– Lam stew.
Shadow of a Doubt (1943) –– Stuff your faith.
Lifeboat (1944) –– Desolation row.
Spellbound (1945) –– Ice shrink.
Notorious (1946) –– Reich place at the wrong time.
The Paradine Case (1947) –– Beyond bailiff.
Rope (1948) –– Case he strangle.
Under Capricorn (1949) –– Crappy corn.
Stage Fright (1950) –– Curtains.
Strangers on a Train (1951) –– Snuff said.
I Confess (1953) –– Mea gulper.
Dial M for Murder (1954) –– A close call.
Rear Window (1954) –– Peep thrills.
To Catch a Thief (1955) –– The Cat in the spat.
The Trouble with Harry (1955) –– Obstacle c
The Man who Knew Too Much (1956) –– Oy witness.
The Wrong Man (1956) –– ID card.
Vertigo (1958) –– Dizzy or doesn’t he?
North by Northwest (1959) –– Grant slam.
Psycho (1960) –– Offs his rocker.
The Birds (1963) –– Pecking disorder.
Marnie (1964) –– Klepto conclusions.
Torn Curtain (1966) –– Tears for fears.
Topaz (1969) –– Spy da man.
Frenzy (1972) –– Tie die.
Family Plot (1976) –– Do in what comes naturally.