Alfred Hitchcock

All posts tagged Alfred Hitchcock

Music to Make Horror Movies By: I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance

Published March 8, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Alfred Hitchcock Music to be Murdered By

Just before my sophomore year of high school, I finally got my hair styled and my parents allowed me to get contact lenses. It felt like the whole world was opening up for me. Soon after that, I got the lead in the winter play, proof (I felt at the time) that change indeed was happening. As I was driven back and forth from rehearsals that late fall, Linda Ronstadt was continually, creamily crooning What’s New, the title track from her upcoming album of standards, on the car’s steadfast AM radio. I asked for the LP for Christmas that year.

MildredI lovingly remember playing that recording in my grandparents’ living room as the family sat around listening to it and chatting. In an often turbulent youth, filled with familial misunderstandings and the wisps of angst seemingly floating around the surface of many of my first tentative interactions, this is one of my favorite memories. Ronstadt’s version of I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance was song that probably stood out the most for me then and now. Besides the supernatural element of the title, I always had the sneaking suspicion that romance would be elusive to me, that connecting with someone would perhaps be an awkward, unrealized proposition. It was also one of the tracks included on Jeff Alexander’s creepily arranged Alfred Hitchcock Presents album, Music to Be Murdered By.

While I adore Ronstadt’s moody treatment of the number, one of my favorite versions is a jazzier, breezier take by the incomparable Mildred Bailey. One of Bing Crosby’s favored colleagues, Bailey was a Native American jazz singer who made a stunning impression on the music industry. I wish she was more publicly acknowledged.

Of course,  I’ve heard ignoring your first could prove to have disastrous consequences, so…

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Va-Va-Villainess: Rhonda Fleming

Published January 18, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Rhonda Inferno

She played feisty yet loyal lovers in a series of ‘50s action and adventure pieces like Yankee Pasha and Gunfight at O.K. Corral. Bob Hope also called upon her extravagant sense of humor in such projects as The Great Lover and Alias Jesse James. Her lush looks and rare beauty worked for her in other ways as well, giving the glorious Rhonda Fleming a delightfully tangible way to embody perfect visions of calculating evil.

InfernoLobbyEschewing her initial naivete – she and her mother had to look up what a nymphomaniac was when she was cast in Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound – Fleming brought vivid life to a number of noir vixens. 1953’s Inferno capitalized on the 3D phase while also giving her the excuse to bring what was possibly her most evil character to the celluloid universe. As Geraldine Carson, this red headed goddess viciously plots to murder her husband, played with gruff humanity by eternally sympathetic tough guy Robert Ryan. Thus, her dry and dusty downfall here was relished by movie lovers everywhere.

rhonda-fleming-the-crowded-skyThe suave Efrem Zimbalist Jr. also was dealt a calculating blow when dealing with Fleming’s adulterous Cheryl Heath in The Crowded Sky. As a pilot facing a deadly incident, as this film is a precursor to the all star disaster films of the ‘70s, Zimbalist’s character also must deal with the emotional fallout of Cheryl’s heartless manipulations. Viewers, therefore, are not surprised when the film’s fadeout reveals his intents to leave her behind, no matter Fleming’s seemingly irresistible devious lusciousness.

Rhonda Gunfight


Horror Hall of Fame:


Besides her compelling work with Hitchcock in Spellbound, Fleming brought a steady heart and calm demeanor to her portrayal of the loyal yet doomed Blanche in 1946’s gothic horror The Spiral Staircase.

www.rhondafleming.com

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Hopelessly Devoted to: Laurinda Barrett

Published October 3, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

 

Edge Laurinda

Esteemed theater actress Laurinda Barrett is probably best known to celluloid buffs from her work in the 1968 film adaptation of Carson McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. Eagle eyed viewers will also remember her appearance in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man, as well.

Laurinda Wrong ManThankfully, working with the Master of Suspense must have prepared Barrett for her work as Molly Sherwood on the long running mystery soap The Edge of Night. With knife like precision and incisive skill, Barrett enacted Sherwood’s reign of terror with a rare sensitivity – and a cold blooded determination. Illogically predisposed to do away with anyone who seemingly threatened a loved one, Sherwood not only calmly killed those she considered perpetrators, but also anyone she suspected may have knowledge of her crimes.

Utilizing horror influences to the extreme here, this EON plotline reached its pinnacle when Sherwood stabbed one offender while wearing a disturbingly cheery clown hand puppet to mask her fingerprints.

A veteran of multiple soap operas, including All My Children and Guiding Light, it is ultimately Barrett’s macabre run as Molly that lingers on in viewers’ minds. Decades after those initial airdates, this observation is a true testament to the richness and power of her work all those years ago – and proves that even without superstar status, this dedicated performer made a true impact on people’s lives.

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Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Barbara Cook

Published July 7, 2019 by biggayhorrorfan

Barbara Cook AHP.jpg

She was one of the queens of the Broadway stage and the cabaret circuit. But the multi-talented Barbara Cook also took a turn towards the gothic as one of Hitchcock’s famously conflicted blondes in the A Little Sleep episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Long considered to possess one of the sweetest, nuanced soprano voices, Cook was a 2011 Kennedy Center Honoree and, appropriately, received many other honors (including a Tony Award) before her death in 2017 at the age of 89.

Barbara Cook Kennedy

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Marlene Dietrich

Published October 7, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

 

marlene Judgment-at-Nuremberg-09

Marlene Dietrich is far from a horror baby. But this cinematic icon did work with Alfred Hitchcock, the genuine master of suspense, in the fun thriller Stage Fright. As a favor, she also graced Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil, which contained elements of odd noir and general spookiness, with one of her most indelible portrayals.

This classy lady also knew how to rock and roll as evidenced by her smooth take on Boomerang Baby, a staple of her live shows for years.

This simple, sexy performance proves that Dietrich was not just one thing…she was everything!!!!

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Music to Make Horror Movies By: Maureen O’Hara

Published May 6, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

Maureen

As many Hollywood legends before her, the exquisite Maureen O’Hara released an album of love songs and warbled her way through many a scenario in the films that she made in her heyday.

In the early ‘70s, this multi-talented glamour queen, who made her mark starring in such gothic enterprises as Jamaica Inn and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, made a number of singing appearances on shows hosted by Andy Williams and others.

Perhaps best known to modern audiences for playing John Candy’s overbearing mother in 1991’s Only the Lonely, O’Hara continued to make sporadic appearances in projects before her death in at the age of 95 in 2015.

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Days of Horror: The Thrillers of Doris Day

Published January 12, 2018 by biggayhorrorfan

day julie

Known primarily as a musical comedy star and cotton candy-like romantic siren, film legend Doris Day also managed to work up a nerve wracking scream or two when the screenplay required it. In fact, her startled yelp in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much should, justifiably, be considered one of film land’s most iconic moments. Still, Day (ascertained to be one of the most naturally proficient un-trained film actresses by many scholars) often got so emotionally involved with her character’s inner lives that she limited her thrilled based appearances to just a few.

day julie posterHer entrance into the scare sweepstakes was in a 1956 wife-in-peril feature called Julie. The film opens up with Day, frantically, running from danger. Nicely, the film’s lush yet pulsing theme song, naturally sung by Day, plays in the background, as she sprints for her life. Unfortunately, Day’s Julia is soon nabbed by the suave Louis Jourdan, who plays her conniving husband. Taken on a ride from hell, Julia barely escapes with her life. Of course, Jourdan’s villainous Lyle is far from done with her. By the production’s end, Day’s plucky stewardess heroine, foreshadowing Karen Black by twenty years, must help land the aircraft she is stationed on as Lyle has emasculated all of the crew.

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 In The Man Who Knew Too Much, filmed in the same year as Julie, Day is placed in familiar territory, character wise.  Here, she is Jo, a former singing sensation, living a low-key life with her doctor husband (James Stewart) and their lively son. While on vacation in Morocco, Stewart’s character receives details of an assassination plot from a dying acquaintance. Soon the duo’s son is mysteriously kidnapped to buy a measure of silence. Unaware, Day’s character is drugged into calmness and then told of her son’s disappearance. Day’s multi-leveled portrayal in this scene is matched only by her subtle reactions in the film’s final sequence. Here, Jo has to play piano and sing for a gathering of London diplomats while simultaneously trying to rescue her son with nothing more than the sound of her voice. This is almost inconceivably amazing performing on Day’s part. Along with Hitchcock’s storytelling skill and the quirkily enjoyable performances from genre icons Reggie Nalder (Mark of the Devil, Zoltan) and Carolyn Jones (The Addams Family, House of Wax), it is the primary reason for indulging in this suspenseful, beautifully photographed picture.

day lace posterIn 1960’s Midnight Lace, Day actually became so involved in the travails of her wealthy Kit that she was rumored to have had a nervous breakdown on the set. In fact, several acquaintances (and a gossip columnist or two) reported that Day did not want to do the picture, but was strong armed into doing it by her then husband, the film’s producer Marty Melcher.

 While Lace (unreasonably dismissed by several Day biographers) centers around a fairly standard Gaslight plot, it is also lushly filmed and contains many moments of true suspense.  In fact, anyone who has been spooked when walking alone in the dark or has felt the claustrophobic fear of being caught in an enclosed space will have much to relate to in the film’s tensest moments. While the opening credits pass by, Day’s Kit is stalked down a foggy London street. The dense cinematography and Day’s realistic reactions make it a strikingly suspenseful sequence…and an electric start to the feature as a whole. Day’s escalating terror as Kit is eventually trapped in an elevator and frantically fights for her life, leaves no doubt to her attentiveness to detail as a performer and, on a more lurid note, is strong evidence for the multiple reports of Day’s subsequent collapse on set. day lace

Worthy of multiple viewings for its atmospheric attention to detail alone, this film also features John Gavin of Psycho fame, the legendary Myrna Loy (Ants) as Kit’s kindly aunt and Roddy McDowall, whose many genre credits include the original Planet of the Apes films and the blackly disturbing (and often ridiculous) killer baboon project Shakma.

day man poster

All of these Day dominated films feature subtle elements of terror and are definitely recommended for those rare nights when another bloodbath just seems too much for your system to take or when your non-horror loving companion needs a little break from all those scenes of relentless gore.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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