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Dial H for Hitchcock

Narrator: Kevin Spacey.

Narrator: Kevin Spacey.

With: Jonathan Demme, Joseph Stefano, John Michael Hayes, Janet Leigh, Brian De Palma, Curtis Hanson, Pat Hitchcock O’Connell, Norman Lloyd, Herb Steinberg, Peter Bogdanovich, Robert E. Kapsis, Ronald Neame, Bryan Singer, Teresa Wright, Wes Craven, Tippi Hedren, Robert F. Boyle.

A slick, fast-paced gloss on life and legacy of the master of suspense, “Dial H for Hitchcock,” tellingly subtitled “The Genius Behind the Showman,” concentrates on helmer’s groundbreaking use of the medium and infallible instinct for self-promotion. Added angle is the influence, illustrated in home movies, of wife and adviser Alma Reville. Broadcast Aug. 13 on Encore as part of Hitchcock centennial celebration, item has potential as easy entree to helmer’s work.

Ignoring his early years and sprinting through his first 23 films in a dizzying 17 minutes, pic segues to thought-provoking analyses of selected American productions, from “Saboteur” through newly revered “Marnie.” Inevitably , “Psycho” gets the most time, with screenwriter Joseph Stefano remembering director’s proclamation “We get a star, then we kill her.” Clever montage sequences illustrate the famed MacGuffin plot trick and close-ups of his trademark icy blondes, with a few brief test shots from unrealized ’60s experimental pic “Kaleidoscope.” Tech credits are smooth, with comfy interview segs and lavish use of clips, latter suffering only from full-frame treatment of “Vertigo.” Kevin Spacey’s droll narration echoes director’s delivery, illustrated by amusing “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” clips.

Dial H for Hitchcock


Production: A Universal Television Enterprises release of a Universal Television Enterprises/Encore Media Group presentation of a Rocket Science Laboratories production. Produced by Nicole Lucas. Executive producers, Jean-Michel Michenaud , Chris Cowan. Co-producer Arnold Glassman. Directed, written by Ted Haimes. Camera (color/B&W), Michael Barry, Brian Dowley, Brian Duggan, Sam Painter, Mark Petersson, Sam Sewell, Mark Zavad; editor, Arnold Glassman; music, Taylor M. Uhler. Reviewed on videotape, Denver, Oct. 13, 1999. (In Denver Film Festival.) Running time: 101 MIN.

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