Tag Archives: Alfred Hitchcock

Big Screen Berkeley: ‘Hitchcock/Truffaut’

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In 1966, François Truffaut published a book about the work of his fellow director, Alfred Hitchcock. Simply entitled “Hitchcock/Truffaut,” it went on to become one of the most famous of all film tomes, one considered indispensable by many cinéastes (though to my eternal shame, I’ve yet to read it myself).

Fifty years later, the book has its very own documentary, unsurprisingly entitled Hitchcock/Truffaut. Opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, Dec. 11, it’s a somewhat unfocused and slightly stodgy tribute that is unlikely to win either director any new fans – though it may inspire some, including myself, to finally pick up a copy of “Hitchcock/Truffaut” (the book).

The biggest problem with Hitchcock/Truffaut (the film) is that its subject is so profoundly un-cinematic. Quite simply, its many close-ups — consisting largely of shots of pages of film-stills and interview transcriptions — don’t help us appreciate or understand the book’s importance. … Continue reading »

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Counting crows: Why are there so many in Berkeley?

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“Why are there so many darn crows in Berkeley these days?”

We get that question a lot at Berkeleyside, and Golden Gate Audubon gets it too.

It’s not just Berkeley. Crows are on the increase throughout the Bay Area, as are their larger and deeper-voiced cousins, ravens.

Back in the 1980s, Golden Gate Audubon members typically found between 30 and 90 American Crows each year in our Oakland Christmas Bird Count, which includes Berkeley. We typically found fewer than ten Common Ravens.

Since 2010, however, the count has turned up over 1,100 crows and 170 to 300 ravens each year. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: The Wrong Man, Hitchcock’s gem

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Though auteur theory was still little more than a glimmer in François Truffaut’s eye, the American public was quite familiar with Alfred Hitchcock by 1956. Perhaps the most recognizable filmmaker since Chaplin, Hitch was a weekly presence in homes from coast to coast via his CBS series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, while theatergoers had made his color remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much a huge commercial success. His career still in the ascendancy, Hitch could choose any project he desired – which perhaps explains why his next project was one of the least Hitchcockian films of them all.

Released on New Year’s Day 1957, The Wrong Man (screening at Pacific Film Archive at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, April 5 as part of the continuing series Alfred Hitchcock: The Shape of Suspense) begins on a deceptive note. In a nod to his small-screen persona, our host introduces the proceedings — but this time the mordant wit and outrageous set pieces are absent. Instead, he tells us quite seriously, what we’re about to see “is a true story – every word of it.” … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: Hitchcock’s “Sabotage” still shocks

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According to the unattributed dictionary definition that prefaces Alfred Hitchcock’s Sabotage, the word sabotage means ‘wilful destruction of buildings or machinery with the object of alarming a group of persons or inspiring public uneasiness ‘. It’s an apt description of the effect the film must have had on 1936 cinemagoers, who surely weren’t prepared for Sabotage’s gut-wrenching denouement — a scene still likely to jar viewers today.

Based on Joseph Conrad’s novel ‘Secret Agent’, Sabotage (screening at Pacific Film Archive at 8:45 p.m. on Friday Jan. 11 as part of the series ‘Alfred Hitchcock: The Shape of Suspense’) is an overlooked highlight of the filmmaker’s career. Produced prior to Hitchcock’s arrival in Hollywood, it’s since been overshadowed by such US-made heavyweights as Rear Window, Vertigo and Psycho. Familiarity with those films, however, has long since leeched them of their ability to shock and surprise — something that can’t be said of Sabotage. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: Suspicion

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Though he’s been dead for more than 30 years, Alfred Hitchcock remains an instantly recognizable pop culture icon. His French acolyte Claude Chabrol, on the other hand, could have walked down any street in America without fear of recognition, but he left behind his own impressive body of work when he passed away last September.

Pacific Film Archive’s new series, “Suspicion: The Films of Claude Chabrol and Alfred Hitchcock”, reunites the two masters of suspense via a generous selection … Continue reading »

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