Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:

Psycho (1960)
Norman: Well, a son is a poor substitute for a lover.
Marion: Why don't you go away? 
Norman: What, to a private island like you? 
Marion: No, not like me. 
Norman: I couldn't do that. Who would look after her? 
The fire in her fireplace would go out. It would be cold 
and damp up there like a grave. If you love somebody, 
you wouldn't leave them even if they treat your badly. 
Do you understand? I don't hate my mother. 
I hate at what she's become. I hate her illness. 

It would have been the great Anthony Perkins' 85th birthday today. The actor was born in New York City; his father Osgood was a big star on Broadway and did lots of character work in Hollywood, but Tony barely knew him - he died of a heart attack when Tony was just five. Tony went to a bunch of fancy private schools before turning to acting in 1953 in George Cukor's film The Actress...

... which was based on an autobiographical play written by no less than Ruth Gordon! Jean Simmons (weird that I've brought her up twice this week already - she's not an actress I'm super familiar with) plays Ruth, Spencer Tracy plays her father, and Tony plays the boy who wants to marry her. I haven't seen the film (should I?) but this seems like an awfully big role for a debut - I wonder how he got it (cough George Cukor cough).

I'm just gonna put that picture of Tony and his good friend Paul Newman there, just because. Anyway I'm glad I got the opportunity to bring up Psycho today because Bates Motel is currently airing, as you might be aware of, and the new season has made it from prequel to present, aka they're dealing with the timeline of Hitch's actual film this year, and I really wanted to share a behind-the-scenes picture from last week's "Shower Scene" as it was... only it's tremendously spoilery and I was worried about how to do it. So I'll take us after the jump for that -- if you care about spoilers for this season of Bates Motel, do not click through!

Okay so for whomever is left, here:

That is Austin Nichols, otherwise known as "Jake Gyllenhaal's basketball buddy," who played Marion's illicit boyfriend Sam Loomis on the show and who, in a switcheraroo, turned out to be the victim that Norman (Freddie Highmore) murders in the shower.

In all honesty the show seemed eager as hell to get around everything actually having to do with the plot of Psycho itself, and the two episodes involving its characters have felt rushed as heck - I know I read in an interview with the show's director that they had an incredibly brief window of Rihanna's time (she played Marion) so that probably added to it. But they were clearly feeling skittish.

Anyway the show's always been as its best when it focuses in tight as a drum on the relationship between Norman and Norma and the acting between Freddie and Vera Farmiga - the two of them, when allowed to take over, are always riveting in the strangest, funniest ways, and they're doing some of their best work this year, even if the show continually and frustratingly insists on opening up its world to include other people. I suppose they've got me feeling like Norma & Norman feel - leave us alone, world! Just let them be!

I will say, since the whole subject of "Queer Creeps" is a subject near and dear to my heart, that I love the fact that the show turned hard into Norman's confused sexuality this year - having him go to gay bars and hook up with dudes while Norma, and having the victim in the shower be a male this time, it goes to the places that I am sure Alfred Hitchcock would have wanted to take the story if he'd been allowed to in 1960.


MTMSLG said...

Love Bates Motel. It is a very clever show, often quite funny. The acting is terrific. Farmiga is a goddess and Highmore? Who knew? Austin Nichols plays a pretty tasty victim --- Here and in The Walking Dead. He best be careful of typecasting.

joel65913 said...

The Actress is well worth seeking out. A lovely version of Ruth Gordon's memoirs, though it's a bit disconcerting to see the 35 year old Teresa Wright playing Jean's mother and Spencer Tracy's wife!

Jean Simmons is an actress very much deserving of more awareness on anyone's part. She had a quiet dignity as opposed to a flashy showiness so she isn't as well remembered or known as she deserves. Always good she gave several Oscar worthy performances.

Here's some suggestions of films to check out:

So Long at the Fair-Wonderful British mind game mystery

Trio-Three short vignettes based on Somerset Maugham stories

Cage of Gold-Woman marries a bastard who is presumed dead only to turn up to make her life rough all over again.

The Clouded Yellow-Terrific chase drama with Trevor Howard

Angel Face-Jean gets a chance to be evil as she relentlessly pursues Robert Mitchum in his prime.

Hilda Crane-A delicious soaper with Jean a divorced woman in the 50's...another words "Damaged Goods" who this time is pursued by a delectable Guy Madison

This Could Be the Night-Cute nightclub comedy with Joan Blondell and Paul Douglas too.

Until They Sail-We talked about this one yesterday

Home Before Dark-Mean little picture with Jean returning from a mental institution to her cruel family. She's better than the picture.

This Earth is Mine-Another highly enjoyable soap opera with a killer cast-Rock Hudson, Claude Rains & Dorothy McGuire among them.

Elmer Gantry-Burt Lancaster won the Oscar but Jean is his match as Sister Sharon.

Spartacus-Do I need to describe what this is about?

The Grass is Greener-She steals every scene she's in as a wonderfully addled friend of Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.

All the Way Home-Small film about how a family deals with a sudden death. She gives an extraordinary performance that should have won her the Oscar.

She was nominated for The Happy Ending which her husband Richard Brooks wrote and directed specifically for her trying to make her aware of her alcoholism-which was acute-it didn't work at the time though she dried out years later after they had divorced. She's good in the film but the picture itself is rather a mess.

And then there's her sensational work in The Thornbirds as the tough, pragmatic Fee that did win her an Emmy