The work represented not only the end of his career but also the deepest point reached by the filmmaker.
Few filmographies are as vast as that of Alfred Hitchcock, which originated in the silent film era of the 1920s and improved over the decades; adapting to new colorization, sound and image capture technologies with unique quality. The period when he reached his peak would be between the 1940s and 1960s, precisely the space where his most influential works were launched.
However, his worst moment was precisely the final phase of his career, in the late 60s and early 70s. It was the period when Hitchcock was away from his traditional collaborators (for reasons of health or disagreement) , a separation that is visible in films such as Topázio, Cortina Rasgada and Trama Macabra.
When the director reached the peak of his last project, already in the most negative phase of his career, he was still not coming out of failure. Frenzy had been a different experience from Hitchcock’s previous thrillers in that it functioned not only as an ultimate rescue of the narrative style that made him famous, but also in the unprecedented combination of that style with the use of ‘a violence a little more graphic than usual combined. with bloody effects; much more than what was presented in Psychosis, for example.
In this way, Frenzy presents the famous “bad man in the wrong place” story trigger (used by the director previously in both versions of The Man Who Knew Too Much, 39 Steps Among Others) that helped so much to make it happen. may this work be well accepted. , although asked about the murder scenes. It was with this tenuous confidence that Hitchcock began his last work.
Around 1972, the director applied for the rights to adapt the book The Rainbird Pattern, a novel by Victor Canning released that same year. Throughout his career, the British director had specialized in converting novels into model scripts; however, with Trama Macabra, the director took some liberty in the tone of the plot. While Canning’s writing featured a family drama about an old lady who desperately wants to find her nephew and relies on a false medium to do so, Ernest Lehman’s screenplay turned that signal into dark humor.
This was already a clue that the screenwriter wasn’t very interested in the base book, as he had previously refused to make an adaptation of the same material. It should be noted that the writing delivered by Lehman offers situations that seem to mock the story guided by the false medium, Madame Blanche, and her boyfriend George Lumley.
In particular, the car chase moment (a classic piece of Hitchcock filmography) towards the end, which shows very little of the sight of one car after another as they make dangerous turns on a road. cliff and much of the interior of the vehicle, with Blanche attempting comedic performances dangling through the curves of the road.
The casting process for the lead role was also quite problematic, Hitchcock’s initial target for the role of Lumley was Al Pacino. But the actor, much appreciated by the two films The Godfather in 1972 and 1974, had requested a larger sum than that which the filmmaker had paid to one of his protagonists in previous years.
A second name released was that of Jack Nicholson, yet another setback as the actor was made impossible due to his engagement in the filming of Um Estranho no Ninho. In the end, the choice turned out to be the most misunderstood, for the general public Bruce Dern, thanks to his much lower salary. Madame Blanche’s role was never in doubt and Barbara Harris was ultimately chosen.
The actress was no stranger to Hitchcock, in 1961 she appeared in an episode of the Alfred Hitchcock Presents series and in 1964 she made an appearance in the award-winning film The Defenders, in an episode halfway through the third season. The soundtrack was signed by John Williams, who, although he was famous for his work on Tubarão a year earlier, doesn’t deliver anything as remarkable as the compositions Bernard Herrmann prepared with the director.
Trama Macabra had a modest budget of $ 3 million and grossed just over $ 13 million, although it was not a box office failure the production was marked by showing something good in below what was expected with the Hitchcock brand. Personally, the filmmaker experienced episodes of health complications during filming, which raised doubts if he could handle anything after Trama Macabra.
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