First two very interesting reviews of Mr. Peanut on goodreads.com, one by Mike, the other by Krok Zero. I’d read the latter’s some time ago. He’s a fantastic writer and, if he’s not already a published critic under another name, he should be. As for Mike’s, well, it transported me to graduate school, to my Hitchcock class with Richard Dillard, and the dizzying wonder I experienced watching those films for the first time.
Speaking of Hitchcock, it was my great pleasure to introduce Rear Window at the Bookhampton’s Mayhem festival at Guild Hall in East Hampton, NY, this past weekend and then kick back and watch the restored version.
Grace Kelly, in my opinion, remains the most luminescent movie star of all time, and after falling in love with her yet again, I had these thoughts on the film:
*Jefferies’ casual cruelty toward Lisa over dinner is as bracing as Devlin’s toward Alicia Huberman in Notorious. I can only imagine what a cold slap these scenes must’ve seemed like to women when these movies premiered.
*The artists in Rear Window are figured forth as both trapped and liberated. While struggling with his melody, the songwriter is regularly framed behind bars; unlike Jefferies, his creativity is not compulsive or neurotic.
Interestingly, when the songwriter gets together with Miss Lonely Hearts at the end, he’s separated from her by his window frame just as the Thorwald’s are separated by their gutter.
The Dog People, too, are framed behind bars, so that conjugal love, for Hitch, is figured as a form of entrapment and, at times, insurmountable, killing distance; it’s also, of course, a source of vital repetition, habit, and sustaining warmth.
*After Lisa describes herself and Jefferies as “terrifying ghouls” she kisses his neck and, shot from behind, is like a vampire sucking his blood.
*The language throughout of role-playing/moviemaking (“I love funny exit lines,” “Reading top to bottom: Lisa. Carol. Freemont,” “Okay, chief, what’s my next assignment?”) coupled with Lisa’s various costumes and the recurrent partner swapping both witnessed and implied in this world suggest Hitch’s conviction that identity is entirely fluid.
*When Jefferies watches his neighbors alone he is happy, titillated, engrossed; in Lisa’s presence (Miss Lonely Heart’s near date-rape) he is ashamed.
*When Jefferies’ neighbor mourns her dog’s murder and angrily screams, “Did you kill him because he liked you?” she may as well have been whispering in Jefferies’ ear, for that is the very thing he’s doing to Lisa.
*It may be argued that the whole movie is structured as the making of a pop song, a romantic, schmaltzy ditty entitled Lisa, which hides the murderous, banal, necessary, and ubiquitous ambivalences that lie beneath conjugal relationships. The movie certainly attests to human frailty and our inability to tolerate solitude (Miss Torso’s Queen Bee behavior in her husband’s absence; Miss Lonely Heart’s constant pursuit of a companion and her near suicide after repeat failures; the songwriter’s inspiration, the “Lisa” who is his muse, either real or imagined). Unquestionably Hitch’s images argue that relationships are cyclical. Jefferies begins the movie asleep and is asleep at its end; the Dog People have bought a new dog; the newlyweds are fighting; Miss Lonely Hearts and the songwriter are wooing each other but are framed like the Thorwalds.