Arthur La Bern (novel Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square)
Anthony Shaffer (screenplay)
William Hill associate producer
Alfred Hitchcock producer (uncredited)
Jon Finch – Richard Ian Blaney
Alec McCowen – Chief Inspector Oxford
Barry Foster – Robert Rusk
Billie Whitelaw – Hetty Porter
Anna Massey – Barbara Jane (‘Babs’) Milligan
Barbara Leigh-Hunt – Brenda Margaret Blaney
Bernard Cribbins – Felix Forsythe
Vivien Merchant – Mrs. Oxford
Michael Bates – Sergeant Spearman
Jean Marsh – Monica Barling
Clive Swift – Johnny Porter
John Boxer – Sir George
Madge Ryan – Mrs. Davison
George Tovey – Mr. Salt
Elsie Randolph – Gladys
Jimmy Gardner – Hotel Porter
Gerald Sim – Solicitor in Pub
Noel Johnson – Doctor in Pub
Joby Blanshard – Man in Crowd (uncredited)
Geraldine Cowper – Spectator at opening rally (uncredited)
June Ellis – Maisie, Barmaid (uncredited)
Drewe Henley – Bit part (uncredited)
Alfred Hitchcock – Spectator at opening rally (uncredited)
Robert Keegan – Hospital Patient (uncredited)
Bunny May – Barman (uncredited)
Jack Silk – Police driver (uncredited)
Rita Webb – Mrs. Rusk (uncredited)
Jeremy Young – Detective (uncredited)
Review by Gary F Taylor
Hitchcock’s Final Masterpiece
Hitchcock had been in a bit of an artistic slump when, after some thirty years, he returned to England for this, his next to last film–and the result was his final masterpiece.
Scripted with ghoulish humor by Anthony Schaffer, FRENZY opens with a ceremony on the banks of the Thames in which Londoners inaugurate legislation to rid the river of pollutants… only to have the corpse of a naked woman wash ashore in the midst of their celebrations. She has been strangled with a tie–the latest victim of a serial killer who savagely rapes and then murders his victims by twisting his necktie around their throats. With the city in a panic and Scotland Yard desperate to catch the killer, suspicion falls on a down-on-his-luck bartender named Richard Blaney. Trouble is, he isn’t the killer.
In a sense, FRENZY has a strangely Dickensian flavor. It is a film that by and large seems to happen in public places: pubs, parks, offices, hotels, and most particularly Covent Garden with its constant hustle and bustle that serves to conceal horrors that occur inches away from the safety of the crowds. Indeed, the city seems almost a “master character” in the film, constantly pressing in upon the humans that inhabit it.
Fans of the British comedy series “Keeping Up Appearances” will recognize Clive Swift in a minor role, but for the most part the cast consists of unknowns–but while they lack name recognition they certainly do not lack for talent, playing with a realism that seems completely unstudied. Leading man Jon Finch (Richard Blaney) is perfectly cast as the attractive but disreputable suspect on the run, and he is equaled by his chum Barry Foster (Robert Rusk.) A special mention must also be made of the two female leads, Anna Massey and Barbara Leigh-Hunt–not to mention the host of supporting characters who bring the entire panorama of the great city to life.
In his earlier films, Hitchcock generally preferred to work by inference, implying danger and violence rather than openly showing it on the screen. PSYCHO broke the mold, and with FRENZY Hitchcock presents a sequence that many believe equals the notorious “shower scene:” a horrific rape and slow strangulation that leaves the viewer simply stunned. But having given us this horror, Hitchcock ups it with a scene in which we see no violence at all: just a camera shot that glides away from an apartment door, down the stairs, through the hall, and out into the busy street… as we shudder with the knowledge that the woman who just entered that apartment door is now being horrifically raped and murdered.
Hitchcock made one more film, a comic wink with twists of suspense starring Karen Black, Bruce Dern, and Barbara Harris called FAMILY PLOT–and it is an enjoyable film in its own right. But it is FRENZY that is the final jewel in the Hitchcock crown, a film to rank among his best. The DVD presentation includes a number of extras–including numerous interviews with the cast–that Hitchcock fans will find fascinating. All in all, FRENZY is fearsome, wickedly funny, and strongly recommended… but not for the faint of heart!
Review by Wayne Malin
Hitchcock’s last good film,
There’s a necktie murderer running around London. He attempts to rape women (he can’t he’s impotent) and, in his rage, strangles them with his ties. A “nice” guy named Rusk (Barry Foster) is the killer but his best friend Richard (Jon Finch) is the one accused of it…
Hitchcock’s first (and last) film in London since the 1950 “Stage Fright”. Something about London seemed to rejuvenate him–his two movies before this (“Topaz” and “Torn Curtain”) were slow, uninvolving and deadly dull. This moves quickly, has a good script and large doses of VERY black humor–much blacker than Hitchcock had ever attempted before. The film was also Hitchcock’s first to get an R rating for a pretty explicit rape/strangulation and flashes of female nudity. To be honest, it’s pretty tame by today’s standards but still disturbing. It’s kind of surprising that Hitchcock would get so vicious…but “Psycho”s shower stabbing was considered shocking for its time as was the scissors killing in “Dial M for Murder”.
The acting varies wildly. Mostly everybody is very good–especially Foster, Jean Marsh (in a amusing small role) and Anna Massey. But Finch, as the main character, is terrible. He is handsome but his character is brutal, obnoxious and his acting is just horrendous. That drags the movie down as I didn’t care for him at all.
The movie also contains many incredibly-directed sequences–especially the potato truck sequence and a reverse shot sequence. Also it has an infamous–and very funny–final line.
Bad acting from Finch aside this is a good movie and worth catching. I give it an 8.