Frenzy (1972)

frenzy poster 1972 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Love Hitchcock, cool shots

Abrupt ending, more violent than most Hitchcock films

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Frenzy

Studio:  Universal Pictures

Genre(s):  Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  June 21, 1972

MPAA Rating:  R

frenzy bob rusk dick blaney jon finch barry foster

Remember Bob’s your uncle…and he’s going to ruin your life

A murderer is stalking the streets of London and strangling women with his neckties.  When Dick Blaney (Jon Finch) is fired from his job and visits his ex-wife Brenda (Barbara Leigh-Hunt), he instantly becomes a suspect when she is found dead.  On the run with his girlfriend Babs (Anna Massey), Dick is unknowing being set-up by a man he calls his friend…and Bob Rusk (Barry Foster) isn’t done with Dick yet.

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Frenzy is a suspense thriller.  Following Topaz in 1969, the movie adapts the 1966 novel Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square by Arthur La Bern which in turn was based on the Jack the Stripper murders in London from 1964 to 1965.  The movie was praised by critics and is often cited as Hitchcock’s last masterpiece.

frenzy alfred hitchcock cameo

It’s Hitch!

Frenzy is rather shocking.  While Psycho had a lot of implied violence, there is little implied in Frenzy.  While Hitchcock has his classic style, Frenzy seems very modern in comparison to some of his other films.  Frenzy still is stylish and classy and has that Hitchcock thriller aspect to it.

The story for Frenzy is the standard “wrong man” story which in general drives me crazy.  You can see Jon Finch’s character unintentionally setting himself up for problems at the beginning of the film and it makes you want to scream.  Fortunately, the movie is often about the killer himself (another Hitchcock M.O.), and scenes like the potato truck adventure makes you want him to succeed and also get caught at the same time.  Like many Hitchcock films, Hitchcock seems to get bored with the movie near the end and the film ends rather abruptly with little fanfare and is even more anticlimactic than some of his other films.

frenzy strangled barbara leigh hunt

You make that face it might freeze that way…when you’re dead

The cast is good, but Hitchcock had a wildly different plan for the film.  Hitchcock wanted Michael Caine for Bob Rusk (Barry Foster does resemble him) and he also auditioned Helen Mirren for the Babs role.  I do like Jon Finch as the dirty and somewhat violent lead (he reminds me of Oliver Reed in the role) and Anna Massey’s inclusion as Babs is fun in that she was part of Peeping Tom which Psycho was widely compared to when Hitchcock released it.  I didn’t really need the wacky inspector played Alec McCowen and his wife played by Vivien Merchant, but the movie needed some lightening up (and it is interesting to see thing like margaritas as something exotic and weird).  The movie also has small roles by Jean Marsh and Bernard Cribbins.

frenzy babs potato truck anna massey

Sorry, Babs…collateral damage.

Like with all Hitchcock movies, Hitchcock uses visuals that make the movie better.  There are some great shots in this film including the nice opening helicopter shot to a gathered crowd (where you eventually see Hitch in his patented cameo).  Another notable shot is the shot up and the reverse shot down the stairs from Rusk’s apartment to a busy street below. This emphasizing you never know what is going on behind closed doors…maybe just feet from you.

Frenzy is a bit flawed but still good.  It is not as nuanced and polished as many of his films.  The R-Rated film actually lives up to its R-Rating and is quite violent.  The rape scene is quite intense and realistic.  This could upset those who prefer Hitchcock’s suggestive style of shooting but also makes the movie feel like it fits in 1972 more instead of the older style of Hitchcock’s movies.  Alfred Hitchcock followed Frenzy with his final film Family Plot in 1976.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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