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Hitchcock's Psycho - Q & A

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Connor Pelcher

1. What John Fawell is essentially saying is that although the common assumption of Hitchcock is that he is staunchly misogynistic--and often when one says this, the movies Psycho and Frenzy are cited for their scenes of female-oriented violence--he actually, in his majority of films, expresses empathy and compassion towards women, while giving a "sharp critique of the male psyche". He goes even further, to convey the point that the notorious scenes from the two aforementioned movies may have jaded us all to the facts that he isn't really that misogynistic after all.

2. Jeff, for some reason or another of which we have no knowledge, has been left with a slightly cynical view of women. As a result, he cannot help but view Lisa Fremont as a pretty face that is fundamentally lacking what he thinks are the necessary qualities of his ideal woman. As he says, he doesn't want a beauty queen, he wants a woman who will stick with him for the long run. I think that although he has the cynical view of woman he knows deep down that she will love him when he needs her and his--in my opinion--flimsy and transparent rejections of her in the middle of the movie are no more than a test of her devotion.

3. Fawell identifies in the four movies an principal thread of a man who does not at first recognize a woman's true worth until his rejection of her shows to him "the true measure of her worth", as well as bringing to light the potential ramifications of placing blame where it need not go. Fawell also refers to this theme as the only theme that Hitchcock could portray with sincerity, implying there was an underlying emotional link that allowed him to place emotional honesty in his films.


("I always believe of following the advice of the playwright Sardou: 'Torture the women'...the trouble today is that we don't torture women enough.")

(It is true that women suffer in Hitchcock's films but he reserves his most withering judgment for men.)

I think that maybe Hitchcock was saying these rather outlandish quotes to further his reputation of being a "woman-hater" and at the same time a more notable director (one would assume that they would go hand in hand; if it's something that makes you more apt to watching his movies and remembering his name it works out just fine for him). Even Fawell himself even recognizes the fact that Hitchcock may be trying to create with his misleading statements a stigma about himself as the "woman/mother hater".

5. All of the women that Jeff watches throughout the course of his recovery are very round characters: we watch their lives and individual personalities take shape as we see new facets of their being play out through our voyeurism. Mrs. Lonely Hearts at first appears to be a sex-starved woman in dire need of some lovin', male-style. However, when she finally does get a man into her house, the romantic dinner she had planned goes out the window when the man immediately wants to get down and dirty with her and she throws him out of her apartment. Her character continues to change when, after walking on the edge of suicide, her upstairs neighbor's music draws her back to life and she becomes romantically involved by the close. Ms. Torso, the "Queen bee with the pick of her drones," begins her life with us as, well, a queen be with the pick of her drones. When she chooses a man, all seems well until he gets too busy and she boots him out, showing her strong will as a woman. Even the aggressive Mrs. Newlywed looks innocent enough when the couple first arrives at their apartment, but turns out to be a ruthless sex bandit. Through Jeff's objectification of the women he is watching, we not only intensify our inherent voyeurism (which exists simply by us being movie watchers), but begin to draw a conclusion regarding Jeff's feelings about women. As is obvious when a comparison is made between his nervous and uncomfortable interactions with Lisa and his comfort--even eagerness--with watching the women across the way with his binoculars speaks volumes on Jeff's position about a woman: a being to idolize and watch, something to see but not touch.

6. Jeff's view on marriage seems to be a bit skewed from what one traditionally feels about it; the fact that he feels men lose their happiness in marriage, his view that women only want to get married and suck their men dry, his recurring rejections of Lisa, all allude to the fact that Jeff knows marriage by another name, so to speak...he feels as if it is most certainly something not for him.

7. Is Jeff sexually dysfunctional? I think so. On many levels, most people walking the planet are in some way sexually dysfunctional, but Jeff's inadequacy may be more pronounced. As Fawell says: the itch, the wine bottle, the telephoto lens resting in lap (oh, the phallic imagery hurts my eyes, mommy) all intended to show that Jeff has indeed replaced his sexual life with one of spying, his masturbation with the necessity to know, to be informed. The fact that he moves from binoculars to a higher powered telephoto lens halfway into the movie solidifies his changeover to complete (or as complete as he can manage) immersion into the world of the windows across the way. Indeed even the itch is a clever and glaring indicator the Jeff has left his sexual being behind for a more streamlined craft of voyeurism; he tries frantically to relieve an itch around his crotch in a very sexual manner, digging and itching with his stick that lies next to his bed, frenetically jabbing at himself while in the background an opera singer sings, her wail rising to a crescendo and peaking as Jeff finally relieves his irritation. Undeniably Jeff has a dysfunction. He prefers to watch a woman rather than to be with a woman and a Fawell says, "This preference represents a punishment to the person who loves him the most." He cannot love her the way she should be loved and he figuratively (and for the time being, literally) cannot please her the way she wants.

8. This movie is unlike other movies...or unlike other Hitchcock films, to be precise; rather, unlike what people think Hitchcock's



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