Pat Hitchcock,‘Psycho’,‘NxNW’& The Case Of The Missing US Intelligence Agency Letters

Edwin Pereyra

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Recently, I had the opportunity of viewing Psycho and North By Northwest on the big screen with an introduction by Alfred Hitchcock’s daughter, Patricia. Before each screening, Patricia gave a little background on the films. During a Question and Answer session, I asked her what she thought about the remake of Psycho by Gus Van Sant and how it all came about.
She answered my query by first relating her first meeting with Van Sant over lunch about the project. She then went on to say that she was very pleased with the film and Van Sant’s work. But she also indicated that the filmmakers made the estate a really good offer, which led me to believe that one of the reasons for greenlighting the remake was an economic one – a revelation that was less than satisfying.
As for the screenings, I was a little disappointed with the print of Psycho. It was not a very good print and had a few nicks here and there. North By Northwest, on the other hand, was a very pristine print. There was nothing short of remarkable experiencing these classic films, nor any film for that matter, directly on the big screen. The overhead shot of the United Nations where Cary Grant was running away from the building showed the depth and clarity that was sometimes hard to appreciate on the small screen. Seeing that shot the way Hitchcock meant it was even more impressive.
I also had particular interest seeing this film on the big screen due to some discussions when the DVD was released about some missing letters on a shot of the United States Intelligence Agency sign. As Robert Harris said, the shot on the DVD was, in fact, the same shot on the film’s theatrical presentation. I am now able to confirm this.
Being pleased overall by this entire experience, the next classic film I’m looking forward to seeing is the 70mm presentation of 2001: A Space Odyssey, by all means, an event that is not to be missed.
By the way, Patricia Hitchcock’s favorite of all her father’s films was Notorious. According to her, that film “had the perfect cast”.
~Edwin
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http://www.hometheaterforum.com/uub/Forum9/HTML/005780.html#8 http://www.hometheaterforum.com/uub/Forum9/HTML/006466.html
[Edited last by Edwin Pereyra on November 08, 2001 at 12:16 AM]
 

Robert Crawford

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But she also indicated that the filmmakers made the estate a really good offer, which led me to believe that one of the reasons for greenlighting the remake was an economic one – a revelation that was less than satisfying.
Edwin,
Why wouldn't financial terms be part of the approval process? Furthermore, the mediocre remake further enhances the greatness of the original "Psycho", while at the same time the estate benefits financially. For the estate it seems like a win, win situation to me.
Crawdaddy
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Ken_McAlinden

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There are some OK 35mm prints of NxNW floating around. In 1997, they were touring a "newly struck" print around the country in theaters for limited engagements. I believe it was created from a 35mm dupe element. The problem as I understood it was the non-viability of any of the pre-print Vistavision elements for creating new prints. It would be great if WB did a large format restoration (something like the VistaVision to 65mm Vertigo restoration that Harris & Katz performed for Universal).
Regards,
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Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA
 

Seth Paxton

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I think I'm with Crawdaddy on this one Edwin. Remakes are a way of life and usually have little or no effect on the original's standing, except to promote it's own stature.
I can honestly see many filmmakers allowing for remakes of their product as long as they got paid enough. After all, most of the money a remake is going to make (at least front-end) will be based on the previous work. And as for the art, a confident filmmaker knows how hard it would be to top a classic or even meet it's standards.
The REAL question is "Why would Van Zant want to pay for the right to get himself into a artistic comparison that he just isn't going to win?"
Producers I understand, they are just thinking about the money they can still make off the stature/known success of the original.
But think about some successful remakes - The Thing, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, maybe even King Kong - no matter what, these films still get unfavorably compared at least in terms of "I prefer the original". Even The Thing or Ben-Hur get this and I think most people find the remakes to be "better". Even doing it well leaves you at a severe disadvantage.
 

Robert Crawford

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I guess the ultimate question becomes, why was a remake necessary to begin with?
It wasn't necessary which is one of the reasons why the film failed! Remember, it wasn't the Hitchcock family that initiated the remake but if Hollywood was willing to pay the family to do it why should the family stand in their way. If it fails which is what happened, it is no reflection on the original film or the Hitchcock name. Matter of fact, it brought further proof of the greatness of the original "Psycho".
Crawdaddy
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Robert Crawford

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Damn Seth, you stole my thunder in this discussion.

Crawdaddy
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Peter Staddon: "I didn't say you can put 'Monkeybone' back!"
 

Edwin Pereyra

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You guys make it sound that its okay to be a money grabbing capitalist. But wait a minute, that would describe most Americans these days.

~Edwin
 

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