RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Alfred Hitchcock

Rear Window

Posted on
Image credit: Rear Window, 1954

There’s nothing like a hot, humid night to make you want to cool off with an effortlessly chic film and icy cocktail. Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (Disc/Download) may take place during the dog days of summer, but it never fails to chill me to the bone.

With a main character loosely based on real-life celebrity/lifestyle photographer Slim Aarons, this movie seems tailor made to fit my mid-century sensibilities. But throw in a tense murder mystery, voyeurism, and Hitchcockian suspense, and this Edith Head-flavored eye candy becomes a masterpiece. I’ve always loved Jimmy Stewart in a Hitchcock film because it’s an opportunity for cinema’s favorite everyman to dig a little deeper. As we see him lock eyes with a killer across the courtyard, it becomes apparent—this Jimmy has a dark side. One that compels him to watch his neighbors with the lights off, studying their movements, becoming involved in their dramas from afar. He can joke with Thelma Ritter and flirt with his socialite girlfriend, but there’s no denying the slight element of criminality to his behavior. Watching isn’t murder, but it’s still a violation.

Speaking of Thelma Ritter, I’d like to toast this 20th Century Queen of “Telling it Like it Is”. As the nurse who tends to Jimmy’s  L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries and his broken leg, she admonishes his semi-creepy voyeur habits while simultaneously musing about body disposal and blood spatter. Murderinos unite! When the action heats up, cool down with this Peeping Tom Collins.

Peeping Tom Collins

2 oz London Dry Gin

1 oz Lemon Juice

1 oz Ginger Liqueur

1/2 oz Simple Syrup

Club Soda to top

Lemon Wheel for garnish

Build drink over ice, stirring to combine. Garnish with a lemon wheel.

With just a hint of a spicy kick from the ginger liqueur, this drink will make you aware of how hot it is outside, but grateful you have air conditioning (unlike the poor folks in this Greenwich Village apartment complex). And be sure to watch out for a scene in which three people swirl brandy for about ten minutes straight, literally hypnotizing the viewer. If this was Hitch’s brand of misdirection, consider me duped. I have no idea what happened in that scene, other than the fact that Grace Kelly likes to aerate her alcohol and wear chunky charm bracelets. Cheers!

Psycho

Posted on
Image credit: Psycho, 1960.

There’s a fine line between the kind of horror movie I can handle, and the kind I can’t. A great example of a “Liz Locke-approved Scary Movie” is this week’s pick Psycho (Disc/Download). Even though Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece makes me anxious about taking a shower ever again, the psychological suspense is so well crafted that I almost welcome the terror. Plus, you know I love any movie set in a hotel ;-).

Although this film would later be remade shot-for-shot in color by Gus Van Sant, I’ll always prefer the original black-and-white version. It removes the viewer from the action a little bit, reminding us that this is fiction, and Norman Bates is not peering at me through a peephole or waiting behind a curtain with a knife in his hand. The noise I heard halfway through shampooing my hair was just the dog.

IT’S JUST THE DOG.

In his performance as a disturbed serial killer, Anthony Perkins is equal parts creepy and likeable, similar to all those other famous murderers we’ve heard about in podcasts and documentaries. You know the type: average guy next door; he wouldn’t hurt a fly. And as one of his victims, Janet Leigh’s character Marion isn’t exactly innocent, but she’s so sweet and unsuspecting of what’s about to happen to her that the viewer almost forgets she’s a “bad girl” on the run. This is what I love about Psycho– you think you understand who the criminal is in the first ten minutes, only to realize you had no idea what level of depraved criminal you’re soon about to meet.

When Marion Crane checks into the Bates Motel, she’s probably expecting to relax with her suitcase full of money and a nice cold cocktail (I know that’s what I like to do on vacation, anyway). Instead, she’s stuck talking to a sad loner about his taxidermy collection, over a pile of white bread and pitcher of water. Is this the hospitality industry or prison?? Let’s bring some fun to this lobby party with a cocktail inspired by the upcoming shower scene. While watching Psycho, I recommend drinking this 12 Cabins, 12 Vacancies cocktail.

12 Cabins, 12 Vacancies

2 oz Red Wine

1 oz Pineapple Juice

¾ oz Simple Syrup

¾ oz Lime Juice

Club Soda

Add the red wine, pineapple juice, simple syrup, and lime juice to a highball glass over ice. Top with soda water, and stir well to combine. Garnish with a dehydrated blood orange.

As blood circles the drain in one of the most artistic murder scenes ever filmed, notice how it looks remarkably like the red wine in your cocktail. Apparently Hitch used chocolate syrup, but personally I prefer a boozier option. This is a refreshing drink that’s easy to refill as you watch Norman descend deeper and deeper into madness. But then again, don’t we all go a little mad sometimes? Especially after a few tipples? Cheers and Happy Halloween!

To Catch a Thief

To Catch a Thief

Image credit: To Catch a Thief, 1955

I’ve taken a lot of cinema travels this summer, so it’s fitting that I end the season with one last trip to the French Riviera. Alfred Hitchcock’s classic To Catch a Thief (Disc/Download) will make you feel like you’re sipping champagne at the Carlton Hotel in Cannes, before meeting your lover for a sexy rendezvous. This week, say bonjour to style, suspense, and sun-drenched 1950s beaches.

This is one of those movies I could watch with the sound off and still feel like I got my money’s worth. To see Grace Kelly slink across the screen in her gorgeous Edith Head costumes is such a treat, but then Hitch had to go and add the Mediterranean Sea. And champagne. And Cary Grant in a lovely French farmhouse. Is he TRYING to make me swoon? If you like the Ocean’s Eleven trilogy, you’ll really enjoy this plot involving a retired cat burglar trying to clear his name after a string of “copycat” jewel thefts. Cary latches on to Grace Kelly’s jet set heiress, using her to draw the real thief out. But somewhere between sunbathing, picnicking, and enjoying the fireworks from a luxury hotel room, she falls for him. Can Cary catch the thief? Can Grace catch Cary? Can the world stop catching coronavirus so I can go to the French Riviera for real???

As previously mentioned, this is a champagne-heavy movie. For my cocktail pairing this week, I’m adapting the classic French Riviera cocktail into something a little more bubbly, and a little more American, in a nod to Grace Kelly’s roots. While watching To Catch a Thief, I recommend drinking this Copycat cocktail.

Copycat

1 ½ oz Bourbon

½ oz Rum

1 tsp Apricot Jam

½ oz Lemon Juice

1 oz Honey Syrup (2 to 1 ratio, honey to water, boiled then cooled)

3 oz Champagne

Combine Bourbon, rum, apricot jam, lemon juice, and honey syrup in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a glass filled with fresh ice. Top with champagne, and stir gently.

Copycat

This spritz cocktail is perfect for lounging near the beach or pool in your couture, as I know we’re all doing during quarantine. Maybe just me? No matter your plans this Labor Day, I hope you get to take a day off, and I hope that day off involves a fabulous movie or two. Cheers!

North by Northwest

Posted on

Image credit: North by Northwest, 1959

Image credit: North by Northwest, 1959

As families across the US make their way to top summer tourist destinations, I got to thinking about a place that’s certainly on my bucket list of attractions to visit- Mount Rushmore. However, I’m terrified that my trip would be a letdown because I’ve already visited this engineering marvel through the eyes of Alfred Hitchcock in the film North by Northwest (DVD/Download) many, many times. Truly, without Cary Grant scaling Thomas Jefferson’s forehead, is there even a point to seeing it in person?

North by Northwest is one of my favorite Hitchcock films, full of twisty plot developments, nail-biting suspense, and chic mid-century style. Cary Grant’s iconic grey suit is perfect for his portrayal of a Mad Men-era advertising exec, who through a case of mistaken identity, becomes involved in a secret spy mission to recover government documents from villains played by James Mason and a very young Martin Landau. Along the way Grant meets Eva Marie Saint, and they share a risqué rendezvous on the 20th Century Limited train. Can I just say, if train travel were as glamorous as it appears in North by Northwest, summer journeys would become a whole lot more appealing to me. Just imagine- craft cocktails, white linen tablecloths, en suite bathrooms, and Cary Grant waiting for you on a comfy bed in your cabin- what could be better?

It was INCREDIBLY difficult to pick just one cocktail pairing for this movie because there are so many great beverage moments. First there’s bourbon, Martin Landau’s murder weapon of choice (see above photo). Then there’s the fabulous train that Cary Grant stows away on, the 20th Century, which incidentally has a cocktail named after it. But if I have to pick just one drink, I have to go with the beverage Grant orders in the dining car- The Gibson. It’s classic, it’s timeless, and sophisticated- just like this film. While watching North by Northwest, I recommend drinking a Gibson.

Gibson

2 oz Gin

1/3 oz Dry Vermouth

Pickled Cocktail Onion

Fill a shaker with ice, then add gin and vermouth. Stir well, then strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an onion.

gibson

There are several famous moments in North by Northwest, such as the big scene where Cary Grant is chased through a corn field by a crop dusting plane, and the climax on Mount Rushmore, but my favorite part is when he tosses his monogrammed matchbook to Eva Marie Saint as she sits in James Mason’s Frank Lloyd Wright-esque lair. Walking around with your own personalized matches- now that’s about as classy as it gets. Cheers!

Vertigo

Posted on

Image credit: Universal Studios, 1958, Vertigo

Image credit: Universal Studios, 1958, Vertigo

While planning an upcoming trip to San Francisco, I felt inspired to watch a film that beautifully captures the scenery, the history, and the mystery of this city. I settled on the Alfred Hitchcock classic Vertigo, which is sometimes remembered more for Jimmy Stewart’s odd Technicolor acid trip dream sequence, but in my mind will always be remembered for a beautiful Kim Novak throwing herself into the San Francisco Bay as the Golden Gate Bridge frames the scene. It’s a dark, confusing tale that manages to make even sunny California seem downright sinister. Furthermore, it’s the rare movie where Jimmy Stewart is a bit of a creep, hobbled by his fear of heights and a strange attachment to a lost love. He’s not exactly a villain, but making your new girlfriend dye her hair and dress up like your old dead girlfriend is definitely on the disturbing side.

In Vertigo (DVD/Download), Jimmy Stewart plays retired police detective Scottie Ferguson, who is hired by an old college friend to investigate the friend’s wife, played by Kim Novak (long before Botox and surgery froze her face- see 2014 Academy Awards). She is suspected of either being insane, or of actually being inhabited by the soul of a long-dead woman named Carlotta Valdes. Of course Scottie falls for her, shortly before she appears to throw herself out of the bell tower of an old California mission. The plot is initially a bit confusing, but Hitchcock manages to brilliantly weave everything together so that in the end it all makes perfect sense. Jimmy Stewart turns in a performance that’s intense and manic (I’d go so far as to call him the Nicholas Cage of the 50’s in this), and the Edith Head costumes for Kim Novak are so wonderful that I would gladly trade places with her for a day (though only as Madeleine Elster and not cheap, tawdry Judy).

My cocktail pairing for Vertigo is a San Francisco classic. Many believe that this drink was first served in the United States at San Francisco’s famed Buena Vista Café, the recipe having been brought over from Ireland by travel writer Stanton Delaplane. I’ll certainly be stopping at the Buena Vista to sample the real thing, but in the meantime, while watching Vertigo, I recommend making an Irish Coffee.

Irish Coffee

1 cup hot coffee

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 ½ oz Irish Whiskey

Heavy cream, slightly whipped

Pour piping hot coffee into a warmed glass mug until it is about ¾ full. Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Blend in Irish Whiskey. Top with the whipped heavy cream by pouring gently over the back of a spoon. Serve hot.

Irish-Coffee

This drink will warm you up as Hitchcockian suspense sends shivers up and down your spine, and images of foggy evenings and the woman in the grey wool suit make you colder just watching them. I’m sure Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart could have definitely used a couple of Irish Coffees after their dip in the San Francisco Bay. Watching this film reminds me what a master filmmaker Hitchcock was, and it makes me even more excited to visit the city where ghosts and intrigue mingle with fog and warm whiskey. Cheers!