U.S.A. • 1972 • COLOUR • 35MM • 116 MIN

After the sensational success of Psycho in 1960, Hitchcock slowed down, completing only six more films in sixteen years. The best and most vigorous of these six is surely Frenzy, for which he returned in a big way to his London roots. Not only has it an all-English cast and story, but its main setting is Covent Garden fruit and vegetable market (not long before it was relocated, and the site converted to London’s equivalent of Temple Bar) — an environment that irresistibly recalls Hitchcock’s own father’s greengrocery business in the same city. In subject matter the film loops right back to The Lodger, dealing with a serial killer of women and with the fight of a wrongly accused man to track him down. Hitchcock takes advantage of loosening censorship regulations to stage some gruesome scenes of violence, balancing them adroitly with the comedy of the home life of Inspector Oxford, who has to cope with his wife’s attempts at gourmet cuisine. Vivien Merchant as Mrs Oxford is outstanding in a cast among which, as so often, strong women are dominant.

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