tue 21/05/2024

The Hitchcock Players: Barry Foster, Frenzy | reviews, news & interviews

The Hitchcock Players: Barry Foster, Frenzy

The Hitchcock Players: Barry Foster, Frenzy

Disturbing portryal of a rapist and killer in late-period Hitchcock

'Frenzy': Barry Foster in another entry in the on-going thesis about Hitchcock's attitude towards women

Hitchcock’s penultimate film was the grubby, squirm-inducing Frenzy, and Barry Foster's depiction of the grim killer Robert Rusk is central to the disquieting aura it casts. The film’s production was problematic enough, having been cut by the BBFC before release. It also had casting problems – Michael Caine turned down the lead role. Hitchcock dismissed composer Henry Mancini from soundtrack duties after having commissioned him.

Hitchcock’s first British production for two decades wasn’t an easy ride for the director or audiences.

Students of London history can look to Frenzy as a time capsule of Covent Garden when it was still a thriving market, before it became the tourist central it is now. In that setting, Foster’s Rusk is a rapist who strangles his prey with his tie and anything else to hand. Although not fingered in the film as a suspect, Rusk is revealed to have undertaken assaults on women he's met through a dating agency. It’s never a good idea to question plot devices, but God alone knows why this monster was walking the streets. Foster plays the vile creature with a grim determination made all the more disturbing by the violent shifts in mood he gives Rusk. Frenzy does have an antecedent in Peeping Tom, but there is none of the distance and subtlety that Michael Powell brought to that film’s Mark Lewis, played by Carl Boehm. Foster paints Rusk in broad strokes.

Hitchcock would make just one more film, the 1976 US production Family Plot, and Frenzy remains another question mark in the always on-going thesis about his attitude towards women (check out how happy Hitchcock seems to be about Frenzy in the trailer). As for Foster, Frenzy left no flies as the year of its release saw him hit TV screens for the first time on the right side of the law as the Dutch detective Van der Valk.

Watch the trailer for Frenzy

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