wed 16/10/2019

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

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

Advertising feature


A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
The Observer, Kate Kellaway


Direct from a sold-out season at Kiln Theatre the five star, hit play, The Son, is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited season.



This final part of Florian Zeller’s trilogy is the most powerful of all.
The Times, Ann Treneman


Written by the internationally acclaimed Florian Zeller (The Father, The Mother), lauded by The Guardian as ‘the most exciting playwright of our time’, The Son is directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst.


Book by 30 September and get tickets from £15*
with no booking fee.