Luke Thorne’s review published on Letterboxd:
From the Master of Suspense, this is Alfred Hitchcock’s penultimate film, and has been regarded as his last ‘great’ movie.
However, I strongly believe there is no denying that it is also the most disturbing movie that Hitchcock had directed in his directorial career.
The story concerns a serial killer who is stalking London, and an completely innocent man finds he is the police’s only suspect. London is held in the grip of a serial murderer whose particular method is to kill his victims by throttling them with a necktie.
When irritable ex-Royal Air Force officer Richard Blaney (Jon Finch) finds out that his ex-wife (Barbara Leigh-Hunt) has been murdered, he becomes a suspect. Left with absolutely no choice but to go on the run, Richard tries to take shelter with his best pal, fruit merchant Bob Rusk (Barry Foster).
Jon Finch gives a very good performance in his role as Richard Blaney, the ex-Royal Air Force officer who is surprised to find out what he has been accused of doing and acts like he is determined to clear his name and plead his innocence. If he didn’t do it, then who did? Finch suits his role really well and makes the most of the time he has on the screen.
Elsewhere, Barbara Leigh-Hunt is decent as Brenda Blaney, Richard’s ex-wife who meets her end in an extremely cruel and very uncomfortable way, while Anna Massey and Billie Whitelaw give respectable supporting performances in their respective roles as Barbara Milligan and Hetty Porter. Barbara is Richard’s girlfriend, while Hetty is Johnny’s wife.
Alec McGowen gives a good performance in his role as the Chief Inspector Oxford who is investigating what is going on in the capital, while Barry Foster is Robert ‘Bob’ Rusk, Richard’s best pal who takes refuge in his house when Richard is accused of something he has not even committed.
Look out for Clive Swift (Richard Bucket in Keeping Up Appearances) in his role as Johnny Porter, Hetty’s husband, giving some evidence into what he knows about what has happened. Also keep an eye out for Alfred Hitchcock in his cameo appearance in a crowd wearing a bowler’s hat.
The direction from Hitchcock is excellent because he allows the facial expressions to be seen to a strong and powerful effect throughout, while also keeping a very tense atmosphere happening as well and the script is written to a decent standard by Anthony Shaffer as he makes the movie easy to follow.
The technical aspects that stand out best are the set, camera and music, because the set is decent to view throughout, especially around the house; the camera makes very good use of the locations and also captures the tense moments well, which get the edge-of-the-seat status, with one particular scene in a disturbing way; the music is very enjoyable to listen to.
The movie managed to win 4 Golden Globe nominations: Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director (Alfred Hitchcock), Best Screenplay (Anthony Shaffer) and Best Original Score (Ron Goodwin).
I am glad that this film got some recognition, rather than absolute zero – it would have been very unlucky if this movie had not got no major award nominations.
Some of the violence is uncomfortable and disturbing in places, but it is part of the story, so it has to be included, otherwise I would be talking about a completely different film.
Overall, it can be unsettling at times, but Frenzy is one excellent British mystery thriller from the Master of Suspense. This works very well due to the good performances from the cast, most notably Jon Finch as the wrong man suspected, Alfred Hitchcock’s very solid direction, the well written script by Anthony Shaffer and the technical aspects. It’s one of the best films – and the best 18 film – to have been made in the year of this release.