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Frenzy Details


Alfred Hitchcock entered the 1970s with his commercial reputation virtually in tatters, a far cry from his stature at the start of the 1960s. Then, he'd been in the middle of the massively successful trio of movies, Alfred Hitchcock, Alfred Hitchcock, and Alfred Hitchcock, and was a ubiquitous presence on television thanks to his anthology series Alfred Hitchcock -- but the series ended, and he'd suffered three expensive box-office failures in a row, Alfred Hitchcock, Alfred Hitchcock, and Alfred Hitchcock, in the second half of the 1960s. He redeemed himself with Frenzy, however, which marked his return not only to England for the first time in 20 years but also to the subject matter with which he'd started his career in thrillers back in 1926 -- murder, and a hunt for a serial killer in London. As the latest female victim of the "Necktie Murderer" is found in the Thames, raped and strangled, we meet Richard Blaney (Jon Finch), a bitter, belligerent ex-Royal Air Force officer who can't seem to find his way in life. He drinks too much and holds grudges too easily, and has an explosive temper, which is very near the surface as he's just lost his job. We also meet his girlfriend, a barmaid (Anna Massey); his ex-wife, a professional matchmaker (Barbara Leigh-Hunt); and his best friend, Covent Garden fruit seller Bob Rusk (Barry Foster). Their connection to the necktie murders will be clear to us in the first 30 minutes of the movie and, not coincidentally, completely misinterpreted by the police, as Chief Inspector Oxford (Alec McCowan) and his men tighten a circle around the wrong man, who rapidly runs out of options and allies. The chase and suspense are classic Hitchcock, favorably recalling a dozen of his earlier movies, from Hitchcock and Hitchcock through Hitchcock and Hitchcock to Hitchcock and Alfred Hitchcock, with some new twists and the added energy afforded by the extensive use of actual London locations. There's also a good deal more sex and nudity here than Hitchcock was ever allowed to use in his earlier movies, owing to the relaxation of "decency" standards that had taken place in the years leading up to this production. The suspense derives from multiple interlocking and overlapping layers of uncertainty -- when will each of the two men, suspect and murderer, slip? (And which will slip first?) When and how will the police realize their mistake, and will it be in time to save the innocent man? Amid the straightforward storytelling and thriller elements, Hitchcock manages to slip in a few bravura cinematic moments, the best of them a pullback shot down a flight of stairs into a busy street as the killer invites his next victim into his home, as well as a scene aboard a truck, with a murderer desperately wrestling with a corpse hidden in a sack of potatoes. Frenzy was adapted from Arthur La Bern's novel Goodbye Picadilly, Farewell Leicester Square by mystery aficionado Anthony Shaffer, but for all of that and its decidedly modern trappings of sex and violence, it bears the indelible stylistic stamp of Alfred Hitchcock. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

  • Release date:June 21, 1972


Awarded by
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Anthony Shaffer Best Screenplay 1972 Nominee
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Alfred Hitchcock Best Director 1972 Nominee


Jon Finch
as Richard Blaney
Barry Foster
as Bob Rusk
Barbara Leigh-Hunt
as Brenda Blaney
Anna Massey
as Barbara "Babs" Milligan
Alec McCowen
as Chief Inspector Oxford
Vivien Merchant
as Mrs. Oxford
Rita Webb
as Mrs. Rusk
Gerald Sim
as Man at Bar
Clive Swift
as Johnny Porter
Elsie Randolph
as Gladys
George Tovey
as Mr. Salt
Madge Ryan
as Mrs. Davison
Billie Whitelaw
as Hetty Porter
Bernard Cribbins
as Forsythe
June C. Ellis
as The Barmaid
John Boxer
as Sir George
Bunny May
as The Barman
Jean Marsh
as Monica Baning, Brenda's secretary
Jimmy Gardner
as Hotel Porter
Noel Johnson
as Man at Bar


Alfred Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock
Anthony Shaffer
Gilbert Taylor
Henry Mancini
Composer (Music Score)
John Jympson
Syd Cain
Production Designer
Sidney Cain
Production Designer
Robert Laing
Art Director
Bob Laing
Art Director
Simon Wakefield
Set Designer
Peter Handford
Sound/Sound Designer
Colin M. Brewer
First Assistant Director
Brian Burgess
Production Manager
Harry Frampton