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First Serial Killer Flick? And More!

Peter Lorre in M courtesy Criterion Video

Questions about serial murderers in movies a shower of blood The Godfather IIs Troy DonahueMerle Johnson mystery and moreSend your movie questions to FlickChickSee Maitland McDonagh and Ken Fox review this weeks new flicks in Movie TalkHear Maitland on the weekly TVGuide Talk podcastQuestion I love movies about serial killers and that got me to wondering What was the very first serial killer picture -- AlexFlickChick I love first questions because they always get the discussion going Id argue that Alfred Hitchcocks silent The Lodger 1926 gets the credit for being the earliest movie about a serial murderer That said it focuses less on the killer and his victims than on the increasingly concerned landlady who comes to suspect her upstairs lodger might be this Jack the Ripper fellow she keeps reading about in the newspaper Fritz Langs M 1931 seems to me the first film whose structure resembles that of contemporary serial killer pictures It focuses on both read more

Lost: Who Were Those Pretty People?

As a happy distraction from our long national nightmare — make that bad joke — that is Sanjaya Malakar, can I just say that Lost blew me away Wednesday night? What an absolute treat of an episode, a clear sign that the show, after a stalled fall, is back in full throttle, back on its creative game and still more than capable of spinning a great, entertaining yarn.Weaving flashbacks that appeared to be posthumous but really weren't (more on that later) while providing clever new angles on classic Lost moments from previous seasons — including the immediate aftermath of the crash itself — this episode was also a welcome reminder that sometimes these producers really do seem to know what they're doing after all. We were silly, and unworthy, to have doubted them, don't you think? For all those times this season that we clucked and shook our heads whenever we spied the marginal beauties Nikki (Kiele Sanchez) and Paulo (Rodrigo Santoro), wondering (as Sawyer often sa... read more

When Bad Things Happen to Good Characters

Something seriously unfunny is happening on two of TV's most notable hour-long comedies, Desperate Housewives and Gilmore Girls. Not that either show is beyond rescue, but I fear it's going to take a while this season to extricate some heretofore favorite characters from the miserable corners they were painted into last season.Most infamously, Lorelai Gilmore (still, against the odds, effervescently played by Lauren Graham) is mired in an unpleasant situation that makes her overextended estrangement from daughter Rory a while back look like a walk in the park. Last season ended on a dreadful thumb-nosing note by departing series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino as Lorelai walked away from fiancé Luke after making an impulsive (some might say irrational) ultimatum, and then ended up in her former flame (and Rory's father) Christopher's bed. No good can come from this.In Tuesday's opener, Lorelai tells everyone who'll listen, "It's over." If only it were. Not Lorelai and Luke, but t... read more

I just watched Kill Bill: ...

Question: I just watched Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and the scene with Daryl Hannah as a hit woman disguised as a nurse reminded me of a TV-movie I saw as a kid. It was about a bunch of nurses in a house, and they’re afraid of a serial killer so they’re not going outside. But the twist is that one of the nurses is the killer, and he’s really a man dressed like a woman. I’m stumped and no one knows what I’m talking about, except for one person who said Alfred Hitchcock directed it. Can you help?Answer: Sure. What you saw wasn’t a movie but a 1965 episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962-1965) — though Alfred Hitchcock himself didn’t direct it — called An Unlocked Window. It was directed by Joseph Newman, based on Ethel Lina White’s 1933 novel Some Must Watch read more

I know most of the world ...

Alfred Hitchcock, Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Question: I know most of the world remembers Alfred Hitchcock as a master filmmaker, but I've always been a big fan of his TV show, too. Recently a friend was telling me he just put his name on it and didn't really work on it much. True or false? (Please say false!) Thank you.


Answer: That depends on your definition of the word "work," Nicole. Let's face it: If you do any job long enough it becomes toil, but I guarantee that the people who performed the day-to-day functions on Alfred Hitchcock Presents during its initial 1955-65 run on CBS and NBC would have told you that they were the ones doing the heavy lifting. Matter of fact, one of the major players did just that. "He contributes nothing except script supervision," protégée and series producer Joan Harrison flatly told TV Guide in 1964, noting that she hired all read more

I was just wondering if you ...

Question: I was just wondering if you knew why the birds attacked Bodega Bay in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. And also, were those real birds, or what?


Answer: The Daphne du Maurier story on which The Birds (1963) is very loosely based is a Cold War allegory in which the attacking birds are a metaphor for life out of balance, knocked off kilter by human hubris, self-centeredness and belligerence. Alfred Hitchcock's screenwriter Evan Hunter, who relocated the story from England to California and made the protagonist a shallow socialite (Tippi Hedren) rathe read more

I remember in the '80s there ...

Question: I remember in the '80s there was a remake of an old French movie about this man who keeps tormenting his wife and another woman. It was set in a castle or something, and the scene I remember most vividly is the one in which the wife runs into the bathroom and locks the door. She turns around and all of a sudden, he pops out of the tub full of water and his eyes are rolled back into his head. She screams. Please, oh please, tell me the title of this movie and something about it!  


Answer: Although it was made earlier than you suggest, I think you're remembering Reflections of Murder (1974), a startlingly good made-for-TV remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot's Diabolique (1955), in which the sadistic headmaster of a cavernous boys' boarding schoo read more

I would really like to know ...

Question: I would really like to know if what happened in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre movies is true or not. A lot of people I've asked are convinced that the movies document real events, but I've read that while real-life killer Ed Gein inspired the movies, there was no massacre at all. Can you clear this up for me please?


Answer: No to Texas, the chainsaw and the massacre. Yes to dug-up corpses, an isolated farmhouse of horrors, bone furniture and accessories. Utterly deranged Wisconsin murderer Ed Gein killed two women, but became notorious for his bizarre doodling with body parts, including human-skull soup bowls and a "woman suit" stitched together from corpse skin, the direct inspiration for Jamie Gumb's shenanigans in The Silence of the Lambs, and a centerpiece of the underrated 2000 movie Ed Gein. Gein inspired read more

Is The Usual Suspects ...

Question: Is The Usual Suspects credited with ushering in an era of shocking last-second movie twists, or is that considered to have been a long-standing plot device? It seems like ever since that movie, suspense thrillers just aren't complete without a big shocker ending.Answer: My gut is that Psycho (1960), which predates The Usual Suspects (1995) by 35 years, was among the first mainstream movies in which a last-minute twist changes the entire tenor of what precedes it. The revelation that Mrs. Bates is dead and her son, Norman (Anthony Perkins), has committed a series of murders dressed in her clothes was such a world-class shocker that keeping it secret became part of the movie's publicity campaign, which director read more

MOURNING MISS ELLIE

Barbara Bel Geddes

Stage and screen star Barbara Bel Geddes, best known for playing Dallas matriarch Miss Ellie, died at her home in Northeast Harbor, Maine, on Monday, the San Francisco Gate reports. The cause of death was lung cancer. Bel Geddes was 82. The daughter of famed theatrical set designer Norman Bel Geddes, the actress started her career on Broadway, then made her film debut in 1947's The Long Night. Not two years later, she garnered her first Oscar nod, for I Remember Mama. Her other noteworthy projects include Elia Kazan's Panic in the Streets, read more

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