Sure, but I don't think we'll ever get there if people don't accept the fact of the decline in the first place, or recognise it as the norm.davidhare wrote:I still think an interesting direction for this thread is the REASONS for an artist's decline.
What the hell, here goes. . .
Some reasons that spring to mind are:
- loss of key collaborators
- complacency / staleness
- failing health
- loss of power / authority
The first one has already been invoked in the case of Hitchcock, but I'd be interested in exploring the second.
It seems significant to me that he would go from making two of his most innovative and experimental films - in terms of narrative form, mode of production, use of special effects, and method of exhibition - in Psycho and The Birds, to films that are simply lazy in key ways.
Even in Marnie, so good on most of the levels that count, there are slapdash process shots, and that wharf backdrop that even the art director wanted to scrap. I wonder if the special effects work on The Birds was so draining and tedious (we know how impatient Hitch was when it came to the execution of his ideas) that he rebelled. In Torn Curtain, the process work is even more intrusively awful.
Another key factor, which may be related to the fourth, above, is the double blow Hitch's ego took with the critical response to The Birds and Marnie. Hence his retreat to the theoretically 'safer' terrain of Torn Curtain (an international spy thriller with two huge stars). When this doesn't work, it looks like he's flailing (Topaz), and then he engineers a much more strategic retreat (a 'wrong man' film, with a frisson of Psychotic explicitness, which even returns Hitch to England) with Frenzy. The result is a much better film, but it's certainly not on the level of his last great works, if only in terms of their originality. And I'm afraid I can't see Family Plot as much more than an embarrassing mess - even its runaway-car set piece is inane.