Hitchcock: Movie Stars in the Director’s 1960s and 1970s Pictures

Several critics have observed that there are no star personae in the last three films made by Hitchcock, “Topaz” in 1969, “Frenzy” in 1972, and “Family Plot” in 1976 (his last film).

One reason is that there are more ensemble than star-driven.  The parts in these pictures do not call for—or lend themselves to–star personalities of the caliber of Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart in the case of men, or Ingrid Bergman and Grace Kelly in the case of women.

Another explanation is that the last three films eschew the idea of strong individualistic characters for which the Hollywood famous star system was known. for.

In fact even “Torn Curtain” of 1965, which did have two of the 1960s most popular performers, Paul Newman and Julie Andrews (right after winning the Best Actress Oscar for Mary Poppins) did not benefit from the presence of its stars.  In fact, it might have suffered, due to the disappointing turns by both Newman and Andrews and the lack of chemistry between them, most noticeable in the film’s first scene, in which the two are in bed.

Always a shrewd filmmaker, Hitchcock might have been the first major director to realize that the star system as we know it, which dominated Hollywood for five decades, is rapidly declining and about to go through major changes.

“Marnie”of 1964, may be considered the last Hitchcock movie centering on powerful characters, played by stars Tippi Hedren (who was also featured in the 1963 movie, “The Birds,” and Sean Connery, then riding high due to his huge global popularity as James Bond.