Frenzy (1972) ***1/2
In the late 60s, Hitchcock had a run of flops in the spy thriller genre (Torn Curtain, Topaz) and was in need of a rebound. So for this, his next-to-last movie, he went back to London and returned to his horror roots with this story of a serial killer/rapist and of the mistaken identity of some poor sap suspected of the crimes. If you haven't seen any really late Hitchcock, with all the color and culture of the late 60s, then you're in for a treat with this one.
The story is about a down-on-his-luck ex soldier, Blaney, who gets fired from his bartending job and ends up getting blamed for a series of rapes/murders when both his ex-wife and his current girlfriend show up among the victims. We learn early on that his old army buddy Rusk now a successful fruit seller, is the real killer and has framed Blaney.
As I was watching this movie, it struck me as Hitchcock entering into the gender wars that were just starting to take shape with the rise of the 2nd wave. And yet I'm ambivalent over whether the movie is profoundly misogynistic or subtley feminist. There's a lot of brutal and objectified violence against women, and virtually all of the female characters are shrews or dolts, so that's not a great start. But the two women at the center of the movie, the first two victims, are pretty fascinating and complex--particularly Blaney's ex-wife who has made a successful life for herself as a business-woman and gives him some financial aid.
Anyway, this is very worth a watch. It's beautiful and suspenseful and Hitchcock has lots of fun with the camera. The opening helicopter shot coming down the Thames toward Tower Bridge is fantastic, and there's a later scene when the camera retreats from one of the rape/murders, backing away out the door, down the staircase, and then outside into the street, all in subjective viewpoint.