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Frenzy (1972)

Director Alfred Hitchcock does it again with this gripping tale about an innocent man tagged as a serial rapist/killer because of circumstantial evidence.

Richard Blaney (Jon Finch), a former RAF pilot now down on his luck, quits his job as a pub bartender when the boss (Bernard Cribbins) accuses him of stealing drinks.

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Momentarily upset, he talks with his friend, Bob Rusk (Barry Foster, pictured), a fruit and vegetable dealer at Covent Garden markets in London.

Blaney then drops in on his ex-wife Brenda (Barbara Leigh-Hunt), the owner of a matrimonial agency. His pent-up frustration causes him to lash out at her verbally, while her secretary (Jean Marsh) overhears from the outer office.

The next day, Bob Rusk comes to Brenda’s office and is told that her agency can not satisfy his peculiar – read sadistic – tastes. In one of the creepiest and most explicit scenes Hitchcock ever directed, Rusk brutally rapes Brenda, then strangles her with his tie.

Scotland Yard puts out an arrest warrant for Blaney based on Brenda’s secretary’s identification. Blaney learns of his new problem from Babs Milligan (Anna Massey), a co-worker at the pub he has just quit. He escapes from the police with Babs and gets shelter with an old war buddy, Johnny Porter (Oliver Swift).

Babs stays the night with Rusk, who rapes and kills her. He dumps her body in a potato sack in a market lorry but, when he realises that his monogrammed tie-pin is missing – torn off in the struggle before the rape – he rushes back to the truck.

He finds the right sack and then coldly breaks Babs’ fingers – already frozen with rigor mortis – to release the pin clenched in her fist.

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Blaney goes to Bob for help, but Bob frames him and, after a quick trial and conviction, Blaney cries out that he will get revenge on Rusk.

Inspector Oxford (Alec McCowen) hears this and checks into the possibility of Blaney’s innocence. The information begins to build against Rusk but Blaney, impatient for revenge, escapes from the prison hospital.

He sneaks to Rusk’s room and bludgeons what he thinks is Rusk’s sleeping body but actually is the latest (dead) rape victim.

Inspector Oxford appears and Rusk duly arrives with a trunk intended as the coffin for the body in the bed. Oxford, surprising Rusk, remarks, “Why Mr Rusk – You’re not wearing your tie.” Blaney is exonerated.

Anthony Shaffer’s taut screenplay is based on Arthur La Bern’s novel Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square.

Richard Blaney
Jon Finch
Robert Rusk

Barry Foster
Babs Milligan

Anna Massey
Brenda Blaney

Barbara Leigh-Hunt
Chief Inspector Oxford

Alec McCowen
Mrs Oxford

Vivien Merchant
Sgt Spearman

Michael Bates
Hetty Porter

Billie Whitelaw
Felix Forsythe

Bernard Cribbins
Monica Barling

Jean Marsh
Johnny Porter

Clive Swift
Sir George

John Boxer
Mrs Davison

Madge Ryan
Mr Salt

George Tovey
Gladys

Elsie Randolph

Director
Alfred Hitchcock