The popular Searching the Psyche Through Cinema series returns to the Kansas City Public Library with four screenings devoted to the work of Alfred Hitchcock, the legendary "Master of Suspense."
Presented on select Sundays in January and February 2014 at 1:30 p.m. in the Truman Forum of the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St., The Psychology of Suspense series offers four of Hitchcock's most entertaining and provocative titles. Each film is followed by a discussion featuring experts in cinema and psychoanalysis.
Psychoanalysis and Hitchcock's films are "a natural and historically significant pairing," according to Kansas City psychoanalyst David Donovan, one of the series' organizers.
Even as psychoanalytic practice and theory exerted a growing influence in the interpretation of all human activity and the arts in particular, Donovan says, "Hitchcock began to build his own body of work that questioned and titillated the filmgoer's ideas of what motives and drives are at the heart of human behavior."
Hitchcock (1899-1980) was the son of a London greengrocer who learned his craft in Britain's silent film industry. By the mid-1930s he already had an international reputation for directing thrilling stories of suspense and crime. Among his early hits were The Lady Vanishes and The 39 Steps.
Then he came to Hollywood, where his first studio production, Rebecca, won the Oscar for best picture. After that it was one hit after another: Foreign Correspondent, Shadow of a Doubt, Notorious, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Vertigo, North by Northwest, The Birds, Psycho.
Hitchcock also became a fixture on television with his long-running series Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
Notorious (USA; 1946) on January 12, 2014
A seminal film for Hitchcock both artistically and thematically, this romantic thriller stars Ingrid Bergman as the "kept woman" of a cultured sophisticate (Claude Rains), who after World War II has relocated with his fellow Nazis to Brazil. She is recruited by a cynical American agent (Cary Grant) to inform on her lover, putting her life in danger. What's more, both men are in love with her. MPAA rating: NR. 101 minutes
The post-film discussion will be led by Marilyn Metzl, Ph.D., psychoanalyst, and Thom Poe, Ph.D., professor of communications and film studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Strangers on a Train (USA; 1951) on January 26, 2014
In this clever psychological thriller (based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith, author of The Talented Mr. Ripley), a tennis pro (Farley Granger) has a theoretical conversation with a stranger (Robert Walker) on how two men could get away with the perfect murder by killing the other's wife. What the athlete doesn't realize is that his psychotic new acquaintance is eager to turn theory into reality. MPAA rating: NR. 101 minutes
The post-film discussion will be led by Earl Bland, Psy.D., professor of psychology and dean of the School of Behavioral Sciences and Counseling at MidAmerica Nazarene University, and Caitlin Horsmon, MFA., associate professor of film and media arts at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Rear Window (USA; 1954) on February 9, 2014
Often cited as one of Hitchcock's finest films, this may also be his most fully realized and psychologically intriguing. A photographer (James Stewart), confined to his Greenwich Village apartment with a broken leg, uses his telephoto lens to spy on the lives of his many neighbors. This meditation on voyeurism turns deadly when the snoop uncovers evidence of a murder. Grace Kelly makes her first appearance in a Hitchcock movie. MPAA rating: NR. 112 minutes
The post-film discussion will be led by psychoanalyst Bonnie Buchele, Ph.D., psychoanalyst,and Melissa Lenos, Ph.D.,assistant professor of English and film studies at Donnelly College.
The Birds (USA; 1963) on February 23, 2014
The birds of the air begin attacking humanity...but that's just one of the horrors in this disturbing depiction of madness and sexuality. Hitchcock's new find Tippi Hedren (the director was reputed to be obsessed with her), and Rod Taylor play a couple whose growing love must contend not only with rampaging Mother Nature but also with his domineering and possessive mama (Jessica Tandy). MPAA rating: NR. 119 minutes
The post-film discussion will be led by psychoanalyst David Donovan, Ph.D., psychoanalyst, and Julie Farstad, MFA, associate professor of painting at the Kansas City Art Institute.
Searching the Psyche Through Cinema is presented in partnership with the Greater Kansas City and Topeka Psychoanalytic Center. It is co-sponsored by the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Admission is free for all screenings. RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407.