Friday, October 23, 2020

Blood Of The Vines - A Hitch Not A Glitch

Pairing wine with movies!  See the trailers and hear the fascinating commentary for these movies and many more at Trailers From Hell.  What better trio of films to receive a wine pairing than a handful of Hitchcocks.

If you're a fan of Alfred Hitchcock's films - and you'd better be - you know there's going to be some drinking going on.  Nearly all his dozens of movies have his characters using booze to brace themselves, lighten themselves or heal themselves.  Hitchcock was a fine wine connoisseur, he loved the juice of the grape so much that he bought an estate in the Santa Cruz mountains.  It's now a winery, by the way.

Notorious, from 1946, started out as a David O. Selznick project.  He sold the movie to RKO after trying unsuccessfully to get a hit song included in the soundtrack.  One of his song ideas was reportedly "Don't Give Any More Beer to My Father," which is a hit I think the world really missed out on.

This is one of several high-water marks of drinking in Hitchcock films.  Ingrid Bergman's character says to a party guest who claims to have "had enough," "The important drinking hasn't started yet."  She is also seen drinking a fizzy hangover cure in the morning, after some of that "important drinking," no doubt.

A fancy French wine is used as a hiding place for some Nazi uranium ore in Notorious.  When Cary Grant drops that bottle of 1934 Volnay Caillerets Bouchard, my heart skips a beat every time I see it. "Not the premier cru!"  The black dust gets swept under the wine rack without so much as a rubber glove for protection.

So, the wine pairing for Notorious is all spelled out for us.  You can find a recent vintage of Volnay Caillerets Bouchard for $50 to $60, but for the 1934 vintage you'll have to go to auction, so expect to spend a lot more.  Louis Jadot has a Pommard which sells for around $40, and that appears to be the bottom end for that appellation. 

1972's Frenzy is about a London serial killer who strangles his victims with his own tie.  Before you jump to the conclusion that such an idiot move means he was drunk at the time, consider that he wore a tie pin which had his name on it.  "Oh, so he was high, too?"  

Tying himself to the crimes even tighter, the criminal uses a trunkful of circumstantial evidence to try and frame his friend for the killings.  Well, what are friends for, anyway?  The television series The Fugitive was only a five-year-old memory at the time.  So, Frenzy's framee becomes a fugitive trying to prove his innocence, while the framer is left making sure he still has both arms.

Look to New Zealand for this wine pairing - Marlborough's Frenzy Sauvignon Blanc.  The Kiwi acidity is refreshing enough to keep you on the edge of your seat, even if the film fails to do so.

The 1964 thriller Marnie may be one of Hitchcock's most misunderstood efforts.  Knocked by a lot of critics at the time, it was well-received at the box office and has maintained a so-so ranking among movie buffs over time.  Much criticism was given to the two relative unknowns Hitch cast in the lead roles - Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery.  He gave Hedren the role while The Birds was still in production.  Suffice it to say the actors didn't remain unknown for long.

Viewers often balk at the characters - Hedren as an embezzler and Connery as a businessman who hires her, even though he knows about her past.  Of course, she robs him, too.  Of course they marry.  Of course, it’s complicated.  You can say that about any honeymoon involving a rape and a suicide attempt, I suppose.  The rape scene was apparently what Hitchcock liked best about the script, which gives us a view of the master through the "creepy misogynist" filter.

Let's get a wine pairing from Hitch's very own California land.  His former Santa Cruz Mountains home is now called Heart O’ the Mountain Estate.  Today, they make Pinot Noir wines that sell for around $50 and a Chardonnay that goes for a little less.

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