Mere days—almost hours—after I published an article predicting that “My Week with Marilyn” might go down in history as the most influential film of 2011 due to its legacy as the high profile stimulus for movies made about the making of famous movies, another example of this burgeoning genre nabs a famous name to play a famous name.
Almost directly on top of the news that “Saving Mr. Banks” will reveal the prickly relationship between Walt Disney and the creator of “Mary Poppins” that led to the making of that classic family flick comes news that Scarlet Johansson will play Janet Leigh in a movie about the making of “Psycho.”
Janet Leigh’s celebrity at the time that “Psycho” was released was at its fever pitch which made her sudden, shocking and violent death halfway through the film such a vital element of the film’s infamy. Scarlet Johansson is currently a recognizable celebrity due to, well, I’m not really sure. She has yet to give a memorable performance and her status as great Hollywood beauty seems quite premature and overreaching.
While playing Janet Leigh probably won’t be much of a stretch for the inexplicably popular young actress, neither is it likely to garner her an Oscar nomination like this genre did for Michelle Williams for “My Week with Marilyn.” Of course, if nothing else, Johansson will likely physically resemble Janet Leigh far more than Williams did Marilyn Monroe. Which was not at all.
This addition to the genre of turning Hollywood product of the past into fodder for Hollywood product of the present and future will also star Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock (likely wearing a fat suit) and James D’arcy as Anthony Perkins. Despite the high profile casting of Johansson, however, the film’s central focus will be on the relationship between Hitchcock and his wife Alma and how that relates to his surprisingly difficult ability to raise money to make “Psycho.”
“Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho” is the tentative, awkward, obvious, unimaginative and likely to be changed title of this project which is actually the second addition to this robust new genre that focuses on a Hitchcock thriller starring a blonde beauty. A British TV movie titled “The Girl” is due to air later this year and stars Toby Jones as Hitchcock and Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedren. The far more physically appropriate Jones will try to channel Hitchcock not only as a great film director, but also as an obsessive control freak who sets out to destroy the star he created by casting her in “The Birds.”