Frenzy (1972) - Rotten Tomatoes

Frenzy (1972)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

After several years of uneven efforts like Torn Curtain and Topaz, Alfred Hitchcock was back in form with 1972's Frenzy. The plot concerns a rapist-murderer terrorizing London. The audience is unknowingly introduced to the killer early on, though suspicions are redirected to a more "obvious" suspect. Once viewers know which is which, the suspense lies in the fact that the police continue to suspect the wrong man. After this unfortunate soul is condemned to life imprisonment, a police inspector (Alec McCowan) continues to have his doubts. And keep an eye out for that virtuoso pullback shot down a flight of stairs into a busy street. Frenzy was adapted by mystery aficionado Anthony Shaffer from Arthur LaBern's novel Goodbye Picadilly, Farewell Leicester Square.more
Rating: R
Genre: Drama, Horror, Romance, Mystery & Suspense, Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By: Arthur La Bern, Anthony Shaffer
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 6, 2001
Universal Pictures


Jon Finch
as Richard Blaney
Alec McCowen
as Inspector Oxford
Barry Foster
as Bob Rusk
Anna Massey
as Barbara
Vivien Merchant
as Mrs. Oxford
Rita Webb
as Mrs. Rusk
Gerald Sim
as Man at Bar
Michael Bates
as Sergeant
Jean Marsh
as Monica
Madge Ryan
as Mrs. Davison
John Boxer
as Sir George
June C. Ellis
as The Barmaid
George Tovey
as Mr. Salt
Jimmy Gardner
as Hotel Porter
Noel Johnson
as Man at Bar
Bunny May
as The Barman
Robert Keegan
as Hospital Patient
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Frenzy

Critic Reviews for Frenzy

All Critics (33) | Top Critics (4)

This is the kind of thriller Hitchcock was making in the 1940s, filled with macabre details, incongruous humor, and the desperation of a man convicted of a crime he didn't commit.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

You can never be quite sure when you're going to start a terrifying new descent or take a sudden turn to the left or right. The agony is exquisite.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
New York Times
Top Critic

There is a thorough sense of entertainment boiling over the pot here, and the material is well acted, skillful, and photographed with intensity.

Full Review… | March 1, 2014

Frenzy marked 3 kinds of return for Hitchcock: return to England after 20 years, return to form after some flops, and return to the kind of commercial film he's most clearly associated with.

Full Review… | January 22, 2012

This is one of Hitchcock's best and least appreciated films, with the Master getting a creative boost after a minor slump.

Full Review… | October 18, 2008
Combustible Celluloid

Middle of the road Hitch but still terrific.

April 20, 2007
Atlantic City Weekly

Audience Reviews for Frenzy

Employing several Hitchcockian devices, Frenzy is a terrific thriller with a wry sense of humor. His return to London to film this story in 1973 reinvigorated the master of suspense. Frenzy features more familiar storytelling than the previous few films, critical and box office disappointments. The audience discovers the killer's identity early on, an innocent man is accused, and food is used as a comic device. The smooth "necktie killer" is infatuated with women linked to the accused. On this point, I am reminded of similar plots in Eastwood's Tightrope and Bruce Willis' Striking Distance, both released years after Frenzy. Also, the handsome, charming killer played by Barry Foster reminds me of Ted Bundy.

Frenzy feels like a fresh re-take on many earlier Hitchcock films, among them 1943's Shadow of a Doubt. Also, the killer's mislaid tie pin is reminiscent of the cigarette lighter in Strangers on a Train. The most obvious update is the level of sex, nudity, and graphic violence. This R rated film graphically displays what earlier films could only hint at. Featuring palpable tension throughout and Hitchcock's trademark dark humor, Frenzy is an excellent film. It may deserve more than an 80, but I'm awarding that score in relation to his masterpieces.

Clintus M.
Clintus Maximus

Super Reviewer


Frenzy is the most underrated Hitchcock masterpiece, and works on every level of suspense, cinematic brilliance, sparkling British humor and perverse misanthropy. It was the elderly and ailing maestro's return to his home town of London after more than 30 years in Hollywood. Still the film feels authentically British, features no major movie stars, but some superb theater actors of the 70's. Frenzy has few sympathetic characters and has been accused of misogyny. The males (including the innocent protagonist) are mostly blind, selfish pigs and its women (with one exception) are far more sympathetic, brave and interesting. On the down side, the film does indeed recycle many of Hitch's favorite themes and techniques, and if you've see a lot of the master's oeuvre, you may feel you're seeing more of the same. To me, this is a pure distillation of everything he does well and wants to say as an artist (he died only a few years later and made only one more unsucessful film, Family Plot). It's not a happy message, since this world is full of selfish self aborbed people who allow evil to happen through their indifference. Plus, this story is much more coherent than some of Hitch's more acclaimed later flicks, like The Birds, probably because his collaborator is the great thriller playwright Anthony Shaffer (Sleuth).It's the story of a 'necktie' rapist serial killer, the fruit broker Rusk (Barry Foster) and his innocent unemplyed loser friend Blaney (Jon Finch aka Polanski's Macbeth) who is set up to take the heat for the crime. The Scotland Yard inspector (Alec McCowan) is led by the nose by the charming and slick Rusk, who has targeted the women in Blaney's life so his trusting mate can take the rap. The targets (among many others) are Blaney's kind and capable ex-wife and his trusting barmaid girlfriend. To defend Hitch of the accusation of misogyny, the rapes and killings are not at all titillating. There is only one crime that is graphically depicted and it is horrifying and respectful of the victim's humanity. Not as virutosic as the Psycho shower scene, though similar, it's an excellent, harrowing piece of cinema. Even more affecting is the second crime, which isn't shown. Just as the victim is lured by Rusk into his pad, the camera pulls away, down two flights of stairs, out into the street on a huge crane, where life goes on indifferently outside. No music. It's perhaps the most tragic and affecting shot in all of Hitchock and makes me want to cry.Another highlight is the potato truck scene, where the killer has dumped a body and is trying to remove from her rigor mortis hands an incriminating piece of evidence, It's done with extreme close ups and hand held shots and is hilarious, gross and tragic.The comedy in the film is mostly delightful It includes Hitch's ultimate rejection of gourmet cooking and pretention, as the Scotland Yard cop's wife tries to spice up their bland marriage with inedible gourmet food, which looks repulsive. The poor man just wants bangers and mash. The misogynist rap can possibly be laid here, though the wife seems much more perceptive than her husband about the actual murderer. The film shows a grungy and desaturated colored London full of rotting fruit and depressing locations. Though much of it is set in Covent Garden, it's the Covent Garden of the early 70's, not the tourist trap of today, a crowded place of rotting produce and sweaty Londoners. In any case, I would rate this in the top 10 of Hitchcock, and if you're a fan and haven't seen it, do so.

Josh Morris
Josh Morris

Super Reviewer

One of the great Hitchcock films, and it doesn't take long for him to make his guess appearance in this one. A innocent man is being blamed for the necktie murders in London, and his friend is the real killer. Film comes with many a twist and turns that will even now after all these years keep you on the edge of your seat. 5 stars 3-10-12

Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

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