Rear Frenzy

After reading Andrew O’Hehir’s fairly thorough dissection of Gaspar Noé’s Irreversible, my first thought was, “The amount of anal rape imagery in this film is so dense, it’s become a filmmaker’s joke. This is what a Hitchcock movie would be like if he made one about anal rape.” Then I thought for a second moment, “No, this would be what a Hitchcock movie would be like if he made one about anal rape….”

Alfred Hitchcock presents REAR FRENZY

James Stewart stars as Tommy Orphis, a former newspaper editor in Chicago. He suffers from an intense fear of being sodomized, stemming from an incident during his time in print. Spending his retirement mostly in the company of his fiancee, Clara (Ingrid Bergman), Tommy soon finds that she has been spending time alone with her co-worker, Gerald (James Mason), a suspected sodomite. Tommy follows the pair around, eavesdropping on their conversations and worrying about the influence Gerald seems to wield over Clara. When she suggests something close to anal play in the bedroom, Tommy has a panic attack.

Recovered, Tommy finds Clara more distant than before. He finds himself transfixed by another woman, Jacqueline (Doris Day), who looks the same as Clara—from the back. Tommy court the skeptical Jacqueline, ultimately revealing that he doesn’t want to love her: he wants Jacqueline to love Clara. There’s no possibility for anal rape between two women; all Tommy has to do is watch. Jacqueline and Clara reluctantly become involved with each other, but Tommy’s plans unravel when Gerald reenters their lives. Tommy and Gerald come to blows in Clara’s apartment, and Gerald is killed when thrown in the path of an oncoming el.

Distraught, Jacqueline flees to Italy. Tommy follows, forcing Clara to come along. Their journey takes them by train to Pisa, where Tommy chases Jacqueline into the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. Panicked and tired of the veiled sodomy references, Jacqueline begins firing a gun at the pair. One shot kills Clara, and despite Tommy’s best efforts to talk her down, Jacqueline pitches herself over the side of the tower.

On second thought, that’s more like a DePalma film.

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