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Barry Foster - quotes

Quotations relating to Barry Foster.

It's a very brutal film, but it’s full of things [Hitchcock] loves, like food and London. It's a very loving portrayal of the Covent Garden Market, because now that’s moved over to Nine Elms and Battersea, and we knew at the time that Covent Garden wasn't going to be there forever, and Barry and I remember saying to one another this will be a very exclusive piece of film.

Anna Massey (2001)


I'd had a couple of successes in the West End onstage, and I was doing a play by David Mercer at the Criterion called "After Haggerty", with Billie Whitelaw. Someone said, "Oh, Alfred Hitchcock's in tonight." "Oh, really. Mm-hmm." Next morning, my agent said, "Mr. Hitchcock would like to meet you at 100 Piccadilly." So, along I went. He said, "I'm making this picture about a murderer. I'd like you to take the script away and tell me if you'd like to play it."

So, well, the short story is that he sent for a couple of books about a pretty well-known murderer we had over here called Neville Clevely Heath, who masqueraded as a squadron leader. And I went off on a short holiday to read and came back and made the picture, and I always thought, when people asked, "How on earth did you get the part?" I said, "Well, he came to see the play."

It was halfway through shooting the picture. I was talking with his personal assistant, Peggy Robertson, and she said, "Oh, no, no, no. That isn't how you got the part." Um, what happened was that I'd made a film a few years earlier called "Twisted Nerve" — again with Billie Whitelaw. And this picture, in almost all the notices, they referred to it as sort of having a Hitchcock flavor to it, and, apparently, seeing me in the part I played in that, that decided him I would be okay for Bob Rusk in "Frenzy". So, that's how wrong you can be about, where you got where you did.

Barry Foster (2001)

Blaney's wife's secretary, who's played by Jean Marsh... It was a stroke of genius to make her look so dowdy and dull and spinsterish, and obviously very repressed. Because Jean was then and still is an extremely beautiful, vivacious, marvelous woman.

Barry Foster (2001)
keywords: Frenzy (1972), Jean Marsh, casting, and pre-production

Film Production

Foster talking about the rape/murder scene...

He hired the actors the same way he hired the stage carpenter — on the assumption that they knew their job, they knew what to do. So rehearsal was minimal. But on the other hand, the build up to the rape and murder scene with Barbara... There I was completely free. He'd set up the camera for the scene, and I remember saying, "Well, I'd like to walk around there and pull the file out and slam it back," or do whatever he did. And he said, "That's fine. Okay. Uh, we'll move the camera, accommodate what, uh, Mr. Foster wants to do." Absolutely no problem. Absolute freedom I felt.

The rape and murder scene with Barbara Leigh-Hunt took three days to shoot. Before we started, we had Hitch's storyboard, which is an incredibly helpful thing for the actor. Fortunately, it involved chopping up the action into short and intense sequences. There's a mid-shot of the two of us, Barbara splayed out on her swivel chair, me on top of her. We got to get through two or three lines, mostly hers, of course, protesting. There might have been six or seven takes of that. That was extremely distressing. The flashes of nudity, of the breasts and so on, were done by a professional model. It's not at all pleasant, doing that stuff.

The tie, of course, is pre-tied and stitched so it can't move. I can do all this... till the cows come home, just as you'd have to do onstage. All the work is being done by the actress. We would just console each other. "Just another day and a half and we'll be through with this."

She sticks her tongue out, as Hitch asked her to, and the effect is genuinely horrendous. Hitch did experiment with having an extremely close lens at her mouth, getting through makeup, saliva and blood. Hitch, I think, was trying to plumb the ultimate in horror there.

Barry Foster (2001)
Foster talking about the sequence on the potato truck...

The potato lorry sequence was another three-day affair, though very much more light-hearted and bearable than the three days of rape and murder. It was something like 114 cuts. There again, how useful the storyboard was, because, uh, I'm scrabbling away, and all of a sudden this bare foot comes and hits me in the jaw. And, of course, Hitch's drawing was, uh, you know, quite grotesque, which immediately told the actor he wants a laugh there. Amidst all this gruesome business, the audience will laugh.

That was the model's hand when I finally found the tie pin. Given the right sound effects, you could just do that. If you've got the right sound effects, you'll think that really is a broken finger. It was a very dusty, messy business, but on the whole most enjoyable, and a most instructive three days.

Barry Foster (2001)
keywords: Frenzy (1972) and production
Foster talking about the final scene of the film...

The last scene of the picture is one of the few occasions I had direction from Hitch. I drag up this huge trunk up into my apartment. I get it through the door, and waiting in my room is the chief inspector of the police. And I sort of dropped my head or something... something corny. And Hitch said, "Don't drop your head." He says, "That is the last thing a serial murderer is going to do, as it were, admit defeat." So he said, "Just don't... don't drop your head. Drop the trunk, but don't drop your head."

Barry Foster (2001)
keywords: Frenzy (1972) and production