HELSINKI – Following the finding of a lost Orson Welles film in Italy, it has come to light that another forgotten masterpiece has been discovered in an attic in Helsinki, a film directed by none other than Alfred Hitchcock.
Made in 1952, during an unusually fallow period for the master of suspense, it stars James Mason and is entitled Whoops-i-Doosie.
Film historian Mark Cousins (not that Mark Cousins but another one with a less irritating voice) has had a chance to see the film:
This was a case of a misdirection for Hitchcock. His first and only musical comedy, Whoops-i-Doosie is about a man called Harry (James Mason) who suffers from vertigo, but who decides to disguise himself as his own mother – a famed ornithologist – as a way of charming a nosy female reporter Marnie (a young Janet Leigh), who is obsessed by birds. Although the plot is muddled, there are glimmers of genius as in the scene when Harry trips over some rope, grabs onto a curtain which unfortunately is torn and falls out of a rear window only to injure his topaz. Some of the songs – ‘The Trouble with Harry’ for instance – are anodyne at best and the dance routines are pedestrian, with Mason a particularly poor hoofer, but one can see ideas forming that would reappear in later and better films. Ultimately this is not a masterpiece to add to the oeuvre of the maestro, but it will be poured over for years to come and is certainly a remarkable find.
The BFI have announced that they will be showing the film as a part of a retrospective – Mason or Hitchcock they haven’t decided yet- and Sight and Sound are currently revising their top ten list to see if they can squeeze Whoops-i-Doosie into the top three.
A restored version of Whoops-i-Doosie will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray in 2014.