Dial M for Marketing: Scorsese Parodies Hitchcock

| 1/11/2008 12:33:47 PM

Director Martin Scorsese recently released The Key to Reserva, a 10-minute Internet-based commercial for Freixenet champagne provocatively billed as an adaptation of a “lost” Hitchcock manuscript. The short has two storylines. One tells the truncated tale (owing to an incomplete manuscript!) of a man anxious to find a key that unlocks a box containing a bottle of fine champagne bearing a top-secret message. The second, hidden in the open as they say, is the story inside the story: a supposed making-of “documentary” that sets up the drama—a lost Hitchcock script found! Scorsese directing it!

The film is shot in a very recognizably Hitchcockian style, and Hitchcock references abound. Some are glaring, like the classic Bernard Herrmann score and Saul Bass-style credits. Many more require an expansive knowledge of the primary sources—like the R.O.T. initialed handkerchief (North by Northwest), the brutal stabbing (Dial M for Murder), the camera’s red flashes (Rear Window), the key and the bottle of Freixenet (both Notorious), and the Hitchcock blonde (don’t even get me started). But beyond being just a shower of references, more impressively, Scorsese pulls off stylistic allusions—like the crane shot backing out of the orchestra (Young and Innocent) and the overhead shot of the protagonist’s ascension of the stairs (Vertigo).  

As for whether Scorsese succeeds in making a Hitchcock, well, no—though I would argue that he has succeeded in pulling off a terribly funny joke about making one. The manuscript claim is sold convincingly, and Scorsese, to his credit, never shoots us a wink. Ultimately, the very preponderance of references foils the ruse—not to mention that Scorsese’s pacing is too fast, which underdevelops the suspense. 

As for the much-anticipated Hitchcock cameo: Scorsese’s Spellbound poster would hint that Hitch should be playing a violin, and the orchestra, frustratingly, seems to bear a large percentage of portly, bald men—certainly a staged distraction. This is a tough one, but just when you might have given up, hold it right there—in the production room scene with Scorsese, is that an uncredited Pat Hitchcock, Hitch’s daughter? Now that would be clever.

And what about that picture just outside the balcony door? Is it a young Scorsese? Or maybe cameos are just for the birds.

Jason Ericson 

Jonathan Drew
1/12/2008 7:57:41 PM

I would have thought Hitch would be playing the double bass in the orchestra (ala Strangers on a Train).

Pay Now Save $5!

Utne Summer 2016Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $40.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $45 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!

Facebook Instagram Twitter