Do take the drive to the Battelle Auditorium on Friday night for the Battelle Film Club's presentation of Double Take.
This 2009 documentary is most creative and most entertaining. Warning. What passes for a plot is all over the place and is kind of hard to follow. But you don’t care. Directing and television legend Alfred Hitchcock is cast as the film’s lead character. The story is set up through wonderful and quite funny clips of Hitchcock’s introductions from his popular television program Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
As an aside, the program ran on American television from 1955 to 1965 and can still be seen in syndication today. One of the cable channels I get does a couple of them per night, and I watch them just before I go to bed.
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A list of Hollywood who’s who of the day starred in the half-hour dramas. Some are still acting: Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, Robert Duvall, Peter Fonda, Sally Kellerman, a pre- Star Trek William Shatner and Walter Koenig, Cloris Leachman, Christopher Lee, Lee Majors, Billy Mumy and Dick Van Dyke.
If you can find it somewhere on cable, Hitchcock’s program ranks up there with Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone as some of the best television ever done.
Back to the documentary. Some of Hitchcock’s off-camera dialogue is voiced by Mark Perry and a Hitchcock double Ron Burrage plays the double Hitchcock.
Here’s the premise. If you encounter your double, then you must kill them. In the documentary’s case, the double-take is a metaphor for the 1950s and 1960s Cold War battle for world superiority by the then Soviet Union and the U.S. The struggle starts with news clips from the famous kitchen debate between Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and then-U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon.
The two superpowers one-up each other with nuclear weapons, push the envelope of world peace with the Cuban Missile Crisis, a crisis that threatens to destroy the world. They also race each other into space. Each claims to be the superior to the other.
And all of it sponsored by Folger’s Coffee.
Irony is at play not only in the battle between the two nations, but also in the real life of Hitchcock. He was scheduled to have lunch at the White House with President Kennedy on Nov. 23, 1963 — one day after his assassination.
Double Take makes perfect sense and no sense at all. It’s maddeningly vague and rambling. That, too, is ironic because it’s one of the best, and funniest documentaries to be released in a long, long time. Catch this one.
To quote Hitchcock — and those of you familiar with the program will get this one — It’ll be a “gooo-ed evening.”
Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars
Not rated. Probably PG-13 for mature themes. It plays one time only — 8 p.m., Friday, March 16 at the Battelle Auditorium at 8:00 p.m..
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.