Top of the World: My Hitchcock Day + Some Top Lists

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Well, yesterday was this time of the year where I do my usual Hitchcock movie marathon in honour of him. My favourite movie director would have been 118 years old! Even if he is no longer with us since a long time, many continue to celebrate his timeless work. I started my little marathon Saturday by watching one of his early British films, Murder! starring the great Herbert Marshall in one of his very first roles. I’ve always loved that film. It has all the ingredients of a perfect Hitchcock film, except maybe a cold blond! Well, there is a blond girl, but she isn’t exactly the Hitchcock-type. Then, yesterday morning I watched Family Plot, Hitchcock’s very last film. Without being a masterpiece, this film featuring a score by no one else than John Williams is a great entertainment. The cast composed of Barbara Harris, Bruce Dern, Karen Black and William Devane is one of the elements that make it worthy. They are all perfect in their respective roles. It’s fun to think, when you watch that film, that almost 50 years before he released The Lodger! Hitchcock considered this film to be his first one, although he directed a few before (unfortunately, most of them are now lost or partially lost).

After a little pause to do some exercise, I went back on the couch and watched Saboteur. This early 40s film is one where so much is going on! Have you ever thought of taking a trip to Soda City? Well, that ain’t much of a town, but it certainly leads our heroes, Barry Kane and Pat Martin, to some important elements of investigation.

Yesterday, I also made an exception and instead of listening some David Bowie music (like I usually do) I listened to some Alfred Hitchcock movie scores (sorry David!). It’s always great to listen to Miklós Rózsa‘s score for Spellbound while doing the dishes. It’s my favourite movie score of all time and being very dynamic it helps me do things faster.

I also spent some time outside painting 3 little paintings illustrating Alfred Hitchcock movies: The Trouble With Harry, Suspicion and The Birds. I can’t show them to you now as I have not scanned them, but I certainly hope to do so as soon as possible.

Finally, I ended my day by watching Lifeboat and Foreign Correspondent. I chose these two films as I had only seen them once. Both excellent of course.

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Because I watched all these films, I didn’t have time to write a long tribute to Hitchcock. I already did it as a matter of fact, but I think I’m due for some little top lists. I’m not ready yet for the ultimate Hitchcock top list (ranking all his films), but I’ll see you next year for that. You see, next winter I’ll be attending a seminar on Hitchcock and Welles and I intend to have seen all of the Master of Suspense’s films before the classes start! Be reassured, there isn’t many more left as I’ve already seen 47 of them. 🙂 Unfortunately, there are a few that I’m afraid will be difficult to find (anyone as ever seen Elstree Calling?), but I’ll try my best!

Meanwhile, I’ve decided to make it easier for me and present you a little top 5 for each decade where Hitch released movies, going from the 20s to the 70s.

I don’t like to repeat myself, but don’t forget that these lists are purely subjective and represent my own tastes so I only ask you to respect them. Thank you!

The 20s:

1- The Lodger: Story of the London Fog (1927)

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I put this one at the first place as I remember being very impressed by it the first time I saw it.

2- The Farmer’s Wife (1928)

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Not a typical Hitchcock’s film, but certainly a fun one. A bit long though.

3- Blackmail (1929)

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Hitchcock’s first talking picture and also England’s first talking picture! Just that priceless scene makes it worthy:

4- The Manxman (1929)

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Another Hitchcock film starring the beautiful Anny Ondra. Not an excellent film and I honestly don’t remember much of it, but there was some beautiful cinematography. I once made a joke with a shot from the film. What do you think of it?

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5- Downhill (1927)

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The two left for me were these ones and The Ring. I chose Downhill since it stars the great Ivor Novello. There’s a shot in this film that makes me think of The Graduate. See?

The 30s:

1- The Lady Vanishes (1938)

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Well, that was an easy-peasy first choice as it is one of my very favourite Hitchcock films and the funniest also (without neglecting the great suspense). I love everything about it, especially the colourful characters. Saw it too many, but still not enough times.

2- Young and Innocent (1937)

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This film made me discover Nova Pilbeam who was only 18, but brilliant when she starred in it. It’s the first British Hitchcock’s film I saw and I’ve always enjoyed it immensely. The scene where the spectators discover where the real murderer is hidden is one of my very favourite!

3- The 39 Steps (1935)

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Certainly considered a masterpiece, this film can be cited among the perfect Hitchcock’s films (and this time, the cold blond isn’t missing!).

4- Murder! (1930)

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Once again, Hitchcock combines suspense, tragedy, and humour brilliantly here.

5- Secret Agent (1936)

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I’ve always loved this film for its cast: John Gielgud, Madeleine Carroll, Peter Lorre, Robert Young, Percy Marmont and Lilli Palmer. Do you need more? Peter Lorre is unforgettable!

The 40s:

1- Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

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Another one of my very favourite Hitchcock’s films and I believe that Charlie Oakley (Joseph Cotten) is one of Hitchcock’s best villains.

2- Rebecca (1940)

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I love both the book and the film. Perfect.

3- Spellbound (1945)

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I’ve always found this film highly fascinating. The dream sequence by Dalí was a great addition to this film and Dr. Constance Pertersen (Ingrid Bergman) is my favourite Hitchcock’s female character. And Gregory Peck is so handsome!

4- Lifeboat (1944)

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Hitchcock certainly knew how to develop a great story in such a small space!

5- Saboteur (1942)

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I hesitated between this one, Notorious and Suspicion (all excellent). I choose Saboteur because it’s a movie that never fails to grab my attention. It’s great to think that one of the members of its cast, Norma Lloyd, is still with us today!

The 50s:

1- The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

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And this is my very favourite Hitchcock’s film and also my 4th favourite movie of all times behind Some Like It Hot, Bringing Up Baby and It’s a Wonderful Life. James Stewart and Doris Day form an excellent duo and I love how Hitchcock makes us travel from Marrakesh, Morroco to London, England. It’s an adventure full of delightful suspense!

2- Strangers on a Train (1951)

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Ok, that film is just… wow! Next to Charlie Oakley, Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker) is the other very best Hitchcock villain. That carousel scene is unforgettable. Well, the whole movie is. Plus, I love its black and white cinematography and the shots of the railways (seen from a moving train point of view).

3- Rear Window (1954)

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James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter (at her best), Edith Head’s costumes, etc… And to me, this is the Hitchcock’s film with the best suspense. Never tired of watching it, even after 50 times.

4- To Catch a Thief (1955)

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I remember, this is the 2nd Hitchcock’s film I ever saw and I’ve always loved it. Last Friday, I saw it on big screen for the second time! It simply makes me want to travel the French Riviera!

5- North by Northwest (1959)

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This once was my favourite Hitchcock film. Not anymore, but I still love it very much. Worthy for that plane scene, and more of course!

The 60s and the 70s. I combined those two decades since he only made 2 movies in the 70s (so it would be difficult to do a top 5, you know…):

1- The Birds (1963)

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This is the first Hitchcock film I saw and it fascinated me the first time I watched it (so much that I decided to watch it a second time in the same weekend). It has its faults, but it certainly needs to be seen by all Hitchcock’s fans. Probably his most iconic one along with Psycho. And it’s not because of that film that I’m afraid of pigeons, ok? (There aren’t any pigeons in it anyway).

2- Frenzy (1972)

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Quite an overlooked Hitchcock’s film. Immensely thrilling.

3- Family Plot (1976)

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Hitchcock’s last film and a fun one, but I’ve already said a few words about it earlier!

4- Psycho (1960)

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It’s not my favourite Hitchcock film, but it certainly is a worthy one. That scene where Lila Crane (Vera Miles) “discovers” Mrs. Bates is priceless (along with the famous shower scene, of course).

5- Marnie (1964)

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I always tend to forget that Sean Connery starred in a Hitchcock’s film. Well, there was one and it is the underrated Marnie, the second Hitchcock film starring Tippi Hedren (the first one being The Birds). I think the main flaw of this film is being a bit long for what it is (I mean, it’s not Gone With the Wind after all), but overall it’s a good one.

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Well, if you haven’t seen many Hitchcock’s films, I hope these ones can be used as suggestions! If you did anything special on this Hitch day, please don’t hesitate to share it with me in the comments!

Happy heavenly birthday again Sir Alfred Hitchcock! And also, happy heavenly birthday to his wife Alma Reville! She was a screenwriter, editor, and co-director who had an important influence on his career. 🙂

By the way, if you want to read more of my Hitchcock’s related articles, I invite you to click on the links in orange!

BIO ALFRED HITCHCOCK

 

 

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Claire Trevor’s Films Marathon: Feedback

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I’m glad to be back with a new actor’s film marathon: a Claire Trevor’s Marathon. The special thing this time, is that I’ve made this marathon for a blogathon: The Marathon Stars Blogathon (hosted by me at The Wonderful World of Cinema and Crystal at In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood).

I’ve decided to go with Claire Trevor as she has always been a curiosity to me. I absolutely loved her in Born to Kill and, after having seen this one I had only seen her in William Wyler’s Dead End (in which she has a rather small part, but still was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar). Anyway, I had to see more of her work, so this blogathon was the best occasion to. We also celebrated her birthday on March 8, so this will be my way to pay a tribute to her.

During my marathon, I’ve watched a total of 7 Claire Trevor’s films. Well, more 7 3/4, considering that I didn’t have time to finish watching Raw Deal, but I’ll try to make a little come back on this one, according to what I’ve seen so far. And will try, of course, to watch the entire film one day!

My feedback will only focus on Claire Trevor’s performance and character for in each film. Hope you’ll enjoy and, if you’re not too familiar with her, I hope it will make you want to watch some of her films!

Film 1: Key Largo (John Huston, 1948)

Role: Gaye Dawn

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Wasn’t there any best way to start this marathon with what allowed Claire Trevor to win her first (and only…) Oscar? She indeed won the Best Actress in a Supporting role Oscar in 1949 for her brilliant performance in Key Largo. All the actors are great, but we have to admit that she steals the show. The lady she portrays in this film has a strong personality, and this element will often be used for Claire Trevor’s characters. We remember this line when she yells at one of the actors “GIVE HIM A BEER”. Her angry voice tone is very convincing! However, Gaye Dawn has a weaker side due to her alcoholism. We remember this heart breaker scene when she sings “Moaning Low”. She sings completely off key, with no energy. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall feel sorry for her, and so we do: meaning that her emotions are correctly transmitted to us. Gaye Dawn is first known to be on the wrong sad, but she ends up being on the right one when she decides to help Humphrey Bogart. That and her touching performance makes her the real winner of this film.

Film 2: Murder, My Sweet (Edward Dmytryk, 1944)

Role: Helen Grayle/Velma Valento

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Claire Trevor certainly was a queen of Films Noir and this film, along with Born to Kill, proves it greatly. However, I don’t think her character in this one was as much interesting as Helen Brent in Born to Kill. She plays a femme fatale (who lies about her real identity, adding a part of mystery to her character), a mean and cruel one. Claire Trevor knew how to play women with no pity. Velma Valento certainly was one. She doesn’t have that much a big part in this film, but the scenes where she appears are some of the most powerful as she has sort of a malefic aura around her.

Film 3: The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (Anatole Litvak, 1938)

Role: Jo Keller

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The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse was to me something very unexpected (in a good way). Just like in Key Largo, Claire Trevor’s co-male stars are Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson, but, this time, Bogart is the bad one and Robinson is the good one. Note that this film was released ten years before Key Largo. The Claire Trevor of Dr. Clitterhouse is the one we know well: it’s hard to say on which side she is and she uses this mocking tone of voice that is sort of her trademark. She knows how to confront people by looking to them right in the eyes. She wants them to know what she wants. A woman has to shine if she’s alone in a men’s world and Claire Trevor knew perfectly how to. However, she also can be impressed by them and this film proves it.

Film 4: Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939)

Role: Dallas

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This is a film I wanted to see since a long time (I had seen excerpts in class and thought it looked great), so I certainly had to add it to my marathon. Here, Claire Trevor plays a woman who keeps her distances, who is cagey, but who turns out to have a kind heart. She is simply shy. During her trip in the stagecoach, she learns to appreciate those who travels with her. The more she gets to know them, the more she shows her tender side. Although, she doesn’t appreciate everybody, but when she does, it’s perfectly clear. I think this is one of the perfect film to illustrate Claire Trevor’s ability to change emotions. The Dallas from the beginning of the film is very different from the one at the end. This is not only a Western, but also a road movie. In every film genre, but particularly in this one, there needs to have an evolution of the characters. This was a success for Dallas. I also love the scene when she takes care of Lucy’s (Louise Platt) baby. She seems so sweet and so maternal.

Film 5: How to Murder Your Wife (Richard Quine, 1965)

Role: Edna Lampson

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How to Murder Your Wife was one of Claire Trevor’s last films. We had previously seen her in Westerns and Films Noirs, so to see her in a comedy was something completely new for me. Claire Trevor was, of course, older in this film, but still very distinguished. And boy, we happily discover that she could be the perfect Femme Fatale in Films Noir, but also that she certainly knew how to play comedy! Here, Claire Trevor plays a very eccentric woman. She has a supporting role, but, sometimes, those are the best. She is the perfect “annoying wife” and this allows us to see another side of the actress, a wilder one. At this point of her career, Claire Trevor could be considered to be a character actress due to the type of roles that were given to her. Edna is a very cool woman: she’s funny, she dances, she speaks Italian. Claire Trevor still his a strong and brilliant woman in this film, a leader, by defying the misogynist male spirit.

Film 6: Baby Take a Bow (Harry Lachman, 1934)

Role: Kay Ellison

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It was very interesting to see one of Claire Trevor’s later films (How to Murder Your Wife) and then one of her earliest (Baby Take a Bow). Her performance in this one is very different. She plays a more “innocent lady”, a sweet mother (how else could it be in a movie starring Shirley Temple?…). She has a more passive role in this film, but her presence remains appreciated. We are fond of her character has she is a truly good mother who cares for her child. Claire Trevor was still quite young when she starred in this comedy. Even if, by playing a “sweet and innocent” woman, she allowed us to see that she could play different types of roles, I have to admit, I prefer when she plays a strong woman who knows what she wants and defy male’s prejudices towards women.

Film 7: Dark Command (Raoul Walsh, 1940)

Role: Mary McCloud

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I think, among all the films I saw for my marathon, this one revealed my favourite Claire Trevor. Here, she is a real leader. She has a great energy, she knows what she wants, she gives orders to her brother and her father and they obey. RESPECT. When she smiles, it’s an honest one, not a false one like her femmes fatales’ smiles She’s very elegant.  One more time, she and John Wayne are reunited together in a western (also starring Walter Pidgeon). They have a great chemistry together. She intimidates him at first when he tries to talk to her. She’s not easy to approach! She’s somehow insulted when he asks her to marry him, considering that she barely knows him. She’s not interested. But she ends up appreciating him and sees a great friend in him. She also has a good chemistry with Roy Rodgers, who plays her brother in the film. Mary McCloud is a woman who loves her family and his devoted to it. She worries about her brother, but knows how to remain courageous. She’s more emotional when a misfortune happens to a member of her family or someone she loves. When she’s with Walter Pidgeon, she reveals us a calmer side. Claire Trevor still has her little ” mocking side” in this film, but that’s part of her charm.

Film 8: Raw Deal (Anthony Mann, 1948)

Role: Pat Cameron

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As I said, I didn’t have time to see Raw Deal in its entirety, but I saw enough to give you a little feedback on Claire Trevor’s performance. Pat Cameron is nothing but a woman in love. She cares for her boyfriend and won’t let it down (or will she?) She has a rival: another woman (actress). The confrontations between her and this woman adds a tension to the film. Pat will do everything to help her man. She helps him to escape from jail, which is not a small thing. As she often uses to do, the Claire Trevor of Raw Deal is not afraid to say what she thinks.

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Which one did I prefer among these ones? It’s hard to say! I hesitate between Stagecoach and Dark Command (clue: I love westerns), but they all have something special. I think I less appreciated Murder, My Sweet because it confused me at some point, but it remains something interesting to see.

Claire Trevor is certainly is an actress to discover! I’m glad I chose her. So far, I’ve seen 10 1/2 of her films. Born to Kill remains my favourite one of them all, but I hope I’ll see more! I love discovering new actresses, especially underrated ones like Claire Trevor. She was talented, strong and so beautiful!

To read the other entries, I invite you to click on this link:

The Marathon Stars Blogathon

I hope I’ll be able to make another blogathon soon! It has been a while.

P.S: If you are on Facebook, I invite you to join my new group dedicated to this actress: Claire Trevor: A Golden Actress

Annex - Trevor, Claire_NRFPT_04

 

Coming Soon: Robert Young Films Marathon

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After an Olivia de Havilland, a William Holden and a Dolores Hart film marathon, I’ll start a Robert Young film marathon soon. I haven’t seen this actor in many movies, only two: Secret Agent and Crossfire, plus some episodes of Father Knows Best. However, I’ve always enjoyed his acting and this marathon will be a great occasion for me to watch more of his films.

Here is a list of the Robert Young’s films I’ll watch for the occasion:

1- Red Salute

2- Western Union

3- Claudia

4- Relentless

5- Second Woman

If I have time, I may re-watch Secret Agent and Crossfire

I would love to see The Enchanted Cottage. However, I haven’t found any links or DVDs to do so.

Can’t wait to start this marathon!

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