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.
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!
1- The Lodger: Story of the London Fog (1927)
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)
Not a typical Hitchcock’s film, but certainly a fun one. A bit long though.
3- Blackmail (1929)
Hitchcock’s first talking picture and also England’s first talking picture! Just that priceless scene makes it worthy:
4- The Manxman (1929)
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?
5- Downhill (1927)
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?
1- The Lady Vanishes (1938)
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)
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)
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)
Once again, Hitchcock combines suspense, tragedy, and humour brilliantly here.
5- Secret Agent (1936)
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!
1- Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
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)
I love both the book and the film. Perfect.
3- Spellbound (1945)
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)
Hitchcock certainly knew how to develop a great story in such a small space!
5- Saboteur (1942)
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!
1- The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Quite an overlooked Hitchcock’s film. Immensely thrilling.
3- Family Plot (1976)
Hitchcock’s last film and a fun one, but I’ve already said a few words about it earlier!
4- Psycho (1960)
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)
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.
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 blue!