The 3rd Wonderful Ingrid Bergman Blogathon Is Here!

Well, we are back to celebrate the one and only Ingrid Bergman with the 3rd Wonderful Ingrid Bergman Blogathon! This even celebrates her 102nd, birthday. Unfortunately, Ingrid also passed away the same day as her birthday, on August 29, 1982. So that gives us one more reason to honour her memory.

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So, the blogathon starts today, August 27, 2017, and will take an end on August 29, 2017. Please submit your entry by commenting on this post or via email (virginie.pronovost@gmail.com) or via Twitter @ginnie_sp

Talking of Twitter, if you have an account, please provide your Twitter handle. That would be another way for me to promote your article! 🙂

Once your entry would be submitted, I’ll add it to the roster so everybody would have an easy access to it. I’m so impatient to read them! 🙂

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The wonderful entries so far

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Thanks so much for your participation everybody! And a happy heavenly birthday to our beloved Ingrid ❤

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Top of the World: 35 Movies of the 30s

I wanted to do this top since a long time as I love movies from the 30s, especially the comedies. I think they were unique and the pre-code era allowed movies with a great touch of realism and modernism.

As always, I invite you to respect my choices. This is a list of my most favourite movies, so it’s purely subjective. If there is a movie you like, but that isn’t on that list, it’s not necessarily because I don’t like it. It might be because I haven’t seen it, or simply because this is a top 35 and not a top 50. Just to give you an idea I have seen about 95 movies from the 30s. Thanks.

I invite you to clic on the various links that appears in orange if you are interested to read more reviews.

Well, here we go! 🙂

35- Bank Holiday (Carol Reed, 1938)

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34- En kvinnas ansikte (Gustaf Molander, 1938)

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33- The Awful Truth (Leo McCarey, 1937)

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32- The Adventures of Robin Hood (Michael Curtiz & William Keighley, 1938)

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31- Dinner at Eight (George Cukor, 1933)

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30- The Women (George Cukor, 1939)

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29- Le Quai des Brumes (Marcel Carné, 1938)

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28- Holiday (George Cukor, 1938)

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27- Murder! (Alfred Hitchcock, 1930)

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26- A Girl Must Live (Carol Reed, 1939)

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25- My Man Godfrey (Gregory LaCava, 1936)

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24- Wuthering Heights (William Wyler, 1939)

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23- The 39 Steps (Alfred Hitchcock, 1935)

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22- Free & Easy (Edward Sedgwick, 1930)

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21- Baby Face (Alfred E. Green, 1933)

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20- Shanghai Express (Josef von Sternberg, 1932)

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19- Red Salute ( Sidney Lanfield, 1935)

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18- Nothing Sacred (William A. Wellman, 1937)

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17- Easy Living (Mitchell Leisen, 1937)

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16- Dames (Ray Enright, 1934)

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15- Little Women (George Cukor, 1933)

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14- Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (Frank Capra, 1936)

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13- Young and Innocent (Alfred Hitchcock, 1937)

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12- Topper (Norman Z. McLeod, 1937)

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11- Libeled Lady (Jack Conway, 1936)

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10- Golden Boy ( Rouben Mamoulian, 1939)

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9- All Quiet on the Western Front (Lewis Milestone, 1930)

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8- 42nd Street (Llyod Bacon, 1933)

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7- Gold Diggers of 1933 (Mervyn LeRoy, 1933)

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6- Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Frank Capra, 1939)

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5- Gone With the Wind (Victor Flemming, 1939)

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4- La Grand Illusion (Jean Renoir, 1937)

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3- Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin, 1936)

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2- The Lady Vanishes (Alfred Hitchcock, 1938)

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and…

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1- Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)

This also happens to be my 2nd most favourite movie of all times after Some Like It Hot 🙂

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That’s it! Now please don’t hesitate to tell me what are YOUR favourite movies of the 30s in the comment section. I’ll be very curious to know! 🙂

See you!

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The Barrymore Brothers Are Having a Dinner At Eight

Thanks to my friend Crystal from In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood, The Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon is back for a third consecutive year! This is the occasion for us to celebrate this notorious family of actors who developed its talent on more than one generation.

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My choice for this year’s edition is Dinner At Eight. As this film stars both Lionel and John Barrymore, we can proudly call it a “Barrymore movie”! But don’t be mistaken, however, John and Lionel don’t play brothers in this flick! The choice was also to my advantage, since, last year, I reviewed a movie with Ethel Barrymore (Portrait of Jennie) and the year before, a film with Drew Barrymore (Ever After). So, I was due to do something about John and/or Lionel. So, why not both?! Plus, Lionel Barrymore is my favourite actor in this family and, neither to say, the one I’m the most familiar with.

When I started watching it for the blogathon (only for the second time in my life), I had completely forgotten it was directed by the one and only George Cukor! Well, we do recognize his distinguished signature with a female cast brilliantly composed. We are introduced to the actors in the opening titles a bit in the same way as we are with 42nd Street or Gold Diggers of 1933. I guess that was fashionable in 1933!

Apart from the two Barrymore, Dinner at Eight also stars Jean Harlow, Wallace Beery, Marie Dressler, Billie Burke,  Madge Evans, Lee Tracy, Edmund Lowe, Karen Morley, Phillips Holmes, Louise Closser Hale, Grant Mitchell, Hilda Vaughn and May Robson. Quite a gang.

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All these actors are all worth mentioning as they all have their respective importance in the film. You see, Dinner at Eight is one of these pictures having for major quality the composition of the characters.

What we see in this film is everything that happens before the famous dinner. Millicent Jordan (Billie Burke) is organizing a dinner for Lord and Lady Ferncliffe that she had met in England with her husband Oliver (Lionel Barrymore). Through the film, we discover the various guesses and their respective personal problems:

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Oliver himself isn’t feeling too well and we discover later that it might be more serious than he thinks.

Carlotta Vance (Marie Dressler), a one-time great actress, is now broke and dealing with her downhill. Luckily, a great sense of humor keeps her alive.

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Mr. and Mrs. Jordan’s daughter, Paula (Madge Evans), is ready to put an end to her engagement with Ernest (Phillips Holmes) as she is now in love with the much older actor Larry Renault (John Barrymore).

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On his side, Larry Renault, just like Carlotta Vance, has to struggle with his lack of money and the fact that he is now a washed-up actor. More tragic than Carlotta tho, he finds refuge in alcohol.

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Businessman Dan Packard (Wallace Beery) and his wife Kitty (Jean Harlow) are constantly fighting. Kitty has a maid, Tina (Hilda Vaughn) who is the most patient person ever (and who looks like one of the extra-dancers in Hair by the way).

And Kitty is having an affair with Dr. Wayne Talbot (Edmund Lowe) who is quite lucky to have a wife (Karen Morley), who loves him (despite everything).

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Hattie (Louise Closser Hale) and Ed Loomis (Grant Mitchell) are last minute guesses so we don’t dig much into their life. However, Ed would prefer to be at the movies seeing the last Garbo picture.

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Finally, Millie has to deal with the obvious problems that come with the organization of such a dinner, and her cook, Mrs. Wendel (May Robson), is having trouble with the lion-shape aspic.

I think, with this kind of film, a presentation of the characters was in order. Apart from the fact that the two Barrymore don’t play brothers in this film, they are actually never seen in a scene together. I must admit, I was a bit disappointed by this aspect (because it would have been epic). They play, however, two very different types of characters.

On his side, Lionel is the wise and patient one who tries to see a positive point to life even in a critical situation. On his side, John is the tragical one, whose life became theatrical just like his profession. Both are great in their respective roles. Dinner at Eight confirms us Lionel Barrymore versatility as an actor as his character is quite different (and much more sympathetical) than Henry Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life for example. If I’m not mistaken, this is the earlier film of his I’ve seen. Actually, it would be Free & Easy, but he only has a cameo scene in this one so it doesn’t really count. Lionel Barrymore’s scenes with Marie Dressler are among the best things in this film. We feel an instant chemistry between those two veterans of the silver screen. Carlotta Vance and Oliver Jordan redefine the meaning of deep friendship. We also witness a very touching scene between him and Billie Burke toward the end of the film. Moral of the story: love is sometimes stronger than anything else.

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I’m less familiar with John Barrymore, having seen only two of his films, but I’ve noticed how he has such a strong on-screen presence. In a scene, he is the center of attention and he doesn’t need to do much to be so. Simply by standing there, he emits an incredible charisma. And that profile! I think we all agree, it’s one of the most famous profiles of cinema history. Of course, we never lose an occasion of seeing it. Just before his first scene, Billie Burke is talking about him with  Louise Closser Hale and this one praises his  “most heavenly profile” and then, the next shot is one of him standing in a hotel room, his iconic profile to the camera. What is fascinating about John Barrymore in this film is to see the evolution of his character and how he chooses to act according to it. His performance is more and more intense as the film evolves. Remember this scene when he looks at himself in the mirror after his agent told us that his career is over? Mirror scenes are often a symbol of existential questions such as “what will become of me?” in movies.

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There’s no need to say that 1933 was a strong year in cinema with movies such as this one, but also Gold Diggers of 1933, 42nd Street, Footlight Parade, Little Women or The Private Life of Henry VIII. Movies of the 30s had a sort of class that could never be topped and Dinner at Eight is one of the best examples. I love all the fancy high society set of the whole thing with dreamy designs and costumes to die for. I bet you won’t be surprised if I tell you that these were designed by Adrian! I think the most impressive gowns are Jean Harlow’s ones. By the way, her character in this film kind of makes me think of me for the reason that staying in bed all day while eating chocolate is totally my style (I’m lazy). But back to Adrian. What I love about his costumes, is how light they seem to be. He also manages to keep it simple, but yet, immensely divine. And boy! I have a friend whose favourite colour is white. That may seem weird, but when I see Adrian’s costumes that glorify this colour, I completely understand why!

The script of this film is interesting. It was based on the play by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber. However, screenwriters Frances Marion and Herman J. Mankiewicz, and director George Cuckor managed to give it a cinematographic dimension by making it dynamic enough for a movie. I like how the scenes alternate telling us what’s becoming of each character. As a matter of fact, except at the end, we rarely see a scene with more than three characters or so. The film also contains some memorable lines such as:

1 -Kitty: [Final lines] I was reading a book the other day.

Carlotta: [Nearly trips] Reading a book?

2- Miss Copeland: You were wonderful!

Carlotta Vance: Yes, that was the last thing I did.

Miss Copeland: I remember it as plain as if it were yesterday.

Carlotta Vance: Hmm.

Miss Copeland: Though I was only a little girl at the time.

Carlotta Vance: How extraordinary!

Miss Copeland: Oh, it’s wonderful, seeing you like this.

Carlotta Vance: Yes, it ’tis. You know, we must have a long talk about the Civil War sometime. Just you and I. (Poor Mrs. Vance!)

3-Dan Packard: Remember what I told you last week?

Kitty Packard: I don’t remember what you told me a minute ago.

4- Larry Renault: Listen to me old-timer. I’m drunk, and I know I’m drunk but I know what I’m talking about.

5- Hattie Loomis: [responding to Millicent Jordans’ upset about a dinner guest cancelling] I never could understand why it has to be just even, male and female. They’re invited for dinner, not for mating.

6- Carlotta Vance: Remember? They named everything after me: cigars, racehorses, perfumes, battleships!

7- Dan Packard: That’s no elevator. That’s a birdcage!

8- Hattie Loomis: Ed hates anything that keeps him from going to the movies every night. I guess I’m what’s called a Garbo widow.

9-Dr. Wayne Talbot: Oh, she’s not really sick, you know, woman with a lot of time on her hands, I prescribed a sedative, but she doesn’t really need anything.

Mrs. Lucy Talbot: How about an apple a day?

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These are just a few examples. Of course, there’s all the fuss about the famous aspic too. Delightful.

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So, Dinner at Eight is one hell of an intriguing film, and if you like the Barrymore, I highly recommend you to see it (the rest of the cast is pretty swell too!).

Last August 15, we celebrated Ethel Barrymore’s birthday, so I’m wishing her a very happy heavenly birthday one more time! 🙂 The Barrymore are legendary. Respect.

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A big thanks to Crystal for hosting this blogathon again!

Don’t forget to read the other entries of course. 🙂

The Third Annual Barrymore Blogathon.

See you!

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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