I am endeavoring to review as many Alfred Hitchcock films as I can, so please be patient as the bodies pile up.
I was thirteen years old in 1963 when I went to a movie theater to Alfred Hitchcock’s latest move, The Birds, and I can still remember the effect it had, the tension it engendered, the thrill of fright, and my jangled nerves when I left the theater and stepped out into the sunlight.
Dial M for Murder
It might be easy to plan the perfect murder, but actually doing it is something else entirely. That is the theme of Dial M for Murder, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 movie starring Ray Milland and Grace Kelly as a husband who has the perfect murder on his mind and the wife who seems to be the intended victim.
The Lady Vanishes
Set in the fictitious European country of Bandrika, this 1938 British comedy-mystery remains one of Alfred Hitchcock’s best movies. Based on the 1936 novel The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White, the script by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder is truly funny, even the suspenseful parts.
The Man Who Knew Too Much
Never endanger an American’s children. That is the advice given by a foreign minister to his English lackey when it is already too late for the villains in this remake of a film that Alfred Hitchcock originally directed in England before he crossed the pond. Wishing to enlarge and improve on his earlier film, he teamed up with his signature actor and composer to produce this widescreen thriller in 1956.
Marnie is undoubtedly Alfred Hitchcock’s most unusual film. There’s no murder, no spies, no sabotage, and practically no suspense. It is a straight up psychological drama.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith
This 1941 “screwball comedy” was the first of two comedies that Alfred Hitchcock directed during his long and distinguished career, the other being the black comedy, “The Trouble with Harry.” The script, by Academy Award winning screenwriter Norman Krasna, found its way to Carole Lombard, the actress who actually gave the name “screwball” to this kind of comedy, and she backed the project.
North by Northwest
Mistaken identity, an innocent man, bloodthirsty spies, a long train trip, a beautiful, sexy blond, and suspense building to a nail-biting conclusion—all these staples of legendary director Alfred Hitchcock drive his epic 1959 film, North by Northwest.
The sexiest and most mature of all Alfred Hitchcock’s films, Notorious is also one of his most suspenseful movies. It’s a torchy love story set among dangerous ex-Nazis in Rio de Janeiro, with Ingrid Bergman putting her life in danger to prove to the American agent she loves that she has become an honest woman. Beautifully shot in black and white, all of Hitchcock’s mastery drives a story that is thrilling right up to the end.
The line between suspense and horror is blurred anyway, but when director Alfred Hitchcock and screen writer Joseph Stefano adapted master horror writer Robert Bloch’s 1959 novel Psycho for the screen, and composer Bernard Herrmann was brought on board, they changed the horror film genre forever, creating ripples that are still felt by filmmakers today.
A nation of Peeping Toms. That’s us, according to home care nurse Stella in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 masterpiece Rear Window. She’s complaining to photographer James Stewart as he sits in his wheelchair staring out the rear window of his apartment in Greenwich Village. His left leg is encased in a great white cast bearing the inscription, “Here lie the broken bones of L. B. Jefferies.”
To Catch a Thief
This is Alfred Hitchcock’s most visually beautiful movie. Filmed on the French Riviera, the gorgeous hills, dotted with old mansions overlooking the Mediterranean Sea vie with the stark beauty of Grace Kelly and chiseled features of Cary Grant to provide enough eye candy to last a lifetime.
Alfred Hitchcock’s 1966 cold war thriller is unique among his films because it contains some of the best filmmaking since he moved to America and also some of the worst. The film as a whole has too many problems to be considered one of his best: a flabby script, lenient editing, and way too much time at the end.
Acrophobia is a perfect psychological ploy for a Hitchcock movie. Always fascinated with little psychological motivations, Hitchcock used fear of heights as the guiding principle of his 1958 movie Vertigo. The plot, so detailed and involving, has become nearly iconic as the film has worked its way into the American psyche.