Alfred Hitchcock was a brilliant director and I love, love, love his work (hence, this blogathon). Even his lesser movies, ones that I find a bit weird or boring, have a particular flavor to them that sets them apart from all other films. And his best films are, well, that’s what I’m here to talk about today. Everyone has their favorite Hitchcock (for me it’s Notorious) and though I probably won’t be very analytical (what is there to say about these movies that hasn’t already been said?) I do hope you enjoy reading my thoughts on each film.
In order of obsession…
// Notorious – 1946 //
Just why do I like Notorious best of all? Cary Grant is one of my least favorite actors, Edith Head doesn’t really do all that grand of a job on the costumes (Elisabeth’s glaring at me right now), and I’ve watched the film enough times for none of the twists and turns to surprise me anymore. However, the tension is still there. Nail-biting tension. Plus, Notorious is glamorous and passionate and exquisitely made, and Ingrid Bergman is eternally watchable. Cary Grant’s character is a bit of jerk, but he behaves so heroically in the end that I can forgive him. And there’s that party and Claude Rains being despicable, yet charming and lots of romance. It’s very nearly the perfect film.
// The Lady Vanishes – 1938 //
I believe this was the first Hitchcock film I ever watched and though I didn’t understand half of it at the time (I was pretty young) I did find the fight near the end very exciting. Now I watch it for the mystery, suspense, drama, and Michael Redgrave’s adorableness. Seriously, girls. Even if you aren’t into old movies, watch this for him. He’s cheeky and charming and smart and heroic and I could keep heaping on the adjectives. And the heroine, Iris (Margaret Lockwood) is great too – very good as the puzzled, yet determined young lady. Incidentally, this is only British Hitchcock film on my list and the tone is quite different from all the others. Much more humor, though still lots of tense moments.
// Strangers on a Train – 1951 //
Farley Granger was the reason I bought this movie (after seeing his turn in The Purple Heart) and I wasn’t disappointed, either with the film or his performance. I don’t see why Strangers on a Train isn’t mentioned more often when people talk about Hitchcock’s work, because it definitely deserves to be as well known as, say, The Birds. (Even more so, actually.) I think this is one of my brothers’ favorite old movies, mostly because of Bruno – Robert Walker plays him to such intriguing perfection, sort of like a psychotic gentleman. I think he should’ve at least gotten an Oscar nomination for the role. There are several suspenseful moments in this film, as only Hitchcock can supply, all culminating in a terrifying fight on a carousel. A must-watch for film fans.
// Dial M For Murder – 1954 //
When I was younger, I didn’t like this movie much because it’s a lot of talking and practically no action at all except for the attempted murder scene (which is terrifying). But now that I’m older, now that I can appreciate the sharp dialogue and tense, high-stakes plot, Dial M is one of my favorite Hitchcocks ever and one of my favorite movies in general. Grace Kelly shines as Margot and you can really get behind her character, even if she did cheat on her husband. (Who is now trying to kill her.) As usual, the villain – Margot’s husband, Tony – is the most interesting character (Hitchcock created some great villains) with his plots and plans and the ability to think of convincing lies in the merest fraction of a second. But my favorite character in Dial M is John Williams’ Inspector Hubbard. He gets some great lines, figures the whole thing out, and is, in my opinion, the true hero of the film. So, watch Dial M For Murder – you won’t be disappointed.
// To Catch a Thief – 1955 //
Another Cary Grant Hitchcock movie…but I don’t care. To Catch a Thief is delicious, beautifully shot, exciting, and just plain funny. I believe it won an Oscar for Best Cinematography and it’s easy to see why. Hitchcock did a bunch of location shoots in France and the scenery is unbelievable, as is the lush color that permeates the film. This movie has been called ‘Hitchcock champagne’ because it’s much more laid-back than so many other of the director’s films, but the last few scenes still provide plenty of suspense and a few twists. Grace Kelly is stunning, as always, in over ten Edith Head designs and John Williams makes another appearance. Cary Grant isn’t half-bad, though I don’t like him in here as much as in Notorious. Anyway, I think To Catch a Thief is a good introductory Hitchcock film – it’ll ease new viewers into Hitchcock’s film-making without lots of action and suspense right away. Plus, it’s very entertaining.
P.S. Don’t forget to drop the link to your blogathon entry in the comments section of THIS POST if you haven’t already!