Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Hitchcock, again

A few days ago a friend asked me to recommend films directed by Alfred Hitchcock. I mentioned a few but it occurred to me this morning that I could do better than that. I think some may avoid Hitchcock because they associate him with Psycho or, perhaps, The Birds. Those were well-crafted movies but untypical of the director. Suspense, not shock, was more characteristic. Humor, too. These are the Hitchcocks I re-watch most often:
  • The Thirty-Nine Steps (1935) Based loosely on the Buchan book. A man pursued by both the police who think him a murderer and spies who fear he may expose a secret they hope to provide England's enemies.
  • The Lady Vanishes (1938) The only other of the British films that I watch over and over. As the title says, a woman on a train traveling in central Europe befriends an elderly lady. When she awakens after a nap the lady is gone and everyone else on the train denies the lady was ever there.
  • Foreign Correspondent (1940) An American newspaper reporter in pre-war Europe versus fascist spies. The windmill sequence is a favorite of mine.
  • Saboteur (1942) Once again, this time in the US during WW II, a lone man pursued by both the authorities and a ring of fascist saboteurs. (Seeing a pattern here). The Statue of Liberty plays a role.
  • Shadow of a Doubt (1943) Hitchcock's favorite of his films. Script credited to Thornton Wilder. A favorite uncle returns home but his niece begins to fear that everything isn't quite right. The Merry Widow Waltz is a recurring theme in the soundtrack.
  • Notorious (1946) Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant in Latin America versus Nazis. A famous film kiss.
  • Strangers on a Train (1951) What if we traded murders? I'll do yours if you'll do mine?
  • Dial M for Murder (1954) Why would anyone want to kill Grace Kelly?
  • Rear Window (1954) Grace Kelly again with James Stewart. Stewart is a bored convalescent with little to do except observe his neighbors through his apartment window. Kelly at her most beautiful.
  • To Catch a Thief (1955) Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in Monaco. Cat burglars on rooftops. Unfortunately from Hitchcock's point of view, in real life, Kelly meets the Prince of Monaco.
  • The Trouble with Harry (1956) The trouble is that Harry can't be got rid of. Set in New England in a glorious autumn in color. A very young Jerry Mathers in his first acting job. Shirley MacLain's first film.
  • North by Northwest (1959) My favorite of Hitchcock's films. Cary Grant on the run from both the police and another spy ring led by a rather sinister James Mason. Mount Rushmore.
There are other very good Hitchcock films. I own DVDs of quite a few more.