As I think about this list I can't help but think about one of Hitchcock's quotes 'A good film is when the price of the dinner, the theater admission and the babysitter were worth it.' Hitchcock's films were pioneering for their time and provided the genius and psychological thrill audiences were craving. These timeless cinematic works of art earned Hitchcock the status of auteur and the nickname 'The Master of Suspense'.
So with that said, here are my top 6 Hitchcock films:
6) The Birds (1963) Starring: Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor
In a nutshell: A wealthy San Francisco woman follows a potential boyfriend to a small town where a flock of birds terrorises the inhabitants with increasing ferocity. Sounds boring, right? But that's the beauty of a Hitchcockian thriller, it's anything but. It's exciting, dramatic and above all entertaining.
5) The 39 Steps (1935) Starring: Robert Donart, Madeleine Carroll In a nutshell: A man and a woman handcuffed together try to thwart a spy ring. Filmed in Britain, this thriller was one of Alfred Hitchcock's first major international successes. We're introduced a number of the stylistic and thematic elements (the innocent man on the run for his life) that would become trademarks of his later work, including the notorious and coveted MacGuffin.
4) Rear Window (1954) Starring: James Stewart, Grace Kelly In a nutshell: Out of sheer boredom a magazine photographer with a broken leg begins to spy on the apartments facing his rear window. Convinced he's stumbled upon something of interest, he draws his girlfriend into the situation and eventually they witness a murder. In terms of cinematography, this is perhaps Hitchcock's most visually interesting film. It's filmed entirely from the protagonist's apartment with the aid of zooms and pans we're given a complete story that leaves us watching every moment for fear of missing a clue. With vibrant set colours and Grace Kelly looking stunning in her frocks and gowns, it's a visual masterpiece that will fray your nerves and delight your eyes.
3) Strangers on a Train (1951) Starring: Farley Granger, Robert Walker
In a nutshell: Two strangers meet on a train and speculate on how to get away with murder. However for one of them speculation is reality. In this film we're introduced to Hitchcock's notion of doubling, from the characters to the tennis racquets to the victims. We also get a glimpse of the director himself as a he makes a cameo appearance.
2) Psycho (1960)
Starring: Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins
In a nutshell: A secretary from Phoenix steals $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run and checks into the remote Bates Motel. It's run by a young man with a few secrets. What can I tell you about Psycho that you shouldn't already know? How about some interesting facts? The amount of cash Marion stole, in 1960 would be equivalent to approximately $315,000 in 2013. It was the first film to show a flushing toilet and during the famous shower scene the knife never actually stabs Marion. The effect of this is accomplished by a series of timed cuts, fake blood and the iconic soundtrack. But in all seriousness, Norman Bates is perhaps the most memorable of Hitchcock characters. With an unnatural attachment to his mother and homosexual undertones, Perkins set the standard for psychotic characters in the thriller/horror genre. Are some of you wondering why Psycho isn't number one on my list?
1) North by Northwest (1959)
Starring: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint
In a nutshell: Through a case of mistaken identity, a smooth New York advertising executive finds himself accused of murder. To prove his innocence and get an evil crime syndicate off his tail he travels across country in search of the real culprits. This movie is all thrill and suspense, by the time it was released it was what audiences came to expect from Hitchcock and it didn't disappoint. Again playing with the theme of the 'innocent man on the run for his life' Hitchcock brings new flavour to the story with the aid of fresh dialogue, beautiful framing and, of course, flawless characters. It is for this reason it earns my number one spot.
I have read some crazy things about Hitchcock! Apparently in "The Birds" he tied birds to the actress and threw them at her, so her fear is actually real. And in other film he required a shocked look, so he started unbuttoning his pants! Haha.