On this day in 1899, in Leytonstone, London, a filmmaking genius entered the world. Alfred Hitchcock was born.
For a major part of the 20th century, Hitch scared film audiences silly. He created suspense filled dramas and thrillers, which even now, decades after his death, are still considered high points of filmmaking. Visually and technically innovative, Hitch is rightly regarded as one of the greatest of all film directors. Many have tried to imitate him, some have done a good job in doing so (I’m specifically thinking of Brian DePalma), but none have ever come close to becoming the next Hitchcock as far as I’m concerned.
I first became a fan of Alfred Hitchcock in my early teens. At the time I regularly borrowed videos (yep, those things that were around before DVD and Blu-Ray. You even had to make sure you rewound them after viewing was over!)from my local Library.
I was well on my way to becoming a fan of classic cinema by this time, and my mum recommended that I check out Hitchcock’s films. The first one I borrowed was Rear Window. Well, I was completely blown away by what I saw. I loved everything about it, from the plot to the performances. I was very eager to check out the rest of his work after that.
For the next few months, I would walk to the Library every Saturday morning and borrow the next title in the Hitchcock collection. I was very lucky that they had most of his films in stock. Those that were not there I finally got to see over the next few years. I have been a fan ever since my first Hitchcock video started playing. Few directors have left such an impression on me that I instantly want to continue watching more and more of their work. Hitch did.
Even now having seen the majority of his work (there are still a few of his Silent films I’ve yet to check out) I still get excited watching one of his films. Even though I know what will happen next I still get scared, shocked and drawn in. He made timeless films that generation, after generation can come together to enjoy.
I want to thank Hitch for all he did for cinema. Thank you for all those wonderful films you left us with. Happy Birthday and R.I.P.
Here are my five favourite Hitchcock films.
1- The Birds
This creepy tale of birds attacking people freaks me out each time I watch it. Cleverly mixing real birds, fake birds, and matte shots together; Hitch really does make it seem like our avian friends are turning against us. The main reason I love this one so much is due to the flirting, sexual tension, and growing relationship between Melanie (Tippi Hedren)and Mitch(Rod Taylor). You can read my full review of this film here.
2- Rear Window
The first Hitch film I ever saw, this one made a huge impression on me. A gripping tale of suspicion, voyeurism, obsession and love. The film has a very claustrophobic feel to it. The apartment set is extremely impressive and looks real. The performances from the entire cast are superb. Lisa (Grace Kelly)has clothes that I could only dream of owning. The audience are made voyeurs just like James Stewart’s Jeff is, this draws you into the film and makes you a part of it. You can read my full review here.
Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains are all at their best in this spy thriller. A group of Nazi’s have moved to America after the war, they are being watched by government agencies. An agent recruits the daughter of one of the Nazi’s to help them stop them.
The highlight of the film for me is the relationship between Grant’s cynical agent, Devlin, and Bergman’s troubled bad girl, Alicia. Bergman gives one of the best performances of her career. Grant is also superb and plays a much darker and more complex character than he had done in previous films. This one really has you on the edge of your seat and makes you fear for the characters taking great risks.
4- Family Plot
One of Hitch’s most underrated films is a great favourite of mine. This was his final film and it is a playful wink to his entire career. The film features a multitude of themes and character traits that have showed up in all his films. The film skillfully blends suspense, thrills and comedy to great effect. Medium, Blanche Tyler (Barbara Harris), and her taxi driver boyfriend George (Bruce Dern)are on the trail of a missing heir to a wealthy family. The couple stand to get a huge reward if he is found. They uncover one secret too many, and are soon running for their lives. The jaunty music is by John Williams, and it is one of the great Hitchcock scores. You can read my full review here.
5- North By Northwest
Hitch’s most stylish film, and one of his very best too in my opinion. This is a perfect blend of suspense, thrills, comedy and action. Cary Grant is at his best as a man mistaken for someone else. He is soon on the run across America trying to evade killers and spies. There are secrets and lies to be uncovered. The film looks incredible, has one of Bernard Herrmann’s best scores and features many superb performances. The film is one that has something happening in it all the time. You can read my full review here.
I’d also like to list five Hitch films that I find to be quite underrated.
The Wrong Man
Here are the five films that I consider to be Hitchcock’s best.
Shadow Of A Doubt
North By Northwest
What is your opinion on the master of suspense? What are your favourite, best and most underrated Hitch films? What are your thoughts on the films I’ve mentioned? Please leave your comments below.