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My Top Ten Alfred Hitchcock Films

Today is Alfred Hitchcock’s birthday. He was born in 1899 in London. I thought I would put together a ranked list of the ten films that I consider to be his best.

As you all know, I am a major fan of Hitch’s films, so it has proven to be quite a challenge indeed for me to only pick ten films of his to rank. I’d love to get your thoughts on these ten films. I’d also love to know what your own top ten Hitchcock list looks like. Please do leave your own choices in the comments below. 

10. The Birds (1963)

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Melanie, Cathy and Mitch hide from the birds. Screenshot by me.

Hitchcock proves he has a talent as a horror director with this film about birds attacking humans. A clever mix of real birds, fake birds and matte shots convince us that the bird attacks and mass gatherings are real.

Featuring a strong debut performance by Tippi Hedren. I also love this one a great deal because of the relationship which develops between Mitch and Melanie.  

 

 

9. Sabotage (1936)

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Sylvia Sidney as the horrified wife. Screenshot by me.

Sabotage is a suspenseful drama about the British police trying to prevent a terrorist attack in London.

The best remembered scene in this involves a London bus. This bus sequence is one of the most shocking and suspenseful sequences in any of Hitchcock’s films. The other standout sequence in the film is the dinner table scene, where the wife gives her evil husband quite the fright. 

Sylvia Sidney is excellent as the young wife who slowly comes to realise that her husband is a cold and deranged murderer, and that he doesn’t care who gets hurt by his actions.

I think this is Hitch’s best British film. 

 

8.Notorious (1946)

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Devlin and Alicia. Screenshot by me. 

Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman play against type in this thrilling film about spies, romance and murder. The daughter of a Nazi(who doesn’t share her father’s views) is asked to spy on a Nazi group who live in America.

She accepts the task and soon finds herself in great danger. She is also romantically torn between two very different men (Cary Grant and Claude Rains).

Cary is all toughness and cynicism as the American agent unwilling to admit he is in love with the woman he is sending into danger.  Ingrid plays a disreputable, fun-loving woman, whose heroic actions redeem her self destructive behaviour. Superb support from the great Claude Rains and Leopoldine Konstantin. 

7. Rope (1948)

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Phillip, Rupert and Brandon. Screenshot by me.

I’d say this has to be the most macabre Hitchcock film. Two men murder one of their friends, put his body into a trunk, and then use the top of the trunk as a buffet table.

They invite a group of their friends(including the victims father and fiance)to dinner in the apartment to eat off the trunk. The suspense lies in whether or not the dead body will be discovered.

John Dall is chilling as the evil, cold and possibly psychopathic, Brandon. Farley Granger is equally excellent as the twitchy Phillip, who unlike Brandon, is actually unhappy about what they have done and is nervous about getting caught.

Rope is notable for seemingly having been shot all in one take, and also for the homosexual undertones to the relationship between Brandon, Phillip and their friend and former teacher, Rupert(James Stewart). The film was inspired by the real Leopold and Loeb murder case.  

 

6. Shadow Of A Doubt (1943)

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Uncle Charlie arrives in town. Screenshot by me.

Hitch shows us that all is not as it seems in small town America. Joseph Cotten delivers a career best performance here playing Uncle Charlie, a charming serial killer who is being pursued by the police.

The film becomes a thrilling cat and mouse game once Charlie’s niece finds out his dark secret. 

This film is all about shattered innocence, misperception and danger. The fascinating relationship between Charlie and his niece is something that has been much discussed and interpreted(the pair are almost like twins in some ways, and there is also a hint of a strange tension between them which could be sexual), and it is one of the most memorable aspects of the film. Joseph Cotten and Teresa Wright both deliver excellent performances.  

 

5. Vertigo (1958)

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Madeleine reborn. Screenshot by me.

In my opinion this is Hitchock’s darkest and most fascinating film. The film also features the best Hitchcock score (in my opinion) composed by Bernard Herrmann. This haunting Noir is part suspenseful mystery, part twisted and tragic love story, and part eerie ghost story.

This is one that can be interpreted in so many different ways, which means that it is one that you can have a great deal of fun watching and analysing. 

James Stewart and Kim Novak are both at their best as the ill-fated lovers, Scottie and Madeleine. This is one of the darkest and complex performances that James Stewart ever gave. Kim Novak convinces in a duel role as two very different women. 

 

4. North By Northwest (1959)

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Eve and Roger hang on to Mount Rushmore. Screenshot by me.

This one is a real thrill ride from start to finish. The best of Hitch’s wrong man on the run films in my opinion. This film is part thriller, part comedy, part romance and part spy story. It looks gorgeous visually and the cast all look so stylish and glamorous.

The film features two of the most iconic moments in film history(the crop duster attack and the Mount Rushmore sequence). Cary Grant is at his best,and he is ably supported by Eva Marie Saint, James Mason and Martin Landau. 

3. Rebecca (1940)

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Mrs. Danvers distresses the new bride. Screenshot by me.

This gothic ghost story is expertly directed by Hitch. The film begins with a sweet love story, the film is also very brightly lit at the beginning and everything looks idyllic. 

The mood and lighting of the film quickly become much darker once Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier’s characters return home to England.

All shadows and billowing curtains, this atmospheric and suspenseful drama features career best performances from Joan Fontaine and Judith Anderson. I love how Hitch makes us sense the oppressive presence of the dead Rebecca.

2. Psycho (1960)

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Lila gets a fright. Screenshot by me.

The film that changed everything. Starting off as a film about a woman on the run, the film takes an unexpected detour into horror territory and makes film history in the process.

Featuring the scariest shower sequence ever filmed, one of the creepiest houses in film history, and a brilliant twist at the end which makes you reassess everything that you have just watched.

Scary, suspenseful and featuring a remarkable performance by Anthony Perkins. Strong support from Vera Miles, Janet Leigh, Martin Balsam and John Gavin.

 

 

1. Rear Window (1954)

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Lisa and Jeff witness something strange. Screenshot by me.

I struggled for a very long time over which film should be in first place. In the end I decided that this film should be number one.

I think it easily qualifies to be the best Hitchcock film as it so perfectly encapsulates what Hitchcock’s films are all about. The plot of the film and the way everything is all set up, means that this film is still effective and doesn’t feel dated when viewed today. 

Rear Window is filled with suspense, murder, relationships, obsession, mystery, danger and thrills. Hitch also cleverly makes the audience obsessed voyeurs, just like Jimmy Stewart’s character is, by making us see everything from that characters perspective. Featuring terrific performances from James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter and Raymond Burr. 

 

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34 thoughts on “My Top Ten Alfred Hitchcock Films”

      1. I’ve never actually made a top 10, but offhand, I know “Strangers on a Train” would be on it. And much as I like “Sabotage,” I would rank “The 39 Steps” and “The Lady Vanishes” above it. I’m also really fond of “The Trouble With Harry,” though I know it’s a quirky one and not really a typical Hitchcock film (though it bears many of his trademark touches).

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      2. I love The Lady Vanishes, it is one of my favourite Hitch films, it was difficult to decide between that and Sabotage. Strangers On A Train is awesome, such a shame that Robert Walker died so young. I’ve never been a fan of The Trouble With Harry, but I do like the music very much. Love Robert Donat in The 39 Steps.

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  1. On my list, Strangers on a Train, To Catch a Thief, The Trouble with Harry, and I Confess would replace Psycho, Rope, Rebecca, and Sabotage.

    I think the major point of Shadow of a Doubt is that evil can rear its head anywhere — even on a train headed for sleepy little Santa Rosa, California. When most people think of evil, they envision big bad wolves, grotesque monsters, or Nazis goose-stepping. But evil can also be delivered in the package of a nice-looking, smart, charming Uncle.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. North by Northwest is my personal favorite, with Psycho right behind it. I actually couldn’t get into Vertigo because I kept wondering why that poor woman was putting up with everything. It’s widely rated as one of the best films of all time, so I probably need to go back and give it another go.

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  3. Can’t argue with any of your choices except for “The Birds,” which I think is for the birds (well, not really, but I couldn’t resist the pun). Seriously, though, I would put “The Lady Vanishes, “The 39 Steps” and “Foreign Correspondent” ahead of “The Birds,” which would probably not be in my top 15.

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  4. I appreciate your sticking to a top “10” despite the agonizing difficulty. When I see a list with added “honourable mentions”, I consider it a cheat.

    Here’s my top 10. I put these things in chronological order because I am dreadful when it comes to ranking and would never complete a list: https://www.imdb.com/list/ls000057333/

    PS: Your typing fingers betrayed your brain. John Dall is the cool Brandon and Farley Granger the twitchy Phillip.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was so difficult to decide what films to put on the list. Thanks for that, those typing fingers of mine are going to get a telling off lol. I love your list too.

      Also very much enjoyed your Counsellor At Law article. That is one I haven’t seen yet and really want to.

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      1. I know. I will not say accuse critics of treating it like a punching bag (they have done that with Torn Curtain though), but I do think they are debatably guilty of totally misunderstanding it. They are entitled to their opinion of course, but a closer look reveals it to be a misunderstood masterpiece. Anyone who has criticisms of it today will give off the implication that it is not Vertigo. I think when Hitchcock made Marnie, that aspect did not even cross his mind because he was not trying to do that. I will say though that it is every bit as thought-provoking and visually dazzling as that 1958 masterpiece. Once again, keep up the great work as always 🙂

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      2. I completely agree with you. I think it is a very good film. I also think Tippi Hedren delivers a remarkable performance, she really convinces as a vulnerable, disturbed and very troubled woman. The relationship between Mark and Marnie is fascinating and that relationship is why I return to this film. Is he trying to help her? Is he studying her and treating her as he would an animal he is trying to tame?

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  5. Very nice list. Nice surprise to see Rope (it’s indeed underrated).

    My Top Ten (in order of preference):

    1. Vertigo
    2. The Birds
    3. Psycho
    4. Rear Window
    5. Shadow of A Doubt
    6. Notorious
    7. Rebecca
    8. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
    9. Marnie
    10. North By Northwest

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Cheers. I’ve never understood why Rope doesn’t seem to be as discussed/popular as some of his other films are. Rope has so much going on in it, and it is one of his darkest and interesting films.

      Nice to see Marnie on your list. That one has been treated unfairly for so long. Such an underrated film.

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  6. It’s so difficult to put together a list at the best of times let alone doing one for Hitchcock! So many fantastic films to choose from – Rear Window is one of my favourites but I probably would have placed Vertigo at the top of my list. The 39 Steps is a huge favourite of mine as well. I actually watched The Birds two nights ago and it has risen in my estimation since last viewing it many years ago. I’ve actually struggled with Notorious every time I’ve tried to watch it – what’s wrong with me? LOL! A great list overall Maddy – many thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Terrific list! I was curious to see which film you’d choose as #1, and I think you made a good choice.

    I’ve tried to rank Hitchcock’s films for myself, and I wasn’t able to do it. I admire that you were able to do this – and do it well! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The list really got me thinking. I’d probably take Rope out. Wasn’t a huge fan of Jimmy Stewart in the role. I’d have to get Strangers in a Train in there. I’d probably take out The Birds too for The 39 Steps. Well done for even getting them in order. Hard enough for me to choose the 10 haha.

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