Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hitchcock Top Ten

1. Rope

I admit, I was having some trouble deciding which Hitchcock was my favorite. In the end, the film that sticks out the most for me is Rope. I love it for its structure, its dominance of dialogue, its performances, and its ambition. While the film isn't actually one long shot, the way Hitchcock staged, shot, and edited the film is incredibly impressive, to put it mildly. I love John Dall's performance as Brandon; his arrogance in committing the perfect murder is fascinating to watch. Again, I also love the "master scene" element and theater/play aspect.

2. Vertigo

Vertigo is obviously a popular pick, but if you love something enough, I see no reason to shy away from it. The film holds your attention from beginning to end with no flaws or blemishes. This is one of my favorite detective stories in all of film. It's sort of insane the way this movie plays out, but with each moment of mystery and intrigue, the film hijacks your attention span (in a good way, of course) and takes you on a fun ride. Other reasons: Jimmy Stewart rules; I love those iconic shots on the bell tower.

3. Dial M for Murder

I was really hoping to find what I had written back when I watched this film for the first time; couldn't find anything on it other than a brief mention that I liked it for the same reasons I liked Rope. Hitchcock handles stories about murder so well; they're his bread and butter and there's no exception here.

4. Rear Window

What I love most about Rear Window is the set-up - through suspicion and voyeurism, a man attempts to solve a murder. The tension in the film is enhanced by Hitchcock's adroit sensibilities. And there's a great parody of this film in The Simpsons season 6 episode "Bart of Darkness." More reasons to love.

5. North By Northwest

I'll always have a special place in my heart reserved for North By Northwest. It's one of the first Hitchcock movies that I ever saw and I loved it the first time I saw it. I almost want to set up a poll question in our facebook group asking which you prefer - Cary Grant & Hitchcock or Jimmy Stewart & Hitchcock? I have a feeling Jimmy would receive a majority of the votes, but this is the best showcase of the Grant/Hitch combo, in my opinion. Also give me the Mt. Rushmore finale of North By Northwest over the Statue of Liberty finale of Saboteur.

6. Strangers on a Train

Of all of these films, this is the one I'd like to re-watch first. Partly because I haven't seen in a long time. Also, I feel like it might rank higher on my list if I re-watched it. Robert Walker gives a great performance in this one. I love the story and the execution.

7. Notorious

Take that Nazis! The Alicia/Devlin is very complicated and effectively done. I love Ingrid Bergman so it pains me to see her poisoned and under the capture of Nazis. Clearly I have nothing interesting to say about this film, but I really enjoy it.

8. Psycho

A superlative showcase of Hitchcock's work, Psycho demonstrates how meticulous and influential he was as a director. We can talk about what it did for the horror genre, but we mustn't shortchange what it did for film in general. To talk about certain scenes in Psycho is to evoke legend. I wrote this for Brandon's 1960 list and while I do feel this way about the film, it isn't my favorite Hitchcock film.

9. Spellbound

Maybe the psychoanalysis/Fruedian themes are turn offs for some, but I really enjoyed it in this film. Love the Dali dream sequence, the disjointed feeling the film provides as Gregory Peck attempts to regain his memory and his identity.

10. The Wrong Man

I'm tempted to move this up my list, but that could be due to the fact that I watched this one most recently. But of course, it's also due to the fact of how effective it is as a film. This story is an absolute nightmare, not only because Henry Fonda is wrongfully accused, but also due to what happens to his loving wife Rose. The film also does a great job of setting the mood economically.

HM aka the only other Hitchcock films I've seen: Shadow of a Doubt, Saboteur, The Birds, Suspicion, Foreign Correspondent, To Catch a Thief, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956).

Wanna see: The Trouble With Harry, The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes, Lifeboat

Additional thoughts: I just wanted to acknowledge that I left Shadow of a Doubt off of my top ten, which might come as a disappointment to Jeff. Sorry, dude, I know you love that film. For what it's worth, it is my number 11 and next in line to make the list. I love the Joseph Cotten/Teresa Wright relationship. I also really love subplot with Charlie's father and the next door neighbor, and their obsession with murder stories. Having said all that, I found myself wanting something more when the film ended. Maybe if I loved Joseph Cotten as much as you do, I'd rank it higher.

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