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We're Talkin' Hitch!
Posted: April 8th, 2008, 9:56 am
To say that Alfred Hitchcock has an impressive resume is an understatement. Not only is the list of films he brought to life very impressive but the television show that bore his name (and occasionally showcased an episode he directed) is a classic. His hosting that show may have made him one of the best known directors of his time. The show put a face and an attitude on the man and showcased his macabre sense of humor that complimented his work.
I'm wondering which of his films is your favorite? Or can you limit it to one?
I am a huge fan of his work and love most of the films he created. If I were forced to choose one it would be North By Northwest. Classic scenes of suspense, a great job of creating tension around the inescapable troubles of an innocent man. The crop duster scene and the hanging off of a president's face are iconic images. Cary Grant was fabulous and the rest of the roles were perfectly cast. I can watch this film over and over and enjoy it just as much every time.
How about you?
Posted: April 8th, 2008, 10:35 am
My favorite is To Catch a Thief. It's "Hitch Lite" I know, but maybe that's why I love it. Well, that and the setting: the French Riviera is one of my favorite places I've ever visited. I also like the banter between John Robie and Francie. They can't even come close to capturing that kind of starry romance any more, though they constantly try.
Posted: April 8th, 2008, 11:08 am
I've seen about half (24) of his feature films, most multiple times, and though I respect his work, I can easily name 20 or more directors whose films I'd rather watch (Duck! Incoming!). I don't dislike any of his movies; they generally just don't get my juices flowing.
That said, REAR WINDOW is one of my favorite movies. I also enjoy NOTORIOUS, STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, and NORTH BY NORTHWEST alot.
Posted: April 8th, 2008, 11:11 am
"Shadow of A Doubt." "Strangers On A Train." "Rear Window."
The one I can' stand to watch is "Family Plot." I've only seen it once but I didn't like anyone in the cast.
Posted: April 8th, 2008, 11:57 am
You said: "His hosting that show may have made him one of the best known directors of his time."
Not just of his time, but any time. I always like to have a face I can apply to a name, so whenever the name Hitchcock comes up, I picture the side view of him. He certainly was not very attractive, but at least I know who he is when I see him in a photo, and John Ford was another who wasn't afraid to be photographed. Show me a photo of Billy Wilder, Joe Mankiewicz, and Anthony Mann, I couldn't say who was who. I know a lot of their works, but don't know them. Of course, there is always Mr. Slimeball, Woody Allen. but who wants to acknowledge him anyway.
I do wish those fine directors had made themselves more known in their time, it might have kept their memories more alive, along with their bodies of work.
Posted: April 8th, 2008, 3:37 pm
That's a tough one. There's something excellent in every one of his films, and often something comes to you that you hadn't noticed before. Some I didn't care for when I was younger I like now, like Rope and Dial M, but there are some I still don't much like, like Spellbound, the second Man Who Knew Too Much, The Trouble with Harry (I like parts of that one, but I think the supporters are much stronger than the leads).
For me, I'd say it was a tossup between North by Northwest and Rear Window, with The Birds a very close runner-up.
Actually, I don't think I've ever seen Torn Curtain, and I have seen, but don't remember well, Under Capricorn.
Posted: April 8th, 2008, 5:28 pm
There are considerable delights to be found in most every one of Hitchcock's films, even the second rate ones. The five films of his that I enjoy the most and which seem to best exemplify the qualities we have come to appreciate most about him are:
1. NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959) Virtually a catalogue of everything Hitchcockian and the film that most successfully blends comedy with suspense. When Grant, as Roger O.Thornhill tells Eva Marie Saint that the "O" stands for "nothing" it's not only an amusingly accurate assessment of his character (to that point in the story) it's also a deliberate swipe at Hitch's one-time adversary...David O. Selznick.
2. PSYCHO (1960) Brilliant black humor on a TV budget with a TV crew; it revolutionized the movies in ways that Hitchcock himself probably never imagined. Once again the director chooses to make his "villain" (Perkins) a far more interesting and sympathetic figure than his "hero' (Gavin); see #'s 3 & 4.
3. STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951) The combination of Patricia Highsmith (novel), Raymond Chandler (screenplay) and Hitchcock himself as ringmaster provides us with his most noir film: brutally poetic, cruel and pretty damn funny when it needs to be. An overwhelmingly great performance (Robert Walker) enables a distractingly feeble performance (Farley Granger) to be tolerarble.
4. REAR WINDOW (1954) Repeated viewings have diminished its impact for me, but it's still a towering exercise in aberrant behavior. Only Hitchcock would have the temerity to make his slimy, murderous heavy (Raymond Burr) more sympathetic than his pedantic, self-absorbed hero (James Stewart). Plus, it's based on a short story by Cornell Woolrich!
5. VERTIGO (1958) Hitchcock's most difficult and challenging film is also his most artistically bold one. It's taken me numerous viewings to warm up to its overtly odd tone and deliberately drawn out resolution but, in spite of its many obvious flaws, this intensely strange film always manages to leave me emotionally spent.
As for his television work, there is one episode that especially stands out for me. It wasn't on his ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS program, but on a different, short-lived anthology series he produced called SUSPENSE. Airing for only one season, in 1957, it nonetheless provided us with the terrific hour-long episode titled "Four O'Clock" which was adapted from a story by Cornell Woolrich and, of course, directed by Hitchcock. E. G. Marshall stars as a man who plots to kill his wife (Nancy Kelly) by planting a time bomb in their home, set to explode at four o'clock. The tables turn beautifully and unmercifully when hubby, through a freak occurrence, becomes trapped in the house. Incredibly entertaining and excruciatingly suspenseful.
Posted: April 8th, 2008, 8:19 pm
My father introduced me to Hitchcock and his films were some of the earliest in my viewing recollections. While I'll agree with ChiO that Hitch's popularity is overblown these days, his work was one of the first I viewed as a kid that made me aware of the camera and the fact that film is much different than a play or just linear storytelling. Hitchcock makes these things obvious to the casual viewer, but that's not a bad thing. In doing so, he is in essence, a gateway to more experimental (and subtle) filmakers. There are many great artists whose work I would not have come to if I had not first viewed Hitchcock's films.
Personal favorites would include:
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Posted: April 9th, 2008, 3:52 am
North By Northwest is my fav with the simaliar The 39 Steps second.
i also like Shadow Of Doubt because Hitch, as he did in Rear Window, did away with his usual damsel in distress bit. Teresa Wright's detective boyfriend Macdonald Carey was away so she had to deal with evil Uncle Charlie herself
Posted: April 9th, 2008, 8:51 am
Another aspect of Hitchcock's talent is the way he (and his wife, screen writer Alma Reville) improved on so many of the stories upon which his movies are based. This is something most moviegoers probably haven't been aware of.
Posted: April 9th, 2008, 10:16 am
I'd say "Psycho" is my favorite. "Notorious" would be second with "North by Northwest" a very close third. "Rear Window" is also very good, as is "The Birds," "Strangers on a Train," "Dial M for Murder," "Rebecca," "To Catch a Thief" and I even like "Suspicion" more than most people.
I think that while the show made Hitchcock famous (and rich), it probably hurt his reputation for a while. There is an interesting book by Robert Kapsis (titled with incredible originality "Hitchcock") that argues that while the TV show was on the air, and Hitch was doing the silly introductions, American film critics and awards tended to shun him. Kapsis thinks that Howard Hawks played the critics far more skillfully in this era, getting a MOMA retrospective in the early Sixties. Only after the TV went off the air, Kapsis argues, did Hitchcock start to be hailed as a film artist.
Posted: April 9th, 2008, 2:14 pm
I find it very difficult to find a favorite. I like so many. The ones that stand out to me
A Story of the London Fog
Hitch was still honing his craft but these two films are some of the best British cinema of it's time. Others include
The Thirty Nine Steps
Dail M For Murder
To Catch A Thief
North By North West
and funnily enough
It's so unlike the other Hitchcock's I've seen, it almost like he's coming back to his roots. Back where he started in London once again.
Posted: April 10th, 2008, 2:18 pm
Hitchcock is probably my favorite director-for consistently turning out one "classic" after the other for decades! It would be impossible for me to choose one favorite.
I've seen many of his movies several times and still never get my "fill." His basic "recipe" of suspense and black humour should have had a copyright-since it has been "borrowed" by countless others...not to mention his ingenious (and memorable) "shots."
I suppose a major appeal for me is how he introduces us to average-type people going about their routine until a series of events puts them smack dab in the middle of some unusual situation-and watching them use their wits trying to get through the maze of confusion. It's fun to imagine myself as one of these people.
It's also fun to see a Hitchcock movie for the first time to closely watch for his "cameo."