A macabre filmography that is so typical of Hitchcock and ironically so appropriate for this new season that is upon us, we’re diving into the world of a genius mind and his masterpieces.
Born in 1899, the director has long been revered as one of the most influential filmmakers of all time. And although it was nominated several times for an Oscar in the category of Best Director and never won, Hitchcock will forever remain in everyone’s hearts with his timeless masterpieces of true film art. How could we forget Psycho or Vertigo, the tense but ever so stylish psychological thrillers? An iconic name in the film industry and Hollywood, we’re taking a look at the best Alfred Hitchcock movies and showing just why he’s considered one of the most influential directors of all time.
A true iconic movie that even displaced “Citizen Kane” as the greatest film of all time on the latest “Sight and Sound” poll, Hitchcock’s geniality comes forward in this movie, beloved by many. It follows one of Hitchcock’s favorite plot, a typical every day man that finds himself in an outstanding story that keeps viewers glued to their screen. James Stewart takes that image of the average man as Scottie Ferguson, a police detective forced to retire after an accident leaves him with a crippling fear of heights. He is hired by an acquaintance to follow his wife (Kim Novak), and finds himself falling in love with this mysterious woman. When she jumps off a bell tower, he decides to remake a strikingly similar lady (Novak taking over that duel role) in her image. A truly unmissable movie and certainly one of Hitchcock’s very best.
With “Psycho”, Hitchcock reinvents himself, abandoning his polished and precise style that was so well-known in the 1950’s golden era, and exploring a new way of filming, a more raw and gritty movie that is still a masterpiece to this day. The plot is quite simple as it tells the story of a desperate secretary (Oscar-nominee Janet Leigh) who steals money from her boss’s client and goes on the run. Her first instinct is to hide on a motel run by the lonely Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) and his unseen mother. However, before she can turn over a new leaf, the famous shower scene arrives, one that will forever stay in the history of filmography and recreated in several movies after, until this day. She’s stabbed to death by Norman Bates, but that’s exactly where the story takes a more complex new turn: a sudden shift in sympathy to Norman as he tries to clean up his “mother’s” mess.
North By Northwest (1959)
In “North by Northwest”, Alfred Hitchcock comes back with his favorite plot, inserting Cary Grant in an unforgettable rule as a New York ad man caught up in a convoluted web of spies and intrigue. When he’s mistaken for a government agent, he races around the country trying to keep himself from danger, while romancing a mysterious blonde (Eva Marie Saint). Some of the most iconic scenes given to us by Hitchcock in spectacular cinematography in this movie include a crop duster cornfield chase and a perilous climb down Mount Rushmore. A film for the adventurous spirits and those seeking genuine entertainment.
Rear Window (1954)
The movie that inspired this signature, “Rear Window” is a movie that shows us exactly what Hitchcock can do best. Creating an entire world inside an apartment complex isn’t easy but Hitchcock does it perfectly in this movie. As seen through the eyes of a photographer, “Rear Window” tells the story of a photographer (James Stewart) confined to a wheelchair who passes his time spying on his neighbors. When he becomes convinced that one of them (Raymond Burr) murdered his wife, he enlists his devoted girlfriend (Grace Kelly) and sarcastic housekeeper (Thelma Ritter) to uncover the truth. A thrilling movie that only needs one set to keep us guessing, wondering and completely tangled into the maze that is this amazing script.
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Hitchcock considered this movie as one of the finest in his career and also his first American movie. Teresa Wright plays Charlie Newton, a bored teenager in small town Santa Rosa who’s excited by the arrival of her worldly uncle Charlie Oakley (Joseph Cotten). But young Charlie soon learns that her uncle might be the “Merry Widow Murderer.” A movie where Hitchcock is able to dive deep into our biggest fears, surpassing the fear of heights or murderers, but exploring a new fear: making us afraid of our own family.
The only Hitchcock film to win the Oscar as Best Picture was this moody and atmospheric adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s novel. It’s the first American movie that he features in, but he ended up losing his Best Director award to John Ford. However, even though Hitchcock removed one murder that takes places in the original novel, he was still able to create one of the creepiest and most oppressive films. It stars Joan Fontaine as an unnamed woman of humble origins who marries the charismatic aristocrat Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier). All seems like a dream until she moves into her new home, a gothic mansion haunted by the memories of Mr. de Winter’s late wife, Rebecca. Judith Anderson makes our skin crawl as the creepy Mrs. Danvers, a housekeeper devoted to her departed mistress.
Of all of Hitchcock’s leading ladies, none can compete with Ingrid Bergman that offers us much more than sheer sex appeal but also a witty and cunning touch to her characters. In “Notorious,” she plays Alicia Huberman, the carefree daughter of a convicted Nazi spy who is recruited by government agent T. R. Devlin (Cary Grant) to infiltrate an organization in South America. The two fall in love, producing one of the longest and steamiest kissing scenes in movie history, but their affair is put to the test when Alicia is forced to marry her father’s former friend, Alex Sebastian (Oscar-nominee Claude Rains), in order to gain information. Years later, “Notorious” remains as that movie that you wouldn’t want to change a thing, a masterpiece that is considered to be close to perfection.
The 39 Steps (1935)
Last, but not least, “The 39 Steps”, considered to be the best of Hitchcock’s British-produced films is this spy thriller. Naturally, it revolves around the plot of the “wrong man”, taking the form of an ordinary London man (Robert Donat) who stumbles upon a conspiracy when he tries to help a counterespionage agent. He flights with a beautiful blonde (Madeleine Carroll) in order to stop a spy ring from stealing top secret information. It was remade way more than 39 times, one of those by Hitchcock himself in the movie “North by Northwest”, with new and exciting scenes. And yet, “The 39 Steps” remains a truly classic and iconic movie that is believed to be incomparable.
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