Alfred Hitchcock on the set of Frenzy, 1971

I only have access to what we call “Standard Basic Cable” TV in the San Francisco Bay Area so I don’t watch a lot of television because there isn’t a lot to watch. The only semi-24-movie channel I get is AMC and this week they’re offering viewers a spectacular Seven Nights of Hitchcock. Since Hitch is one of my favorite directors I couldn’t be happier. I’ve decided to try and spend my evenings this week getting re-acquainted with a lot of his films since many of my favorites are included in the great line-up AMC has scheduled.

Last night I watched The Birds and Rope again. I’ve seen both films countless times but I never get tired of them. The suspense Hitchcock manages to conjure up in Rope is suffocating at times and the script has an incredible rhythm that I always find really mesmerizing. It’s the perfect example of “less can be more” when it comes to great filmmaking. John Dall, Farley Granger and James Stewart are all really terrific and together they seem to make up some kind of perfect unholy trinity that always astonishes me. Rope also has one of my all-time favorite Hitchcock film endings. I always get chills when Stewart turns his back to the camera and red lights flicker and fill up the small apartment as sirens are heard in the distance.

As for The Birds, I love the ambiguous story and the way it plays out. Tippi Hedren is absolutely terrific in it and I’ve always thought she was an underrated actress. Like most of Hitchcock’s films, Rope and The Birds are both loaded with sexual innuendos and an uneasy eroticism that really appeals to me.

Publicity shots from The Birds (1963) and Psycho (1960)

Hopefully I’ll find the time to write-up a few more thoughts on some of his films in the future, but in the meantime here’s a list of my personal 15 Favorite Hitchcock Films. I was only going to post a Top 5, but Hitch deserved better than a measly 5 because he’s made so many films that I appreciate so I’m sharing my 15 Favorite Hitchcock Films instead. They’re listed alphabetically and I didn’t bother numbering the list because their numerical order isn’t significant. The impact of every Hitchcock film changes for me with each viewing. Some films grow in stature while others might lose some of their original lustre but these 15 remain my personal favorites . . . for now.

The Birds (1963)
Dial M for Murder (1954)
Foreign Correspondent (1940)
Frenzy (1972)
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)
Marnie (1964)
North by Northwest (1959)
Psycho (1960)
Rebecca (1940)
Rope (1948)
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Spellbound (1945)
Strangers on a Train (1951)
The Trouble with Harry (1955)
Vertigo (1958)

Is anyone else enjoying AMC’s Seven Nights of Hitchcock as much as I am? Feel free to share your own list of Top 5 or Top 15 Favorite Hitchcock films below if you’re so inclined.

17 thoughts on “Seven Nights of Hitchcock

  1. I haven’t seen The Birds in years, Rope either, but I do recall liking both films (the former is admittedly on the campier end). Vertigo, Rear Window, and Psycho would be in my top 3. As I’ve said in the past, Hitchcock has just never been a favorite of mine, and so there are a number of his films I still need to see.

  2. The only one you left off that I would have put high (maybe number one) is Notorious. I simply love Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains and think they all do a marvelous job in a beautifully shot film. I also love The 39 Steps. I could go on and I’m sure you could too beyond your fifteen. In fact, when it comes to Hitch I find it easier to list films of his I don’t like because there are so few.

    Topaz and Torn Curtain I’m not wild about but even lesser Hitch’s like the remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much have lots of wonderful things in them to see.

    I wish you got TCM. They show plenty of Hitch commercial free and always with terrific commentary by Robert Osborne.

    And I love the pic of Tippi for The Birds. I hope you update your flickr account with it soon. (and the Vincent Price afro pic)

  3. AR – Since you seem to enjoy noir a lot, I think you might enjoy Hithcock’s earlier films like Foreign Correspondent and the original Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), but I also know you don’t really go in for spy/espionage films so they might turn you off as well. A lot of Hitchcock’s films involve spies and espionage.

    Adam – Thanks for sharing your Top 5! I really like The 39 Steps as well.

    Jonathan – Thanks for sharing your thoughts. For some reason the chemistry between Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman has never really worked for me in any of the films they made together. I really like them both a lot, but together not so much. I’m not sure why? The 39 Steps is really good too, but I haven’t seen it in many years. Hopefully I’ll catch it during AMC’s 7 Nights of Hitchcock, if it’s playing. It’s nice to know others enjoy Foreign Correspondent! It’s really a great underrated Hitchcock film in my opinion.

    I wish you got TCM.

    You and me both! I’ve been thinking of upgrading my Cable TV package, but I’m only paying $19 a month now and I’d have to start paying $50+ but I’d really like to have access to TCM. I wish I wasn’t on such a tight budget at the moment.

    Anna – Thanks for chiming in! It’s nice to see all these votes for The 39 Steps because it makes me want to watch it again. I haven’t seen it in 15 or 20 years myself.

  4. Hey Kimberly,
    I love your list!!! I just posted mine at Moon In The Gutter if you want to stop by anfd give a look…you’ve made me want to stay home today and have a Hitch festival!
    If only I could…

  5. I’ll take any suggestions you have, Kimberly!
    I’ve more recently seen The 39 Steps and The Lady Vanishes, both of which involved espionage, and I liked them well enough. I think North by Northwest is pretty good as well. In Hitchcock’s films, espionage is more of a convenient plot element, which I can generally deal with. It’s more the Bond level of spy fetishism that doesn’t appeal to me.

  6. Two of my favorite cable channels are AMC and TCM. I did see that Rope was on. It’s been some years since I’ve seen. Caught a bit of it. I enjoyed it and The Birds very much. I’ve seen most of these Hitchcock films. What a fantastic filmmaker. I love all his films. My favorite is actually North by Northwest. It has one of the most famous scenes in cinematic history. Cary Grant is amazing. He’s one of my favorite actors of all time. I loved seeing him in Hitchcockian thrillers.

  7. hitchock is my favourite director. i love ‘im, like hitchcock loves icy blondes.

    for me, the only flick really missing from your list is ‘notorious’… one of the most adult romantic relaionships i’ve seen portrayted in a pre-1960’s american movie.

    love your site, by the way.

  8. Joe – Thanks a lot! I love Hitchcock so I’m happy to share some of my passion for his work with others. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to write a bit more on some of the films I’m watching this week. I saw Vertigo and Saboteur again last night and they were both terrific. Vertigo is a favorite so I always enjoy watching that one, but seeing Saboteur again really made me like it more. I’d only seen it once before and I caught more of the subtle aspects of the film on this second viewing. I love the entire “circus freak” subplot and the way it linked overt patriotism to paranoia, which is currently very timely in post-911 America. I think Saboteur might be a new favorite Hitch film of mine.

    Jeremy – I look forward to checking out your own list!

    AR – I also just saw Saboteur for the second time last night which I wrote about above and you might enjoy that movie as well. If you haven’t seen Hitchock’s Rebecca you might also like that film. It has more gothic horror elements than most of his films since it’s based on a Daphne Du Maurier novel and some really lush photography.

    Keith – I adore Cary Grant too! He was a terrific actor and a great comedian. He was also gorgeous to look at if I don’t say so myself. A real triple threat! He made a lot of terrific films with Hitchcock, who considered Grant his favorite actor.

    Dave – Thanks a lot! As I mentioned above, for some reason I’ve never been impressed with the chemistry between Grant & Bergman in the films they made together. I realize this is probably sacrilegious to say to many film fans. I don’t hate Notorious, but something about the film just doesn’t all-together work for me 100% so I find it a bit overrated in Hitchcock’s cannon. Of course I realize I’m in the extreme minority here.

  9. I love Hitchcock. Especially experiencing his film with an audience in a crowded theatre. Here’s a top 10 favorite screenings of his films I’ve attended (ranked by a complicated formula taking quality of film, quality of venue and presentation, and bonus factors into account):

    1. Vertigo at the Castro, countless times including several in 70mm
    2. The Birds and Marnie at a free screening at the Castro, with Tippi Hedren in attendance
    3. Blackmail at the San Francisco International Film Festival, Palace of Fine Arts, with live music by the Alloy Orchestra
    4. Strangers on a Train at the Noir City Film Festival, Palace of Fine Arts, with Farley Granger in attendance
    5. Rear Window at the Stanford
    6. Dial M For Murder at the Castro, in dual-projector 3-D
    7. Notorious at the Stanford
    8. Downhill at the Pacific Film Archive with Joel Adlen behind the piano
    9. North By Northwest at the Paramount
    10. the Lady Vanishes at the Castro. It’s worth noting that this was a terrific film, shown in a gorgeous print. The other nine had to be pretty special to beat it. And they were.

    And a top ten wish-list of Hitchcock films I most want to play a nearby theatre at a convenient time for me (all of them, really, but these are the priorities):

    1. Any silent film with live musical accompaniment
    2. The Wrong Man (which I’ve never seen)
    3. Rope
    4. Psycho
    5. Foreign Correspondent (never seen)
    6. 1956’s the Man Who Knew Too Much (never seen this version)
    7. Frenzy (haven’t seen in its entirety)
    8. the 39 Steps
    9. Under Capricorn
    10. Family Plot (never seen, heard it’s bad, but want to see the local locations with a Frisco audience)

  10. Brian – I’m envious that you’ve seen so many Hitchcock films on the big screen! I’ve only seen a few Hitchcock films on the big screen myself (including his silent film The Lodger which almost made my list of favorites and I think you would really enjoy it!), but I’m dying to see North By Northwest in a proper theater. That fantastic score, the amazing photography and all that action just screams “BIG SCREEN EXPERIENCE.”

    I’m one of those odd birds that enjoyed Family Plot a lot. It’s not a favorite Hitchcock, but I do think it’s worth a look and it really has some great stuff in it.

  11. Thanks for the reassurance on Family Plot. Hopefully a local programmer feels the same way. I’ve seen and liked the Lodger, but only on VHS. I’m envious of your experience seeing it in a theatre. I hear that John Brahm’s 1944 remake is excellent as well.

  12. I wish our cable did a Hitchcock marathon. Here are my favorites:

    1. Torn Curtain (1966) – the first time I saw the Mary Poppins/ Sound of Music Julie Andrews in such an intense role. Also for the incredible cinematography of the East German setting of the film.
    2. North By Northwest (1959) – one of the most stylish films I’ve ever seen.
    3. Psycho (1960) – for the pure chill of it.
    4. Frenzy (1972) – loved the 70s british setting.
    5. The 39 Steps (1935) – my first Hitchcock experience.


  13. The first film class I ever took–so many years ago–was entirely devoted to Hitchcock. As I recall, Marnie got pretty lambasted by the students for being so obvious in its psychology, as well as the awful rear-projection scenes. Was this all intentional on Hitch’s part? Perhaps. It seems a re-watch is in order.

    It took me several tries to get through Vertigo, whose reputation has really skyrocketed in the last few years–the professor didn’t even have it on the syllabus as an alternate, as I remember–but I’m glad I finally did. It certainly skyrocketed to near the top of my favorite Hitchcock works. But I still prefer his sublime horror films, Psycho and The Birds.

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