The Man of the Hour: Alfred Hitchcock

Back in May when I debuted Klara Tavakoli Goesche‘s video tour of VERTIGO locations at the Movie Morlocks I made note of the fact that: “Alfred Hitchcock’s name seems to be everywhere these days.” It seems that my observation was somewhat premature because I had no idea that Hitchock would became a subject of daily debate among critics & film fans following his top position on Sight & Sound’s controversial, self-important and highly publicized list of what they call The Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time. Yesterday, on what would have been Hitchcock’s 113th birthday, the blogosphere and various social networking sites were being bombarded with “Top 5” and “Top 10” lists of Hitchcock films. My inner cynic’s response was; “How in the hell do you narrow down Hitchock’s filmography to a simple Top 5 list? You can’t. And if you can I suspect you haven’t seen many of Hitchcock’s films. Compiling a Top 10 is tough enough but compiling a Top 5 is a fool’s errand.” I stand by that observation because 5 years ago I tried to make my own list of 5 Favorite Hitchcock Films followed by a list of 10 Favorite Hitchcock films and I failed at both. I ended up with a list of “15 Favorite Hitchcock Films” instead.

My own list of favorites hasn’t changed in 5 years but occasionally I regret not including a few. I’m prone to to shouting out SHADOW OF A DOUBT (as longtime readers & friendly acquaintances can attest) when I’m asked what my favorite Hitchcock film is but there are a number of Hitch’s movies that I find equally engrossing for a variety of reasons although Joseph Cotten will always get my vote for giving the best performance in any Hitchcock film. Period! No room for argument there.

Below is an alphabetical list of my own “15 Favorite Hitchcock Films” that I’m reasonably comfortable sharing. As I mentioned 5 years ago, I  didn’t bother numbering the list because their numerical order isn’t significant to me and frankly I kind of enjoyed seeing VERTIGO at the bottom of my list. Don’t get my wrong, I love VERTIGO but it seems silly and reductive to single it out in a filmography that’s loaded with so many great movies. The impact of every Hitchcock film changes for me with each viewing. Some films grow in stature while others lose some of their original luster but these 15 remain my personal favorites.

The Birds (1963) “Can I bring the lovebirds, Mitch? They haven’t harmed anyone.”

Dial M for Murder (1954) “Do you really believe in the perfect murder?” Foreign Correspondent (1940) “I’ve been watching a part of the world being blown to pieces. A part of the world as nice as Vermont, and Ohio.”

Frenzy (1972) “Do I look like a sex murderer to you? Can you imagine me creeping around London, strangling all those women with ties? That’s ridiculous… For a start, I only own two.”

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) “To a man with a heart as soft as mine, there’s nothing sweeter than a touching scene.”

Marnie (1964) “You don’t love me. I’m just something you’ve caught. You think I’m some sort of animal you’ve trapped!”

North by Northwest (1959) “And what the devil is all this about? Why was I brought here?”

Psycho (1960) “She might have fooled me, but she didn’t fool my mother.”

Rebecca (1940) “Sometimes, when I walk along the corridor, I fancy I hear her just behind me.”

Rope (1948) “I’ve always wished for more artistic talent. Well, murder can be an art, too.”

Shadow of a Doubt (1943) “The world’s a hell. What does it matter what happens in it?”

Spellbound (1945) “We both know that the mind of a woman in love is operating on the lowest level of intellect.”

Strangers on a Train (1951) “My theory is that everyone is a potential murderer.”

The Trouble with Harry (1955) “He looked exactly the same when he was alive, only he was vertical.”

Vertigo (1958) “Anyone could become obsessed with the past with a background like that!”

On a side note, I’ve been catching up with episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (TV Series 1962–1965) lately and really enjoying them. If I get a chance I might write about a few of my favorites.