Friday, July 22, 2011

Spotlight On: Alfred Hitchcock

This week's spotlight is on the master of suspense himself, Mr. Alfred Hitchcock. He is one of my favorite directors, and I have liked all of the movies of his that I have seen. He has directed some of my favorite actors including Laurence Olivier, James Stewart, Ingrid Bergman, and Cary Grant, and directed one of my all time favorite horror films, Psycho. What is really odd is that he has directed tons of brilliant films, and yet he has never won an Oscar for best director. How messed up is that? Anyways, here are my favorite Hitchcock films in chronological order.

This is the only one of Hitchcock's films to win best picture at the Oscars, and it is also in my top five favorites of his. It is about a woman who works as a companion to an old rich lady who falls in love and marries a rich man. While it seems like a fairy tale, she soon discovers that his mansion is haunted by the memory his ex-wife. One of the most chilling scenes is when Ms. Danvers is trying to convince the new wife to kill herself.

I am a huge Ingrid Bergman fan, so I really liked this one. It is about a therapist played by Bergman who is trying to help Gregory Peck get back his memory so that he can figure out if he killed someone or not. The most interesting parts of this film are the dream sequences, which were designed by Salvador Dali.

I adore this film! It features three actors that I really love: Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, and Claude Rains. It is also probably Hitchcock's most romantic film. I love that it shows how sneaky he was when it came to the Production Code. It was a rule that kisses couldn't be longer than three seconds, so instead of having Grant and Bergman do one long kiss, they did a bunch of little kisses instead.

What makes this movie really interesting is that the whole movie seems like one long take because it is only one set, and there is very little editing. It is about these two guys who kill their friend, put him in a chest, then throw a party for their friends with the dead body still in the room. One of them is calm and collected, but Farley Granger is very nervous the whole time. James Stewart plays their former teacher who ends up getting very suspicious of them.

Strangers on a Train
Another film dealing with murder, this one is about two complete strangers who meet on a train and decide that their lives would be easier if they each killed someone for each other. While Farley Granger is nervous about the whole thing, and doesn't really want to kill anyone, the other man goes through with his end of the bargain, and makes Granger's character's life hell.

Rear Window
Another film with the great James Stewart, this is a suspense film that I would definitely call "heart-pounding." I mean the scene towards the end where he looks through his binoculars and sees the murderer looking back at him literally made me gasp, and I was going "oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit" from that moment until the end of the movie.

The Man Who Knew Too Much
This is actually a remake of one of Hitchcock's own films that starred Peter Lorre. I've never seen that one, but I did like this version with James Stewart and Doris Day. It is about a family who travels to Morocco, and the husband ends up finding out about an assassination plot. Then their son gets kidnapped and they have to find him and stop the assassination. The best scene in the movie is when the mother attempts to find her son by having him overhear her sing.

The Wrong Man
I was actually getting really frustrated while watching this movie. Its about a man who gets mistaken for a different man who robbed a bank and a few stores. What's worse is that he is a super nice guy who doesn't want any trouble and is just worrying about calling his wife the whole time. I was really pissed off at those stupid bank tellers during this whole movie because they just destroyed this guys life and made his wife go crazy,  and then when they find the real guy at the end it doesn't even look like Henry Fonda!!!

Hitchcock + James Stewart = Brilliance! This was actually the first Hitchcock movie that I had seen. While it is filled with tons of great scenes, my favorite was always the bell tower scene.

North By Northwest
Here Hitchcock does another film about mistaken identity. Except instead of being mistaken for a criminal, criminals mistake him for a government agent. This film is probably best known for the crop duster scene which you can find HERE. Some of my favorite scenes are the drunk driving scene, and pretty much all scenes with Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint together.

Now onto my favorite Hitchcock film, Psycho. I love Anthony Perkins' performance as nice guy/ momma's boy/ serial killer Norman Bates. I just love how even though he is a serial killer, a part of you still doesn't want him to get caught. The best known scene is definitely the shower scene, and the ending is also brilliant.

The Birds
"They're coming!" Before I saw this movie, I thought that the concept was somewhat rediculous, but I ended up really liking this movie. There are actually parts that are pretty scary, like when Jessica Tandy finds the guy with his eyes pecked out. Yeesh!

Another film he did with Tippi Hendren, Marnie is about a psychologically disturbed girl (who is also a thief) who marries a guy who wants to help her. What is interesting about Sean Connery's character is that even though he seems like a good guy, he also has his bad side. I love the ending of this movie, but I couldn't find it anywhere on Youtube. This is the only scene that I could find, but it's a good one because it shows Connery's flawed character.

Here is a really neat video that I found of Hitchcock speaking.

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