Alfred Hitchcock is one of the acknowledged masters of cinema. Few directors have achieved his iconic status and with good reason. Hitchcock is a showman in both films and in real life. It’s the rare personality who can boast of having a word coined after his name. If something is ‘Hitchcockian’, you already know what it means even without necessarily having seen all of his movies. But it’s really a crime if you haven’t seen any of his films, so here’s a small sampling of some of Hitchcock’s best movies.
Mention Hitchcock and the first movie anyone’s going to mention will definitely be Psycho. And with good reason. Psycho pushed the envelope when it was released. Few films can create such an impact on its audience and Psycho did this so successfully. And who doesn’t know the famous shower scene, which has entered our collective consciousness as the quintessential slasher scene. That shower scene only lasted 45 seconds but it is indelibly marked on our psyche forever.
2. The Birds
If anyone can make a horror film about birds it would have to be Hitchcock. The premise, when you think about it, is quite silly (I mean, c’mon, killer BIRDS?) but Hitchcock made it believable and even made a statement about environmentalism and man’s destruction of nature in the process – decades before these issues became the cause du jour of many people.
3. Rear Window
James Stewart did a helluva performance as the photojournalist with a broken leg who witnesses a murder as a result on spying on his neighbors – or was it really a murder he saw? Rear Window has Hitchcock holding our attentions so tightly with his perfectly woven mix of plot and awesome visuals. Much like The Birds, the voyeuristic themes of Rear Window would be mirrored somewhat in our current fascination for reality television.
4. North by Northwest
North by Northwest begins and you’ll swear you’re going to watch an episode of the Twilight Zone. But the movie turns out to be a cloak and dagger story the way only Hitchcock can do it. Cary Grant is the man who is mistaken for a government agent, and he plays his role with great aplomb. He is a man out of sorts and you see it in his performance (partly because he also doesn’t know what’s happening in the movie). The gorgeous Eva Marie Saint is the moll, who might not be a moll, and she delivers a great performance as well.
Hitchcock’s movies operate in many different levels, but none more so than Vertigo. This film, which many consider as his most personal, is his personal statement on sexuality. This is another quality James Stewart performance as a cop with acrophobia who was hired to tail a friend’s wife (Kim Novak) who may be suicidal. The movie starts innocently enough but leave it to Hitchcock to introduce twists and turns to the story that will leave you reeling.
How can you go wrong with a movie that starred Cary Grant AND Ingrid Bergman? This movie has it all – romance, comedy and suspense – as it tells the story of agents, double cross and Nazis. This is one of the funnest Hitchcock movies you’ll ever watch.