The recent movie Hitchcock, based on the Steven Rebello book and starring Anthony Hopkins as the genius film maker tells of the man, his personal relationships, the making of Psycho and the trials and tribulations that went with it. The film has its detractors but for me, as a die-hard fan of the London born director, it did the job while Hopkins’ rendering was so convincing that half way through I forgot what the real man looked like. Indeed, the film has its faults- bad wigs, rather lackluster cinematography and predictable art direction more at home in a made for TV movie – but the script is witty and incisive, the performances are fine and, even though, I am puzzled as to how it might appeal to anyone but the diehard Hitch fan -such as yours truly- still think it worth a look. More importantly it prompted me to dig out my Hitchcock DVD box sets watch them all over again and remind myself just how brilliant a film maker this man was. Here’s my Top Ten Hitchcock pictures in no particular order.
Lifeboat is taken from a John Steinbeck story andtakes place entirely on said vessel. Scripted by Ben Hecht and John Steinbeck and featuring an incredible cast including, Tallulah Bankhead, Walter Slezak, William Bendix and Henry Hull this is an outstanding achievement.
Rope takes place in the aftermath of a murder and is based on the great British writer, Patrick Hamilton's stage play Rope's End. Two Ivy League college buddies (played by Farley Granger and John Dall) murder a man just for kicks, secrete his corpse in their apartment, throw a party there and invite the victim's family and friends as guests, just to see if they can get away with it An undoubted masterpiece, it was shot on one set and in one continuous 80 minute take. James Stewart co stars.
Foreign Correspondent (1940)
Foreign Correspondent was the director’s thinly veiled plea to America to join the Second World War. A magnificently executed espionage thriller starring Joel McCrea as a lone reporter out to expose a lethal Nazi spy ring firmly ensconced in London, it also features the superlative, George Sanders, Robert Benchley, Herbert Marshall and the inspired Edmund Gwen as the cheeky, cheery, cockney chappy assassin.
The Wrong Man (1956)
Shot in almost faux documentary style, this stars the gifted Henry Fonda in the true story of Manny Balestero - a bewildered New York musician wrongly arrested for armed robbery. A true Hitchcock gem.
Strangers on a Train (1950)
Based on a Patricia Highsmith novel and adapted by Raymond Chandler and Ben Hecht, it stars Farley Granger as the tennis pro and Robert Walker as the incredibly snide psychopathic socialite Bruno Anthony.
Dial M For Murder (1954)
Based on the stage play by Frederick Knott, this is a masterful exercise in on screen suspense that takes place almost entirely in one room. Ray Milland, Grace Kelly and Robert Cummings star aided by the impeccable John Williams as Chief Inspector Hubbard.
Rear window (1954)
This typically perverse masterpiece stars James Stewart as the temporarily wheelchair bound photographer L.B.’Jeff’ Jeffries spying on his neighbours while convalescing. His totally unchallenged peeping catches the eminently wicked Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr) up to no good. Burr was chosen by Hitch because he resembled his old producer David O. Selznick whom Hitchcock hated. Grace Kelly and Thelma Ritter co star.
I Confess (1953)
As a Catholic, Hitch knew all about the wonders and mysteries of the Confessional. Perform a morally reprehensible act, go and tell a priest who sits in a booth behind a net divide who then tells you to say what might be 20 Our Fathers and 10 Hail Mary’s as penance and, no matter how heinous the crime might be, he is not allowed to disclose what’s been said in the confessional. And when the prayers are done the idea is that in the eyes of God, apart from mortal sins, your slate is wiped clean. That’s why the inherently Catholic Mafia make great crims. For this picture Montgomery Clift plays a priest who adhering to the ‘ confessional seal’ becomes a prime suspect in a murder.
I saw this on the telly when I was six and it scared the shit out of me and gave me nightmares for weeks. Starring, the LSD munching homosexual weirdo, Anthony Perkins, as Norman Bates and the gorgeous, Janet Leigh as Marion Crane his victim, little did I know that it was based on the real life exploits of serial killer Ed Gein who not only killed women but exhumed corpses from local graveyards and fashioned trophies from their bones and skin. Simply a groundbreaking thriller that broke all the rules and created a few new ones.
Shadow of A Doubt (1943)
A subtle stab at Agent provocateurs or submerged enemy agents then known as ‘fifth columnists’ this film made in the middle of WW2 tells of a young girl Charlotte (Teresa Wright) who lives in humdrum Hicksville and idolizes her sophisticated globe trotting, ‘Uncle Charlie’ (a slimy Joseph Cotten) whom she was named after. Her life is livened up a tad when Uncle Charlie visits and turns out to be rather suspect. Containing classic Hitchcockian tropes such as deceit, serial murder, international espionage, and sweltering sexual tension this is a must.