Alfred Hitchcock Appreciation and Discussion Thread

BondJasonBond006BondJasonBond006 on fb and ajb
edited March 2016 in General Movies & TV Posts: 9,021
About the director:

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, (13 August 1899 – 29 April 1980) was an English film director and producer, often nicknamed "The Master of Suspense". He pioneered many elements of the suspense and psychological thriller genres.

Hitchcock directed more than fifty feature films in a career spanning six decades and is often regarded as the greatest British filmmaker.

His movies:

His stylistic trademarks include the use of camera movement that mimics a person's gaze, forcing viewers to engage in a form of voyeurism. In addition, he framed shots to maximise anxiety, fear, or empathy, and used innovative forms of film editing. A common theme in many of his movies features fugitives on the run alongside blonde female characters.
Many of Hitchcock's films have twist endings and thrilling plots featuring depictions of murder and other violence. Many of the mysteries, however, are used as decoys or "MacGuffins" that serve the films' themes and the psychological examinations of their characters. Hitchcock's films also borrow many themes from psychoanalysis and sometimes feature strong sexual overtones.

Filmography: (not complete)

The Man Who Knew Too Much, 1934
The 39 Steps, 1935
Secret Agent, 1936
Sabotage, 1937
Young and Innocent, 1937
The Lady Vanishes, 1938
Jamaica Inn, 1939
Rebecca, 1940
Foreign Correspondent, 1940
Mr. and Mrs. Smith, 1941
Suspicion, 1941
Saboteur, 1942
Shadow of a Doubt, 1943
Lifeboat, 1944
Spellbound, 1945
Notorious, 1946
The Paradine Case, 1948
Rope, 1948
Under Capricorn, 1949
Stage Fright, 1950
Strangers on a Train, 1950
I Confess, 1951
Dial M for Murder, 1954
Rear Window, 1954
To Catch a Thief, 1954
The Trouble with Harry, 1956
The Man Who Knew Too Much, 1956
The Wrong Man, 1957
Vertigo, 1958
North by Northwest, 1959
Psycho, 1960
The Birds, 1963
Marnie, 1964
Torn Curtain, 1966
Topaz, 1969
Frenzy, 1972
Family Plot, 1976

Alfred Hitchcock certainly is one of the best known directors in cinematic history. Many of his movies are a must-see for any cinephile.

During the last 10-15 years many of his movies have been remastered, cleaned and/or restored. A nice collection of Hitchcock's movies can even be enjoyed in High Definition today.

Hitchcock worked with some of the most famous actresses and actors, often more than once. Namely Cary Grant, James Stewart, John Williams, Grace Kelly, Kim Novak, Ingrid Bergman, Farley Granger, Tippi Hedren...there are so many more.

About this thread:

Feel free to post whatever you like. Rankings, about your favourite Hitchcock movies, Hitchcock and Bond, technical aspects of Hitchcock's filmmaking, etc.

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Comments

  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    edited March 2016 Posts: 1,984
    Brillaint (if eccentric) director. North By Northwest and Rear Window are his best in my opinion. Psycho, Shadow of a Doubt and Dial M For Murder are right behind. Then those are followed by Strangers on a Train and The Man Who Knew Too Much. Vertigo is very overrated in my opinion, but still a very good movie. The Birds is just pitiful.
  • BondJasonBond006BondJasonBond006 on fb and ajb
    Posts: 9,021
    @ForYourEyesOnly

    Vertigo is by many considered to be one of the best movies ever, in some lists it's even on the top spot.
    Personally I always liked it. When I saw it for the first time in the early nineties I was blown away and completely in love with Kim Novak :)

    My favourite is North By Northwest, another obvious choice. Cary Grant happens to be my absolute favourite actor of the past.
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy N.Ireland
    Posts: 12,480
    I too love North by Northwest, one of my favourite films of all time. The score
    Is also amazing.
  • GREAT idea for a topic! :D
  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    Posts: 1,984
    @BondJasonBond006 - It's a good film, I just don't know if it's deserving of "best movie ever". The same goes for Psycho, which you see a lot of people (and some critics) rating as the best of the Hitchcock's. It's really, really good, I just prefer North By Northwest.

    Marnie is one that doesn't get enough mention. It's quite good.
  • BondJasonBond006BondJasonBond006 on fb and ajb
    Posts: 9,021
    @BondJasonBond006 - It's a good film, I just don't know if it's deserving of "best movie ever". The same goes for Psycho, which you see a lot of people (and some critics) rating as the best of the Hitchcock's. It's really, really good, I just prefer North By Northwest.

    Marnie is one that doesn't get enough mention. It's quite good.

    Absolutely, Marnie is in my Top 10 of Hitchcock's movies and one of the many links that can be made between Hitchcock and the Bond franchise :)

    I never really liked Psycho although I can see that it is artistically a great achievement and that it is very iconic.

    I admit really liking the TV-Show Bates Motel though :)
  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    Posts: 1,984
    @BondJasonBond006 Psycho is obviously at its best when watched for the first time without spoilers, because there the tension and suspenseful atmosphere is strongest. It's not the type of film that you watch over and over, which you can do with some of Hitchcock's other films (particularly North By Northwest, which is why it's my favorite).

    And yes, Marnie's fabulous. Connery is too.
  • ggl007ggl007 www.archivo007.com Spain, España
    Posts: 2,438
    Check number One: http://www.bfi.org.uk/news/50-greatest-films-all-time

    :D (I also love NbN)
  • jake24jake24 Sitting at your desk, kissing your lover, eating supper with your familyModerator
    Posts: 10,401
    The Birds happens to be one of my favourites.
  • BondJasonBond006BondJasonBond006 on fb and ajb
    Posts: 9,021
    I watched THE 39 STEPS and THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1934) yesterday.

    First, if you want to see them, watch them in High Definiton, if possible, they have been released on Blu-ray.

    For me personally, Hitchcock exists in two phases:

    Phase one 1934 to 1953 The Man Who Knew Too Much to I Confess.
    Phase two 1954 to 1976 Dial M For Murder to Family Plot

    The Man Who Knew Too Much may be known best for being the original to the very successful remake in 1956 with Doris Day and James Stewart.

    It is highly interesting to watch the original one from 1934 for various reasons.
    To have the same story told twice by the same director is interesting enough, to see his progression as a director in those two decades between the two movies is fascinating.

    I wouldn't rank the 1934 version into my Top 10, but it is somewhat important in Hitch's filmography. It is the movie that made the US getting interested in Hitchcock.

    Personally I look at it as Hitchcock's Dr. No, a start of sorts into a long-running franchise of good and great suspense/action/thrillers.

    The 39 Steps is a favourite of mine, maybe my favourite Hitchcock movie of Phase one together with The Lady Vanishes.
    It is a masterpiece of direction, dialogue and tempo.
    It is fast-paced and has some iconic imagery.
    In the second half, the lead actor and the lead actress are cuffed to each other, fleeing from police and villains. They are like cat and mouse and are engaging in bantering that has never been seen before. The comedy factor is huge, the dialogue priceless and the whole thing is so ahead of its time.

    Also in The 39 Steps, Hitchcock celebrates his favourite scenario. An innocent man on the run from the authorities and villains trying to figure out what's going on.

    In that regard The 39 Steps is maybe one of Hitchcock's very best.
    It is one of the must-see Hitchcock movies.
  • Posts: 3,881
    It's strange that one of the iconic 39 Steps moments is found in the remake, with Robert Powell holding on for his life outside of Big Ben.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    edited March 2016 Posts: 30,344
    I watched THE 39 STEPS and THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1934) yesterday.

    First, if you want to see them, watch them in High Definiton, if possible, they have been released on Blu-ray.

    For me personally, Hitchcock exists in two phases:

    Phase one 1934 to 1953 The Man Who Knew Too Much to I Confess.
    Phase two 1954 to 1976 Dial M For Murder to Family Plot

    The Man Who Knew Too Much may be known best for being the original to the very successful remake in 1956 with Doris Day and James Stewart.

    It is highly interesting to watch the original one from 1934 for various reasons.
    To have the same story told twice by the same director is interesting enough, to see his progression as a director in those two decades between the two movies is fascinating.

    I wouldn't rank the 1934 version into my Top 10, but it is somewhat important in Hitch's filmography. It is the movie that made the US getting interested in Hitchcock.

    Personally I look at it as Hitchcock's Dr. No, a start of sorts into a long-running franchise of good and great suspense/action/thrillers.

    The 39 Steps is a favourite of mine, maybe my favourite Hitchcock movie of Phase one together with The Lady Vanishes.
    It is a masterpiece of direction, dialogue and tempo.
    It is fast-paced and has some iconic imagery.
    In the second half, the lead actor and the lead actress are cuffed to each other, fleeing from police and villains. They are like cat and mouse and are engaging in bantering that has never been seen before. The comedy factor is huge, the dialogue priceless and the whole thing is so ahead of its time.

    Also in The 39 Steps, Hitchcock celebrates his favourite scenario. An innocent man on the run from the authorities and villains trying to figure out what's going on.

    In that regard The 39 Steps is maybe one of Hitchcock's very best.
    It is one of the must-see Hitchcock movies.

    Finally! Someone who isn't ignoring Hitchcock's classic British Era. Among the best spy thrillers ever made. There are several more great ones. Check out his Silent Era work, as well.
  • Posts: 3,881
    There are a lot of technical achievements in his early movies. Some real memorable scenes in Saboteur and Foreign Correspondent. I've always like The Lady Vanishes too. Great characters in that one.
  • BondJasonBond006BondJasonBond006 on fb and ajb
    Posts: 9,021
    @Birdleson

    Thanks for pointing out the silent era of Hitchcock. I kind of "forgot" about those movies.

    Due to a lack of knowledge I didn't write about that era in my original post. I have seen some of them many years ago on TV, but I couldn't say which ones, except for one.

    I actually just have ordered 3 of them on Blu-ray tonight. I'm glad they got remastered.

    -The Lodger (the one I remember, and as being very good)
    -Easy Virtue
    -Downhill

    I don't think others have been released on HD. I'll check them out on DVD.

    Theoretically I know about this era of Hitchcock as I own several books about him. I'm looking forward to delve into the silent movies by Hitchcock.

    *******************************

    THE LADY VANISHES

    Having watched this tonight, I feel again, this is one of my absolute favourites of Hitchcock, probably Top 5. I will try to do a ranking, not an easy task.

    This movie is so much fun. The first 30 minutes take place in a hotel in a snowy landscape in the Alps. You'll get to know some quirky but likable, very interesting characters. This first act feels like a lighthearted comedy, but as soon as the guests of the hotel get on the train that will bring them deep into continental Europe things get suspenseful and fast.
    The Lady Vanishes, literally. A middle aged English governess, seen before as one of the guests of the hotel, engages in a conversation with the lead actress of the movie, Margaret Lockwood, observed by many of the other passengers on the train. When Lockwood's character falls asleep for a short time in the train compartment, the English governess vanishes and nobody seems to remember ever having seen her.

    This movie starts as a comedy, gets suspenseful and becomes very sinister, while never losing that humorous touch. The setting on the train probably became a blueprint for every other movie with train scenarios in it, to this day.
    For a full hour, the train and what happens in there, will take the viewer deep into the movie, it's gripping, tense and you feel so sorry for the lead actress.

    Again, like with The 39 Steps, it's astonishing that The Lady Vanishes is from the mid-thirties, 1938 to be exact.
    Hitchcock was a true visionary.

    For people who only may know his later work (I call it Phase two) The Lady Vanishes is an absolute must-see.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    edited March 2016 Posts: 30,344

    Check out Hitchcock's BLACKMAIL (1929), Britain's first talkie (two years after the US's THE JAZZ SINGER broke that ground). Great film.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited March 2016 Posts: 23,883
    I haven't contributed to this thread yet. I'm not knowledgeable about all of Hitchcock's work, particularly his earlier efforts, but North By Northwest is my favourite film of all time (I was so impressed when I first saw it, especially given when it was made) and To Catch A Thief alternates in and out of my top five. To me, both these films, along with some of his other work, have contributed so much to the world of Bond in film.

    At the request of @BondJasonBond006, I'm including below some comments about a few Hitchcock films I recently watched. Cheers.

    Dial M For Murder (1954) - watched on March 9th

    First time watching this Hitchcock classic on blu ray. The copy is reasonable. Perhaps slightly better than the previous dvd which I had, but not excellent by any means. Certainly not anywhere near as good as North by Northwest or other Hitchcock greats that have been remastered.

    As always, I really enjoyed this film. It's a simple murder plot, told in a 'play style' (in fact, I believe it is based on a play). It is set primarily in one location, namely the protagonist's flat. Therefore it's quite 'talky' and relies on dialogue and nuanced acting.

    The film has a limited number of actors but they are all excellent. They include Ray Milland (brilliant as the conniving would be murderer), Grace Kelly (stunning as always, and vulnerable as the would be victim), Robert Cummings (as the lover) & the always superb John Williams (as the chief inspector who solves the case).

    One of my favourites from Hitch. Recommended.

    Rope (1948) - watched on March 19th

    I have seen this Hitchcock classic once before many years ago, and recall enjoying it. This recent experience was just as enjoyable.

    It is notable for being filmed in one setting (a rather high end New York apartment) and for seeming like it is filmed in one continuous shot. A precursor of sorts to the famous tracking shot from SP.

    It stars James Stewart, John Dall & Farley Granger as the leads, with other notable supporting players.

    The film is basically about two well to do intellectuals who kill of one of their old college peers as an exercise - basically because they can to demonstrate their brilliance. They then stash the body strategically in the apartment and have a dinner party, notable for having guests who know the victim but who don't know what has happened. During the course of the festivities, and on account of discussions that take place during the evening, the two perpetrators get nervous and essentially start to give themselves away. The manner in which this occurs is what is fascinating to watch.

    This film reminds me of Murder By Numbers (2002), which stars Sandra Bullock, Ryan Gosling & Michael Pitt. I now realize that film was essentially based on this film's premise.

    Despite the age of the film, it's very good and quite suspenseful.

    Recommended.
  • Posts: 3,881
    Rope was certainly shot in very few takes. You can spot the joins between takes. It might be 5 or 6 scenes, so it plays like a theatre production.

    Rope is based on a true story and was also made as Compulsion starring Orson Welles.

    I've seen Dial M For Murder loads of times. Really enjoyable. There was a Michael Douglas remake of this one.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited March 2016 Posts: 23,883
    vzok wrote: »
    Rope was certainly shot in very few takes. You can spot the joins between takes. It might be 5 or 6 scenes, so it plays like a theatre production.
    Yes, I noticed that. They focused in on someone's clothes and then drew out for the new take. It was a neat trick.
    vzok wrote: »
    I've seen Dial M For Murder loads of times. Really enjoyable. There was a Michael Douglas remake of this one.
    Yes, That remake is an excellent film. One of my favourites as well.

    I actually watched another Hitchcock remake last night, of The Lady Vanishes. This one was from 1979 and starred Elliott Gould, Cybill Shepherd (looking great) and Angela Lansbury.

    There is also a BBC tv remake from 2013 which I'm thinking of purchasing on blu ray.
  • BondJasonBond006BondJasonBond006 on fb and ajb
    Posts: 9,021
    @bondjames

    Thank you Sir, very appreciated :)

    I have to check out that remake of The Lady Vanishes, Angela Lansbury is a favourite of mine, and I have never seen that movie.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    Posts: 23,883
    @BondJasonBond006, you're welcome.

    RE: the remake of The Lady Vanishes, if you like Cybill Shepherd as Maddy Hayes in Moonlighting, then it's highly recommended. If not, then perhaps it's best to give it a pass since she plays it the same way, although it's a very scenic film. I haven't seen the original, but I've read comments saying that the remake pales in comparison and is not tense. I agree that it's not tense - it's more of a light hearted thriller. I think it's best to see it with lowered expectations, and then it should be enjoyable enough.
  • BondJasonBond006BondJasonBond006 on fb and ajb
    edited March 2016 Posts: 9,021
    REBECCA (1940) and SPELLBOUND (1945)

    Again two very good Hitchcock movies that will probably rank very high with most people.

    REBECCA:
    This is possibly Hitchcock's masterpiece of the 40's. The level of atmosphere and suspense is sky high, the cinematography may rival the best of the best of the 40's movies.
    Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine and especially Judith Anderson give brilliant performances. Anderson's Mrs Danvers is one of the creepiest, sadistic female characters I've ever seen in a movie.
    Here is the summary of the film's story:
    "A shy ladies' companion, staying in Monte Carlo with her stuffy employer, meets the wealthy Maxim de Winter. She and Max fall in love, marry and return to Manderley, his large country estate in Cornwall. Max is still troubled by the death of his first wife, Rebecca, in a boating accident the year before. The second Mrs. de Winter clashes with the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, and discovers that Rebecca still has a strange hold on everyone at Manderley."
    What makes this movie so memorable among other things is the main character Rebecca that you never actually see but that is omnipresent nonetheless and the Manderley estate which is a character on its own.

    SPELLBOUND:
    Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman: How can you do wrong with those two. You can't.
    Hitchcock uses them in a gripping romance/suspense story.
    The head of the Green Manors mental asylum Dr. Murchison is retiring to be replaced by Dr. Edwardes, a famous psychiatrist. Edwardes arrives and is immediately attracted to the beautiful but cold Dr. Constance Petersen. However, it soon becomes apparent that Dr. Edwardes is in fact a paranoid amnesiac impostor. He goes on the run with Constance who tries to help his condition and solve the mystery of what happened to the real Dr. Edwardes.
    This movie features some highly original and memorable footage of Gregory Peck's dream that gets analysed in the movie to solve the riddle of his amnesia.
    The dream sequence is technically astonishing and they used paintings from Salvador Dali to create them.
    Music in Hitchcock's films was always important. Spellbound has one of my favourite Hitchcock scores, it's by Miklós Rózsa.

    Re-watching all those Hitchcock movies I'm trying to do a ranking which is not that easy.

    1. The Lady Vanishes
    2. The 39 Steps
    3. Rebecca
    4. Spellbound
    5. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

    The reason I rank Rebecca third is because I love Hitchcock's (black) humour and use of witty dialogue and The Lady Vanishes and The 39 Steps has lots of it.
    Rebecca may be the best film of the lot but it is nothing to get amused about. It is sinister, sadistic and very gripping, all in a good way of course.

    Please feel free to tell us what your favourite Hitchcock movies are. Top 3, 5 or 10.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited March 2016 Posts: 23,883
    @BondJasonBond006, I have Rebecca and Spellbound in my collection on blu ray. The copies are excellent, for older black and white films, and I really enjoyed both on my first watch. Your reviews have motivated me to watch them again soon.

    Last night, for the first time since childhood, I watched The Birds (1963) this time on blu ray. The copy is magnificent, with beautiful, rich colours.

    This film was the debut of actress Tippi Hedren, who would go on to star soon after in Hitchcock's Marnie with Sean Connery as well. It also stars Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette, and a very young Veronica Cartwright (the screamer Lambert from Alien, almost unrecognizable here).

    The film focuses on the two leads, Hedren's 'Melanie' Daniels (I wonder if this influenced her daughter Melanie Griffith's first name) & Taylor's Mitch Brenner, who meet in a San Francisco bird shop. They develop an interest in one another, and Daniels decides to surprise Brenner at his Bodega Bay home, taking along some birds for his young sister. It is at this seaside locale that strange events start to take place, involving birds attacking people (first Daniels) without provocation. The attacks become more progressive, several are injured and killed and finally the hero & heroine make their escape from the doomed town, although we are never really sure if they survive or not.

    When I last saw this film, I was a pre-teenager and I recall it frightened the heck out of me. This time around, I wasn't expecting to be impressed. Well, I was! For a film made in 1963, the special effects are excellent, especially those of attacking birds, and Hitchcock as usual builds the suspense beautifully. There is one overhead shot in particular, which shows the seaside town below and the birds swooping down from above, which is especially chilling.

    It's a different kind of film from his earlier suspense thrillers. More psychological in nature. I have read that there may have been some Oedipal implications and I certainly felt it (there is an almost incestuous undertone between Brenner and his mother, and perhaps the birds attacking are a symbolic reaction to Daniel's arrival, as the would be usurper). In a way, due to the psychology of it, and Hedren's casting, it reminds me a lot of Marnie.

    The performances on the whole are excellent, but Hedren notably makes a very good debut impression.

    PS: One of the highlights of the film is Daniel's silver Aston Martin DB2/4 drophead coupe. Beautiful car, and sounds amazing. I believe a similar car will be driven by Wayne in the new Batman film.

    Recommended.
  • BondJasonBond006BondJasonBond006 on fb and ajb
    Posts: 9,021
    @bondjames

    I will look for that Aston Martin :)
    I like Hedren a lot, in both movies, and Marnie is in my Top 10 anyway.

    I'm focussing on Hitchcock's 30's and 40's movies that I own on Blu-ray right now and even try to rank them. After that I will move on to the 50's to 70's.

    NOTORIOUS 1946/ SUSPICION 1941/ SABOTEUR 1942/ LIFEBOAT 1944

    Again if you look at the cast of those movie you get an idea of how clever and spot-on Hitchcock always was in choosing his actors and actresses, and of course he used many of them twice or some even more than that.

    Notorious sees Cary Grant as a Spy who enlists Ingrid Bergman to spy as well.
    Watching Grant in Notorious it gets immediately clear why Cubby considered him for the role of Bond which would have happened if Grant had agreed for a multi-picture deal.

    Honestly, Cary Grant would have been perfect, maybe as perfect as Connery.
    The supporting cast is brilliant, Claude Rains as the tame villain with an oedipus complex shines and so does Leopoldine Konstantin as his mother who has him totally under control.

    There are many great spy settings. For example the great social event at the villain's mansion when Grant and Bergman are doing their spy work in the midst of it. Many unforgettable camera movements and the acting is marvelous.
    If anything, then the too obvious use of back projection is a bit hurting. Grant and Bergman are constantly seen before such a back projection when they are supposed to be in Rio.

    Notorious is considered one of the masterpieces and very best. And I can't deny it. It's an obvious favourite.

    Suspicion also has Cary Grant taking the lead. But this is Grant most unusal role ever. Because he plays a character that is very flawed, not to say downright evil. Or is he? That is the great mystery of the movie that has the viewer on his toes.
    Joan Fontaine gives the performance of her lifetime as Grant's love interest, then wife.
    She slowly despairs as she realises that her husband may be a swindler, even be a cold blooded murderer.
    It is a well known fact, that the original ending for the movie had been dropped for an ending that suited the studio better and Cary Grant's managment.
    Too big a risk they found it to have Grant in the role of a downright bad villain.
    The ending of Suspicion often gets criticised.
    Personally I like it a lot. Cary Grant's role doesn't get too compromised by the ending and his behaviour during the movie still makes sense.
    Again, also this movie features some gripping, unique camera work and a famous shot of Cary Grant bringing his wife a glass of milk (with poison?). Hitchock hid a light in the glass so it shines earily. Cleverly done and it works great.

    Saboteur is one of my favourites of his earlier work. I do like his movies that feature innocent men on the run accompanied by blondes and the black humour and witty dialogue they feature.
    Saboteur belongs into that category. The beginning is a masterpiece in itself. The set up for the story, circa 6-7 minutes, has the most visually stunning images I've ever seen in a movie of that era. There are also disturbing images, when a man gets engulfed by flames of a raging fire.
    Also the ending has to be mentioned which is also a true masterpiece. They rebuild the Statue of Liberty (the top of it) in the studio and had the end-game take place there, including the villain falling to his death, brilliantly shot.
    What happens in between is maybe the best "man on the run" segment of any Hitchcock movie (in my opinion).
    Robert Cummings and Priscilla Lane have the lead in Saboteur. Lane has especially delicious dialogue, witty and hilarious.

    Lifeboat
    This movie is sadly on one hand very underrated, on the other hand one of Hitchcock's lesser known movies. Why? Well, who knows. It's the only film he made with 20th Fox, so maybe that's one reason, the other may be the topic of the movie.
    Lifeboat is very, very special. It is a one-set movie, literally. The whole 97 minutes take place on a lifeboat on the sea. From the first shot to the last. Really!
    Any director would be brought to his knees trying to do that, not Hitchcock. And of course, later he would repeat the one-set principle, in Rope for instance, even if that set was much bigger.
    Another thing that has to be said about Lifeboat is the casting of the lead actress.
    Hitchcock as I said above, was a genius in casting. He cast the in(famous) stage and movie actress Tallulah Bankhead for the lead. That woman has to be seen to be believed. She plays herself more of less in Lifeboat really. A high-society celebrity known for celebrating parties that lasted for days and not shy with men.
    Bankhead gives maybe her best movie performance. It is unfathomable that she never became more successful in the movies, but then she chose the stage over the movies as she needed the live audience.

    Lifeboat deals with the war and has a clear message that sadly was misunderstood back then. A nazi, also on the lifeboat is depicted as a human like me and you (at first) and critics were furious about it. Some even accused Hitch of doing propaganda, which of course, is ludicrous.

    Of those four movies I must highly recommend Lifeboat, this is a must-see, essential cinema, and a directional masterpiece.

    My ranking so far:

    1. The Lady Vanishes
    2. The 39 Steps
    3. Saboteur
    4. Rebecca
    5. Notorious
    6. Lifeboat
    7. Spellbound
    8. Suspicion
    9. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited March 2016 Posts: 23,883
    @BondJasonBond006, I think Wayne drives the coupe version in Bat vs. Supes, while in The Birds, it's the drophead roadster.

    Vertigo (1958) - also posted in the Last Movie You Watched thread

    I watched this film many years ago (I think I was still a teenager) and it didn't go down well at all. At the time, I found it extremely dull & boring. It dragged on a bit and seemed depressing to me. Rather sad, given this film recently won the British Film Institute's coveted title as the Greatest Film of All Time, surpassing perennial favourite Citizen Kane.

    This time around things improved dramatically. The film is still a little on the slow side to me, compared to Hitch's other, more suspenseful pieces, but it fascinates in other ways.

    The story basically focuses on a retired San Francisco detective, Scottie Ferguson, played by James Stewart, who suffers from acrophobia (fear of heights) due to a tragic incident which led to the death of a colleague. He is approached and hired to observe a wealthy college friend's wife, Madeleine (played coolly by a very much 'in her prime' Kim Novak). The friend believes Madeleine is possessed and may be suicidal. He complies with his friend's request to follow Madeleine, and soon develops intense feelings for her, after they meet after he saves her from a suicide attempt. Then a tragedy occurs, leading Ferguson to become an obsessed depressive. Even his 'on again, off again' friend Midge (played brilliantly by homely Barbara Bel Geddes - Miss Ellie from Dallas) can't get him out of his funk. A year later, Ferguson sees a woman no the street (Judy) who reminds him of Madeleine. I won't say more, but a major plot twist occurs shortly thereafter, and it's clear all is not as it seems.

    The blu ray, as with some (not all) of the recently released efforts, is exceptional. The quality rivals North By Northwest, which is to say, it's as clear as the Lowry remastering of the Bond films. Colours are rich and sharp. Saul Bass's legendary title sequence is ahead of its time, and mesmerizing. This film also notably has the first use of the 'dolly zoom' camera effect, which I knew during childhood most famously from Michael Jackson's Thriller video.

    This film has absolutely stunning cinematography, and shows San Francisco at its best. In fact, while watching it, I felt that Bond should return here (the city was done a terrible disservice in AVTAK imho, despite what fans of that film say).

    There's something very surreal about this film. It's like a dream/ghost sequence in many instances. There are scenes and moments where Bernard Herrmann's magnificent score (almost classical in approach) and the wonderful sights pull you in, without any dialogue for extended periods. There are also many lonely sequences with no other people (extras) except Novak & Stewart on screen. Moreover, there is also conscious use of colour filters in specific scenes, particularly red and green. Does this remind you of something? Yes indeed, I was reminded of SP due to all these elements in use. Even the lead female character's name is Madeleine in both cases.

    The film operates on two levels. There is the basic plot, which has its share of twists and turns, and then there are the overriding themes. Is Ferguson obsessed? Does his need to control and mold Madeline mirror Hitchcock's reported approach with his lead actresses (many of whom were blonde)? Is there a circular element to things? The spiral staircase. The 'man meets woman, man loses woman, man meets woman, man loses woman' element?

    It's also amazing how many other films came to mind when I watched this one. Not only because of the use of San Francisco, but also because of acrophobia. Films as diverse as Final Analysis, to Bullitt, to In the Line of Fire, to Jade etc. etc.

    Recommended, but it's not for everyone.
  • BondJasonBond006BondJasonBond006 on fb and ajb
    Posts: 9,021
    Great review of Vertigo! @bondjames

    STRANGERS ON A TRAIN 1951

    Probably one of the better known movies by Hitchcock. Many regard it as one of the best.

    Bruno Anthony thinks he has the perfect plot to rid himself of his hated father and when he meets tennis player Guy Haines on a train, he thinks he's found the partner he needs to pull it off. His plan is relatively simple. Two strangers each agree to kill someone the other person wants disposed of. For example, Guy could kill his father and he could get rid of Guy's wife Miriam, freeing him to marry Anne Morton, the beautiful daughter of a U.S. Senator. Guy dismisses it all out of hand but but Bruno goes ahead with his half of the 'bargain' and disposes of Miriam. When Guy balks, Bruno makes it quite clear that he will plant evidence to implicate Guy in her murder if he doesn't get rid of his father. Guy had also made some unfortunate statements about Miriam after she had refused him a divorce. It all leads the police to believe Guy is responsible for the murder, forcing him to deal with Bruno's mad ravings.

    It for sure is one of the most interesting premises for a suspense movie. The two lead actors are brilliant and make all this very believable.

    On the Blu-ray there are two different versions of the movie. There is a "preview" version which has a slightly longer running time (roughly two minutes) as there are several short additional scenes of dialogue in the train and a different ending.
    It's not known, if Hitchcock preferred that version and it only re-appeared in 1991.
    I watched the different train sequence and the different ending and I couldn't decide which version is better. They are both very interesting and the difference is subtle.

    My ranking so far: I have to add that all of them are a good watch!

    1. The Lady Vanishes
    2. The 39 Steps
    3. Saboteur
    4. Rebecca
    5. Notorious
    6. Strangers On A Train
    7. Lifeboat
    8. Spellbound
    9. Suspicion
    10. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited April 2016 Posts: 23,883
    Thanks @BondJasonBond006

    Topaz (1969)

    This is a unique film. I'd watched it once before, and found it a little dull. It didn't seem too Hitchcockian to me at the time. I have it in my blu ray collection, so decided to take another watch, even though I must admit it was reluctantly.
    ----

    This time around was a little better, but I still can't say I really enjoyed it all that much. It sort of drags.

    The plot centers around a Soviet defection to the US in the early 60's. The defector brings information that the Soviets are about to install missiles in Cuba (yes, this film uses the Cuban missile crisis as a plot point). The Americans can't confirm the information directly (nor can they enter Cuba), so CIA agent Mike Nordstrom (played by a young John Forsythe, best known as the distinctive voice of Charlie from the 70s Charlies Angels tv show & Blake Carrington from 80s Dynasty) contacts Andre Devereaux (played by Frederick Stafford), a French agent/diplomat stationed in the US, and a personal friend.

    Nordstrom gets Devereaux to go to Cuba clandestinely on the CIA's behalf to obtain the photographic evidence they require of the missiles. Devereaux has a prior relationship with Juanita De Cordoba (played brilliantly by Karin Dor, also known as Spectre #11 Helga Brandt from YOLT), a widow of a hero of the Cuban Revolution. De Cordoba also happens to be a secret member of the Cuban resistance (using her dead husband's reputation and fame as cover). He rekindles his relationship with her while there and she gets him the evidence he needs confirming the missile's existence. Unfortunately, his real purpose in Cuba is suspected by Govt Official Rico Parra (played brilliantly by John Vernon, channeling a little Fidel Castro). De Cordoba's treachery is indeed discovered and she is killed by Parra, but Devereaux manages to flee Cuba, only just.

    Upon returning to the US, Devereaux is recalled to France, but not before he is told by the Soviet defector about a secret spy organization within the French Government known as 'Topaz'. The remainder of the film focuses on Devereaux's attempts to bring Topaz down in Paris, which he eventually does successfully.
    ----

    This is a 'talky' movie. It's also quite slow and grinding. In a way, it's the Hitchcock film most like Le Carre's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or Smiley's People, because it goes into detail about spy work. The nitty gritty and sometimes dull kind. Main actor Frederick Stafford has leading man attributes, but not all that much charisma. One wonders how this film could have turned out with someone like Alain Delon in the lead.

    The highlights for me both times I've seen this film have been Karin Dor (beautiful as ever) and John Vernon (chilling as ever).
  • BirdlesonBirdleson San Jose, CAModerator
    edited April 2016 Posts: 30,344
    bondjames wrote: »
    Thanks @BondJasonBond006

    Topaz (1969)

    This is a unique film. I'd watched it once before, and found it a little dull. It didn't seem too Hitchcockian to me at the time. I have it in my blu ray collection, so decided to take another watch, even though I must admit it was reluctantly.
    ----

    This time around was a little better, but I still can't say I really enjoyed it all that much. It sort of drags.

    The plot centers around a Soviet defection to the US in the early 60's. The defector brings information that the Soviets are about to install missiles in Cuba (yes, this film uses the Cuban missile crisis as a plot point). The Americans can't confirm the information directly (nor can they enter Cuba), so CIA agent Mike Nordstrom (played by a young John Forsythe, best known as the distinctive voice of Charlie from the 70s Charlies Angels tv show & Blake Carrington from 80s Dynasty) contacts Andre Devereaux (played by Frederick Stafford), a French agent/diplomat stationed in the US, and a personal friend.

    Nordstrom gets Devereaux to go to Cuba clandestinely on the CIA's behalf to obtain the photographic evidence they require of the missiles. Devereaux has a prior relationship with Juanita De Cordoba (played brilliantly by Karin Dor, also known as Spectre #11 Helga Brandt from YOLT), a widow of a hero of the Cuban Revolution. De Cordoba also happens to be a secret member of the Cuban resistance (using her dead husband's reputation and fame as cover). He rekindles his relationship with her while there and she gets him the evidence he needs confirming the missile's existence. Unfortunately, his real purpose in Cuba is suspected by Govt Official Rico Parra (played brilliantly by John Vernon, channeling a little Fidel Castro). De Cordoba's treachery is indeed discovered and she is killed by Parra, but Devereaux manages to flee Cuba, only just.

    Upon returning to the US, Devereaux is recalled to France, but not before he is told by the Soviet defector about a secret spy organization within the French Government known as 'Topaz'. The remainder of the film focuses on Devereaux's attempts to bring Topaz down in Paris, which he eventually does successfully.
    ----

    This is a 'talky' movie. It's also quite slow and grinding. In a way, it's the Hitchcock film most like Le Carre's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or Smiley's People, because it goes into detail about spy work. The nitty gritty and sometimes dull kind. Main actor Frederick Stafford has leading man attributes, but not all that much charisma. One wonders how this film could have turned out with someone like Alain Delon in the lead.

    The highlights for me both times I've seen this film have been Karin Dor (beautiful as ever) and John Vernon (chilling as ever).

    I've only seen it once, and the only thing that I remember is not thinking too highly of it. I guess I'll try it again someday. Maybe I'll follow the example of several others on here and do a complete Hitchcock retrospective. But I'm so crazy I'd have to include all of the early silents and shorts, as well as every episode of his series that he personally directed.

    I vacillate over which era is my favorite (I feel that Hitchcock's oeuvre can be loosely broken down into six eras, but of course oddities and misfits pop up all over; the most obvious example of that being PSYCHO). It's between the run of tight, gritty British spy films of the 1930s and the sleek, stylized, Technicolor masterpieces of the 1950s.
  • Posts: 6,432
    I will have to post my list when I finish work, huge Hitch fan watched majority of his films hundreds of times. Beauty of his movies is you can take something from all his pictures. I would find it impossible to say which is his best. Vertigo and Psycho tend to top the critics lists. I will say that the three films I have watched more than the rest are Foreign Correspondent, 39 steps and The Lady Vanishes.
  • BondJasonBond006BondJasonBond006 on fb and ajb
    Posts: 9,021
    It's good to see other Hitchcock fans here :)

    @birdleson
    I would be very interested in how you define the 6 eras.
    I kept it very simple and decided to divide his movies in two phases:
    Phase one 1934 to 1953 The Man Who Knew Too Much to I Confess.
    Phase two 1954 to 1976 Dial M For Murder to Family Plot

    Now that I have received his silent movies (the ones that are available on Blu-ray) I guess I have to add another phase. I will also order the ones that are only available on DVD, I like to get his silent era as complete as possible and thank you again for calling his silent work to my attention :)

    @bondjames @birdleson

    It's funny I also have seen Topaz only once and I too wasn't that impressed with it, respectively was a bit bored.
    Soon I have watched all of Hitch's movies from 1934-1951 (the ones that are in High Definition) and I will start watching his work from 1954 to Family Plot.

    Rope will be next, then his silent movies.
  • Posts: 315
    Hitchcock was wonderful. His obsession with casting blondes with a smoldering almost regal presence was key to many movies success. I wonder if anyone has done in-depth research on why. I'd say Grace Kelly, Janet Leigh, Kim Novak, Eva Marie Saint and Tippi Hedren is a good starting five for any director.

    I saw a stage production of '39 Steps' in which there were only 5-6 actors playing all the roles. It was quite entertaining.
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