Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Top 5, Bottom 5: Alfred Hitchcock

I watched The Lady Vanishes earlier this month, bringing my total number of Hitchcock movies I've seen up to 20. There aren't a lot of directors I've seen 20 movies from. I've seen 37 by Woody Allen (only missing four) and 19 by Billy Wilder, another prolific director I love. But besides Allen, Hitchcock just might be my most-seen director.

Top 5:
1. Rear Window (1954, #9). Not only Hitchcock's best, but one of the best of all time. A perfect blend of mystery, suspense, romance and unexpected humor.
2. Psycho (1960, #103). I love how Hitchcock spends so much time building up the story, unlike modern horror flicks, which fill their movies with pointless jump scares and ominous foreshadowing. When the horror actually does happen in Psycho, it's even scarier because everything had been so okay up to that point.
3. Rope (1948, #107). This movie is one of the best one-room dramas ever, with excellent writing and interesting characters.
4. Strangers on a Train (1951, #125). This is hardly ever anyone's favorite Hitchcock, but it's one of mine. It's a wonderful premise and does an excellent job of portraying someone caught up in something far beyond their control.
5. Dial M For Murder (1954, #189). Like Rope, this one also follows the murderer rather than the hero, making you wonder if he's going to get away with it. It's a wonderful mystery with very interesting characters.

Bottom 5:
1. Shadow of a Doubt (1943, #1572). The premise isn't a bad one, but the writing and acting feel completely unnatural. I know many people love it, and I've heard it was Hitchcock's favorite, but I just don't get it.
2. Rich and Strange (1931, #1488). I'll tell you, I just can't remember much about this movie. It's probably ranked a little low, but that's what happens to movies that never grip me enough for me to actually remember.
3. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956, #1399). I'll take the original version over this remake any day. I think it's the endlessly repeated theme of "Que Sera Sera" that doomed this movie for me. It's been at least six or seven years since I saw this movie and I'm still sick of that song.
4. Saboteur (1942, #1369). Another one that I don't remember being bad so much as just being unremarkable.
5. Rebecca (1940, #1368). I've meant for awhile to give this one another shot. When I saw it, I remember being bored, but it's been probably ten years and I feel like I might enjoy it if I watched it now. Right now it's still low on my list because of my negative memories of it, but it might jump back up if I tried watching it again.

What are your favorite and least favorite Hitchcock movies?


  1. I've actually never even heard of Rich and I'm going to have to IMDB it. Also, Rebecca, have wanted to watch that for a long time now. I really like the story and we have a miniseries version of that I enjoy but always felt a better version could be made of it...

    I really disliked Saboteur. I understand it's very much 'of it's time'. It was made during WWII, but I seem to remember there was a certain aspect of the pro-American talk they keep repeatedly throwing at us, that annoyed me...but I don't remember exactly what it was anymore. I vaguely seem to recall there’s a heavy portrayal of treason as the absolutely worse thing a person can do. *shrug* I’ve only seen it once a couple of years ago, so I don’t remember it too clearly. It’s not that I’m against America ;-), just the way the movie did it. Again, I get it was made during the WWII, but at the same time I felt the human aspect somehow wasn’t there…if that makes sense. I felt Foreign Correspondent managed to balance it somewhat better.

    There’s so many good Hitchcock movies I don’t know which are my favorite. I’m terrible at ordering them exactly but probably the five that would go up there in some order would be,
    Notorious, Spellbound, Rear Window (I love how it all takes place just using his apartment and the view from his window, so cool), To Catch a Thief and probably Lady Vanishes.
    With an honorable mention to Stage Fright which I recently watched for the first time so don’t know how it wears over time yet.
    Though I really want Strangers on a Train somewhere on there too…actually love all the ones on your list of top five a lot (plus Shadow of a Doubt ;-)), except for Rope which I don’t really know only having seen it once when I was about eight so I really have to give it another try. But my above top five on the ones I rewatch the most and enjoy the most.

    Bottom Five? Hmm…definitely Saboteur. Lifeboat (this is just in every way shape and form, not my kind of movie). Vertigo (I’m told this is a well-made movie, and a great portrayal of obsession…maybe I just don’t get obsession, but I find it really dull), I Confess and then my all time least favorite, definitely at the bottom of the list, Hitchcock; Secret Agent. This movie made me mad, and not a lot of movies do that.

    On another note, have you ever seen Hitchcock’s Mr and Mrs Smith? I always find it so odd that he directed that movie.

    1. Aw, I like Vertigo. Although I didn't until I rewatched it a few years ago. Heh.

      I haven't ever seen his Mr. and Mrs. Smith, no. I've meant to, and I'm sure I'll get around to it one of these days.

  2. Also, Psycho is terrfiying...