Half a Dozen Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock was one of the first film directors to become universally recognised. Before Hitchcock, most cinema audiences didn't talk about directors as much as they did about actors, probably because it was the actors who the audience really wanted to see. But that changed when Hitchcock began to appear in the trailers of his movies. The director would actually speak directly to the audience, and he often played cameos in his films. Plus, he self-hosted his long-running TV show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Hitchcock films have a distinct style. They are usually crime thrillers, quite often with twists at the end. Hitchcock pioneered the suspense genre, used a lot of point of view camera shots, and injected his own personal fears into his films, which is why you always know a Hitchcock film when you see one. Hitchcock is called an 'auteur' meaning that he's identified as being the author or artist who created the films. Making movies is a collaborative art with writers, storyboard artists, camera directors and producers, but Hitchcock gave his films such a strong signature it was clear to audiences and critics alike that he had complete creative control, and that the films were definitely 'his'.

 

Hitchcock made over 50 films in his career, and to this day he's inspired film students all around the world. All of the today's famous film-makers, from Steven Spielberg to Christopher Nolan confess to being massively influenced by Hitchcock films. Here is our Top 6 list of the best movies Hitchcock ever made:

 

#6 The Birds 1963

The Birds has the kind of plot that sounds like a B-movie, a bunch of birds attack people, that was somehow it made into a big budget A-movie by a critically claimed director. The bird attacks are sometimes unconvincing, and the blue screen shots may suffer from the early technology, but Hitchcock manages to build the suspense to such heights that the film actually works. The Birds is not everyone's favourite film, but it certainly has a legacy and therefore deserves its spot on any list of Hitchcock films.

 

#5 Dial M for Murder 1954

One of the first films to be shot in 3D, Dial M for Murder is basically about a man who wants to murder his wife and he blackmails somebody to commit the deed for him. A detailed plan is set up, but it all goes terribly wrong. The plot is so simple yet somehow so intriguing it makes us ask ourselves if we were attempting to murder someone, what would we do in the same situation? The climax is obvious, but Hitchcock manages to string us along and distract us from the simple facts that we don't feel cheated at all.

 

#4 Rope 1948

Rope was Hitchcock's first colour film. Two guys kill someone just for fun, hide his body inside a wooden trunk and then invite guests over who are oblivious to the fact that there's a dead body in the room. They even have dinner on top of the trunk. Rope is an excellent example of Hitchcock's dark sense of humour and his expertise at suspense. The tension is unbearable as we watch, biting our nails, and wait for someone to discover the corpse. The entire film takes place in real time and in one long, continuous shot, like a rope, which is also the murder weapon. But don't let this fun fact overshadow how great the film actually is.

 

#3 Rear Window 1954

Jimmy Stewart plays a photographer used to taking pictures in exotic and dangerous places. His girlfriend, played by Grace Kelly, is the complete opposite. She's into fashion and culinary art. The two are apparently mismatched, and the film shows them having their problems. But if there's one thing that helps a couple bond again, it's solving a murder. Stewart is healing a broken leg and unable to walk he passes his time by spying on his neighbours. Pretty soon he suspects one of them of committing a murder. At first, no one believes him, but he works out all the clues and convinces everyone he's right. Rear Window has a relatively straightforward plot without any real twists at the end. What makes this film great is the acting and the dialogue. Plus the fact that the camera never leaves the room, even when something is happening all the way across the street.

 

#2 Vertigo 1958

A strong contender for the number 1 spot, Vertigo is another film starring James Stewart. This time he plays Scotty, a police detective with acrophobia, an irrational fear of heights. One of his fellow police officers dies trying to save him from a rooftop, and Stewart retires from the force with an unhealthy guilt complex. As a favour for an old friend, he accepts one last job to watch over his friend's suicidal wife. Stewart desperately falls in love with the wife, and in one nail-biting scene, he tries to save her from the top of a steeple where he once again is gripped by acrophobia. Vertigo doesn't start off with a bang. There are extended scenes without dialogue, and it doesn't get going until after the scene on the steeple where the film's real power unfolds and sucks us right in. Vertigo made the news again recently when some critics called to have it take the place of Citizen Kane as the best movie of all time.

 

#1 Psycho 1960

Before Halloween, before Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Psycho was the first of its kind. A  psychopathic thriller with a body count, Psycho is all about the twists. To say that the film about Norman Bates, played by Anthony Perkins, has an unpredictable plot would be a heck of an understatement. Janet Leigh is supposedly the star of the film, which is what audiences in 1960 expected, but once she checks into Bates Motel, events take a pretty drastic turn. We're sure most of you know what happens next, but for those of you who have never seen Psycho—no spoilers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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