Wednesday, April 26, 2006


by Jackrabbit Slim

My next Netflix film festival will be Alfred Hitchcock films, mostly from the Alfred Hitchcock Signature Collection. Most of them I have not seen yet. The three I have seen are the three I'm starting off with: North by Northwest, Dial M for Murder and Strangers on a Train. I viewed North by Northwest yesterday, and geez what an entertaining film.

The others upcoming will be I Confess, Foreign Correspondent, The Wrong Man, Stage Fright, Suspicion and Mr. and Mrs. Smith (not the one with Brangelina). Though it's not part of this particular collection, I'm also renting Notorious just for fun. It's my choice for favorite among Hitchcock's oeuvre.

So, what is everyone's favorite Hitchcock film?


Blogger Brian said...

Probably either North by Northwest or The 39 Steps, with the ackowledgment that I really ought to watch Notorious again.

I always felt that Hitchcock was vaguely overrated, in that as good as he could be, he was also very lazy in a lot of aspects: too many narrative shortcuts, indifferent work with actors, etc., even in his best films. It seems that a lot of critics tend to ignore this kind of thing, or in some cases even find it endearing, but to me it's always been a mark against him.

4/26/2006 01:30:00 PM  
Blogger Jackrabbit Slim said...

Hitchcock is also a director that directors love, I think it's because he accomplished what they wish they could--an incredible body of work, almost total autonomy, and fame bigger than most of the actors in his picture. He was also, as Brian points out, more gifted technically than in regards to story or acting.

4/26/2006 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

North By Northwest, Strangers On A Train and Vertigo. Long time since I saw 39 Steps, and don't think I saw the whole thing, but I remember liking it a lot.

Rear Window is great cinematically, and has an amazing opening sequence, but the story and tension don't hold up as well.

And Psycho is just too much of a pop-cultural phenomenon to appreciate by itself nowadays. It's like watching Empire Strikes Back with my little sister. The whole "I am your father" bit was spoiled a long time ago.

4/26/2006 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger jaydro said...

Vertigo is my favorite. It is to Jimmy Stewart movies what The Searchers is to John Wayne, and that kind of thing totally sucks me in. Lately I've been trying to go back and watch all his early British films--it's fascinating to see certain themes explored so early in his career that would later be hallmarks of his most popular work.

What I admire most about Hitchcock is his ability to ignore what should be superfluous in order to build a movie that plays like an amusement park ride. While this caused him to not be taken that seriously for much of his career, he saw it as the highest attainment of the art of filmmaking.

I think I would disagree with Brian about Hitchcock's laziness--I think he worked very hard to be able to not get bogged down (as he probably saw it) in those very things that some might view as deficiencies.

In a way his films came to exist in a part of the movie universe all their own, in which normal standards of criticism seemingly don't apply. The only apt comparison I can make is to the James Bond series, and one could say that the very structure of the Bond films grew directly out of North by Northwest.

4/26/2006 06:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Lora said...

One of my favorites is the original The Man Who Knew Too Much. It's definitely early Hitchcock, but that's not a bad thing. The performances are excellent-Peter Lorre is especially good. I much prefer this film to the remake with Doris Day and Jimmy Stewart, although I love watching Doris scream "Que Sera Sera" up the staircase.
I also like North by Northwest immensely, and count the kiss on the train as one of my favorite liplocks on film...which is odd, since Hitchcock was not quite the romantic.
My Aunt Shirley once wrote a letter to Hitchcock, asking about a particular scene she found confusing. His response began something like, "My dear girl, it's obvious that you weren't watching very carefully." That made me like him all the more.

4/26/2006 09:48:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I am ridiculously under-watched when it comes to Hitchcock. I have seen Psycho and The Birds, that's it. I loved both of them, but I don't think I've seen enough of his films to say I have a favorite. I also loved the Hitchcock TV show when I was little.

I'm working on getting around to some of the better Hitchcock films, but when you have over 100 movies in your Netflix queue it takes a while to get to all of them. This weekend I have Ripley's Game, Unleashed, and an MST 3000 flick (Boggy Creek 2).

4/27/2006 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Jackrabbit Slim said...

Chris, I hear you. I have just under the limit in my queue (which is 500 movies). I put the Hitchcock movies in there months ago and they're just now rising to the top.

4/27/2006 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger Professor Wagstaff said...

I watched Hitch's final film 'Family Plot' tonight for the first time in years.

It's certainly not Hitch at his best as the film lacks the punch and tautness that he could've produced in its prime. One of the big setpieces (when the two heroes are in a car that they can't stop because the brakes have been tampered with) looks technically quite shoddy by today's standards.

Having said that, the film almost is made more enjoyable by not being intense and instead being a laid-back affair.

It's got a pretty good script and a good cast to compliment it. No real big names but lots of good actors who prospered in the 1970s (Devane, Dern, Black, Harris) but seemed to fade away once the 1980s came around.

As for my favourite Hitchcock film, it would go to 'The Lady Vanishes'.

4/28/2006 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger AH Films said...

Very interesting comments by everyone. You all sure know your Hitchcock! You should post your favorites on Alfred Hitchcock Films

5/25/2006 01:49:00 AM  

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