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Poll: What is your favorite Hitchcock film?

What is your favorite Hitchcock film?

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#1 MattPage

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Posted 20 October 2003 - 04:18 AM

We were due to have a Hitchcock night on Friday featuring the 39 Steps and Rear Window. Unfortunately despite buying if off ebay ages ago Rear Window still hadn’t arrived. Fortunately I had prepared for such an eventuality and rang the local library to confirm that the one hey had out back was still available, so the lady on the phone went and checked, and then proceeded to put the video in some obscure place so that when I went in 90 minutes later it was completely lost & unfindable. Fortunately Mel saved the day (and my blood pressure after a fruitless hunt round town) by both finding a copy of Psycho and being willing to see it (despite my concerns as she’s a bit sensitive to some stuff) and we were able to go ahead and entertain our friends, largely inline with what had been promised.

Next day guess what arrived in the post…

Having been so keen to see it a number of us got together after church and sat and watched that too. A veritable “Hitchcock Weekend”. Anyway all this brings me to ask (having now watched 5 hitchcock films) what are your favourites and why?

For me I guess I’d order them as so…

1 - Psycho
2 - The Birds
3 - Rear Window
4 - Vertigo
5 - 39 Steps

3 & 4 I’m still not sure on the order on. I found the middle section of Vertigo compelling when watching it, but once Hitchcock gives the game away to focus in the obsessional nature of it, I have less interest in it. I appreciated it the second time, but as I find myself wanting to watch Rear Window again almost instantly. Psycho I found compelling and great camerawork, but I was in the minority of those in the group, in fact most preferred 39 Steps – I’m put off paradoxically by both my familiarity with the story (I watched the 70s version not long ago) and Hitchcocks infidelity to it – though I still enjoyed it.

The Birds I watched a few years ago, but still sticks in the memory (particularly when a seagul swooped on me on holiday this year and practically took the food out of my mouth).

How about everyone else?


Matt

#2 Diane

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Posted 20 October 2003 - 09:09 AM

One of my favorites is the quieter Shadow of a Doubt, where a killer visits his family (including his neice, who practically worships him) in a small, idyllic town. Watching this film almost feels like watching a play, and the slower pace allows you to get to know the characters more. The cast, including Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotton, are all top-notch.

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#3 Nick Alexander

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Posted 20 October 2003 - 09:15 AM

Fave five:

1 - Vertigo -- shot to the top after a recent viewing... needs to be seen twice to fully get its rhythms. Of Hitch's films, the one with the story that sears in the head the most.
2 - Psycho -- the one that revolutionized cinema, and did it on the cheap.
3 - Notorious -- the casting is perfect, the character studies are three dimensional and you really root for all these characters.
4 - Rebecca -- the biggest surprise to me--the one film that Hitch got nominated for Best Director, his first US film, and the most romantic, and yet, oddly eerie.
5 - To Catch A Thief -- the one with the most style over substance, but, what style!

Nick

#4 mike_h

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Posted 20 October 2003 - 09:54 AM

Nick, you are so right on that top five, though I think I would stick "North by Northwest" in place of "Notorious," though maybe it's just because I haven't seen "Notorious" (on my notorious list of classics I haven't yet seen). Rebecca is my all-time favorite Hitchcock.

#5 Nick Alexander

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Posted 20 October 2003 - 10:06 AM

Call me "Weird" (see sig), but North by Northwest does nothing for me. From the very get-go, I cannot get into its convoluted plot, and the complete lack of danger that Cary Grant seems to be in, as he's quipping all these one-liners throughout. Sorry. Perhaps it will get points for style, but "To Catch a Thief" has that trumped.

Go see Notorious. It is less gothic than "Rebecca", but is simultaneously Vertigo-cynical, Rear Window-suspensful and Rebecca-romantic. It's a great story, well told.

For me, other great Hitchcocks I have yet to see "Shadow of a Doubt", "Strangers on a Train", "I Confess!" (the Catholic in me), and "Marnie." My wife has yet to see "Psycho" in its entirity, and I cannot wait to spring this on her around Halloween.

Nick

#6 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 20 October 2003 - 10:59 AM

I think Rear Window and Psycho are the only Hitchcock films that I have seen more than once, and it's been so long since the Hitchcock retrospective at the Cinematheque several years ago that I don't think I remember the films well enough to rank them.

Nick Alexander wrote:
: Call me "Weird" (see sig), but North by Northwest does nothing for me.

Yeah, I don't remember being all that impressed with this one the one time I saw it, either.

I also didn't get what all the fuss was about when I caught the restored Vertigo a few years ago. It didn't help that I saw it in a theatre with an audience, since there were a few things in there that apparently tend to make modern audiences laugh, and not in the way that you suspect Hitchcock would have wanted them to laugh -- Hitchcock's films do date themselves, at times.

: . . . "I Confess!" (the Catholic in me) . . .

I, of course, had to see this one because it's the only film Hitchcock made in Canada, and in 1995 or thereabouts, Robert LePage (co-star of Jesus of Montreal, director of Possible Worlds and The Far Side of the Moon) made his directorial debut with Le Confessional, a movie that takes place partly in Quebec City while Hitchcock happens to be making his movie there. (Apparently one of the child actors in Hitchcock's film went on to become a news anchor, so there is one sequence in LePage's film in which Hitchcock auditions child actors, and the camera goes for a close-up on this one girl as she reads her line, and then we cut to the modern-day news anchor on TV in the present-day part of the story.)

#7 Russell Lucas (unregistered)

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Posted 20 October 2003 - 11:10 AM

My top ten:

Rear Window
Vertigo
Strangers on a Train
North by Northwest
Psycho
Rebecca
The Birds
Marnie
Rope
The Man Who Knew Too Much

#8 BethR

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Posted 20 October 2003 - 11:27 AM

Rear Window--love the POV stuff, the interplay between Stewart & Kelly, and the suspense of the final scenes, and the structure of the whole thing

Marnie--the combination of bogus psychosexual mystery romance is irresistible, as sold by Hitchcock, Hedren, and Connery

Rebecca--a classic

I've never seen Psycho from beginning to end. The others I acknowledge intellectually as masterpieces of suspense, but I just don't enjoy suspense that much, so none of them are my favorites.

#9 Christian

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Posted 20 October 2003 - 11:29 AM

Nick Alexander wrote:
: Call me "Weird" (see sig), but North by Northwest does nothing for me.

Yeah, I don't remember being all that impressed with this one the one time I saw it, either.



You're both crazy. "North by Northwest" is Hitch's all-around best entertainment. I love it more every time I see it. Plus, Eva Marie Saint is a total babe in that film (my motivations have been exposed!).

I also didn't get what all the fuss was about when I caught the restored Vertigo a few years ago. It didn't help that I saw it in a theatre with an audience, since there were a few things in there that apparently tend to make modern audiences laugh, and not in the way that you suspect Hitchcock would have wanted them to laugh -- Hitchcock's films do date themselves, at times.



I had the same experience when I saw the restored "Vertigo," but that wasn't my first exposure to the film. I find it difficult not to rank that as Hitchcock's best film, but the darkness and obsessiveness that appeals to so many critics is less appealing to me these days than it once was. Like others, if I had a choice, I'd rather rewatch "Rear Window," which is my favorite Hitchcock film.

So I've named the "best," the most entertaining, and my favorite. It's so hard to pick just one! And I haven't mentioned some of the others cited above, all of which are outstanding:

Shadow of a Doubt
Strangers on a Train
(both of which I'd watch before)
The Thirty-Nine Steps
The Birds
Psycho

I tried years ago to watch "To Catch a Thief" and just couldn't get into it. My wife recently received the DVD as a present, so maybe I'll watch it next.

I didn't care at all for "Frenzy."

#10 Alvy

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Posted 20 October 2003 - 12:02 PM

The five that have a permanent place in my affections are (in order of preference):
Rear Window
Vertigo
The Trouble with Harry
North by Northwest
Rope

The first two are very hard to choose between, especially as my favourite actor is the star of both.

The Trouble with Harry is one I find absolutely enchanting, though it tends to get dissed by the critics. Everything about it--the macabre, ironic humour, the autumnal New England scenery, Bernard Herrmann's rustic score--captivates me. I have a stage adaptation in the pipeline, probably based more on Hitchcock's version than Jack Trevor Story's original novella, which is proving a tad disappointing.

Rope is another one that gets short shrift with the critics, but again, I find it mesmerizing. The way the set is lit as dusk falls over the NY skyline lends the film a lot of atmosphere, I think. Again, the source material was a rather mediocre, quaint stage thriller, and the film is a great improvement on that.

North by Northwest speaks for itself.

As runners-up, I might mention the following:
Psycho
The Birds
The 39 Steps
The Lady Vanishes
Marnie

To be honest, Psycho is a great film, but I overwatched it so much when I first discovered Hitch that I can rarely muster up the enthusiasm to watch it these days.

Of the American films (1940--), there are none I have yet to see (oh, I tell a lie, the two non-thrillers, Mr and Mrs Smith and Under Capricorn I haven't seen). The only one that totally bored me was Topaz, which I remember only as an incoherent mess.

#11 Anders

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Posted 20 October 2003 - 12:05 PM

You're both crazy. "North by Northwest" is Hitch's all-around best entertainment. I love it more every time I see it.



I'm with you Christian. North By Northwest is a brilliant film. One of my alltime favorites for certain. The movie developed so many of the elements of the spy thriller that I can't help but have a goofy grin when watching it. Along with To Catch A Theif (Cary Grant is just a cool guy), North By Northwest is one of Hitchcock's purest entertainment films and I love 'em both.

That said, Rear Window stands out easily as my favorite Hitchcock film. It's brilliant.

I also think that Vertigo and Psycho are brilliant films.

Just for the record, the Hitchcock films I've seen are:

    Rear Window
    Vertigo
    North By Northwest
    Pyscho
    To Catch A Thief
    Rebecca
    Rope
    Marnie


#12 Diane

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Posted 20 October 2003 - 12:06 PM

Oh my! Frenzy is one film that I wish I *hadn't* seen.

Matt, I think my top 5 list would be the same as yours, except for my already-mentioned love for Shadow of a Doubt. I can't make a call on 39 Steps, never having seen it.

Diane

#13 Ron Reed

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Posted 20 October 2003 - 02:25 PM

Call me "Weird" (see sig), but North by Northwest does nothing for me. ...


Call me even weirder, but for the most part, Hitchcock does nothing for me.

I find his films clinical, detatched, cerebral. This would be a problem in any genre - it's a real problem when the genres are horror or suspense, where the audience's emotional response is central. Indeed, both genres more or less name themselves after the feelings they aim to evoke in their audience.

PSYCHO affected me, and parts of THE BIRDS - while other parts of THE BIRDS just seemed plain dumb. Un-thought-through or careless - particularly damning charges to level at a film-maker who prided himself on the meticulous care he took in constructing his films.

He's celebrated for his meticulous care: I think it's the big problem. A film-maker I know celebrates the fact that every single camera angle and facial expression was planned in advance by The Master, after which it was only a matter of manipulating the cameras and the meat puppets to capture the images already frozen in Hitchcock's mind. As a director, actor and playwright, I've learned to seriously mistrust that sort of controlling, obsessive instinct to pre-plan and calculate effects: if you don't remain alive to the process of rehearsal, the discoveries that emerge collaboratively instead of in your own brain (or indeed, half your brain - the left half), the work rarely comes alive.

Clearly, lots of people respond to Hitchcock's stimuli exactly the way he fore-ordained. Can't argue that. But to these eyes, the Emperor of Suspense has no clothes.

#14 Josh Hurst

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Posted 20 October 2003 - 02:32 PM

I've enjoyed most of the Hitchcock films that I've seen (though there are several that I haven't seen, and I wasn't too thrilled with Frenzy or North by Northwest), but my ultimate favorite is Rear Window, for the reasons already mentioned by others on this thread-- structure, performances, cinematography, etc.

And Alvy, good call on Rope. That's one of Hitch's finest films, in my opinion, and it's criminally underappreciated.

#15 Thom

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Posted 20 October 2003 - 03:19 PM

I have many favorite Hitchcock movies but I am only going to mention rope here. It needs to be separated from the pack. The film feels more like a play with the 15-minute scenes and these long scenes are done so well. I also appreciate the biting sarcasm in this film.

#16 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 20 October 2003 - 03:56 PM

Ron wrote:
: Call me even weirder, but for the most part, Hitchcock does nothing for me.
: I find his films clinical, detatched, cerebral.

I dunno, sometimes this is a good thing, sometimes not, and I'm sure one could point to moments of genuine emotion in his films. FWIW, I really like what whatshisface said on the Kill Bill thread about Tarantino and Hitchcock both being very stylish and kinda empty. Although in Tarantino's case, I would argue there, too, that he isn't quite as empty as he seems.

#17 Russell Lucas (unregistered)

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Posted 20 October 2003 - 03:59 PM

whatshisface=Alan

I can't go for that comparison of Hitchcock to Tarantino, though, unless I come around to the idea that genre filmmaking is actually the highest and most transcendent form of art. There's way too much psychology and morality present in the best of Hitchcock to lay so much stress on his stylistic impulses.

#18 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 20 October 2003 - 04:13 PM

Russell Lucas wrote:
: There's way too much psychology and morality present in the best of
: Hitchcock to lay so much stress on his stylistic impulses.

Actually, I think the psychology is one of the reasons Hitchcock leaves some people cold. Freud is so passé, and I suspect he never appealed all that much to those of a more Romantic disposition.

#19 Russell Lucas (unregistered)

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Posted 20 October 2003 - 04:16 PM

You're right about that. To that end, if "coldness" or neutrality is the touchstone, it seems to me that Hitchcock and Kubrick is a better comparison.

BTW, as you've mentioned getting review copies of books before, did you get a copy of the new Hitchcock biography recently released?

#20 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 20 October 2003 - 04:18 PM

Russell Lucas wrote
: To that end, if "coldness" or neutrality is the touchstone, it seems to me
: that Hitchcock and Kubrick is a better comparison.

I could see that.

: BTW, as you've mentioned getting review copies of books before, did
: you get a copy of the new Hitchcock biography recently released?

Nope.