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I want to be remembered as a man who entertained millions through the technique of film.

—Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980)

I continue to be shocked and amazed at myself for getting through the entirety of Hitchcock’s oeuvre in just over a month. Granted, I relied heavily on the fact that many of these films were not new to me, but still, it was more movie watching than I usually do in a whole year. Now that I’ve recovered somewhat, I thought I would post some final thoughts and recommendations.

For me, it was particularly interesting to see how my tastes have changed over the years, and what moved up and what moved down in my personal rankings.

I still love The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief, and North by Northwest, but found some of the longer films such as Foreign Correspondent, Rebecca, and The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) really dragged when viewed next to his faster paced movies. They are still great films and I would recommend them to any first-time viewer, but I don’t think they hold up to repeat viewing as well as I would have thought. Psycho, on the other hand, is so much more than the shower scene that I remembered.

Suspicion and Notorious certainly lost the romance I saw in them as a teenager (which, granted, makes me able to enjoy them on a whole other level), while I am now better able to appreciate the nuances of a film such as Lifeboat. More people should really see that one, along with Saboteur, Strangers on a Train, Dial “M” for Murder, and The Trouble with Harry, all of which I was happy to revisit.

Finally, I didn’t think there would be too much to interest me in the earlier pictures I hadn’t seen, but I enjoyed a number of the silents as well as Murder!, Secret Agent, and even Waltzes from Vienna. In fact, I have a new interest in silent pictures based on this project and would love suggestions for further viewing. I already know I want to check out Erich von Stroheim’s Greed, since I recently read McTeague and loved it. But I would especially love to know of any personal favorites you have beyond the classics.

It’s hard to go wrong with Hitchcock, but, if you want to explore his work and don’t know where to start, pick a list below that matches your interests.

Hitchcock 2.Lodger 0

The Top Ten to Watch
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927)
The 39 Steps (1935)
The Lady Vanishes (1938)
Rebecca (1940)
Notorious (1946)
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Rear Window (1954)
Vertigo (1958)
North by Northwest (1959)
Psycho (1960)

Top Five Adaptations (Read it, then watch it!)
The Birds, from the short story “The Birds” by Daphne du Maurier
Rebecca, from Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Sabotage, from The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad
The 39 Steps, from The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan
Young and Innocent, from A Shilling for Candles by Josephine Tey

Top Five Murder Scenes
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Psycho (1960)
Torn Curtain (1966)
Topaz (1969)
Frenzy (1972)

He’s got a client who shot his wife in the head six times. Six times, can you imagine it? I mean, even twice would be overdoing it, don’t you think?

—Cathy Brenner, The Birds

Top Five Not-Quite-Perfect Murders
Rope (1948)
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Dial “M” for Murder (1954)
Rear Window (1954)
Vertigo (1958)

You’re not supposed to bury bodies whenever you find them. It makes people suspicious.

—Sam Marlowe, The Trouble with Harry

Top Ten for Romance
The Farmer’s Wife (1928)
The 39 Steps (1935)
The Lady Vanishes (1938)
Foreign Correspondent (1940)
Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941)
Saboteur (1942)
To Catch a Thief (1955)
The Trouble with Harry (1955)
North by Northwest (1959)
Family Plot (1976)

—Can I help?
—Only by going away.
—No, no, no, no. My father always taught me, never desert a lady in trouble. He even carried that as far as marrying Mother.

—Iris and Gilbert in The Lady Vanishes

Michael Redgrave and Margaret Lockwood in The Lady Vanishes

Michael Redgrave and Margaret Lockwood in The Lady Vanishes

Top Five Music Scores
Rear Window (1954)
The Trouble with Harry (1955)
Vertigo (1958)
North by Northwest (1959)
Psycho (1960)

Top Five for Music Lovers
Waltzes from Vienna (1933)
The Lady Vanishes (1938)
Rear Window (1954)
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
The Wrong Man (1956)

Top Five Hitchcock Cameos
On the subway in Blackmail (1929)
In a weight-loss newspaper ad in Lifeboat (1944)
Sitting stoically next to Cary Grant on a bus in To Catch a Thief (1955)
Missing a bus at the end of the credits in North by Northwest (1959)
Walking his dogs out of the pet store in The Birds (1963)

Hitchcock Cameo Catch

Top Five MacGuffins
The thirty-nine steps in The 39 Steps (1935)
Clause 27 in Foreign Correspondent (1940)
The uranium ore in Notorious (1946)
The $40,000 in Psycho (1960)
The mathematical formula in Torn Curtain (1966)

Top Five Nastiest Mothers
Easy Virtue (1927)
Notorious (1946)
Psycho (1960)
The Birds (1963)
Marnie (1964)

A boy’s best friend is his mother.

—Norman Bates, Psycho

Top Five Wrong Men
The 39 Steps (1935)
Young and Innocent (1938)
Saboteur (1942)
North by Northwest (1959)
Frenzy (1972)

Now you listen to me, I’m an advertising man, not a red herring. I’ve got a job, a secretary, a mother, two ex-wives and several bartenders that depend upon me, and I don’t intend to disappoint them all by getting myself ‘slightly’ killed.

—Roger Thornhill, North by Northwest

Five with Knives (Why use guns when knives will do?)
Blackmail (1929)
Sabotage (1936)
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
North by Northwest (1959)
Psycho (1960)

Anny Ondra in Blackmail

Anny Ondra gets to the point in Blackmail

Five Fingers à la Hitchcock (Why use knives when strangulation will do?)
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927)
Young and Innocent (1938)
Rope (1948)
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Frenzy (1972)

—The pastries are light as air.
—Germaine has very sensitive hands, an exceedingly light touch.
—Yes, I can tell.
—She strangled a German general once… without a sound.

—John Robie and Mr. Hughson in To Catch a Thief

Five with Blondes
All the victims in The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927)
Alice in Blackmail (1929)
Margot in Dial “M” for Murder (1954)
Madeleine in Vertigo (1958)
Marnie in Marnie (1964)

Blondes make the best victims. They’re like virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints.

—Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980)

Robert Cummings and Grace Kelly in Dial M for Murder. I covet both the dress and the bar.

Grace Kelly in Dial M for Murder. I covet both the dress and the bar.

Five with Villains You Love to Hate
Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca (1940)
Leopoldine Konstantin as Mme Sebastian in Notorious (1946)
Marlene Dietrich as Charlotte Inwood in Stage Fright (1950)
Raymond Burr as Lars Thorwald in Rear Window (1954)
James Mason as Phillip Vandamm in North by Northwest (1959)

Marlene Dietrich as Charlotte Inwood in Stage Fright

Marlene Dietrich as Charlotte Inwood in Stage Fright

Five with Villains You Hate to Love
Joseph Cotton as Uncle Charlie in Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Walter Slezak as Willy, the German, in Lifeboat (1944)
Robert Walker as Bruno in Strangers on a Train (1951)
Ray Milland as Tony in Dial “M” for Murder (1954)
Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates in Psycho (1960)

Joseph Cotton as Uncle Charlie in Shadow of a Doubt (with Teresa Wright)

Joseph Cotton as Uncle Charlie in Shadow of a Doubt

Top Ten Staircase Moments
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927)
Number Seventeen (1932)
Waltzes from Vienna (1933)
Suspicion (1941)
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Notorious (1946)
Vertigo (1958)
Psycho (1960)
Frenzy (1972)
Family Plot (1976)

Barbara Harris winking to the camera at the close of Family Plot, Hitchcock's final film.

Barbara Harris winking to the camera at the close of Family Plot, Hitchcock’s final film.

Top Ten with Trains
Blackmail (1929)
Number Seventeen (1932)
The 39 Steps (1935)
Secret Agent (1936)
The Lady Vanishes (1938)
Suspicion (1941)
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Strangers on a Train (1951)
North by Northwest (1959)
Marnie (1964)

Five with High Anxiety
Saboteur (1942)
Rear Window (1954)
To Catch a Thief (1955)
Vertigo (1958)
North by Northwest (1959)

Five with Sinister Residences
House No. 17 in Number Seventeen (1932)
Jamaica Inn in Jamaica Inn (1939)
Manderley in Rebecca (1940)
The Flusky mansion in Under Capricorn (1949)
The Bates Motel in Psycho (1960)

Hitchcock6.Psycho

Five with Theater Violence
Murder! (1930)
The 39 Steps (1935)
Sabotage (1936)
Saboteur (1942)
Stage Fright (1950)

Five with Birds
Sabotage (1936)
Young and Innocent (1938)
Foreign Correspondent (1940)
Psycho (1960)
The Birds (1963)

Five with Horses
The Skin Game (1931)
Suspicion (1941)
Notorious (1946)
Under Capricorn (1949)
Marnie (1964)

Sean Connery and Tippi Hedren in Marnie

Sean Connery and Tippi Hedren in Marnie

And that’s a wrap.

For previous posts in this Film 101 series, click below:
Alfred Hitchcock: Cultural Icon
Hitchcock I: Sound and Silence
Hitchcock II: The British Talkies
Hitchcock III: Vintage Hollywood
Hitchcock IV: The Master of Suspense

Happy Hitchcock!

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