77For the For Love of Film Blogathon this week, today we’re counting down our seventh and sixth favorite Alfred Hitchcock films along with a brief note on why they are important to each of our contributors (Wesley Lovell, Peter J. Patrick, Tripp Burton) here at Cinema Sight.
Foreign Correspondent (Wesley Lovell)
In his second American-made feature, Hitchcock crafted a compelling and inventive espionage thriller that is often eclipsed by his other works, but deserves no less acclaim. Joel McCrea plays a journalist sent overseas to cover the growing crisis leading up to World War II. The film has all of Hitch’s classic thriller earmarks, establishing his auteurist credentials, a kind of foreshadowing of his later career.
Spellbound (Peter J. Patrick)
With or without the Salvador Dali designed dream sequence, with or without the climactic color gunshot in this black-and-white classic, this would still be a whopper thanks to he performances of Gregory Peck as an amnesiac impersonating a noted psychiatrist and Ingrid Bergman as a real shrink who believes in him.
Vertigo (Tripp Burton)
Vertigo is Hitchcock’s most psychologically complex film, and because of that it is also one of his darkest and least optimistic films. With the help of some excellent lead performances though, and Bernard Hermann’s masteful score, the film tells its tales of intrigue and deception with a beautiful elegance that is missing form many of Hichcock’s other films. Its characters may not be as engaging as his others, and the emotions may not be as evident, but it is his most cerebral masterpiece and a textbook lesson in near-perfect filmmaking.
North by Northwest (Wesley Lovell)
You can’t leave North by Northwest and not be dumbstruck by it all. Here is a tightly crafted spy thriller putting an everyman type (Cary Grant) into a dangerous game that he’s all too capable of handling even if he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Grant is affable and ably supported by Eva Marie Saint and James Mason. It’s one of those iconic pictures whose various scenes (for example scaling the face of Mount Rushmore, meeting his absent paramour in a sparse grove of tall, white-barked trees, or being chased by a crop duster in the middle of nowhere) have become so ingrained that you can’t not think of them when recounting Hitch’s best work.
Shadow of a Doubt (Peter J. Patrick)
Hitchcock’s alleged own favorite film is a gem worth discovering and re-discovering. Not everything in bucolic small town America is as wholesome as it seems as serial killer Joseph Cotten comes to visit sister Patricia Collinge, brother-in-law Henry Travers and niece Teresa Wright, especially when Wright begins to suspect the truth about her beloved uncle.
Rebecca (Tripp Burton)
Rebecca is the only Hitchcock film to win the Oscar for Best Picture, which seems fitting. It is one of his most “traditional” films too, a ghost story and a love story laced together in a period costume piece with lovely set pieces and “important” actors like Laurence Olivier. At no time, though, does the film feel dusty or old fashioned, as so many period pieces of the day do. It is a vibrant film, with emotions boiling right where they need to and a gothic background perfectly balanced to give the film only a hint of the fantastic and a hint of the realistic. It may not be seen as one of Hitchcock’s crowning achievements, but it is an immensly watchable, complex masterpiece and one of the greatest Best Pictures of all time.