October 28, 2010

MRQE Rewind: The Best Films of Sir Alfred Hitchcock

The undisputed master of suspense and often considered one of the greatest directors of all time, Alfred Hitchcock directed over 60 films in his career, spanning from the silent era all the way to the end of the 60s. As you would expect from someone who was so prolific, the quality of his films can vary, but even the worst Hitchcock film is still well made and interesting, and the best rank among the greatest films ever made. Here we look at 5 of the best, but head on over to MRQE to see the full list of his best-reviewed movies.






5. Notorious (1946)
MRQE Metric: 87
A somewhat surprising but definitely deserving inclusion on the list, Notorious may not be as famous or have as many immediately recognizable scenes as films like The Birds or Dial M for Murder, but it's classic Hitchcock: a heady mix of thrills, romance, and international intrigue. Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman star as spies attempting to infiltrate a Nazi group hiding out in South America, with Claude Rains as the Nazi Bergman is forced to marry. This was Cary Grant's second film with Hitchcock after Suspicion, and while it's not as radical a departure for the actor as that film was, it's still a much darker role for someone who was mostly famous for his comedies at that point.






4. Vertigo (1958)
MRQE Metric: 89
Savaged by critics on release and considered the final nail in Hitchcock's coffin, Vertigo is now widely regarded as Hitchcock's masterpiece. Squeaky clean everyman Jimmy Stewart turned his image on it's head playing a former detective hired to trail the wife of a rich acquaintance who believes she's been possessed by a ghost. Despite his much vaunted hatred of actors (he called them cattle), Hitchcock gets an amazing performance from Stewart as he becomes consumed by obsession, his descent into obsession and madness all displayed on his face. It's quite shocking to see America's favorite boyscout become truly creepy and frightening by the film's end. It's also Hitchcock's most personal film, with the themes of obsession being quite close to the bone for the director and the story thread of Jimmy Stewart trying to remake a woman into his ideal somewhat reflects the way Hitchcock treated his actresses, who he often molded into an identical icy blond type.

MRQE Metric: 91
One of Hitchcock's lightest and most playful films, Cary Grant plays an advertising man mistaken for a spy and caught up in a series of escalating adventures and getting chased by secret agents across the country. It lacks some of the darker themes and resonances of Hitchcock's more serious films, but it's pure entertainment all the way through, full of iconic scenes like the crop duster attack and the final fight on Mount Rushmore, and Cary Grant as a hero who never stops cracking wise, loses his cool, or even really ruffles his suit, no matter what gets thrown at him.







2. Psycho (1960)
MRQE Metric: 91
After the lavish production of North by Northwest, Hitchcock decided to go back to basics with his next film, a cheap black and white suspense shocker, and accidentally created two new genres, the slasher film and the serial killer film (though Hitchcock would probably be the first to disavow himself from a lot of the crap those genres ended up producing). He stunned audiences by killing off his lead actress after 30 minutes and casting cuddly romantic lead Anthony Perkins as the twisted killer (in a role that would end up overshadowing anything else he would ever do), and created some of the most memorable scenes in film history, the most famous being, of course, the shower scene.





1. Rear Window (1954)
MRQE Metric: 95
A surprise number one, ahead of Vertigo and Psycho, Rear Window is probably Hitchcock's most minimalist film, taking place entirely in one apartment. Jimmy Stewart plays a photographer who, wheelchair bound with a broken leg, starts to spy on the neighbors in the building across from his window, and becomes convinced that one of them is a murderer. It's the Hitchcock film that most directly implicates the audience as voyeur. When the man Stewart has been spying on arrives to confront him he turns directly to the camera, as if addressing us. It's basic premise has been spoofed, paid homage to, and just plain ripped off innumerable times over the years, but the original remains a classic example of how a great director can produce suspense with just a room and a view from a window.





There's more than just the Top Five! Check out the complete list of Hitchcock's best-reviewed movies on MRQE. And, for more Halloween chills and thrills, consult our list of Cinema's Best Vampire Movies, and our comprehensive list of the Best Horror Movies from the last decade.


3 comments:

  1. Though I consider myself a part of the MRQE community, i have to disagree with your choices on a number of cases. I love all of the pictures mentioned, but there are 2 replacements I would make for certain. First i would replace Notorious with Spellbound. Though both are Ingrid Bergman at her best, and both have similar relationship tensions, Spellbound is psychologically deeper, digging past events and into the unconscious mind. To do that with a Dali design leaves me with a loss as to a better dreamlike scene in film history.
    The other switch i would make is Vertigo for Rope. this is a controversial one i am sure, but when dealing with phobias, it is even more powerful to force the audience into one, than to explore the phobias of a character. The single room setting of Rope is so claustrophobic, that the discovery seems like a relief.
    Anyway, i love all of your choices as well, and hope that readers watch them all.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Though I consider myself a part of the MRQE community, i have to disagree with your choices on a number of cases. I love all of the pictures mentioned, but there are 2 replacements I would make for certain. First i would replace Notorious with Spellbound. Though both are Ingrid Bergman at her best, and both have similar relationship tensions, Spellbound is psychologically deeper, digging past events and into the unconscious mind. To do that with a Dali design leaves me with a loss as to a better dreamlike scene in film history.
    The other switch i would make is Vertigo for Rope. this is a controversial one i am sure, but when dealing with phobias, it is even more powerful to force the audience into one, than to explore the phobias of a character. The single room setting of Rope is so claustrophobic, that the discovery seems like a relief.
    Anyway, i love all of your choices as well, and hope that readers watch them all.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Louis vuitton sent their fall/winter 2012/2013 collection down the Milan Fashion Week runway today and it featured a much darker, more gothic and vampire-like color palette than what was shown by the iconic design house for fall 2011. One year 
    ago louis vuitton Handbags showed bright colors and blocked them together, helping to explode the current color blocking trend. For fall 2012, Gucci moved away from the trend they started and let black rule the runway.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...