Alfred Hitchcock is one of my favorite directors, and whenever I'm in the mood for a stylish mix of suspense, terror, and perhaps a delicious dash of romance, his films have never failed to entertain and fascinate me. There are so many wonderful choices I found it difficult to decide, but heres a list of ten of my favorites:
1. 'Vertigo' (1958)
Scottie Ferguson (Jimmy Stewart) is hired to follow Madeleine (Kim Novak), an icy blonde. He falls in love with her, but she mysteriously dies. Later, Ferguson meets Judy (also played by Novak), who reminds him of Madeleine. Vertigo
is unsettling, but I admire Hitchcock's exploration of a man's perverse compulsion to transform a woman into what he wants her to be.
2. 'Rear Window' (1954)
Confined to his apartment due to an injury, a photographer (James Stewart) sees things indicating his neighbor is a murderer. Aided by his girlfriend (Grace Kelly) and his nurse, he tries to figure out what's going on. My favorite line is when Grace Kelly's character pulls a flimsy nightgown out of her purse and says, "A preview of coming attractions."
3. 'North by Northwest' (1959)Executive Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is wrongly accused of murder and becomes an innocent man on the run, along the way falling for an icy blonde. Together they try to stop the diabolical Philip Vandamm from getting government secrets out of the country. My favorite scene is where Thornhill is in the middle of nowhere and is suddenly chased by a low-flying airplane.
4. 'Psycho' (1960) Psycho
is a masterwork of suspense and horror. In my opinion, murderous psychos don't get any scarier than Norman Bates. The shower scene has some of the most terrifying footage in movie history. I doubt that I'm the only woman who hesitates to check into a motel alone since seeing the film. My favorite line: "A boy's best friend is his mother."
5. 'Rebecca' (1940)Rebecca
is a gothic romance about a young woman (Joan Fontaine) who marries a widower (Laurence Olivier) and goes to live with him at his vast estate. This is one of my favorites because Hitchcock brilliantly suffuses the film with an air of mystery and dread as the young woman gradually discovers the circumstances surrounding the death of the landowner's previous wife Rebecca.
6. 'Notorious' (1946)
Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman are wonderful together in this nifty little spy thriller. T.R. Devlin (Grant) is a U.S. government agent assigned to stop Nazi uranium shipments out of Rio de Janeiro. He recruits an icy blonde (Bergman) to marry (!) one of the Nazi conspirators (Claude Rains). But things get complicated when Devlin and the blonde fall in love.
7. 'The 39 Steps' (1935)
In this nicely paced thriller, Richard Hannay (Robert Donat) meets a woman who must get to Scotland to prevent the stealing of government secrets. But when she is murdered, the police suspect Hannay. The part I enjoy the most is where Hannay checks into an inn with an icy blonde (Madeleine Carroll) to whom he is handcuffed.
8. 'The Birds' (1963)Planning to deliver a pair of lovebirds, Melanie Daniels drives to a seaside town, and from there the movie becomes a horror film. Once again, something as innocuous as a flock of birds is transformed by Hitchcock into a tour de force of terror. A lone seagull attacks Melanie, a flock of seagulls assaults kids at a birthday party, and bird-related havoc continues to escalate.
9. 'Strangers on a Train' (1951) Hitch understood the potential terror of something as simple as a chance meeting. Guy Haines wants to remarry, but his wife wont divorce him. While on a train, Haines meets Bruno Antony, who proposes that he will kill Haines wife if Haines will kill Antony's father. Later, Haines is stunned to learn his wife is dead, and Antony demands Haines carry out his part of the deal.
10. 'The Man Who Knew Too Much' (1956)Ben McKenna (James Stewart) and his wife Jo (Doris Day) are vacationing in Morocco with their young son when Ben learns that a statesman will be assassinated in London. Then Ben and Jo's son is kidnapped, and they work to get him back while trying to prevent the assassination. Doris Day singing "Que Sera, Sera" in this movie is indelibly etched in my mind.