For the For the Love of Film Blogathon this week, we finish off our Top Ten countdown with our number one 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.
Vertigo (Wesley Lovell)
Although it is considered a terrific film, many others are cited as the best in his long list of terrific movies. For me, Vertigo was one of my earliest experiences with Hitchcock and I loved the murder mystery aspect of it. Who died, who didn’t and what does it have to do with James Stewart’s paralizing fear of heights? As in many of his films, Hitchcock introduced new filmmaking techniques, while some would be laughable if employed today (colorful swirling backgrounds to symbolize the dizzying effect of heights), some are still used quite frequently, most notably his collapsing distant effect where the camera zooms in on its subject keeping the subject in focus while the background flattens. It was a type of three-dimensional technique that effectively throws the viewer off balance. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen it and Hitchcock has to be thanked for its intriguing use. The film’s serpentine plot is incredibly involving and when you finally get to the end, nothing is as apparent as it once seemed and we’re as off-kilter as our protagonist as if we shared his phobia. The gorgeous color schemes, beautiful San Francisco setting and thrilling performances make this easily my favorite Hitch.
The 39 Steps (Peter J. Patrick)
I first discovered Hitchcock’s best British film as a young teenager when it was first televised too many years ago to remember. As many times as I’ve seen it, I can’t recall the significance of the title, but I can’t forget the journey that got handcuffed stars Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll and the superlative supporting cast to the point where all is revealed.
Rear Window (Tripp Burton)
Not only is Rear Window Hitchcock’s best, but it is usually the film that I cite as the greatest film ever made. Hitchcock confines the whole story to one set, the cramped apartment of a wheelchair-bound photographer (Jimmy Stewart) who spies on his neighbors and believes he witnesses one of them (Raymond Burr) murder his wife. Hitchcock crafts a perfect thriller, but it is the games Hitchcock plays with the viewer that make it his true masterpiece; While watching the film, we are put into Stewart’s eyes and he becomes the voyeur that we all become every time we step into a darkened theater, witnessing the illicit secrets of human beings and finding a creepy gratification from their every sin. This is a perfectly acted, minutely detailed film, with the largest single set every constructed in it’s time.