TOP TEN: HITCHCOCK FILMS
Updated: Nov 12, 2022
Spoiler alert: you're going to be mad. I'm going to say it upfront Psycho and Rear Window do not feature on my list. Does that mean they aren't exceptionally well-made movies? No, they are great and I really enjoy them but they aren't quite my favourites.
I've seen most of Hitchcock's movies. All the main ones and a lot of the minor ones. I could be wrong but I doubt any of the ones I've missed would crack the top ten but you never know. I'll get to them someday maybe. There are some obscure picks here but every single one of these I'd fully recommend.
Honourable Mentions: To Catch a Thief, Suspicion, Lifeboat, Shadow of a Doubt
10. THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY (8/10)
What a weird little film. This is really an odd outing for Hitchcock in terms of tone. There are still little hints of suspense but mostly, it's a tongue in cheek black comedy where the characters nonchalance is key to making this film work. I believe it was Shirley McLaine's first outing and it's the birth of a star. She's fantastic in this film but for me, the absolute standout performance is from Mildred Natwick who gets the tone of this film with pin-point precision. It's just such a fun, silly ride and counting how many times the body is buried and dug up is a challenge. I really appreciate something different from Hitchcock.
9. STAGE FRIGHT (8/10)
Okay, this shouldn't by any rights be in my top ten but it is because I fell hook, line and sinker for this one. I don't know why I didn't guess it but I just didn't so I was floored by the end - perhaps I'm stupid. On second watch, it's much more obvious and I don't really know why I didn't think for second about what the "solution" is but that's why this is on my top ten because that moment in the taxi...damn. Also, I like Jane Wyman - I think she's charming.
8. NORTH BY NORTHWEST (8/10)
Go get your blood pressure medication and have a cold compress on standby because this film is very stressful. It's very good but damn it near gives you a heart attack. It's fast paced and fun of suspense and tension. Some iconic scenes. Plus, Cary Grant is one of my favourite actors.
7. ROPE (9/10)
Talk about a tightly edited film. This might be one of the most gripping films I've seen. Slowly watching this whole thing fall apart. You feel the palpable tension in this film. That scene where she's clearing the table is nail-biting. I just think it's an incredible film and James Stewart putting in a tour-de-force of a performance. I'll admit that it does feel like a play.
6. SPELLBOUND (9/10)
I love Gregory Peck. Fun fact: the shortest colour sequence in a feature film - what a claim and how goddamn clever. This has some fantastic scenes notably the Dali dream sequence. I just thought this was thoroughly enjoyable. It's a little silly and melodramatic for some people but I don't care, I just found it so much fun and it's really unique and interesting. The psychoanalysis angle was such a novelty for the time, it reads a little dated now but it's a perfect little time capsule. Also, it's Ingrid Bergman so what's not to love. Liverwurst!
5. NOTORIOUS (9/10)
A perfect film noir. Cary Grant plays a very different type and excels when he's able to stretch his acting chops but the real star here is Ingrid Bergman - damn, she's incredible in this film. The range of emotions she has to go through and you feel every single beat of her performance. The messy drunk, the guilt-ridden daughter, the reluctant spy, the coy flirt. Seeing Cary Grant get more and more uncomfortable and jealous is fantastic and the way Ingrid Bergman's character deals with the unfolding events and whilst I won't spoil anything, the moment with the tea is a standout. I just love this story and the way it's told. Great ending too.
4. THE BIRDS (10/10)
I love this film. It's absolutely iconic. It's a fairly simple plot if you think about it but it's just executed with pin-point precision and the dialogue is just so well written. I love the scene in the bar before all the calamity takes place. I have seen it countless times and I still love this film. Even the janky special effects, I love everything about it.
3. THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (10/10)
Doris Day might be my favourite actress. I love Doris Day and anyone who thinks all she can do is fluff with Rock Hudson needs to watch this film because her performance in this is incredible. The moment where she's told that her son is missing is her Oscar clip, she's the star of this film. I think this film is just so well-made, the pacing keeps you on your toes. The suspense of the concert performance is done in true Hitchcock style. I'm a sucker for Brenda de Banzie, her character's conflict is such a great build throughout the film. The ending with the ce sera sera song is brilliant and how it's signposted at the start. UGH, it's just perfection. This one is so underrated.
2. VERTIGO (10/10)
This film is hyped beyond belief and yet somehow completely deserves every ounce of the praise. When I first saw this film, I was absolutely floored. Gobsmacked by the plot and I just fell in love with the way it was filmed. It has such a wonderful sense of foreboding and suspense that could have only been done by Hitchcock. The performances of James Stewart and Kim Novak are brilliant. When I say I was on the edge of my seat, I mean it very literally. One of my favourite films of all time.
This is Hitchcock's best film. All bias aside, I think this is his best film...but not quite my favourite.
1. REBECCA (10/10)
This is it. My favourite Hitchcock film and in my top three films of all time. It achieves the near impossible, it's a film that is better than the book. A rare thing. Don't get me wrong, the book is very good but the film is better not only because the visuals and acting really bring it to life but because of one GLARING problem with the book. In the book, he is a murderer. In the film, he isn't. That's a huge deal, like a massive deal. In the film, you can still root for him. I suppose the book has a more interesting ethical dilemma I guess but basically condones getting away with murder as long as the person you murder is a bitch. No, Book-Maxim you belong in jail.
Ms Danvers is exceptional and NO-ONE could play the role of the second Mrs De Winter like Joan Fontaine. The film is called Rebecca, she's everywhere in this film. Everywhere...and yet nowhere, she's not in this movie. Joan Fontaine is the main character and yet we never learn her name. That's the presence of Rebecca. Well-acted, well-filmed, well-made.