I have always loved the story of how Alfred Hitchcock explained to Francois Truffaut how to build suspense. If you suddenly blow up a casino table then it is a simple moment. If you show the bomb early and continue the game with the audience waiting as to see if and when the explosion will happen, then you have something. That is how one creates tension. Yes Hitchcock stuck to one genre basically, but he was and still is the undeniable G.O.A.T. when it comes to suspense. Here is my Top 7 Alfred Hitchcock Movies.
7. “Strangers on a Train” (1951):
Ok, do you wish somebody in your life just went away. For most of us, sure you do. A man named Bruno who hates his father (played by Robert Falker) meets a famous tennis player on a train car. The great athlete named Guy (Farley Granger) would love to see his wife Miriam, a U.S. senators’s daughter, go away so that he can be with the true love of his life. Bruno presents a situation, we each kill each others most hated person in life while nobody would suspect the murderer was a random man with no attachment to the dead body. Guy agrees, albeit not thinking logically, and the game is on. Bruno straight up goes through with killing Guy’s future bride. Now it is the athlete’s place to return the favor. Unfortunately, Guy doesn’t have the balls to kill a stranger. Highlighted by an amazing tennis scene with Bruno never moving his head, “Strangers on a Train” shows when you think something should happen, but it really shouldn’t.
6. “The Birds” (1963):
“The Birds” is a shout-out to any woman in love with a man who is a hardcore mama’s boy. A sexy young blonde from the big city named Lydia (Jessica Tandy) goes after a handsome young man (Mitch Brenner) who lives in a small coastal town in California. The city girl is not typical small town stuff and mother is not happy. Turns out she brings with her a massive amount of suicidal birds ready to kill. The oceanside town is destroyed when the lovable flying animals decide to go crazy. There are many levels to “The Birds”. From Hitchcock’s love of attacking beautiful blondes to his sheer understanding of how to freak people out, this picture is horrific. Make sure to run the next time you walk past a playground covered with pigeons. No Bueno.
5. “Notorious” (1946):
“Notorious” is old-school Hollywood royalty 101. The stars are littered across Hollywood BLVD. “Notorious” is also a brilliantly complex spy caper. A drunk and whimsical woman named Alicia “Ingrid Bergman” is elicited by a spy played by Cary Grant to help get information for the case against the Nazi cause. This whole endeavor is taking place in rich white people’s homes in South Africa. And on top of that, our main chick Alicia is doing all of this because her father has been indicted for treason by the U.S.! “Notorious” is a spiders web, and yes I am referring to the classic Cary Grant shot film nerds, of corruption that took place during WWII. Nobody came out clean. Some people survived.
4. “North by Northwest” (1959):
I love this picture because Hitchcock is just having a blast. While still a thriller, “North By Northwest” is a pure entertaining bit of fun from beginning to end. Teaming up with Cary Grant again, Hitch creates the ultimate man with no idea what is happening. Grant plays Roger Thornhill, an advertising executive with the world in the palm of his hands. Then life happens and he finds himself in the midst of being framed for murder. Then he becomes framed again with newspaper accusations that he murdered another person in a cafeteria. Then he has to escape police at a train station. And let us not forget, the crop dusting plane coming for his ass. Man, and I thought my day was bad. Tack on a death defying crawl around Mt. Rushmore and you have yourself one hell of a story to tell.
3. “Vertigo” (1958):
Easily Hitchcock’s most honest film, and also the first in 40 years to take the throne on the “Sight & Sound” list from “Citizen Kane”. “Vertigo” is Hitchcock’s most honest piece of work in his career. Perhaps the most honest any artist in any genre has ever made. On the surface, you have a simple wrong identity caper here. So much more going on. Jimmy Stewart plays John Ferguson, a detective living in San Francisco who is afraid of heights. After what seemed to be a brief case involving a woman apparently committing suicide, John became obsessed with a woman he sees in a flower shop that looks identical to the former deceased except that this her hair is not the correct blonde. From there the detective will stop at nothing to create what he believes is the perfect woman in hindsight of the one that got away. Or is she right in front of him? The mystery is there, but is the truth real or is it all in your head? Just like the disease that is “Vertigo”.
2. “Psycho” (1960):
Please, if you’re a single lady on the road who just stole a bunch of money, don’t stay at a shady motel with nobody else there. The Bates Motel is not your best option. Perhaps a Motel 6. “Psycho” is legendary for many reasons. The shower scene with the gut wrenching music that had who was supposed to be the star go R.I.P. The revealing that Norman Bates’s mother has been dead for years. These are twists that lasted for decades. I grew up in the 90’s and still remember talking about this horrific stuff on the buss to school once we as kids watched it. Generational good.
1. “Rear Window” (1954):
Why do we go to see movies? Be honest. Why do we go to see movies? Because us as human beings love to observe and judge other human beings. Don’t deny it because that is bullshit. It is true and own it you judgey mo-fos. That is exactly what Hitch captured with his masterpiece “Rear Window”. The idea of making a movie whilst also looking at yourself is the point. A reporter is sidelined due to an accident. In a wheelchair, the man (Jimmy Stewart) begins taking photographs of different members of his tenement. Kinda creepy, but not terrible. When he stumbles upon a potential murderer the newsman goes into action and tries to solve a killing with a giant man coming after him. Armed with just a pop-off flash lens and an array of reporter truth, he will not die the same way this guy across the way’s wife died.