Thursday, 1 October 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Halloween Edition: Alfred Hitchcock Movies

It's the start of Halloween month and as I don't watch much, actually, practically no horror films, I might not be able to do many of the picks this month, but Hitchcock I know and love. Rear Window and Lifeboat are two of my favourites but I wanted to talk/write about three I don't gush about. In fact, the first film is in my top 5. I'm sure all three will appear in other lists though. I was going to pick Marnie, but that is one oddball film, thats including the stranger trailer for it.

1. Shadow of a Doubt
If you've seen Stoker, which was loosely based and inspired by Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt, you can get a idea about this film. This story is about what is implied and unlike the uncle-niece revelations in Stoker, the neice has better morals. Uncle Charlie is a suspect in a serial killer case - this is not a spolier - and he's very fond of and close to neice Charlotte, she was named after him. He comes to visit and his lies start to unravel but only Charlotte can see whats happening. Queue lots of suspense and intrigue. I think it is one of Hitchcocks better films and also less seen.

2. Rebecca
I'm forever saying; 'I shall never go back to Manderley again' around the house. Don't know why. I just love this film and I like saying it. One of Hitchcock's best (this is in my top 5 Hitchcock films) films. The source material from Daphne Du Maurier is just perfect for Hitchcock's style. This was also an Oscar winner and rightly so. Mysteries surrounding the death of the first Mrs de Winter, which looms over the happiness for the second Mrs and Mr de Winter, as well as the creepy house and even more disturbing housekeeper, Mrs Danvers who was and is obsessed with the first wife. I really do relish films or stories that feature or are named after a character that the audience or reader never meets and Rebecca is a staple for that, as Rebecca was the first Mrs de Winter.

3. Suspicion
I read about this Hitchcock film first and it was the description of the infamous scene of Cary Grant's Johnnie walking up the stairs with the very while glass of milk for his wife, Lina (Joan Fontaine) who is sick in bed. It is at this point where both Lina and the audience decide whether or not he is evil and is about to poison her. Throughout the film, flukes and coincidences happen far too often, especially as they are usually tragic. The film keeps you on the edge of your seat and the quick cut end will annoy me, as it did at the end of North by Northwest. I rather hoped the film would end with the scene on the stairs, far creepier and it leaves you to decide what happened.

 Don't forget to check out what Wandering Through the Shelves picked, the blog that started Thursday Movie Picks.


  1. So behind on my Hitchcock. Haven't seen any of these. Shame on me.

  2. Andrew Ellington1 October 2015 at 16:29

    The only one here that I love is Shadow of a Doubt, which is rather perfect, honestly. Rebecca is very good, but it has lost some of my adoration over the years.

    I kind of hate Suspicion, but I blame censors for that.

  3. Interesting picks all of which I like but only one that I love and that's the first.

    Rebecca is a very effective film and Judith Anderson just rocks it as Mrs. Danvers but for whatever reason I've never been able to fully embrace it, probably because I is such a limp lead character. Have you seen the series of screen tests for the lead role of I? I can't remember if they were part of a Hitchcock special or an extra on the DVD but they were fascinating in seeing the different approaches. Some like Vivien Leigh and Margaret Sullavan despite being finely acted were just too strong and some like Loretta Young were just awful, the best of the bunch besides Fontaine was a very young Anne Baxter who was the other serious contender for the part, Hitchcock decided she was too young for the role, she had that tremulous quality so important to the role.

    I agree the largest part of Suspicion's problem is from the need to accommodate the censors added in with the fact that I'm not the biggest fan of Joan Fontaine. It an okay film but not one I watch often at all.

    Shadow of a Doubt though is a brilliantly realized piece of work. Both Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotton judge their performances perfectly, much credit to them since Hitchcock was a famously non instructive director feeling he had hired the best people and trusting them to deliver.

    Hitchcock is my favorite director and I've seen most of his films but even he had his off pictures, no director no matter how good doesn't. My choices this week are three of my favorites and one of those misses.

    Saboteur (1942)-During WWII an airplane factory is sabotaged. Barry Kane, falsely accused of the crime, goes on the run in pursuit of the real culprit and encounters various memorable characters along the way including the expected Hitchcock blonde in the appealing form of Priscilla Lane. Enjoyable chase drama
    is highlighted by its famous Statue of Liberty finale.

    Lifeboat (1944)-A small group of passengers from a torpedoed ship struggle for survival in Hitchcock's fascinating microcosm of society in the contained space of a lifeboat. Excellent performances across the board but most of all a great showcase role for Tallulah Bankhead.

    Notorious (1946)-Alicia Huberman, played by Ingrid Bergman, has become embittered upon finding out that her father is a traitor. After his conviction she is recruited by Devlin (Cary Grant) to infiltrate a suspected spy ring in South America lead by an acquaintance of hers Alex Sebastian, played by Claude Rains. Once she manages that a deadly game of cat and mouse commences as the tension mounts. One of Hitchcock’s best with amazing work by the entire cast.

    Nobody’s perfect pick-Topaz (1969)-An intriguing premise: An intelligence agent becomes involved in Cold War politics while trying to expose espionage that lead up to the Cuban Missile Crisis and attempting to dismantle a Russian spy ring. Add in a solid if not extraordinary cast and Hitchcock in the director’s chair and this should have been an engrossing entertainment. What it is however may be Hitch’s worst film, certainly his dullest, it just plods along. If they insist on remaking one of the Master’s films this would be the
    place to start. A good idea somehow gone terribly wrong.

  4. Love Shadow of a Doubt and I almost picked that one. It is a great rendering of a serial killer before the word was coined. Rebecca is a fun film because of Mrs. Danvers who must have had the hots for Rebecca. I always dreamed of owning a home like Manderley. Suspicion is wonderful and I was dreaming of Cary Grant offing Joan Fontaine but, alas, due to the censors, he turned out to be a good boy but if Hitchcock had his way, the ending would have been different....and better.

  5. It's ok, I'm sure you can catch up. Start with the earlies and work your way to the 60s.

  6. I agree - there was quite a bit that felt like it had been taken out of Suspicion, but I thought I'd throw in a 'sort so popular' pick.

  7. I really wish that the film had ended on the stairs - it would have been perfect, last image, a close up of the milk against the darkness.

    Oh Manderley. Such an amazing house and right by the sea - couldn't wish for more. Well, no housekeeper at least.

  8. I haven't seen the screen tests for Rebecca. I thought Joan Fontaine was well cast, she's meant to be naive and weak because she makes a great contrast to the departed Rebecca who compared to her was exciting.

    Lifeboat is in my top 5 Hitchcock films. Based on a story by John Steinbeck, its a brilliant thriller and it keeps the pace all from one location. It's amazing how the dynamics switch from the survivors being the captors to being the prisoners.

    Shamefull I haven't seen Notorious or Saboteur yet, I think I tried watching Topaz but didn't get far. Might try again. I've got to get through my Hitchcock boxset of all the later films then I'll revisit the earlier ones.

  9. Love the shots you used for Rebecca and Suspicion. Need to see all three of these. I'm so lacking in my Hitchcock.

  10. I love love Rebecca. The only reason it's not on my list is because I've picked it before. I like Suspicion too. Joan Fontaine is so transformed here and this movie was released only a year after Rebecca; I hardly recognise her.