Friday, April 17, 2009

Five Hitchcock Films I've Seen: Day 2

THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1934) - Okay, now we start with the Hitchcock greatness. An innocent man caught up with evil forces by chance is a theme of most of the great Hitch films and this is the first film with that theme in good form. An average guy stumbles into an assasination plot and his family is threatened if he tries to help.
Plus, you have Peter Lorre. It's great fun to watch Lorre and great fun to try to mimic his voice.
This film would be remade by Hitchcock and both films are worthy efforts. An interesting change in the plot is that the wife (Jill played by Edna Best) is a expert with the rifle in this film and in the remake Doris Day is a singer. So the older film has the less stereotypical strenght for the heroine. Fun flick.

THE 39 STEPS (1935) - This film got Hitchcock noticed by critics as one of the greats. This film is on the best of lists and is in the Criterion catalouge. Again, innocent on the run and it works on the suspense and the comedy levels. It strays far from the John Buchan novel it is based on and easily surpasses it. Robert Dohan and Madaline Carroll are a great screen couple and you come to care for them.
Got to love the scenes with Mr. Memory.

SECRET AGENT (1936) - Madaline Carroll is back. Yeah! Peter Lorre is back! Super Yeah! And John Geilgud as well; so not a shabby task. Good film, by the snowy Alpine settings are extra phony looking.

SABOTAGE (1936) - Based on a Joseph Conrad novel, Hitch did a very contemporary Hollywood thing and changed the Socialists in the novel into generic terrorists. A weakness of Hitchcock is he often equates all the world powers and political forces. The villians always seem to have greed or lust as their motives rather than the political motives that do cause evil in the world.
A great thing in this film is it doesn't spare even children from danger, so the suspense it still there, even for a modern audience. And Oscar Homolka and Sylvia Syndey are both very good.

YOUNG AND INNOCENT (1937) - Okay, not great, very much in the vein of superior 39 STEPS. Worth seeing though, watch by the great crane shot that leads to the man with the blinking eyes.

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