Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hitchcock Films I've Seen: Day Seven

Okay, so I missed a day. Sue me.

THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1956) This is the remake I was talking about. Hitchcock remade one of his English suspence films with the advantages if a big studio budget, special effects and stars. Most any film is improved with Jimmy Stewart. And Doris Day, in spite of her reputation in some circles as a lightweight, proves herself again here as a very good dramatic actress. This is the film she introduced what became her theme song, "Que Sera Sera". Speaking of music, I believe this is Hitch's first film to use the great Bernard Herrmann (of "Citizen Kane" and the shreiks of the PSYCHO theme.) Herrmann is the conductor in the Albert Hall sequence of the film.

THE WRONG MAN (1956) - I'm watching this film as I write this. This film was made during an incredibly prolific time in Hitchcock's career. In this year and the two previous he made six films (including REAR WINDOW, a masterpiece). This is a very film good film, quite different from any other. It tells a true story of a man wrongly accused of a robbery. That man is played by Henry Fonda, his only performance in a Hitchcock film. It's not hard to spot Hitchcock in this film. He introduces the film, as himself.

VERITGO (1958) - This is one of Hitchcock's most critically acclaimed films (Total Film ranked this as the second best film of all time and #9 on the American Film Institute List.) But then again, this was not always one of Hitch's more popular films. It's kinda "arty". But James Stewart is very good as a police detectiove who thinks he is seeing a woman he thought he saw die. Kim Novak has had her critics, but I think she provides an earthiness that many of Hitch's blondes are lacking. And it is a great way to do sight seeing of the San Francisco of fifty years ago.

NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959) - Maybe the most fun Hitchcock film, Cary Grant goes on a trip of nonsense. Howard Hawks said you only need three great scenes in a film and stuff to hold it together to make a great film. Okay, so you have the great drunk driving scene (with dated rear project effects, but Grant still makes it fun), the crop duster scene (maybe the greatest action scene of all time), the sexy dialouge with the incredible Eva Marie Saint, the very funny auction scene, the Mt. Rushmore chase, one great scene and sequence after another. It's tense and very funny. James Mason is rates with Claude Raines in NOTORIOUS as one of the all time great sauve villians. Yeah, it's worth seeing. Our family watched this on the van DVD player as we drove to Mr. Rushmore this summer. Oh, and my high school drama teacher, Mike Pryor, says he is the one who yelled in the U.N. scene ("He's got a knife!")

PSYCHO (1960) - Okay, this is like crazy. Hitchcock made three films in a row that are on the American Film Institute (this film is #14 and NBNW was #55.) There are a few streaks like that by other directors, but not many. And this set the templet for horror films for years to come. There are some that say the film owes much to Michael Powells's PEEPING TOM, which I saw recently, and PSYCHO is so much better than that film. I remember watching this film alone at home with the lights out and I nearly quit watching because I was so scared. Anthony Perkins gives one of the most scary and funny and iconic performances of all time here. One of the greatest plot twists of all time is in that shower scene. One of the greatest bits of editing ever is in that shower scene. This is simply the best horror film ever made.

Let's see if I get back to this list tomorrow.

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