Tag Archives: Alfred Hitchcock

The Set of 400: #241 – My Favorite Criss Cross

Today! Because I may be old-fashioned, but I thought murder was against the law –

Strangers on a Train (1951)

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock (x4)

Starring Farley Granger, Robert Walker, Ruth Roman, Laura Elliott, Leo G. Carroll (x3), Patricia Hitchcock, Jonathan Hale, Marion Lorne, Harry Hines, Norma Varden, Robert Gist, Howard St. John

#241 sees our final Hitchcock list film, even as he becomes the first Four-Timer director. Sorry, Psycho fans! Take your Rear Window complaints elsewhere! Sure, Vertigo is great, but what, you looove Vertigo? Get out of here! Come at me about my lack of Rebecca and okay, I’ll listen to that argument, but if you’re going to complain that The Birds got left in the coop, I’ll tell you where to get off!

Seriously, The Birds is ridiculous nonsense

So yes, my favorite Hitchcock movie, featuring the single greatest display of human bravery in the history of cinema, Strangers on a Train! Farley Granger’s tennis pro Guy wants a divorce from his terrible wife Miriam (Laura Elliott), while fellow train passenger Bruno (Robert Walker) hates his father, and hatches a scheme where they swap murders. Guy brushes Bruno off as a bit of humorous crackpot, and things spiral wildly out of control from there. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies

The Set of 400: #316 – My Favorite Gutzon Borglum Thrill Ride

Today! Because that plane’s dusting crops where there ain’t no crops –

North by Northwest (1959)

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Cary Grant (x2), Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Leo G. Carroll, Martin Landau, Jessie Royce Landis, Josephine Hutchinson, Philip Ober, Adam Williams, Edward Platt, Robert Ellenstein

Hitchcock it is! The one with all the memorable set pieces, North by Northwest lands squarely in the Hitch Wrong Man sub-genre, wherein a regular schmoe (even one who looks like Cary Grant) gets caught up in a helluva lot of intrigue and murder, and is forced on the run, encountering devious foreign agents, low flying planes, and the lovely tourist attractions of South Dakota along the way. This is also the latest Hitchcock movie chronologically that I actually enjoy, but in all fairness, I’ve never actually sat down and watched Topaz. Or, hell, Frenzy for that matter. Maybe I need to keep these sweeping statements to things I can actually stand by. Frenzy might be the greatest movie ever made, I don’t know.

But, come on, it’s not – right?

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Movies

The Set of 400: #327 – My Favorite Trivia-Based Espionage

Today! Because a beautiful, mysterious woman pursued by gunmen – sounds like a spy story –

The 39 Steps (1935)

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll, Peggy Ashcroft, Lucie Mannheim, Wylie Watson, Godfrey Tearle, John Laurie, Helen Haye

Numerous remakes, including as a goofy play and a video game, may have dulled the memory of Hitchcock’s original film, which was instrumental in launching his fame across the ocean to America. Coming on the heels of his successful first version of The Man Who Knew Too Much, 39 Steps’ tight spy tale was a big enough hit to secure him higher and higher profile talent, and cement him as a major filmmaker.

As I said in #370 Notorious, I’m not a huge Hitchcock guy, but his espionage thrillers still resonate with me. Sure, the proceedings probably aren’t given the proper gravity by Donat’s everyman Hannay, thus making it an easier tale to transform into straight comedy than, say, Notorious would’ve been (again, they did manage to make adapt movie into a stirring rap biopic though – see #329 Notorious). But the story still has enough twists and atmospheric moor-ish settings to fill the lean 86 minutes. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies

The Set of 400: #370 – My Favorite Wine Cellar Key

Today! Because I am married to an American agent –

Notorious (1946)

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman (x2), Claude Rains, Louis Calhern, Leopoldine Konstantin, Moroni Olsen, Reinhold Schunzel, Ivan Triesault

You’ll meet some people in your time spent discussing movies who live and die by Hitchcock. I am not one of those people. No, this isn’t his only appearance on this list, but many of his most popular, highest regarded films won’t pop up here in the days to come. I don’t know, I thought his later films either silly or admirable but not lovable. Feel free to write in and complain when the list is complete, and not a day before, Birds fans! That shit is ridiculous!

I have always really enjoyed the weirdly caustic romance of Notorious, though. It’s a deep-intrigue, double-crossing tale, with this exquisitely strange relationship between Grant’s government agent Devlin and Bergman’s shattered mole Alicia at its center. It’s not a will-they-or-won’t-they romance like the word makes you envision; it’s more a will-they-be-able-to-or-will-they-die sort of love story. Claude Rains is terrific as the object of Berman’s faux affections, and was nominated for an Oscar for his work, along with the excellent screenplay by the great Ben Hecht. As you will see in days to come, I’ve always preferred the straight crime or espionage Hitchcocks to the horror/psychological terror Hitchcocks. Not exclusively, but pretty close. Again, bitch if you like, Psycho-heads, but that is some silly hokum you’ve embraced right there. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Movies