The Top 5 Hitchcock Movies Besides "Psycho"
In his day, Alfred Hitchcock was not only one of the most commercially-successful directors in the world, but also a consistent critical darling. Everyone loves Hitchcock, from the beatnik auteurs of the French New Wave to the big names in Big Budget Cinema like Spielberg. In an art form ever the subject to subjective scrutiny, Hitchcock is one of the few absolutes. This is way beyond Psycho. Every single one of his films are worth at least one watch, if not two. And with a filmography as extensive as his, it can be difficult to know where to begin. We sat down and talked it out at the Open Air Cinema offices. The debate got pretty intense, actually. But we came up with our five favorites - the ones that we'd bring on a jump drive to a desert island if we knew there was going to be an inflatable screen. Next time you want to enjoy some outdoor cinema, try out one of these classics from the undisputed master of suspense.
The Man Who Knew Too Much
(1956)It is a rare occurrence in the world of cinema when a director sees fit to remake one of his own movies. But we're glad that Hitchcock saw fit to give a second crack at The Man Who Knew Too Much. For starters, it's on-location shooting in Marrakech is superior in its exocitism and its photography to the original British film, whose principal action takes place in Switzerland. And casting Jimmy Stewart as the titular man who has stumbled on a political intrigue much bigger than himself is a superb choice. The only thing missing from the original is the presence of the great Peter Lorre.
(1963)If you think birds are just pretty singing things rather than vicious raptors of the sky, then this film will definitely spin your perception of our fine feathered friends about 180 degrees. Hitchcock's bird attack scenes are generally very disturbing. But it is in the scenes where the birds sit silently together on their wires, poised and ready for flight, that are truly unnerving. Moreover, this film gets extra points for never explaining exactly why the birds are attacking, which adds a layer of cruel absurdity to the horror.
Strangers on a Train
(1951)This film is noir to it very bones and hinges on a plot that is deliciously intriguing - two strangers, with virtually no connection to one another have a frank conversation about people that they wish they could do away with . They concoct the perfect crime - a criss-cross of killings - almost as a sort of daydream. But when one of the strangers goes too far and demands that the other complete his end of the bargain? That's the kind of rock and hard place situation that makes for a taut psychological thriller.
(1958)There are so many unique things about this movie. It's the first film to utilize the dolly zoom, an in-camera effect meant to convey the titular vertigo of the film's protagonist. Hitchcock's breathtaking views of San Francisco are still some of the most beautiful shots in cinematic history. And Hitchcock even bring some cross-genre action to the table, wrapping a strange love story and an absurdist finale in the conventions of a psychologically taut murder mystery. It's no wonder that this film went on to be cited as evidence of Hitchcock's superb artistry - even after it went out of print.
North by Northwest
(1959)Arguably Hitchcock's greatest contribution to film, North by Northwest is one of the most consistently referenced movies in the Western cultural lexicon. You're probably very familiar with the film's iconic scenes where a crop duster relentlessly pursues Cary Grant. If you don't know anything else about this film, you're in for a real treat. This film discusses such interesting concepts as identity, shifts or reality, and moral relativism with a style of splashin color, wise-cracking leading men, and political intrigue that would later go on to influence the entire spy movie genre. To see North by Northwest today is to truly understand Hitchcock's influence on cinema.