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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Best Hitchcock?

Last night, my wife and I watched "Family Plot" with our teenage daughters. Alfred Hitchcock's last film is OK, but far from his greatest. Back in 1988-1989, when my wife and I lived briefly in California with a brand new VCR (we bought the floor model to save money), we watched a lot of Hitchcock movies.

Here's how I'd rank the top 10 Hitchcock films:

1. Rear Window (1954): Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly co-star in an excellent thriller.

2. North by Northwest (1959): this is one of my favorite films starring Cary Grant. The crop dusting scene is a bit of a stretch, keeping it from the top spot.

3. Psycho (1960): This would rank higher for many viewers, but I prefer suspense to horror and this one is closer to the latter.

4. Dial M for Murder (1954): the premise is odd. Who could be unhappily married to Grace Kelly?

5. Notorious (1946): Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and subterfuge.

6. Rope (1948): It's creepy. You knew Jimmy Stewart would be terrific -- but Farley Granger?

7. The Lady Vanishes (1938): Some parts are dated, to be sure, but it has mystery and comedic elements. We saw this film recently on local public television.

8. Lifeboat (1944): I watched this alone recently and enjoyed it a great deal. Tallulah Bankhead was perfect as someone you wouldn't want on a lifeboat.

9. Strangers on a Train (1951): I haven't seen this in a long time, or it would probably rank higher. I also want to read the book, which was strongly recommended to me by a friend.

10. Vertigo (1958): To me, this is the most overrated Hitchcock film. The first half is strong, but the movie loses me towards the end.

Honorable mention:

To Catch a Thief (1955): this is lightweight, but I really like Cary Grant and Grace Kelly -- even when they play familiar (and somewhat unbelievable) characters.

Shadow of a Doubt (1943): It might belong on the top 10 list, but I haven't seen it in many years. To be sure, Joseph Cotton made some terrific movies ("The Third Man" and "Citizen Kane," for example).

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