Friday, November 05, 2010

Hitchcock Fest Wrap-Up, Part I

Like I've said, I thoroughly enjoyed this fest.  It confirmed that Hitchcock is probably my favorite director of all time.  The thriller/mystery genre has always been my cup of tea and Hitch is the cream of the crop when it comes to this type of film.

For today's post (and mainly for my own benefit), I'm going to chronologically list the Hitch films I watched and see if there's any ebb and flow to the ratings.  It should be noted that I watched every Hitch film he directed after he made his move to America with 1940's Rebecca, along with four films prior to that move.

The British Era -- 1930s
The 39 Steps (1935) -- B-
Sabotage  (1936) -- B
The Lady Vanishes  (1938) -- C

Kind of a mixed bag, I'd say.  The Man Who Knew Too Much was certainly improved upon in its remake and The Lady Vanishes was bogged down by a tremendously long first act that is, in the grand scheme of things, completely unnecessary.

However, The 39 Steps is a decent attempt at Hitch attempting to blend comedy and mystery and Sabotage is actually one of Hitch's better films.  The latter is actually filled with quite a bit of suspense and actually contains some wonderful moments.

Rebecca (1940) -- A-
Foreign Correspondent (1940) -- B-
Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941) -- C-
Suspicion (1941) -- B-
Saboteur (1942) -- B+
Shadow of a Doubt (1943) -- A-
Lifeboat (1944) -- D-

Hitch is starting to hone his craft, but this era is not without a few clunkers.  Lifeboat's an utter disaster and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Hitch's only attempt at a true comedy falls flat (moreso in the writing department than anything else).

However, the era is highlighted by Rebecca (my opinion of which grows more positive the more I think of it), the charming family mystery Shadow of a Doubt, and the surprisingly relevant-in-this-day-and-age Saboteur.  

Spellbound (1945) -- D-
Notorious (1946) -- B
The Paradine Case (1947) -- B
Rope (1948) -- B-
Under Capricorn (1949) -- C-

Also known as the Ingrid Bergman era, seeing as how she starred in three of the flicks above.  Maybe I'm just not a Bergman fan, but Spellbound is heinously bad and Under Capricorn, a period drama piece, is probably the oddest film in Hitch's repertoire.  Notorious, however, is a flick I'd like to watch again.  I'm not sure I gave it a fair shake.  

Stage Fright (1950) -- D
I Confess (1953) -- C
Dial M for Murder (1954) -- C-
Rear Window (1954) -- A

Wow.  Talk about a slump.  Starting with Under Capricorn in 1949, Hitch went zero for five for five straight years.  However, his redemption with Rear Window is certainly admirable and was the start of something good.

To Catch a Thief (1955) -- D+
The Wrong Man (1956) -- B

1958-1964 -- The Apex
Vertigo (1958) -- A-
North by Northwest (1959) -- A
Psycho (1960) -- A+
The Birds (1963) -- A-
Marnie (1964) -- B
Torn Curtain (1966) -- B+

Fairly amazing that starting with The Man Who Knew Too Much and for his next seven films, Hitch had not a dud to be found.  The one-two-three-four punch of Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho, and The Birds are likely the best four movies EVER consecutively directed by a filmmaker.  Just an amazing quartet of films that each have their own distinct vibe.

Then, to follow those films up with the interesting character study in Marnie and the surprisingly tense Torn Curtain is commendable as well.

Topaz (1969) -- C
Frenzy (1972) -- D
Family Plot (1976) -- B
Hitch's age and his stubborness to conform to new technologies is especially evident in his last films.  I will say that Family Plot was much better than I remember it and certainly a decent way for Hitch to go out.

Tomorrow, I'll start the final mini-dissection looking at the films in order from worst to best.

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