59. North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)
The poster is pretty underwhelming (what’s up with Eva Marie Saint shooting a ray gun at Cary Grant’s bum?), especially for a Hitchcock poster. Thankfully the movie isn’t.
It might be Hitchcock‘s most fun movie from just a pure entertainment standpoint. It starts fast and doesn’t relent. The tone is never serious, and Cary Grant is adept at being both stylish and witty, while James Mason‘s villain is somewhat menacing but also very charming with a lot great lines. In some ways he kind of reminds me of Alan Rickman in Die Hard. He’s that kind of bad guy, a scumbag but somehow you kind of like him.
I think in some ways too it is Hitchcock’s most accessible film too. Again the speed at which everything happens draws the viewer in, and from there the pace is furious, with a lot of twists and turns along the way. I realize the film has its deeper complexities like all Hitchcock’s work, but I think it’s probably the best introduction to Hitchcock save for maybe Rear Window. I mean Psycho is good, but I can see where people would think it sucks(it’s black & white, it’s a bit slow, and the ending might not work for some), and I don’t like Vertigo very much at all. North by Northwest is so effective because it can be enjoyed simply as entertainment without subtext. I also think it feels very modern as well. Oh and Cary Grant is awesome.
I should let it be known that Cary Grant is my favorite male actor, and one of the few that I will watch in anything. Kirk Douglas is another, and perhaps John Cusack. I should note there are probably about a dozen actresses I will watch in anything, I guess it’s cos I watch films with my penis. But Cary Grant is basically the man in my books. He’s gorgeous, sauve, impecably stylish, witty, charismatic, pimp as hell and he can do a mean backflip. I’m not the first person to say this, but I want to be Cary Grant. He’s just so cool. I even bought a pair of the sunglasses he wears in the film(mine are black rimmed though). His allure is so strong to me, that although I am decidedly pro-knowledge, and absolutely fascinated by old school Hollywood gossip, I don’t want to know anything more about the real Cary Grant because it will somehow diminish his awesomeness. I know too much already, so I avoid gossip about him because I want to preserve the illusion. There is no one else I’ve done that for.
On filmaffinity.com I gave the film 9/10. Not Hitchcock’s very best, but maybe his most enjoyable film.
41. Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954)
- Rear Window
- Strangers on a Train
- Dial M for Murder
- North by Northwest
- The 39 Steps
- The Birds
- Shadow of a Doubt
- The Lady Vanishes
I have seen more Hitchcock than any other director, partly due to his having 13 films on the list, and partly due to the fact that he is consistently excellent. Even the stuff I didn’t like, it’s still interesting.
Anyway I like “Rear Window” the best for several reason. I am a sucker for Jimmy Stewart, I love how he can be the everyman, but on the other he can say the craziest shit and still seem perfectly normal(see “Rope” and the “moon beams” speech from “It’s a Wonderful Life“. That and how his voice cracks when he speaks. Just awesome. Plus Grace Kelly is straight ballin’. Seriously she is a candidate for most beautiful woman ever.
So basically the film combines Jimmy Stewart’s awesomeness and Grace Kelly’s hotness, throws in some Thelma Ritter sass, and to top it all off, one of the most suspenseful screenplays ever. A simply astonishing film.
Plus it was the subject of a fantastic Simpsons episode. Really what more can a film do to get in my good graces.
The only issue I have with the film is that nothing can really compare with the first viewing(I was swearing and almost in tears, tears of awesomeness). The end sequence is so suspenseful upon first viewing, that once you know how it ends, the film loses a bit of muster. I think all thrillers kind of suffer the same fate. It’s the price you pay for making a thriller with a suspenseful ending.
On filmaffinity.com I gave the film a 9/10, it’s about as close to a 10 as I can think of, and chances are it will become a 10 if I watch it again. Just a fantastic movie.
30. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
Probably along with “Citizen Kane” the film that’s referenced the most on “The Simpsons“.
Here is the proof (thanks to the Alfred Hitchcock Wiki, which did all the work for me):
From The Black Widower
From Brother From The Same Planet
From Cape Feare
From Itchy and Scratchy and Marge
From Marge in Chains
From Treehouse of Horror IV
Plus you have Seymour Skinner being modeled after Norman Bates.
There are two things I love about trying to finish “The List“:
1. Watching films I never would have watched in a million years and enjoying them.
2. Getting all the Simpsons references.
On filmaffinity.com I gave the film an 8/10. It’s quite good, but I don’t like it as much as some other Hitchcock movies, of which the highest is a 9/10, so I gave this an 8 to make a distinction. And the poster is disappointing compared to other Hitchcock films.
2. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
So when I was little, like 7 or 8, I would always get vertigo mixed up with indigo when going through the colors of the rainbow. Even now the two are inseparable in my mind but I seldom get the opportunity to use either word so it really hasn’t affected my life too much.
Anyway, as it stands now I have 12 Hitchcock films under my belt(with more on the way thanks to the swank 4 disc collection of his British films I just got a Wal-Mart for 5 bucks. 5 Bucks!), and Vertigo is the only one I haven’t liked. The whole plot is just so contrived and the first hour is a total waste of time. Sure Jimmy Stewart is awesome and Kim Novak is ballin’, but neither one really was enough for me to like the film.
It seems that Hitchcock is trying to channel Otto Preminger’s “Laura” (Gene Tierney rules the world) through Stewart’s obsession Novak and with Novak’s long dead look-a-like relative(a ghost perhaps). Stewart’s character is hire by an old college pal to trail his wife(Novak) because he fears she is crazy. But in reality the husband is a dick who wants Novak out of the picture. Given where the film ends up, the whole obsession/crazy/ghost thing is so convoluted, kind of like the ending to “Anger Management” when everything is revealed as a big set-up to trick Adam Sandler into being assertive. Yes I just compared a Hitchcock film to a Sandler film. Why would someone go to all the trouble of trying to convince a person that some girl was crazy/demon possessed/or a ghost, and then faking her death, and then giving her a secret identity as a means to get away with murder. What about a hitman, or a divorce?
That being said it might be one of those films that upon re-watching I would enjoy more simply because I would know where it was going and I would notice the details and appreciate the twists. Kind of like a “Usual Suspects” vibe.
At least it has a bitchin’ poster.
On filmaffinity.com I rated this film a 7/10(more out of peer pressure than anything else, but I am leaning towards a tentative 6 with an eye towards a second viewing).