Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dial H for Hitchcock

Assuming my memory is accurate (always dangerous), The Birds was the first Alfred Hitchcock film I ever watched, as part of a communications course in Grade 10 at Leduc Composite High School. I wrote a well-received essay about it, which might still be in a box somewhere.

Since then I've been an ardent admirer of Hitchcock, certainly an uncontroversial stance - the British auteur is widely regarded as one of the very greatest directors. And yet, despite the intervening decades, I've only managed to watch about half of the roughly 50 films (unfinished and lost films mess up the count a bit) in Hitchcock's oeuvre.

Here's the list, in the order released. I've marked the movies I've seen in bold.

The Pleasure Garden (1925)
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927)
The Ring (1927)
Downhill (1927)
The Farmer’s Wife (1928)
Easy Virtue (1928)
Champagne (1928)
The Manxman (1929)

Blackmail (1929)
Juno and the Paycock (1929)
Murder! (1930)
The Skin Game (1931)
Rich and Strange (1931)
Number Seventeen (1932)
Waltzes from Vienna (1933)
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)
The 39 Steps (1935)
Secret Agent (1936)
Sabotage (1936)
Young and Innocent (1937)
The Lady Vanishes (1938)
Jamaica Inn (1939)
Rebecca (1940)
Foreign Correspondent (1940)
Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941)
Suspicion (1941)
Saboteur (1942)
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Lifeboat (1944)
Spellbound (1945)
Notorious (1946)
The Paradine Case (1947)
Rope (1948)
Under Capricorn (1949)
Stage Fright (1950)
Strangers on a Train (1951)
I Confess (1953)
Dial M for Murder (1954)
Rear Window (1954)
To Catch a Thief (1955)
The Trouble with Harry (1955)
The Wrong Man (1956)
Vertigo (1958)
North by Northwest (1959)
Psycho (1960)
The Birds (1963)
Marnie (1964)
Torn Curtain (1966)
Topaz (1969)

Family Plot (1976)

That's 27 out of 50 films, or 54 percent. I have the 1934 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much, I Confess and The Wrong Man on Blu-Ray or DVD; of the films that remain, I'm not even sure how many have been released. I have a feeling Under Capricorn and The Paradine Case, at least, have been released at one time or another. I may have to rely on Turner Classic Movies or (cough) certain other means to view the rest. 

My favourites? Again, my choices are pretty uncontroversial: Psycho, Vertigo, Rear Window, North by Northwest, Strangers on a Train, Shadow of a Doubt, Notorious. The closest Hitchcock came to making a bad film, at least among those I've seen, might be the relatively weak Topaz - but even it has its merits. It just stands in the shadows of the dozen or so masterpieces to Hitchcock's name. 

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