1899 – 1980
25 Greatest Films
Sunday – Monday
Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, KBE (13 August 1899 – 29 April 1980) was an English film director and producer, widely regarded as one of the most influential filmmakers in the history of cinema. Known as “the Master of Suspense”, he directed over 50 feature films in a career spanning six decades, becoming as well-known as any of his actors thanks to his many interviews, his cameo roles in most of his films, and his hosting of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–1965).
Born on the outskirts of London, Hitchcock entered the film industry in 1919 as a title card designer after training as a technical clerk and copy writer for a telegraph-cable company. He made his directorial debut with The Pleasure Garden (1925). His first successful film, The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927), helped to shape the thriller genre, while his 1929 film, Blackmail, was the first British “talkie”. Two of his 1930s thrillers, The 39 Steps (1935) and The Lady Vanishes (1938), are ranked among the greatest British films of the 20th century.
By 1939 Hitchcock was a filmmaker of international importance, and film producer David O. Selznick persuaded him to move to Hollywood. A string of successful films followed, including Rebecca (1940), Foreign Correspondent (1940), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), and The Paradine Case (1947); Rebecca was nominated for 11 Oscars and won the Academy Award for Best Picture. His fifty-three films have grossed over US$223.3 million worldwide and garnered a total of 46 Oscar nominations and 6 wins.
The “Hitchcockian” style includes the use of camera movement to mimic a person’s gaze, thereby turning viewers into voyeurs, and framing shots to maximise anxiety and fear. The film critic Robin Wood wrote that the meaning of a Hitchcock film “is there in the method, in the progression from shot to shot. A Hitchcock film is an organism, with the whole implied in every detail and every detail related to the whole.” By 1960 Hitchcock had directed four films often ranked among the greatest of all time: Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), and Psycho (1960). In 2012 Vertigo replaced Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane (1941) as the British Film Institute’s greatest film ever made. By 2016 seven of his films had been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry, including his personal favourite, Shadow of a Doubt (1943). He received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1979 and was knighted in December that year, four months before he died.
1/25 The Lodger 1927
When a landlady (Marie Ault) and her husband (Arthur Chesney) take in a new lodger (Ivor Novello), they’re overjoyed: He’s quiet, humble and pays a month’s rent in advance. But his mysterious and suspicious behavior soon has them wondering if he’s the killer terrorizing local blond girls. Their daughter, Daisy (June), a cocky model, is far less concerned, her attraction obvious. Her police-detective boyfriend (Malcolm Keen), in a pique of jealousy, seeks to uncover the lodger’s true identity.
2/25 Blackmail 1929
During a date, Alice White (Anny Ondra) has a fight with her boyfriend, Scotland Yard Officer Frank Webber (John Longden), and decides to leave with an artist named Mr. Crewe (Cyril Ritchard). Whey they get to the artist’s flat, Mr. Crewe attempts to force himself on Alice, and she kills him to defend herself. Frank investigates the case and, after realizing Alice is the culprit, seeks to help her. However, a thief (Donald Calthrop) with blackmail on his mind complicates matters.
3/25 The 39 Steps 1935
While on vacation in London, Canadian Richard Hannay (Robert Donat) becomes embroiled in an international spy ring related to the mysterious “39 steps.” Then he meets agent Annabella Smith (Lucie Mannheim), who is soon killed in his apartment. He must elude the police, who are hunting him for murder, while he tries to stop Professor Jordan (Godfrey Tearle) from sending secrets out of the country. Hannay is assisted by Pamela (Madeleine Carroll), an unwilling accomplice who discovers the truth.
4/25 Sabotage 1936
A ring of saboteurs is causing havoc in London with a series of explosive terrorist attacks. Karl Verloc (Oscar Homolka) is part of the group, but he maintains a cover as a kind movie theater owner. His wife (Sylvia Sidney) is beginning to suspect something, though, and so is Scotland Yard Detective Sgt. Ted Spencer (John Loder). What neither of them know, however, is that Verloc uses his wife’s little brother (Desmond Tester) to deliver the bombs in film canisters.
5/25 The Lady Vanishes 1938
On a train headed for England a group of travelers is delayed by an avalanche. Holed up in a hotel in a fictional European country, young Iris (Margaret Lockwood) befriends elderly Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty). When the train resumes, Iris suffers a bout of unconsciousness and wakes to find the old woman has disappeared. The other passengers ominously deny Miss Froy ever existed, so Iris begins to investigate with another traveler (Michael Redgrave) and, as the pair sleuth, romantic sparks fly.
6/25 Rebecca 1940
Story of a young woman who marries a fascinating widower only to find out that she must live in the shadow of his former wife, Rebecca, who died mysteriously several years earlier. The young wife must come to grips with the terrible secret of her handsome, cold husband, Max De Winter (Laurence Olivier). She must also deal with the jealous, obsessed Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson), the housekeeper, who will not accept her as the mistress of the house.
7/25 Foreign Correspondent 1940
Crime reporter John Jones (Joel McCrea) is turning in nothing but dull copy. His editor, unhappy with his work, hopes a change of scenery will be the thing Jones needs to get back on track. Re-assigned to Europe as a foreign correspondent, Jones is very much out of his element. When he stumbles on a spy ring, he feels ill-equipped to unravel the truth alone and he seeks help from a beautiful politician’s daughter (Laraine Day) and an urbane English journalist (George Sanders).
9/25 Suspicion 1941
Charming scoundrel Johnnie Aysgarth (Cary Grant) woos wealthy but plain Lina McLaidlaw (Joan Fontaine), who runs away with him despite the warnings of her disapproving father (Cedric Hardwicke). After their marriage, Johnnie’s risky financial ventures cause Lina to suspect he’s becoming involved in unscrupulous dealings. When his dear friend and business partner, Beaky (Nigel Bruce), dies under suspicious circumstances on a business trip, she fears her husband might kill her for her inheritance.
10/25 Saboteur 1942
Factory worker Barry Kane (Robert Cummings) is wrongfully accused of setting a deadly fire at an airplane plant in an apparent act of sabotage. Kane believes that the fire was set by another worker (Norman Lloyd), and he travels across the country to find the mysterious saboteur. Along the way he is forced to take Patricia Martin (Priscilla Lane) hostage, but as he begins to earn her trust, she turns from an unwilling captive to a willing accomplice in his quest to help clear his name.
11/25 Shadow of a Doubt 1943
Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten) visits his relatives in Santa Rosa. He is a very charming man, but his niece slowly realizes that he is wanted for murder and he soon recognizes her suspicions. Although one of the suspected murderers is killed and the case is considered closed, she still has her suspicions.
12/25 Lifeboat 1944
In this tense Alfred Hitchcock thriller, based on a John Steinbeck novella, American and British civilians who have survived the sinking of their ship by a German submarine struggle to reach land in a crowded lifeboat. When a German officer (Walter Slezak) is rescued from the water, the group allows him to board, but his presence only increases the tensions on the boat. Soon treachery ensues, and the population of the vessel gradually decreases as conflicts come to a head.
13/25 Spellbound 1945
When Dr. Anthony Edwardes (Gregory Peck) arrives at a Vermont mental hospital to replace the outgoing hospital director, Dr. Constance Peterson (Ingrid Bergman), a psychoanalyst, discovers Edwardes is actually an impostor. The man confesses that the real Dr. Edwardes is dead and fears he may have killed him, but cannot recall anything. Dr. Peterson, however is convinced his impostor is innocent of the man’s murder, and joins him on a quest to unravel his amnesia through psychoanalysis.
1899 – 1980
25 Greatest Films
Sunday – Monday
Part 2 Tomorrow Folks!