As the new film “Hitchcock” premiered in the US, a second wave of Hitchcock heat(the first wave ocuured after the Sight&Sound poll. When his Vertigo beat Citizen Kane to the top) began to hit the media. With all the buzz going on,Taste of Cinema is following the trend to present some of the most kick-ass Hitchcock lists you are gonna ever see. Hitch fans, you probably wouldn’t want to miss the posts here in the next week or two.
Today our topic is the most underrated Hitchcock movies, you might probably say that there is no underrated Hitchcock since every one of them is quality work. That’s absolutely true. However, some films are not often talked about as his most famous ones like Psycho, Rear Window, The Birds, North by Northwest, and Vertigo. Anything other than these five should qualify for a spot in this list, let’s take a look at what films we have chosen.
The Lady Vanishes (1939)
It is a shame that The 39 Steps is a more well-known film than this one for its reputation of “the first real established model of Hitch’s ‘wrong man on the run’ plot stereotype”. Because in every single way,The Lady Vanishes beats it by a mile. No only it is a highly entertaining with witty dialogues, electric performances and fantastic suspense, but also it marks Hitchcock’s genius of working out the best work in a limited condition. Also, it might be the most interesting Hitchcock movie, check it out.
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Shadow of a Doubt simply twisted American people’s idea about what a typical American small town should look like, Hitchcock makes everything people get used to in a Frank Capra film menacing. The story of the evil undercurrent beneath the town citizens has huge influences on the following quintessential American films like To Kill a Mocking Bird and Blue Velvet. It’s interesting that all the fear were brought to the US by a British director, maybe that’s the reason Hitchcock consider it as his favorite among all his works because this one brought him the most satisfactory of success.
Before Rope there was Lifeboat, Hitchcock’s first experiment on filming in a single setting. I consider it a better one than Rope because the latter one is too overwhelmed by the technique that viewer could easily get distracted from the amazing dialogues. Setting in the background of WWII, and adapted from a John Steinbeck story, I would call Lifeboat “12 Angry Men on a boat”. There is another big reason you should see the film, the most difficult and brilliant cameo Hitchcock had ever made in his movies.
Too often neglected, I think Notorious marks Hitchcock’s highest achievements in romantic spy thrillers.This is the best acted film Hitchcock has ever made, and the triangle relations among Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains characters are so subtle and attracting, Madame Anna Sebastian might be the most vicious mother in all Hitchcock movies. People talked about the cellar scene and the big close-up to the key the most, but the last 10 minutes is arguably the best 10 minutes in any Hitchcock works. It showed his brilliance of pacing the film with dialogues, if you haven’t studied it yet, watch it again.
Stage Fright (1950)
Too many credits had been given to Hitch girls like Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly and Joan Fontaine, but Marlene Dietrich’s name worth a mention even for his only appearance in Hitchcock’s film Stage Fright. Because she is the very reason to watch the film. Hitchcock himself admitted that the flashback in the opening sequence is one of the rare fatal mistakes he had ever made. But this flaw shouldn’t prevent you from watching this film because like what I said a million times, you don’t watch a Hitchcock films only for its story.
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Though not mentioned enough as Vertigo and Psycho, Strangers on a Train probably has as many memorable scenes as in those films. For example, how can you forget the opening scene where the camera only shot the feet of the passengers on the train, or the tennis match scene where Hitch intercut so frequently to raise the intensity, or the murder scene where Hitch gave a close-up to the glasses, or the final electric marry-go-round fight scene. It’s a shame that Robert Walker didn’t win an Oscar for playing Bruno Anthony, the most memorable villain in all Hitchcock movies.
I Confess (1953)
One of the closet work Hitchcock projected his Catholic fear to the audiences, and the most interesting opening sequence in all Hitchcock movies. Montgomery Clift did a wonderful job of portraying a devout Catholic priest, who is torn apart by his career ethics and self-conscious. It is worth noting that I Confess was a favorite among French New Wave film makers.
The Man Who Knew too Much (1956)
Like what Hitchcock said himself,the original version of The Man Who Knew too Much is a work of amateur and the 1956 color version is a work of professional. The latter version not only upgrades in its visuals but also the story telling, Hitchcock cut all the loose parts in the 1934 films and made the 1956 version more intense. The film features one of the most Hitchcockian scene in the Royal Albert Hall and a delicious song from famous singer-actress Doris Day called Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be).
The Wrong Man (1956)
The Wrong Man has a typical American story that audience can easily identify with, only with Hitchcockian touches and spins. The name of the film is the essential element in most of Hitchcock’s movies and the film features some of the best mise-en-scene in all Hitchcock movies including a text-book quality scene in a bank. Henry Fonda played the wrong man who was almost devastated by the world he is living in, Vera Miles almost got his next role in the legendary Vertigo for her performance in this film but regretfully missed it for pregnancy.
Hitchcock’s best period last probably longer than many people has thought it would do. In his second to last film shot in London, Hitchcock presented his most violent and brutal rape scene and most hilarious dining scene in Frenzy.The shot where the camera leaves the crime scene has been used by following directors repeatedly, which made the shot the most studied and copied shots of all Hitchcock shots.
It’s Your Turn
What other underrated Hitchcock movies are missed from the list?
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