Skip to content

10 Most Underrated Hitchcock Movies You Should Watch Now

26 November 2012 | Features, Film Lists | by David Zou

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)

theladyvanishes

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

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.

 

Lifeboat (1943)

lifeboat

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.

 

Notorious (1946)

notorious

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)

marlene_dietrich-stagefright

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)

strangers on a train

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)

I Confess pic

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)

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

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.

 

Frenzy (1972)

frenzy

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?

 

Read other Hitchcock posts on Taste of Cinema

Fashions in Rear Window

Criterion Gems: The Lady Vanishes (1938) dir. Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock – Director of the Year 2012

Top 5 Hitchcock Villains You Wouldn’t Like to Meet

8 Trademarks of Hitchcock Movies

 

 

 

 


   

Other Brilliant Movie Posts On The Web
   

Like Our Facebook Page and Get Daily Updates
   
  • Glad you’ve put Shadow of a Doubt and Strangers on a Train on here, I love both those films, particularly SOAT. I wasn’t overly fussed on Frenzy though, I didn’t think it felt very Hitchcock-like.

    • I love both films too,as I said,Frenzy is not a typical Hitchcockian film and the humor and violence here are more outstanding than suspense,I enjoyed it a lot.

  • Great post! Of the Hitchcock films I’ve seen so far, Strangers on a Train is one of my favorites.

    • Thanks for the comments,Steph.Strangers on a Train seems to get lots of love from Hitch fans.

  • Shadow of a Doubt, Notorious, Strangers on a Train, and Frenzy are four of my all time favorite Hitchcock’s. Great picks there. I think Rope and Marnie are fair to include here. Marnie is actually really intense for the time it was made.

    • Thanks Alex.Notorious and Strangers on a Train could be in my top 5,I wasn’t impressed by Marnie the first time,need to re-visit it.

      • Marnie is generally considered by critics to be one of Hitchcock’s greatest achievements artistically. You should watch it again, and Rope. It’s quite a brilliantly coded film.

  • I’ve actually never seen I CONFESS or STAGE FRIGHT. I’ll have to remedy that. I totally disagree about the remake of THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH being superior to the original. The original is a leaner, swifter piece of storytelling.
    My personal votes for the most underrated Hitchcocks are THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY (the Blu-ray of which is STUNNING) and FAMILY PLOT (my favorite of his post-PSYCHO works and a very fitting end to his career).

    • Watch I CONFESS and STAGE FRIGHT,Mike,two brilliant performances from Montgomery Clift and Marlene Dietrich.I need the Criterion Blu of THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH original version to re-judge both films.Never seen THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY and FAMILY PLOT,since you recommended,I will have a try.

  • Don’t think I ever saw a boring Hitchcock movie, but I was disappointed by 39 Steps. The Lady Vanishes was a real sleeper. I watched it because there wasn’t much else to watch. Wow was I surprised. Foreign Correspondent caught me in the same way

  • Great list. A bunch of these I only have a vague memory of, because I saw them so long ago. About time I watched them again. I’m going to check Notorious (1946) this weekend, maybe it can change my mind about Cary Grant, who I think is often a wooden actor, although in their defense the acting was different style in those days.

    • Cary Grant as a wooden actor? What film gave you such impression? LOL. His performance in Notorious is superb,you should give him a chance to defend himself,I’d like to hear your opinions afterwards.

      • @David: The handful of films I’ve seen him in, there is very little variation from film to film, he’s just, cary grant…. In my opinion he doesn’t become a new character, he just stays being Cary grant. His voice stays in the same tone. Maybe I need to give him the benefit of the doubt, cause I haven’t seen all his roles. I don’t dislike the guy, I just don’t think he’s a great great actor. For me great actors have range, and can do different things.

        • I know what you mean now,Chris.You are right,Cary Grant remains as the Cary Grant in all his movies,people fell in love with his roles at that time and didn’t want him to change.It was his physical presence rather than his acting skills that made his a big star,so if you are expecting great performances like Brando and Stewart contributed in many of their films,you won’t get it.

  • Pingback: Alfred Hitchcock – Director of the Year 2012 | Taste of Cinema()

  • Pingback: 20 Facts You Don’t Know About Alfred Hitchcock | Taste of Cinema()

  • I’d add Rope to the list. It’s very suspenseful and is shot in an interesting way.

  • thomasnilsen

    Cary Grant “wooden”!??!?! LMAO WTF

    There has hardly been a less wooden and more charismatic actor in the history of motion pictures. I suggest you watch something like “Charade” and then eat your words.

    • moviesandsongs365

      @thomasnilsen: I was impressed by Cary Grant’s lively performance in Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), which I saw recently. I’ll check out “Charade”