The Best Alfred Hitchcock Movies

Such is legendary director Alfred Hitchcock's reputation that he still gets more Internet searches than his contemporary Steven Spielberg (who Hitchcock booted off the set of Family Plot in 1976, even though the young Spielberg had just had a monster hit with Jaws).

So what is it about Hitchcock's work that endures? Mystery and black humour to be sure, but perhaps more than anything his use of the camera and characterization to tell the story, NOT pages of dialogue. The scripts are sharp, to be sure, but it's the action on screen that counts.

If you are just discovering Hitchcock or rediscovering him, here are some top DVD selections, most with documentaries and other extras.

1. Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection: The Lodger, Sabotage, Young and Innocent, Rebecca, Lifeboat, Spellbound, Notorious, The Paradine Case. Top-notch collection of Hitchcock thrillers with stars like Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Laurence Olivier and Gregory Peck. Fabulous documentaries in this newly restored box set from MGM/Fox plus informative liner notes.
2. The 39 Steps (1935): One of Hitchcock's early British films that caught the attention of Hollywood. Canadian Richard Hannay (Robert Donat) is on the run from British police after a woman caught up in an espionage plot is murdered in his London apartment.
3: To Catch A Thief (1955): A light and amusing thriller with gorgeous French Riviera locations about a retired jewel thief wrongly accused of new crimes. This was the film that tempted Cary Grant out of early retirement and paired him with the gorgeous Grace Kelly.
4. Vertigo (1958): Considered by many to be Hitchcock's masterpiece. James Stewart is a cop who quit his job after his fear of heights led to the death of a colleague. Hired by an old friend to follow his troubled wife, Stewart discovers the woman (Kim Novak) is obsessed by a dead ancester "mad Carlotta" - and soon he's obsessed with his subject, too. Fascinating blend of mystery, reincarnation and murder.
5. North By Northwest (1959): Cary Grant's best film as he plays an advertising executive mistaken for a spy. Framed for murder and on the run from foreign agents and the police, Grant romances the beautiful Eve (Eva Marie Saint) and has a nasty encounter with a crop spraying airplane in one of cinema's most unforgettable sequences.
6. Psycho (1960): Easily the most shocking and controversial of Hitchcock's films. A slasher flick, no less, years ahead of its time and much imitated. Janet Leigh, on the run after stealing $40,000, discovers the isolated Bates Motel where the lonely Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) lives with his nagging - and ultimately terrifying - invalid mother. Still very scary after all these years.
7. The Birds (1963): Hitchcock took the very scary thought of birds turning on man (they outnumbers us by billions) and created an unforgettable, nightmarish flick. Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren star.

 

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