Alfred Hitchcock – The Birds [+Extras] (1963)

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The story begins as an innocuous romantic triangle involving wealthy, spoiled Tippi Hedren, handsome Rod Taylor, and schoolteacher Suzanne Pleshette. The human story begins in a San Francisco pet shop and culminates at the home of Taylor’s mother (Jessica Tandy) at Bodega Bay, where the characters’ sense of security is slowly eroded by the curious behavior of the birds in the area. At first, it’s no more than a sea gull swooping down and pecking at Tippi’s head. Things take a truly ugly turn when hundreds of birds converge on a children’s party. There is never an explanation as to why the birds have run amok, but once the onslaught begins, there’s virtually no letup. Continue reading Alfred Hitchcock – The Birds [+Extras] (1963)

Alfred Hitchcock – Notorious [+Extras] (1946)

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One of Hitchcock’s finest films of the ’40s, using its espionage plot about Nazis hiding out in South America as a mere MacGuffin, in order to focus on a perverse, cruel love affair between US agent Grant and alcoholic Bergman, whom he blackmails into providing sexual favours for the German Rains as a means of getting information. Suspense there is, but what really distinguishes the film is the way its smooth, polished surface illuminates a sickening tangle of self-sacrifice, exploitation, suspicion, and emotional dependence. Grant, in fact, is the least sympathetic character in the dark, ever-shifting relationships on view, while Rains, oppressed by a cigar-chewing, possessive mother and deceived by all around him, is treated with great generosity. Less war thriller than black romance, it in fact looks forward to the misanthropic portrait of manipulation in Vertigo. — GA, Time Out Film Guide 13 Continue reading Alfred Hitchcock – Notorious [+Extras] (1946)

Alfred Hitchcock – Number Seventeen (1932)

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This early Alfred Hitchcock thriller is certainly not among the master’s best — and the poor quality of most surviving prints does not help matters — but Number 17 is an entertaining little journey into mystery. Students of the director and his style will be the most appreciative of the effort, more willing to overlook the awkwardness of much of the film in order to ascertain glimpses of things to come in later films. And there’s a lot that’s awkward, from the not-really-surprising ending to several confusingly shot sequences (and some excessively choppy editing throughout). The climactic train sequence is emblematic of the film as a whole; portions of it are exciting and effective, but much of it is undercut by poor pacing and timing that just doesn’t quite work. Ultimately, it does build up to a good head of steam, but it has to strain mightily to get there. The cast is good, overcoming the underdeveloped nature of many of their roles; Leon M. Lion does especially well in the comic relief lead and Anne Grey is quite effective as the mysterious “mute” member of the gang. John Stuart projects that time-honored British mixture of manliness and restraint, and Donald Calthrop is nice and oily as one of the thieves. 17 is rough going at times, but it’s worth sticking out its short running time. — Craig Butler Continue reading Alfred Hitchcock – Number Seventeen (1932)

Alfred Hitchcock – Psycho (1960)

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from AllMovie
In 1960, Alfred Hitchcock was already famous as the screen’s master of suspense (and perhaps the best-known film director in the world) when he released Psycho and forever changed the shape and tone of the screen thriller. From its first scene, in which an unmarried couple balances pleasure and guilt in a lunchtime liaison in a cheap hotel (hardly a common moment in a major studio film in 1960), Psycho announced that it was taking the audience to places it had never been before, and on that score what followed would hardly disappoint. Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is unhappy in her job at a Phoenix, Arizona real estate office and frustrated in her romance with hardware store manager Sam Loomis (John Gavin). One afternoon, Marion is given $40,000 in cash to be deposited in the bank. Minutes later, impulse has taken over and Marion takes off with the cash, hoping to leave Phoenix for good and start a new life with her purloined nest egg. 36 hours later, paranoia and exhaustion have started to set in, and Marion decides to stop for the night at the Bates Motel, where nervous but personable innkeeper Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) cheerfully mentions that she’s the first guest in weeks, before he regales her with curious stories about his mother. There’s hardly a film fan alive who doesn’t know what happens next, but while the shower scene is justifiably the film’s most famous sequence, there are dozens of memorable bits throughout this film. Continue reading Alfred Hitchcock – Psycho (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock – North by Northwest (1959)

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NORTH BY NORTHWEST
Since he is a peripatetic operative who loves to beat about the bush while beating about the countryside, director Alfred Hitchcock and a covey of willing and able traveling companions have made North by Northwest, which was unveiled at the Music Hall yesterday, a suspenseful and delightful Cook’s Tour of some of the more photogenic spots in these United States.

Although they are involved in lightning-fast romance and some loose intrigue, it is all done in brisk, genuinely witty, and sophisticated style. With Mr. Hitchcock at the helm, moving North by Northwest is a colorful and exciting route for spies, counterspies, and lovers. Continue reading Alfred Hitchcock – North by Northwest (1959)

Alfred Hitchcock – Strangers on a Train (1951)

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‘Strangers on a Train,’ Another Hitchcock Venture, Arrives at the Warner Theatre
It appears that Alfred Hitchcock is fascinated with the Svengali theme, as well as with his own dexterity in performing macabre tricks. His last picture, “Rope,” will be remembered as a stunt (which didn’t succeed) involving a psychopathic murderer who induced another young man to kill for thrills. Now, in his latest effort, called “Strangers on a Train,” which served to reopen the Strand Theatre last night under its new name, the Warner, Mr. Hitchcock again is tossing a crazy murder story in the air and trying to con us into thinking that it will stand up without support. Continue reading Alfred Hitchcock – Strangers on a Train (1951)

Alfred Hitchcock – To Catch A Thief (1955)

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Synopsis:
A series of ingenious jewelry robberies takes place on the French Riviera. The police suspect John Robbie – an expert thief who was known as “The Cat” before he retired from crime. Robbie enlists the help of an insurance man to guess where the real thief will strike next. He befriends wealthy widow Jessie Stevens and her attractive daughter Frances. Continue reading Alfred Hitchcock – To Catch A Thief (1955)