FANS OF ALFRED Hitchcock films will be cheered by news that the IFI is to screen all 52 of his surviving films.
That would be one for every week in the year but the IFI (Irish Film Institute) on Dublin’s Eustace Street plans to squeeze them all into a four-month session, beginning this coming Sunday, December 9. The season – the longest-ever undertaken by the IFI – will end in March 2013 so it should brighten the dull days of the new year for film buffs.
Hitchcock’s work spans from the early days of sound in movies – the ‘talkies’ – in the UK right through to some of his most famous films in the 1950s and 1960s. Here are some to look out for (forgive us any sins of omission – there is hardly a more prolific director in the history of film).
Juno and the Paycock (1930) - Just for pure novelty purposes. Did you know that Hitchcock directed a film version of the Seán O’Casey play? Neither did we.
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) - One of the most successful for Hitchcock in his career in the UK. Assassinations, sun-worshipping cults, and a shooting contest in Switzerland. Amazing, not least because one of the actors, Peter Lorre, had recently fled Germany and had no English so learned his lines phonetically.
The Lady Vanishes (1938) – The New York Times picked this as its ‘Best Picture of 1938’ – it’s a highly original spy movie where the spy is an elderly lady and the secret message is carried in the tune of a Balkan folk song. And in messages scrawled in condensation on train windows, according to this clip:
Lifeboat (1943) - This heralded a series of ‘limited-set’ films by Hitchcock. It’s a perceptive study of how quickly human society unravels under stresss, as a bunch of people are stuck together in a lifeboat after a U-boat and a ship sink in the North Atlantic.
Spellbound (1945) - Another psychological puzzle as Ingrid Bergman tries to figure out if her patient Gregory Peck has really lost his memory after being accused of murder. Look out for the Salvador Dalí-designed dream sequence.
via Felipe Ruiz de Chávez/Youtube
Notorious (1946) - Pretty controversial subject matter for a film just after the end of World War II: Ingrid Bergman is asked to spy on Nazis in South America where they have escaped after the fall of the regime.
Strangers on a Train (1951) - Ah, the ‘criss-cross’ murder plot. The perfect murder? Perhaps not…
Rear Window (1954) – Hitchcock favourite Jimmy Stewart gets more than he bargained for his voyeurism. Grace Kelly is luminous and the quintessential ‘Hitchcock blonde’, although that became a dubious epithet as those characters were both idolised and victimised in his films. This is a great vintage trailer for it:
Vertigo (1958) – Jimmy Stewart’s transformation of Kim Novak’s shopgirl into the image of his dead beloved is chilling. The original poster for the film, designed by Saul Bass, is also a classic. The film also featured Barbara Bel Geddes – later to be Miss Ellie in Dallas – as Jimmy’s long-suffering gal pal.
North by Northwest (1959) – Another gem from Hitchcock’s golden thriller era, and super stylish. Notwithstanding the bawdy euphemism of a train entering a tunnel at the end of the film.
Psycho (1960) – You’ll never take a shower again. (And, indeed, star Janet Leigh never did as she was so traumatised by the filming of the infamous murder scene).
The Birds (1963) – One of Hitchcock’s most famous movies. Horror, tension and pyschological terror are the master’s stock in trade. You have to feel for Tippi Hedren who spent half the film either being pecked to bits by birds or running away from them. She speaks about being directed by him in this clip:
Marnie (1964) - Tippi Hedren, one of Hitchcock’s favourite blondes, is a thief with all sorts of psychological issues after a traumatic childhood experience. We won’t ruin the ending but…