Guest Column: A Beginner’s Guide to Alfred Hitchcock — 3 Must-See Movies
Aimée MacArthur is the proprietor of Indianapolis Amy, “a look at fun, food, and life in the greater Indianapolis area.” In this guest column, Aimée offers Film Yap readers her suggestions on summertime viewing options when it comes to the master himself, Alfred Hitchcock. You can visit Aimee’s blog at http://indianapolisamy.typepad.com/.
Summer is here, and it’s a good time to watch a few classic mysteries and thrillers. I always look to the ultimate master: Alfred Hitchcock. Here are three of my favorite Hitchcock movies, with plenty of thrills, suspense, handsome men and dazzling ladies that’ll keep you leaning in closer to the TV to see what happens next. As always, Hitchcock makes a cameo in each of these films, so see if you can spot him. All three movies are available on Amazon.com and Netflix.com.
Stars: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, Judith Anderson
Based on the Daphne du Maurier novel, “Rebecca” is the story of a common young woman (Joan Fontaine) working as a wealthy American’s assistant who meets and quickly marries the charming and handsome, yet tormented, widower Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier).
De Winter owns half of England (practically) and brings the new Mrs. de Winter to live with him on his palatial estate, Manderley. You’d think it would be English roses and wedded bliss, but Maxim can’t stop acting tormented and secretive about his deceased wife Rebecca. Who could blame him? The new Mrs. de Winter’s got her hands full with Manderley, an estate filled with memories of Rebecca (described as beautiful throughout the film) and a bully housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson), who was obsessed with Rebecca and is not about to accept the new Mrs. de Winter. There are twists and turns, including a murder investigation and trial, and most of all, outstanding performances by Olivier (who makes brooding angst look sexy) and Anderson as the super creepy and menacing Mrs. Danvers, who deserves a few good slaps and a straitjacket. *1940 Academy Award winner for Best Picture.
“Rear Window” (1954)
Stars: Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter, Raymond Burr
In this Hitchcock classic (many critics believe it’s his finest film), L.B. Jeffries (Jimmy Stewart) is a world-famous photographer recuperating in his apartment after breaking his leg. He’s bored, stuck in a wheelchair and spends most of his time staring out the window, which has a view of the courtyard and several other apartments. While snooping on his neighbors, Jeffries is particularly intrigued by Lars Thorwald’s (Raymond Burr) apartment and his suddenly missing wife. Where is she? Was she murdered? Or is Jeffries imagining things? Luckily, Jeffries has a savvy socialite girlfriend, Lisa (Grace Kelly), and a street smart nurse, Stella (Thelma Ritter), to help him play detective. Are you a bit of a voyeur? Watch “Rear Window” and you’ll think twice before you grab the binoculars to spy on a neighbor.
“North by Northwest” (1959)
Stars: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Leo G. Carroll
In this nightmarish case of bad timing and mistaken identity, Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is a charming Madison Avenue ad man (think Don Draper from “Mad Men”) mistaken for a spy named George Kaplan. Thornhill can’t convince the bad guys otherwise and is kidnapped, escapes murder and goes on the run to clear his name and find the real George Kaplan. Thornhill’s journey takes him from New York to Chicago to Indiana, then back to Chicago and to South Dakota. On the train, he meets a lovely traveler named Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint), who is willing to help him find George Kaplan. There is nonstop action backed by some of the best movie music and lots of suspense, including a memorable visit to Mt. Rushmore. And who can forget one of the ultimate screen villains (with a way with words) — the devilish, Phillip Vandamm (James Mason)?