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Thursday 5 July 2012


Every so often I revel in a day off to snuggle up at home with tea and my Hitchcock boxset. I saw Rear Window when I was merely a young'un and the seed of love for these super stylish, classic thrillers, horrors and suspense films was sown.
Recently I wasn't feeling too great and so crawled back into bed with the aforementioned tea and box set (and eh, my laptop..staring at the cover of a box set would be a bit pointless really). While I've pretty much seen every Hitchcock film ever made, this post would be stupidly long if I went through them all, so instead here are my favourites:

The Birds
This 1963 horror stars one of Hitch's favourite icy blondes,  Tippi Hedren, playing a somewhat standoffish socialite who decides to follow her potential love interest from San Francisco to his small-town Californian home, but ends up with more than she bargained for when mysterious attacks involving birds start to plague his small fishing village. The suspense is built up so slowly in this that each episode of violence, although kind of expected, is still quite shocking- herein lies the power of the mighty Hitchcock.
At times the acting is a little wooden and some of the special effects aren't the best (still quite good though considering it was 1963) but to this day it's creepy enough to make the most jaded film goer jump in their seat. As a side note- I've also read the short story of this by Daphne du Maurier and seen the play, both of which are completely different to the film- Hitchcock took the general bones of the story and made it his own. That's neither here nor there but a bit of useless information never hurt anyone.

Potentially one of Hitch's most well known and critically acclaimed films, this 1960 horror still packs quite the punch. Starring Anthony Perkins (Norman Bates himself) and Janet Leigh (hapless victim/criminal/blonde beauty Marion Crane), Psycho shocked viewers at the time for the film's voyeuristic and violent scenes. Rumour has it the story is based loosely on that of real life cannibal and human-skin-wearer Ed you can imagine that this isn't exactly fun for all the family type of stuff. Personally, I love it (not the human-skin-wearing and cannibalism, before you alert the authorities)- the storyline, the sets, the UNBEARABLE suspense! For anyone who hasn't seen it, the story starts off with Marion swindling her boss out of a load of money and skipping town- we're with her the whole way from the beginning so our only real frame of reference is her..until things end badly when a rainstorm forces her to pull over into the Bates motel for the night..and, eh have a shower. Ahem. The viewer is then left a bit helpless- the film's heroin, although clearly flawed, is now gone and this all happens not too far into the plot. What we thought was the story- Marion being a big mad thief and generally a femme fatale turns out to be a rouse. This was an unusual tactic for films of the time and makes it still quite unique. I won't tell you the ending- (one of the most shocking scenes in any of his films) because this is well worth a watch if you've missed it up till now.

Ah, Jimmy Stewart. One of Hitch's favourite actors, and mine too. Rope was made in 1948 and is based on the play of the same name, which in itself was based on the real life murder case of Leopold and Loeb. The film opens on the murder (using a length of rope, hence the title) of a college student by his classmates Brandon and Phillip, who then place his body in a trunk, which they cover and use as a table for snacks for their party that same evening. Nice. Amongst the guests at the party are the parents of the boy they just killed..the purpose being to see if they could commit the perfect murder and not only get away with it but get away with it on a grand scale by being super great actors. So far, so macabre. Unfortunately, they haven't bargained on the awesome detection skills of one Mr Jimmy Stewart- who plays their old college ethics professor. I know it sounds a bit grim but again, the suspense is just so well done that you're on the edge of your seat until the final scene. Amazing. (Also, if you're not singing that "On a rope, on a rope got me hanging on a rope" etc song already, well you are now. If I must suffer with a catchy-ass song, then every one else must too. Apologies).

This 1958 classic again stars Jimmy Stewart, this time as a private detective (suffering from acrophobia, hence the title) hired to follow his friend's wife Madeline (played by Kim Novak- another one of Hitchcock's cool blondes) around, to get to the bottom of her recent odd behaviour. Instead of closing the case as usual however, he becomes obsessed with her, falls in love and they start a romance. All goes well until tragedy strikes- she commits suicide. He ends up in a sanatorium, suffering from depression, his life in tatters. When he re-emerges back into the world he then sees a woman who he thinks is Madeline, although she looks different. He follows THIS woman (I know, right? Stalker much) back to her hotel where he introduces himself and they start seeing each other. As you do. He's still obsessed with Madeline however, and gets this new woman, Judy, to start dressing like her and wearing her hair like her etc. Way to be creepy, Jimmy. Anyway, I can't tell you the ending of this cause that would be cruel but needless to say this is a magnificent thriller and well worth watching- for the psychedelic falling scene alone, if nothing else.

My all time favourite, however, is the aforementioned Rear Window. I could watch this a million times and never get sick of it- it's practically perfect in every respect, in my humble opinion.
As I'm going to a special screening of this in the Sugar Club for Film Fatale on Saturday night though I'm going to leave this to a separate post. "Thanks be to Jesus", says you, there's only so much of my Hitchcock ramblings any one person can take. That said, I have plenty of other favourites, including Dial M for Murder, Marnie, Rebecca and Strangers on a Train so there shall no doubt be a part 2 coming your way at some stage and you can also expect a post devoted entirely to Hitchcock's famous blondes! The other day I was particularly excited to read Emma's post on about Chanel's upcoming A/W range, inspired by Hitchcock's films. Chanel AND Hitchcock???!! Swoon.

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