02 April 2014

Hitchcock Roundup

Clockwise, starting top left, I Confess (1953), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Lifeboat (1944), 
Rear Window (1954), To Catch a Thief (1955), The Wrong Man (1956), and Notorious (1946).

The “Complete Hitchcock” series at Film Forum is over, and I have to say that I feel like a bad cinephile since I only managed to attend a handful of screenings. Even though I had seen the “Hitchcock Nine” (Hitchcock’s nine restored silent films) last year at BAM and some of his other films before on the big screen (Rebecca, The Lady Vanishes, The 39 Steps, Suspicion, Spellbound, Rope, Strangers on a Train, Dial M For Murder, and The Birds), I had planned on seeing more than I did.

The ones I did manage to catch were: Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Hitchcock’s personal favourite, which is great film with a lovely Northern California setting and Joseph Cotton playing evil to perfection; Lifeboat (1944), which can come off as a piece of war propaganda at times but succeeds due to the always entertaining Tallulah Bankhead; I Confess (1953), a film that should get more attention, especially for the compelling performance by the brilliant Montgomery Clift; Rear Window (1954), which I absolutely adore from its fantastic set to Grace Kelly's unforgettable entrance; To Catch a Thief (1955), the first screening that I saw in the series (reviewed here); The Wrong Man (1956), which was shot on location in New York and is interesting at times but for the most part seems like your run-of-the-mill detective story; and Notorious (1946), my favourite Hitchcock film, which has a great location (Rio), the drop-dead gorgeous duo of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, one of Hitchcock’s greatest MacGuffins, and Nazis, loads of them.

Seeing a bunch of Hitchcock films in a short period of time reminded me of why I enjoy his work: the mix of humour with the macabre, the spot-on casting, the striking use of shadow and light, and the often brilliant scores. It also made me realize that I prefer his films from the 1940s, Cary Grant is at his most handsome when angry, and regardless of what has been written or said about the man himself, Hitchcock was a great director.

Now it’s on to “Tout Truffaut” at Film Forum: three weeks of the works of another of my favourites, the French New Wave director Francois Truffaut, including all of his Antoine Doinel films. It’s a perfect pairing as Truffaut was influenced by Hitchcock and interviewed him in depth in 1962, recording more than 25 hours of their discussion. At the American Film Institute Salute to Alfred Hitchcock in 1979, Truffaut said, "In America, you call this man "Hitch." In France, we call him "Monsieur Hitchcock." You respect him because he shoots scenes of love as if they were scenes of murder. We respect him because he shoots scenes of murder like scenes of love." Film Forum, here I come.

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