Patrick’s 100 Movies – Part 2 of 10
I began the ‘Patrick’s 100’ series of favorite movies in 2008, but I am updating these posts to complete the full 100 titles, which I failed to do back then!
A funny thing happened on the way to completing the ‘Patrick’s 100’ list of favorite movies. Somehow, I managed to stop short at the first seven posts. So, I have 11 additional years’ worth of films to flesh out that remaining 30.
I’m reposting the original posts now. So we can look back on what originally made up my favorites.
You can find the first edition of the Patrick’s 100 Movies here.
As before, these are in no particular order. But this time, I selected 10 movies with the same director, Sir Alfred Hitchcock. The first two on this list, Psycho and Vertigo are my favorites of his work.
My longtime readers probably already know that I’m an Alfred Hitchcock fan. I think he was a genius when it came to telling a story and there are still young directors being influenced by his work. There are some obvious titles that any fan of Hitch would have, and at least one that they probably don’t talk about all that much.
11. ‘Psycho’ (1960)
Probably the best horror movie ever made, as long as you go in not knowing the surprise ending, Psycho was intentionally made in black and white because Hitch felt that color would be too gory.
Hitchcock also did not include nudity in the film, although he pushed that envelope as far as he could. I imagine he had a great deal of fun with the censors over this. The famous shower scene was cut together so quickly that one censor was convinced he saw a naked breast. But he was wrong.
When Gus Van Sant made a remake, he did exactly what Hitchcock didn’t: he made the film in color and with nudity. Way to miss the point!
For those of us who rush to get to a movie on time, or at least on time enough that we miss the endless previews and not any of the movie itself, we can thank this film for starting that tradition: in the old days, it was customary for people to just show up in the middle of a film and figure out what was what as it went along. Since the top-billed star of the movie was shockingly killed off in the first third, Hitch demanded that his audience see the movie from the beginning, and got movie theaters to play along, thus adding to the intrigue of what the movie was about. Even today, its low-budget shooting is enough to send a chill on a dark and stormy night.
12. ‘Vertigo’ (1958)
Vertigo is a haunting film about a woman tortured by ghosts from the past, and an ex-detective hired to track her to make sure no harm comes to her. The detective becomes obsessed with the woman when tragedy strikes. But after he recovers, his obsession is reignited when he sees someone who could be the spitting image of the woman he had been hired to protect.
One of the reasons I like this film so much is personal: years ago I visited San Francisco and was able to see at least a few of the scenes in the picture in person. I stood as close as one can to the spot at the Presidio at Fort Hood below the Golden Gate Bridge where Kim Novak jumped into San Francisco Bay.
It’s always difficult for me to choose a single all-time favorite film. But of all of the films that will eventually be featured in this Patrick’s 100 feature, if I was really pushed to select one absolute favorite, this would have to be it.
13. ‘Rope’ (1948)
This could be one of Hitch’s least-known color pictures, and that’s likely because of the fact that its odd shooting style made the pacing drag throughout.
For this movie, Hitch decided to shoot the film as if it were a stage play. The camera moves around the set, following the action, drifting from one conversation to another where appropriate, and films a complete reel at a time. One reel consisted of about nine or ten minutes of film, so you end up with a movie full of ten-minute takes pieced together while the camera pans behind someone’s back: it’s the old reel on one side, and when the camera moves back out from the person’s back, you’ve started a new reel. The problem with this, of course, is that you see precisely what Hitch was trying to hide.
Screenwriter Arthur Laurents complained about the casting of the movie, which was supposedly about two gay killers who kill a classmate just to experience the sensation of killing (borrowing from the real-life Leopold and Loeb case) was supposed to have, as some minor subplot, the fact that their teacher had previously had some relationship with one of them; teacher Jimmy Stewart isn’t believable as having had a torrid affair with anyone, and since the alleged “gay” subplot is never even mentioned, you’re left thinking that something isn’t quite right beyond the murder itself. The concept of what they do with the body during a dinner party makes for a suspenseful flick despite the slow points.
14. ‘The Trouble With Harry’ (1955)
Leave it to Alfred Hitchcock to turn a murder into a black comedy about a corpse that won’t stay in the ground! The whole “whodunit” part is almost lost in the race to keep the victim from being discovered, which makes it all the more fun.
15. ‘Shadow of a Doubt’ (1943)
This is rumored to be one of Hitchcock’s personal favorites, his daughter has told interviewers, because he loved the idea of bringing menace to a small town. Uncle Charlie is that menace, and his namesake realizes during his visit to her comically-clueless family that all is not what it seems with everyone’s favorite relative.
16. ‘Rear Window’ (1954)
While I like this movie, I don’t think I like it quite as much as most of Hitchcock fans seem to. I definitely like the concept, though, because if any of us found ourselves immobilized in our apartment which happened to overlook such an oddball collection of characters, we’d all sit there staring. But I think I’d at least be smart enough to make sure the lights were all off first! Raymond Burr plays a great heavy. (Pardon the pun.)
17. ‘The Birds’ (1963)
Of all of Hitch’s films, this is probably the only one for which I could imagine a valid case for a remake. The technology of special effects back in the 1960s didn’t really do this thriller about birds suddenly turning on mankind justice.
Then again, even with some effects that today look like effects, the acting and the suspense is still very enjoyable. A remake, though, could also help produce that ending Hitch wanted but wasn’t able to shoot because of budget constraints. The original ending — at least, the planned ending — had the human victims of the bird attack escaping their small town only to approach the Golden Gate Bridge and find it covered with birds. What an ending that would have been!
18. ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ (1956)
The crash of the cymbals is the cue to murder. And the journey to that cymbal crash takes a typical American family from Marrakech to London in a web of deceit and espionage. Doris Day surprised the makers of the film for her dramatic acting ability, and the song she performed, “Que Sera, Sera,” became a hit, even if it didn’t make a whole lot of sense in this particular story.
19. ‘Strangers On a Train’ (1951)
I’ll kill yours…you kill mine. Crisscross. That’s the proposal from a man who hates his father to a man who hates his wife. The trouble is, one of the men doesn’t take the proposal as seriously as the other. It’s great suspense with some clever moments, including a humorous crowd shot at a tennis match.
20. ‘North by Northwest’ (1959)
Let me say it upfront: I’m not particularly a fan of Cary Grant. I don’t really know what it was about him, but something just annoys me about him. Still, the fun of watching an ordinary man find himself in the middle of a case of mistaken identity and espionage. There’s that famous scene of Grant being chased through a cornfield by a crop duster and the big chase scene at Mt. Rushmore. Then there’s that shot at the very end of the film, the ultimate of double entendres. But you probably already know about that one, right?
So that’s my Patrick’s 100 Movies edition for Hitchcock movies. There could be another Hitchcock film or two in a future Patrick’s 100 list.