Category Archives: Alfred Hitchcock

The Lady Vanishes-1938

The Lady Vanishes-1938

Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Dame May Whitty

Scott’s Review #1,303

Reviewed September 30, 2022

Grade: A-

The Lady Vanishes (1938) is a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock that I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve only seen once. Nonetheless, it resonated well with me after that sole viewing and its influence is palpable.

It’s a film made when Hitchcock was still making films in his native Britain before he took over Hollywood during the 1950s and 1960s. You may wonder why a dusty old film made in the 1930s and not a household name is important but The Lady Vanishes is.

If the film had not been made and more importantly not been a box-office success, films like Vertigo (1958), Psycho (1960), and The Birds (1963) might never have been made.

The Lady Vanishes followed three rather unsuccessful efforts by Hitchcock, whose success assured his new film career in America was a go.

The film is not as brilliant as the others mentioned but is pretty damned close. It serves as a blueprint for other Hitchcock films to come.

The train sequences alone conjure thoughts of Strangers on a Train (1951) and North by Northwest (1959) while the romance between the lead actors would become a staple of Hitchcock films.

Finally, the subdued but noticeable inclusion of gay characters, is forever a good debate among cinema lovers, especially Hitchcock fans, as to whether it is or isn’t showcased.

So, The Lady Vanishes is to be celebrated for its influence but also holds up well on its own two feet.

On a train headed for England, a group of travelers is delayed by a dangerous avalanche. Forced into a hotel in the lush European country, beautiful young Iris Henderson (Margaret Lockwood) befriends an elderly woman named Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty).

When the train resumes travel, Iris suffers a bout of unconsciousness after being hit by a potted plant and wakes to find the old woman has mysteriously disappeared. The other passengers vehemently deny that Miss Froy ever existed causing Iris to wonder if she has lost her marbles.

Iris determinedly begins to investigate the matter with the help of another traveler, Gilbert, (Michael Redgrave) as the pair begins to search the train to uncover clues. Naturally, the pair fall in love.

They uncover a mystery, political intrigue, and a who’s who of peculiar characters with secrets to keep hidden.

Lockwood and Redgrave have fantastic chemistry. It’s no secret that Hitchcock intends to bring them together even though Iris is to be married when she returns home. Both Lockwood and Redgrave are easy on the eyes which helps make them rootable.

The pacing of The Lady Vanishes is very good but nowhere as astounding as the sequence of events in North by Northwest, the film it most resembles. That’s why the rough cut analogy springs to mind- the film is a perfect warmup act to the 1959 masterpiece.

From an LGBTQ+ perspective, my money is on the characters of Charters and Caldicott. Ferocious cricket enthusiasts, whose only initial concern is to get back to England to see the last days of a Test match. The ‘friends’ proved so popular with audiences that they returned to the film Night Train to Munich 1940, also starring Lockwood.

Needless to say, the revelations at the end of The Lady Vanishes surprise and satisfy with political, and espionage overtones. Frequently, there is a McGuffin or a who cares about the plot element in Hitchcock films.

The plot shouldn’t be overthought in the film as the real fun is the trimmings that make the suspense so strong. The wit and snappy dialogue make the characters a pleasure to watch.

Providing strong character and stiff upper-lip British humor The Lady Vanishes (1938) is a terrific effort and is the most fun to watch to point out the many elements that make up the Hitchcock masterpieces.

The 39 Steps-1935

The 39 Steps-1935

Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll

Scott’s Review #1,212

Reviewed December 26, 2021

Grade: A-

Before Alfred Hitchcock conquered American audiences in the 1950s and 1960s he made a slew of British films many of which are overlooked gems.

The 39 Steps (1935) is a film nestled among that category, providing thrilling escapism and a spy-tinged subject matter that has an everyman on the run.

The plot pattern is very familiar because Hitchcock would use it later in his American films like The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) and The Wrong Man (1956) to name only two.

Rather than any sort of carbon copy, The 39 Steps instead is a pure delight for any fan of Hitchcock because the viewer can see facets and ideas the director would later bestow on his other films. There is enough originality though to please anyone looking for a good thrill.

It is very loosely based on the 1915 adventure novel The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan.

The story centers on Richard Hannay (Robert Donat), a Canadian civilian on holiday in London. He unintentionally becomes involved in preventing an organization of spies nicknamed “The 39 Steps” from stealing British military secrets.

After being mistakenly accused of the murder of a counter-espionage agent, Richard flees to Scotland and becomes tangled up with an attractive woman named Pamela (Madeleine Carroll) while hoping to stop the spy ring and clear his name.

It’s a simple story but one that immediately compels the viewer to root for Richard since we know he is innocent. Perhaps he can find a bit of romance along the way with Pamela and stop the bad guys in the process. So there is little ambiguity with how the story is supposed to wind up.

The fun is getting there.

Assuming this isn’t one’s first time watching a Hitchcock film and nearing a hundred years since The 39 Steps was made I sincerely doubt it, there are oodles of sequences to enjoy. If one asks “does this scene seem familiar?” it is because many of them are.

The London music hall theatre and the London Palladium brim with recognition especially after a catchy tune that Richard cannot forget come into play. It’s too easy not to think of Doris Day’s hit “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)”, featured as a key element of The Man Who Knew Too Much, or even the London setting itself.

To switch for a moment to another Hitchcock masterpiece, North by Northwest (1959), the frequent dashing across the lands by foot or by locomotion comes into play in a big way in The 39 Steps.

I loathe spending too much time with comparisons because The 39 Steps delivers some goods on its own merits. The action that takes place in the Scottish Highlands is fantastic and a treat for anyone who has been to the lovely and picturesque area.

And Richard’s daring trip aboard the Flying Scotsman expresses train to Scotland is a compelling adventure personified.

The chemistry between Richard and Pamela is decent but not great. It’s not the focal point of the film so I didn’t necessarily mind that. The clear intent was for her first to fear him but then have the characters fall in love. We never really get there but it seems the purpose.

The main villain is Professor Jordan (Godfrey Tearle) who Richard tries to prevent from sending secrets out of the country.

Sure, there are better quality Alfred Hitchcock films to bask in once he got his groove decades later and one can assuredly boast that Vertigo (1958) and Psycho (1960) are superior films.

But The 39 Steps (1935) is a blueprint of what brilliance the director had in his head at this time and it’s a pure treat to witness.

Stage Fright-1950

Stage Fright-1950

Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Jane Wyman, Marlene Dietrich, Michael Wilding

Scott’s Review #1,160

Reviewed July 9, 2021

Grade: A-

Stage Fright (1950) is a British film directed by Alfred Hitchcock before his American invasion.

The film feels like a hybrid British/American project with the leading lady, Jane Wyman, being American, but otherwise is set in London with many British actors.

Hitchcock mixes plenty of film noir influences with the typical thrills and suspense creating an excellent product that flies under the radar when matched against his other films.

Wyman is cast as an attractive aspiring actress who works on her craft by going undercover to solve a mystery. There are Nancy Drew elements and it’s fun to watch Wyman, who would become Mrs. Ronald Reagan before he entered politics and later would become President of the United States.

She reportedly divorced him because she had little interest in entering the political spectrum by association.

The action gets off to a compelling start with two characters driving in a car in clear peril. Hitchcock loved driving scenes like these. It is learned that the police think actor Jonathan Cooper (Richard Todd) is a murderer, and now they’re on his tail.

He seeks shelter with his ex-girlfriend Eve (Wyman), who drives him to stay in hiding with her father, Commodore Gill (Alastair Sim).

He explains that it was his lover, the famous and snobbish actress Charlotte Inwood (Marlene Dietrich), who killed the victim (not coincidentally, her husband). Convinced Jonathan is innocent, Eve plays detective and assumes multiple disguises, slowly developing feelings for Detective Inspector, Wilfred O. Smith (Michael Wilding).

Once embroiled in a web of deception, she realizes that Shakespeare was right and that all the world is a stage.

Wyman is the Hitchcock brunette as opposed to his later fascination with the blonde bombshell. Therefore, her role is more sedate and astute than the sex appeal that would come with Hitchcock’s later characters.

Eve closely resembles the character of Charlie whom Teresa Wright played in 1943’s Shadow of a Doubt. They are both astute and investigative with a mystery to unravel. Interestingly, they both fall for detectives.

All the glasses! Hitchcock’s fetish for women wearing glasses is on full display, especially with the character of Nellie, a cockney opportunist played by Kay Walsh. Look closely and one can spot several minor or background ladies sporting spectacles and even Eve dons a pair as a disguise.

Pat Hitchcock, the director’s daughter, plays a small role as she would in Strangers on a Train (1951) and Psycho (1960).

Speaking of Strangers on a Train, there are similarities to mention.

Both involve a tit-for-tat exchange where one character is requested by another to kill someone in exchange for either a payoff or another form of motivation.

Marlene Dietrich is as sexy as ever in the pivotal role of Charlotte. She is self-centered, self-absorbed, and thoughtless, constantly mispronouncing Eve’s fictitious name and barely noticing that she is covering for her regular maid/dresser.

But is she evil and capable of killing her husband?

Stage Fright has a thrilling finale. In the climax, the audience finally finds out who has been telling the truth who has been lying, and what explanations are revealed. There is a pursuit, an attempted killing, and a shocking death by way of a falling safety curtain, in the theater naturally.

What one would expect from a Hitchcock final act.

The focus on theatrical stage actors is a nice topic and adds to the existing drama as the implication of playing various roles comes into play big time. So is the prominence early on of the Big Ben landmark in London and other location trimmings.

Stage Fright (1950) doesn’t get the love saved for other Hitchcock masterpieces and that’s a shame because the film is excellent.

Foreign Correspondent-1940

Foreign Correspondent-1940

Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Joel McCrea, Laraine Day

Scott’s Review #1,158

Reviewed July 2, 2021

Grade: B+

As a superfan of all films Alfred Hitchcock, I had been chomping at the bit to see some of his older selections before he took American audiences by storm throughout his 1950s and 1960s heyday.

Many people do not realize just how many films the “Master of Suspense” actually made that are not household names.

Foreign Correspondent, made in 1940, is a black-and-white production and an obvious precursor for his later works. Much of the fun is zeroing in on particulars that would be featured in later films.

Some Hitchcock favorites like a tower, a circling airplane, an unwitting and innocent man involved in a political plot, and false identity are served up. And the director’s obsession with female characters wearing glasses is certainly part of the fun.

What Hitchcock fan doesn’t giggle with glee after discovering the director’s trademark cameo appearance in each of his films?

As an aside, I just love the cover artwork for this film.

There are reasons why Foreign Correspondent isn’t one of the best-remembered Hitchcock films because it’s only very good rather than exceptional.

In 1940 the director was just getting his groove following a surprising Best Picture Oscar win for Rebecca (1940), a film that was a very early American effort. He was still finding his footing in production values.

The legendary Costume Designer, Edith Head, and Music Composer Bernard Hermann had not joined the fold yet as they would in masterpieces like The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) and Vertigo (1958) and it shows. The musical score is ordinary, more or less what a picture made in 1940 sounded like.

The costumes are decent but lack the grandeur and style that Head brought to the productions.

New York City-based crime reporter John Jones, later renamed Huntley Haverstock played by Joel McCrea is reduced to producing dull copy despite the world being on the cusp of war. His editor hopes a change of scenery will be the thing Jones needs to get back on track and also to provide a juicy story.

He is re-assigned to Europe as a foreign correspondent. When he stumbles on a spy ring, he attempts to unravel the truth with the help of a politician, Stephen Fisher (Herbert Marshall), his daughter Carol (Laraine Day), and an English journalist (George Sanders). But can any or all of them be trusted or are they in cahoots with the bad guys for their gain?

I immediately was reminded of Saboteur (1942) by way of the plot alone. Both involve a complicated (maybe overly?) story of government, investigations, and sabotage.

They also each focus on a couple either attempting to outwit or outrun authorities. And, they are both filmed with black and white cinematography.

Foreign Correspondent contains its share of thrills and compelling moments. The best sequence is when John is nearly shoved off Westminster Cathedral tower by a hitman who is ultimately the one who plummets to his death. The obvious parallel is to Vertigo especially when the nuns give the sign of the cross after the body falls.

Other mentions are a terrific airplane finale that contains special effects astounding for such a long time ago. Also unforgettable is a windmill sequence that will remind any Hitchcock fan of the famous cropduster scene from North By Northwest. I half expected a character to exclaim, ‘The windmill is turning where there ain’t no wind”.

At two hours even in run time, Foreign Correspondent is a good fifteen minutes or so too long. The plot takes a bit of time to pick up speed and the chemistry between John and Carol is rather weak. They are certainly no Mitch and Melanie like from The Birds (1963).

Foreign Correspondent (1940) is a second-tier Alfred Hitchcock film with enough components to serve as a solid opening act for North By Northwest. This is not such a bad thing and the film holds its own against similarly patterned films of its day.

Oscar Nominations: Best Motion Picture, Best Supporting Actor-Alan Basserman, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Visual Effects



Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine

Scott’s Review #1,029

Reviewed June 3, 2020

Grade: B+

An early American effort by the master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock (1941), follows the Oscar-winning Rebecca (1940) with a similarly themed film.

A dazzling beauty (Joan Fontaine) is manipulated by her charming husband (Cary Grant) but is he gaslighting her and plotting her death or is it all in her mind? The puzzle unfolds with a sizzling final thirty minutes that eclipses the remainder of the film, which drags and plods along slowly.

Wealthy but insecure Lina McLaidlaw (Fontaine) meets handsome and irresponsible playboy Johnnie Aysgarth (Grant) on a train in England. He charms her into eloping despite the strong disapproval of her father, General McLaidlaw (Sir Cedric Hardwicke) who thinks Johnnie is after the family money.

After a lavish honeymoon and return to an extravagant new home, Lina discovers that Johnnie has no job and no income, habitually lives on borrowed money and intends to try to sponge off her father.

She talks him into getting a job, which he embezzles from.

Lina begins to think that not only is Johnnie after her money but intends to kill her. She becomes aware of his financial schemes and motivations, feeling conflicted over her love for him and her survival.

Events kick into high gear after a friend’s death, an insurance policy, and discussions with an author’s friend, Isobel Sedbusk (Auriol Lee), a writer of mystery novels, about untraceable poisons. A bizarre dinner conversation surrounding ways to get away with murder causes Lina to start unraveling.

Many suspensions of disbelief must be contained in frustrating measures throughout most of the film and a bothersome level of female mistreatment is to be endured.

Gnawing at me from the very first scene is the insecurity of Lina. She is gorgeous, rich, and intelligent so why does she feel, and is perceived even by her parents, as a lonely spinster certain to become an old maid?

Despite Hitchcock’s love of glasses on female characters, brandishing Lina with gawky bifocals hardly makes her an ugly duckling. Johnnie’s nickname “Monkeyface” is jarring and insulting.

The determination to not make Hollywood royalty Carey Grant too bad of a guy does not work. It feels like a weak effort to suddenly go in a different story direction to thwart the perception of a character as not a villain but someone to feel sympathetic toward.

Unclear is if this was Hitchcock’s decision or the mighty studio’s (my best guess would be the latter since Hitchcock was not afraid to take risks). The audience hardly has a chance to let their emotions marinate as the big reveal quickly culminates in the end credits rolling and the film concludes.

A significant positive to Spellbound is the hidden tidbits brewing beneath the main saga of the Hollywood glamour boy and girl (Grant and Fontaine).

A clever LGBTQ+ revelation among two supporting characters can be unearthed, decades before the terminology was even invented. Hitchcock loved his gay characters, who could not be openly gay, though the director did his best to offer the now-obvious idiosyncrasies.

Sophisticated Isobel seems to live alone in her quaint and lovely cottage, but during a dinner party, a blonde woman wearing a suit and tie, clearly butch, joins the conversation. As Isobel asks her to pour more wine, we realize she is hardly a servant but Isobel’s lesbian lover!

The stunning yet highly subtle revelation is prominent to eagle-eyed viewers and cagey enough to catch on. Besides these lovely ladies, an odd-looking male dinner guest wearing glasses and discussing murder novels is an interesting character though we see little of him.

The same can be said for Lina’s sophisticated mother, Mrs. Martha McLaidlaw (Dame May Whitty), and Lina and Johnnie’s maid, Ethel (Heather Angel). Both, playing small roles, add subtle delights to the film.

Suspicion (1941) is an early Hitchcock film, rarely mentioned among his best works. The film is a tough sell for its tedious pace, the inexplicable insecurity of the lead character, and an unfulfilling story conclusion.

The suspense and activity in the final act (mostly the stunning edge of the cliff car drive) promote the film to an above-average rating, but grander works were soon to follow in the decades ahead.

The most fun is noticing the delicious peculiarities of interesting supporting characters.

Oscar Nominations: 1 win-Outstanding Motion Picture, Best Actress-Joan Fontaine (won), Best Scoring of a Dramatic Picture



Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Tallulah Bankhead, William Bendix

Scott’s Review #1,020

Reviewed May 6, 2020

Grade: A-

Alfred Hitchcock, well-known for big, bouncy, suspenseful productions, creates a stripped-down, intimate story of adventures while adrift on a survival boat, leaving plenty of tension and peril.

Lifeboat (1944), now teetering on extinction from memory save for fans of the director, deserves appreciation and respect for the brilliant direction and wonderful cinematography alone.

The film was met with controversy and some derision for sympathetic depictions of a German U-boat captain (Walter Slezak) amid the horrors of World War II.

Events begin in the middle of calm Atlantic Oceanic waters after a cruel battle results in a German U-boat and a British/American ship sinking each other, leaving fewer than a dozen civilians and service members to survive in one lifeboat.

The haughty, glamorous columnist Connie Porter (Tallulah Bankhead), clad in the finest fur coat, is irritated by a run in her stocking, a travesty in her mind.

She is slowly joined by other survivors including a young British woman with a dead baby, a steward, a U.S. Army nurse (Mary Anderson), a wealthy entrepreneur, and other people from most walks of life.

Lifeboat plays out like a more cerebral version of a disaster film. Think- a smart man’s version of The Poseidon Adventure (1972), said with love since it’s one of my favorite films. But with Lifeboat, darkness and a sense of sadness are missing from the 1970s’s more lightweight disaster films.

The black-and-white camerawork helps tremendously as does the mist, the rain, and even the strong beating sun. The weather elements play an important role and are the characters themselves.

Speaking of characters, the individuals are plentiful and diverse, ranging from British, American, Black, German, wealthy, and working-class, to eventually dead and alive with a gruesome leg amputation taking place mid-stream.

Each is well-written, exhibiting fear, bravery, and suspicion of the other’s motivations, especially the German captain who communicates in his native tongue with Connie, causing conjecture among the other survivors.

Events would hardly be complete without a good melodramatic romance and is a treat to see two formulate. Connie and handsome John (John Hodiak) share a love/hate relationship, clearly from opposite backgrounds, while the more stable Alice and Stanley (Hume Cronyn) even decide to marry!

Genteel Alice reveals a marriage and an affair to Stanley uncovering the layers and complexity of the character.

My favorite character is Connie, and Bankhead is a pure delight in the bitchy, no-nonsense role. She enshrouds the camera from the first scene.

Reminiscent of Bette Davis, the actress has a similar composure, stance, and trademark cigarette, but slowly reveals her insecurities and desperation.

What fun she is to watch!

A tender and poignant scene occurs at the end of the film and is lovely to witness especially given the tumultuous time of the mid-1940s. A drifting young German soldier attempts to board and shoot at the survivors but is apprehended.

Disputes occur, but instead of shooting or casting the lad overboard to drown, he is saved and presumably provided food and water. Does he inquire why they don’t kill him? The message is powerful and anti-war.

The direction methods are brilliant, looking as realistic as anything could in 1940s cinema where CGI was decades away. Hitchcock had me fooled as I bought lock, stock, and barrel that the lifeboat was in the middle of rough and murky waters instead of a Hollywood studio tub.

The creative method of gathering so many characters into one shot wonderfully and effectively provides a claustrophobic feel as the lack of food and drinking water causes hysteria and emotion.

The one-set approach is marvelous and perfect for the film’s specific storyline.

After decades of underexposure and playing second or third fiddle to other Hitchcock masterpieces, Lifeboat (1944) is finally getting a bit of notice and acclaim. Here’s to hoping the trend will continue as the film contains enough frights and perils to keep anyone guessing which characters will sink and which will swim.

Perhaps not the best watch on a cruise ship or other watery surfaces, the escapade will delight fans of classic black-and-white thrill cinema.

Oscar Nominations: Best Director- Alfred Hitchcock, Best Original Story, Best Cinematography, Black-and-White



Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck

Scott’s Review #1,015

Reviewed April 24, 2020

Grade: A-

One of Alfred Hitchcock’s early American films, after his voyage from his home base in London to the United States soil, proved profitable and critically acclaimed, Spellbound (1945) followed the box office and awards success of Rebecca (1940).

Probably the most spoofed of all the Hitchcock works in the 1977 Mel Brooks parody High Anxiety, Spellbound provides a psychological storyboard that uses enough vehicles like amnesia, hypnosis, and danger to impress any daytime soap opera writer.

Not in the director’s top arsenal or remembered well, but a stellar effort.

Youthful Doctor Anthony Edwardes (Gregory Peck) arrives one day at the sprawling Green Manors Mental Asylum as the new director.

After immediately falling for each other, the beautiful Doctor Constance Petersen (Ingrid Bergman) discovers that Edwardes is not who he claims, but instead is a paranoid amnesiac impostor, more reminiscent of a patient. This gives new meaning to the term “the inmates are running the asylum.”

Constance becomes obsessed with answering the following questions: What happened to the real Dr. Edwardes? If Edwardes has been kidnapped or murdered who is responsible? Who is the gorgeous man that she has just fallen head over heels for?

The intelligent psychoanalyst must practice what she preaches by becoming a sleuth and figuring out what is going on. The action takes place in both bustling New York City and snowy Rochester, New York.

I love the progressive nature of the story.

To have a leading female character with a lofty professional status is admirable given the year 1945 when female roles were just beginning to evolve. While most roles that Hollywood heavyweight Bette Davis portrayed in the 1930s and 1940s were vital and strong, this was the exception and not the norm.

Bergman, quite beautiful, does not need to play sex kitten to make her character sexy. She does well with that by wearing glasses and a lab coat, using the intelligence of her character to her advantage.

In 1945 Alfred Hitchcock was still considered a “new” director by most and was only beginning to make his mark on audiences unfamiliar with his work. His cunning and masterful use of lighting and shadows to produce suspense is on display during much of Spellbound.

The faces of Constance and Anthony glow with a combination of warmth and suspicion, and both are wonderful at eliciting emotion through subdued facial expressions. While Peck is slightly wooden, it does add a dimension to his uncertain character.

The atmosphere is everything with Hitchcock. Treats, like shots of the old Penn Station and Grand Central Station, monumental parts of everyday New York City life, are magnificent. They provide a glimpse of what bustling commuter life was like in the 1940s before most of us were born.

Undoubtedly, many extras and non-actors were used that enrich the scenes and offer what regular people looked like in those days.

As Constance and Anthony team up to determine what secrets lie beneath his subconscious, they board a train for the seclusion of upstate New York, where more secrets are revealed. A heavy dose of psychoanalysis and hypnotism allay the best scene of the film.

Anthony sinks into a dreamlike world where he sees strange objects fraught with symbolism: a man with no face, scissors, playing cards, eyes, and curtains. What do they all mean? Fans will have fun piecing together the clues to solve the mystery.

The works of Salvador Dali, a famous surrealist artist known for bizarre and striking images, are on display during the dream sequence. Though limited, they do envelope the scene with fright and mystique and are a perfect addition to the odd sequence.

Shot in black and white, the final scene adds a blood-red image as a character turns a revolver on themselves and commits suicide. When Anthony drinks a glass of milk, the camera is inside the bottom of the glass, creating a hallucinogenic effect.

While Peck does his best with a peculiar character, Anthony is not as interesting as Constance, Doctor Alex Brulov (Michael Chekhov), or Doctor Murchison (Leo G. Carroll). I would have loved more scenes or back-story for Brulov and have gotten to know him better.

Anthony has some light annoyances as when he inexplicably passes out whenever events become too much for him.

Spellbound (1945) is the perfect accompaniment for a snowy winter night since the film has a warm and cozy look with an atmosphere and a soothing musical score.

Perfect is to watch in tandem with High Anxiety (1977) for a double punch of suspense and appreciation for the film with the humor the satire furnishes. While not the best of the best of Hitchcock films, it stands proudly on its own merits.

Oscar Nominations: 1 win-Best Motion Picture, Best Director-Alfred Hitchcock, Best Supporting Actor-Michael Chekhov, Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture (won), Best Cinematography, Black-and-White, Best Special Effects

I Confess-1953

I Confess-1953

Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Montgomery Clift, Anne Baxter

Scott’s Review #1,007

Reviewed April 2, 2020

Grade: A-

I Confess (1953) is an early effort by the brilliant Alfred Hitchcock with a decidedly religious slant but keeps the suspense and thrills commonplace like his other films.

The picture is not one of his best-remembered works and is one of his least-remembered projects. This is unwarranted because the film contains all the standard elements known to the director, creating an entertaining and enthralling effort.

Montgomery Clift and Anne Baxter are featured as big Hollywood stars of the day.

Not a fan of exterior shoots where he couldn’t control the elements, filming was nonetheless done largely on location in Quebec City with numerous shots of the city landscape and interiors of its churches and other emblematic buildings, such as the Château Frontenac, heavily featured.

This factor adds to the enjoyment as French sophistication and culture are added and the accents provide a European influence, especially powerful during the final act.

A handsome Catholic priest, Father Michael Logan (Clift), wants nothing more than to be a good priest but his calling is made complicated after someone confesses a murder to him and he’s subsequently blamed for the death.

A World War II veteran, he harbors secrets told in the back story, as a strong connection to another character comes to light. An easy way to clear his name is to reveal exactly what he knows, but doing so would break his vows as a clergyman and alienate members of his community who trust he will keep their steamy secrets very private.

Ruth Grandfort (Baxter) is a respected member of society, married to her husband Pierre (Roger Dann), a member of the Quebec legislature. They live comfortably in a lavish house with servants and regularly throw cosmopolitan parties befitting people of their stature.

Amid martinis and festive party games, Ruth keeps not one secret but two and is being blackmailed for her shenanigans. Her connection to Father Michael slowly bubbles to the surface.

Christian viewers will neither be offended nor completely embraced either. Hitchcock does not mock religion but makes certain of the conflict and demons that can encircle even a pious or righteous man.

Known as far back as the 1940s Rebecca was toying with viewers and frequently adding an LGBTQ uncertainty, this can be said of I Confess.

Assumed to be in love, Father Michael offers little romantic passion or zest towards Ruth and the connection seems one-sided. Could his descent into the Catholic Church be a front to cover up his sexuality?

Only Hitchcock will know the answer.

Eagle-eyed Hitchcock fans will certainly discover similarities to his other works.

In the very first scene, an unknown man is strangled to death, collapsing to the floor. This is reminiscent of the 1948 masterpiece, Rope (1948) when an identical sequence occurs. The audience knows nothing about the stranger- yet.

In both films, the character, even after death, becomes integral to the plot twists and turns in store. The tremendous use of shadows and lighting is on careful display mirroring the look of the soon-to-come The Wrong Man (1956).

While not the cream of the crop among Hitchcock’s best film entries or even a top ten offering, I Confess (1953) is deserving of a viewing or two on its own merits.

Clift and Baxter have excellent chemistry and mystique, and the plot is enough to keep audiences well-occupied.

The final twenty minutes provide cat-and-mouse revelry and a shocking death perfect for a dramatic climax to a film oozing with Hitchcock’s finest traits.

Dial M for Murder-1954

Dial M for Murder-1954

Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Ray Milland, Grace Kelly

Scott’s Review #995

Reviewed February 28, 2020

Grade: A

A fabulous offering by stylistic director Alfred Hitchcock, Dial M for Murder (1954) arrived on the scene when the cinematic genius was hitting his stride in the United States after finding success in England.

The late 1950s and early 1960s revealed his best offerings, but this is no slouch. The film mixes thrills, double-cross, and murder in a way only Hitchcock can- perfectly.

It is fast-paced and shot almost like a play, using primarily one set only. Based on the Broadway hit, which came first.

An English former tennis champion, Tony Wendice (Ray Milland) hatches a scheme to kill his wealthy but unfaithful wife Margot (Grace Kelly), who’s embroiled in a liaison with handsome writer Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings).

When Tony’s plans go awry, he attempts the second act of deceit, but events spin out of control when Margot, Mark, and a sly Scotland Yard inspector (John Williams) begin putting the pieces together.

The film is a popular one by way of the story because it is very conventional and pure Hitchcock. The viewer immediately knows who the killer is and his motivations- the hunger for wealth and the jealousy of another man.

The most fun is when hiccups begin to form, and Tony must fly by the seat of his pants to cover his tracks and think of another way to seal Margot’s fate. If he cannot murder her why can’t he send her to prison?

Milland is perfect in the role with eye shifts and head turns.

Set pieces like a key and a handbag come into play giving the film zest. When it is revealed that there are multiple keys the plot gets juicier and juicier. The flat where Tony and Margot reside is beautifully designed with state-of-the-art furniture and decorations making the set a character.

Lavish curtains and French doors are utilized during the late-night attempted murder scene, which is thrilling to witness, leaving the viewer with heart palpitations.

The brilliance is that the viewer does not intend to hate Tony, at least this viewer didn’t. While he is not likable his motivations can be somewhat understood. On the flip side, Margot and Mark are not the heroes and their shenanigans bite them.

I dare say that Grace Kelly has had better roles in Hitchcock films. To Catch a Thief (1955) immediately comes to mind. Margot is not a particularly strong character and is quite weak.

Dial M for Murder has commonalities with two other Hitchcock gems. As with Strangers on a Train (1951), a tennis star is utilized as a major character and twisted strangulation is the game. Also, a tit-for-tat technique is used.

Like the underappreciated Rope (1948), the one-take sequence style and a film that could be a stage play are traits that are noticed. Those films are good ones to be in the same company with.

The final thirty minutes travel by at break-neck speed as we wonder what will happen next. The cat-and-mouse activities are delightful and remind us that the film is quite basic and stripped down compared to his later films.

One set, good actors, and a full-throttle story do wonders to satisfy a fan. The camera movements and techniques are key to the entire film as a shot here or there is timed with flawless precision. Hitchcock used 3-D filming, inventive for this time.

Perhaps not as famous as Hitchcock delights like Psycho (1960), Vertigo (1958), or North by Northwest (1959), Dial M for Murder (1954) serves as much more than a warm-up act to those classics.

With a fast pace, twists and turns, and good British sensibilities, the setting of a stylish London flat and good sophistication make this film one to remember.


Hitchcock/Truffaut -2015

Director Kent Jones

Starring Wes Anderson, Martin Scorsese, David Fincher

Scott’s Review #933

Reviewed August 21, 2019

Grade: B+

A documentary about film and film-making is a worthy watch for any rabid lover of cinema, and when the subject at hand is Alfred Hitchcock, any fan must certainly chomp.

I remember Hitchcock/Truffaut (2015) appearing at my local independent theater at the time of release but missed my chance to see it.

The misstep having been undone, the work is fine, and the result is an abundance of riches, serving as a fly on the wall for those wishing to listen to two geniuses speak, or merely observe the clips of great films and revel in the creativity.

Already possessing a hefty knowledge of Hitchcock does not dull my perspective, nor do I take for granted the appreciation served.

For an entry-level fan of the director or French film director, Francois Truffaut, the title must be added to one’s “to see” list.

The documentary serves as inspiration and fulfillment for cinema lovers. Billed as side-by-side directors in the title, the documentary treats Hitchcock as the teacher and Truffaut as the student, especially given the age difference between the two men.

Truffaut interviewed Hitchcock in 1962 during a lengthy week-long discussion in a windowless Hollywood office, where the former soaked up the latter’s knowledge and points of view like a sponge.

Truffaut was already a well-regarded filmmaker at age thirty-two, with gems such as The 400 Blows (1959) already under his belt.

Truffaut then wrote a book about the conversations with Hitchcock, and director Kent Jones brings it to life in documentary form, telling his audience why the book had a tremendous impact on cinema while teaching the audience a thing or two about the movies.

The production analyzes film-making from technique to style to clothing, actors, and in between. The main crux is the technique Hitchcock used to create tension and suspense, manipulating the audience every step of the way.

A plethora of his films are featured which is a personal joy to see, most importantly the documentary is clever enough to build to Hitchcock’s most memorable sequence of all, the shower sequence in Psycho (1960), the director’s most recent film, and now, easily his most notorious.

Hollywood titans such as Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Wes Anderson, and Richard Linklater, arguably geniuses, explain the influence that Hitchcock provided them.

Listening to these formidable directors whimsically praise and dissect Hitchcock’s analysis and explain how he led to their blossoming is a wonderful aspect.

Hitchcock/Truffaut (2015) is a treat for die-hard fans of Hitchcock or Truffaut- or both.

Conversations and interviews with other famous directors show the heavy influence, love, and appreciation for an ingenious suspense director and an equally unique French New Wave director.

A thirty-two-year age difference separated the two men, but they appear as natural as close colleagues.

Great minds do think alike.

The Wrong Man-1956

The Wrong Man-1956

Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Henry Fonda, Vera Miles

Scott’s Review #902

Reviewed May 24, 2019

Grade: A-

The Wrong Man (1956) is not an Alfred Hitchcock film typically mentioned when lists of the greatest of all the director’s works are in conversation.

Flying completely under the radar, and a conspicuous emission from most “Best of” collections, the film is a nice gem ready to be dusted off and appreciated for its worth.

It features the legendary Henry Fonda, perfectly cast in a story point frequently used in Hitchcock films; that of the wrongly accused man.

Set in New York City, Manny Balestrero (Fonda) is a struggling musician who requires three hundred dollars for dental work that his wife Rose (Vera Miles) needs. Determined not to let his wife suffer he decides to obtain the money by borrowing against her insurance policy.

The life insurance employees mistake Manny for another man who recently held them up. He is arrested and forced to perform a test for the police, which he fails, leading them to assume he is their man.

Attorney Frank O’Connor (Anthony Quayle) sets out to prove that Manny could not possibly be guilty since he has perfect alibis for the nights of both holdups. Complications erupt during his trial as proper witnesses either cannot be found or have died, leaving Manny in dire straits.

Meanwhile, Rose teeters towards the brink of insanity as she suffers from severe depression.

The Wrong Man differs from many Hitchcock films in that the story is based upon a real-life quandary one man faced. As such, any viewer can immensely relate to the story and put themselves in Manny’s shoes.

I often wonder, “What would I do if this were me?” as one could find the story implausible one could just as easily find it plausible. Mistaken identity can happen and proving one’s innocence is not as easy as it may seem.

Set largely on location is another tidbit unique to many Hitchcock productions as the man cringed at the thought of any scene that could not be manipulated by studio luxuries. The New York City locales are splendid and provide an artistic and genuine element.

Many scenes were filmed in Jackson Heights, where Manny lived when he was accused. Most of the prison scenes were filmed among the convicts in a New York City prison in Queens. The courthouse was at the corner of Catalpa Avenue and 64th Street in Ridgewood.

Careful not to be too dissimilar to standard Hitchcock fare, the use of every man being falsely accused, is common in some of his films.

Other films like North by Northwest (1958) and The 39 Steps (1935) delivered the same elements with a man being mistakenly accused of murder. While the others were more of “chase stories” involving flight, The Wrong Man stays firmly planted in one city.

The film has some jazz elements, primarily to represent Fonda’s appearance as a musician in the nightclub scenes. This gives sophistication to the film’s overall tone especially as we see Manny as worldly yet kind.

He is a performer but comes home to his wife and adores her, doing anything he needs to for her comfort. The music and the black-and-white cinematography exude harshness and coldness but also good style.

Fans of either the police force or the justice system may be in for a tough ride watching The Wrong Man as neither group is written very sympathetically. The police are the worst offenders as they go to unethical methods to accuse a man of a crime and seem not to care who is convicted only that someone is.

The one detraction to The Wrong Man is the chemistry between Fonda and Miles. The passion is underwhelming, but not terrible either. Instead, the main point is the false accusations instead of the romance. A bit more of the latter might have made the film more special.

Containing suspenseful and dramatic elements and a charismatic leading man, The Wrong Man (1956) perhaps lacks the flair of other more well-known Hitchcock films but is a solid achievement that deserves more acclaim than traditionally given.

Sullen yes, but also poignant and frightening and a terrific effort. Henry Fonda carries the film and provides compassion and realism.

To Catch A Thief-1955

To Catch A Thief-1955

Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Cary Grant, Grace Kelly

Scott’s Review #455


Reviewed July 24, 2016

Grade: A-

Cary Grant starred in five Alfred Hitchcock films in his day and 1955’s To Catch A Thief is right smack in the middle of Hitchcock’s prime period of masterful pictures.

Grace Kelly (her third and final Hitchcock film) co-stars making this film a marquee treat as both actors were top-notch in their heyday and had much chemistry in this film.

While not my all-time favorite of Hitchcock films, To Catch a Thief has mystery, a whodunit, and some of the most gorgeous cinematography of the French Riviera. The breathtaking surroundings are my favorite part of this film.

Grant plays John Robie, aka. “The Cat”, an infamous jewel thief who has now gone clean. He spends his days quietly atop the French Riviera growing grapes and flowers and keeping out of trouble.

When a new jewel thief begins to strike wealthy tourists, Robie is immediately under suspicion by the police. He is forced to prove his innocence by catching the real thief in the act as the thief uses the same style to steal as Robie once did.

Amid this drama, Robie meets the beautiful heiress Frances (Kelly) and her interfering mother Jessie Stevens (Jessie Royce Landis), leading to romance.

Although Grant could be old enough to be Kelly’s father, we immediately accept Robie and Frances as the perfect couple- she is sophisticated, stylish, and rich, and he equally with a bad-boy edge.

To Catch A Thief has a strong romantic element and a glamorous and wealthy tone. After all, the subject matter at hand- jewels- equates to lavish set decorations, women dripping in expensive jewelry, and a posh resort among the gorgeous French waters.

The supporting characters are interesting too. A triangle emerges as Frances plays catty with a young girl, Danielle, eager for Robie’s affection. Danielle, much plainer looking than Frances, though no shrinking violet, holds her own in a match of wits with Frances as they bathe in the water one afternoon.

Frances’s mother Jessie, is wonderful comic relief as she attempts to push Robie and Frances together- always searching for a handsome suitor for her daughter.

Finally, insurance man H.H. Hughson also contributes to the comic relief as he begrudgingly provides Robie with a list of wealthy visitors with jewels.

In their playfully awkward lunch- delicious quiche is the meal of the day- at Robie’s place, Robie proves how Hughson himself is a thief of sorts to accomplish what he needs to get from Hughson.

Despite all of the positive notes, something about To Catch A Thief that prevents it from being among my all-time favorite Hitchcock films. Perhaps it is because I never doubted Robie’s innocence and the caper- if dissected- is a bit silly.

I get the sense that the audience is supposed to question whether Robie is truly reformed or playing a game and is back to his dirty deeds, but I wasn’t fooled.

This is a small gripe and To Catch A Thief is a wonderful film.

The way the film is shot is almost like being on the French Riviera. Countless coastal shots of the skyline will amaze the viewer with breathtaking awe of how gorgeous the French country is and how romantic and wonderful it is.

This is my favorite part of To Catch A Thief.

The visuals of the film rival the story as the costumes created by costume designer and Hitchcock mainstay, Edith Head, are simply lovely. And who can forget the costume ball near the conclusion?

Though the story might be the weakest and lightest element of the story,  who cares? The visuals more than make up for any of that as To Catch A Thief will please loyal fans of Hitchcock’s vast catalog.

Oscar Nominations: 1 win-Best Art Direction, Color, Best Cinematography, Color (won), Best Costume Design, Color



Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine

Top 100 Films #63

Scott’s Review #345


Reviewed January 9, 2016

Grade: A

The only Alfred Hitchcock film to win the coveted Best Picture Oscar trophy, Rebecca is a very early offering in the famous director’s repertoire.

His heyday being well ahead of this film (the 1950s and 1960s saw his best works), Rebecca is a blueprint of fine things to come and on its own merits is a great film.

Shot in black and white, the film is a descent into mystery, intrigue, and madness, with a gothic look to it.

Laurence Olivier stars as rich widower Maxim de Winter, whose first wife, title character Rebecca, died sometime before the story begins. In a clever twist, the character of Rebecca is never seen but takes on a life of her own through the tellings of the rest of the cast.

Joan Fontaine plays a nameless, naïve young woman who meets the sophisticated Maxim and marries him, becoming the new Mrs. de Winter.

This development is met with disdain by the servants who work in the Grand de Winter mansion, named Manderley, a character in its own right.

Housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson) in particular, is cold and distant from Maxim’s new wife, and begins to reveal an obsession with the deceased Rebecca, creating jealousy and intimidation for Fontaine’s character- so much so, that, she begins to doubt her sanity and decision-making capabilities.

Rebecca is a fantastic, old-style film, that provides layers of mystery and wonderment thanks to Hitchcock’s direction. The mansion that is Manderley is central to the story as is the obsession that creepy Mrs. Danvers has with Rebecca.

She keeps the dead woman’s bedroom neat, a sort of shrine to her memory, so much so that, despite the time the film is made, 1940, a lesbian element is crystal clear to attention-paying audiences.

This aspect may have not been noticed at the time, but in more recent times, this is quite obvious.

The film is also a ghost story of sorts since the central character, Rebecca, is never seen.

Could she be haunting the mansion? Is she dead or is this a red herring, created to throw the audience off the track? Is the new Mrs. de Winter spiraling out of control? Is she imagining the servant’s menacing actions? Is Maxim in on the tormentor simply seeking a replacement wife for his true love?

The pertinent questions not only are asked of the character but the audience themselves as they watch with bated breath.

The climax and finale of Rebecca (1940) are fantastic.

As the arguably haunted mansion is engulfed in flames and the sinister Mrs. Danvers can be seen lurking near the raging drapes, the truth comes to the surface leaving a memorable haunting feeling to audiences watching.

Rebecca is a true classic.

Oscar Nominations: 2 wins-Outstanding Production (won), Best Director-Alfred Hitchcock, Best Actor-Laurence Olivier, Best Actress-Joan Fontaine, Best Supporting Actress-Judith Anderson, Best Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Art Direction, Black and White, Best Cinematography, Black-and-White (won), Best Film Editing, Best Special Effects



Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Farley Granger, John Dall, James Stewart

Top 100 Films #33

Scott’s Review #323


Reviewed January 5, 2016

Grade: A

Rope (1948) is one of my favorite Alfred Hitchcock films and a film that rather flies under the radar amongst his catalog of gems.  Made in 1948, the film- set as a play (and based on a 1929 play), using one set only- and appearing to be one long take- is an understated film.

The action is inside a luxurious Manhattan apartment, with a gorgeous panoramic skyline. Intelligent with subtle nuances that in current viewings are not as subtle, the tiny (nine) cast is fantastic at eliciting a fine story that never seems dated.

Starring Hitchcock stalwart, Jimmy Stewart, the film features Farley Granger (Strangers On A Train-1951) and John Dall.

Granger and Dall portray Phillip and Brandon, two college students who strangle a fellow student as an experiment to create the perfect murder. Immediately after the murder, they host a dinner party for friends, including the father, aunt, and fiancée of the victim, all in attendance.

Stewart plays Brandon and Phillip’s prep school housemaster,  Rupert Cadell, who is suspicious of the duo.

To further the thrill, the dead body is hidden inside a large antique wooden chest, in the center of their living room, as their housekeeper unwittingly serves dinner atop the dead body.

The film is macabre, clever, and quite experimental.

The very first scene is of Phillip strangling the victim, David, with a piece of kitchen rope, which is an unusual way to start a film. Typically, there would be more buildup and then the climax of murder, but Hitchcock is far too intelligent to follow the rule book.

Phillip is ironically the weak and submissive one, despite committing the crime. Brandon is dominant and keeps Phillip in check by coaxing him to be calm and in control.

The fact that many of the guests have a relationship with the deceased, munching on their dinner while wondering why David is not attending the party, is gleeful irony. Plenty of drinks are served and as Phillip gets drunker and drunker, he becomes more unhinged.

The film reminds me of some aspects of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, also based on a play and largely featuring one set- both dinner parties with alcoholic consumptions, secrets, and accusations becoming more prevalent as the evening goes along.

The chilling way that the plot unfolds throughout one evening as Rupert slowly figures out that what he had previously taught Brandon and Phillip in an intellectual, hypothetical classroom discussion, has been taken morbidly seriously by the two.

The homosexual context is hard to miss in this day and age, but remarkably, was over the heads of the 1948 Production Code censors, who had no idea of what they were witnessing.

Phillip and Brandon are a gay couple who live together and this Hitchcock has admitted to in later years. If watched closely, one will notice that in any shot where Brandon and Phillip are speaking to one another, their faces are dangerously close, so we can easily imagine them kissing.

This is purely intentional by Hitchcock.

Rope (1948) is a daring achievement in innovative filmmaking and should be viewed by any aspiring filmmaker, or anyone into robust and clever camera angles, story, and seeking an extraordinary adventure in a calm, subtle, great story, and more.

Strangers on a Train-1951

Strangers on a Train-1951

Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Farley Granger, Robert Walker

Top 100 Films #27

Scott’s Review #318


Reviewed January 2, 2016

Grade: A

A thrill-ride-per-minute film, a classic suspense story, filled with tension galore, Strangers On A Train is a great Alfred Hitchcock film from 1951, which began the onset of the “golden age of Hitchcock” lasting throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

A British version of the film exists somewhere, but I have yet to see it.

The American version is a brilliant, fast-paced experience involving complex, interesting characters, including one of the greatest villains in screen history, and a riveting and heart-pounding plot.

Who can forget the important ominous phrase “criss-cross”?

The film begins with a clever shot of two pairs of expensive shoes emerging from individual taxi cabs. Both are men, well-to-do, and stylish.  They board a train and sit across each other, accidentally bumping feet.

We are then introduced to the two main characters- tennis star Guy Haines (Farley Granger) and wealthy Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker). They engage in conversation and immediately we become aware that Bruno is assertive, Guy the more passive individual.

Ultimately, Bruno manipulates Guy into thinking they will exchange murders- Bruno will kill Guy’s unfaithful wife, Miriam, while Guy will murder Bruno’s hated father.  While Bruno takes this dire “deal” seriously, Guy thinks Bruno is joking.

A psychological complexity of the film is the implied relationship between Guy and Bruno. Certainly, there are sexual overtones as flirtation and bonding immediately develop while they converse on the train.

They are complete opposites, which makes the relationship compelling- the devil and the angel if you will. The mysterious connection between these two men fascinates throughout the entire film.

Robert Walker makes Bruno a delicious villain- devious, clever, manipulative, and even comical at times. He is mesmerizing in his wickedness- so much so that the audience roots for him.

The fact that Hitchcock wisely makes the victim Miriam (wonderfully played by Laura Elliot) devious, only lends to the rooting value of Bruno during her death scene. His character is troubled, and almost rivals Norman Bates and Hannibal Lecter as a lovable, evil, villain.

Later in the film when Guy is playing tennis, he gazes into the stands to see the spectators turning left and right in tandem with the moving tennis ball, and the audience sees a staring straight ahead Bruno immersed in the sea of swaying heads.

It is a highly effective, creepy scene.

The pairing of Guy and his girlfriend Anne (a seemingly much older Ruth Roman and, interestingly despised by Hitchcock) does not work. Could this be a result of the implied attraction between Bruno and Guy? Or is this a coincidence?

The casting of Roman was forced upon Hitchcock by the studio, Warner Brothers.

Hitchcock reveals his “mommy complex”, a common theme in his films, as we learn that there is something off with Bruno’s mother, played by Marion Lorde, but the exact oddity is tough to pin down.

She and Bruno comically joke about bombing the White House, which gives the scene a jarring, confusing edge. Is she the reason that Bruno is diabolical?

The theme of women’s glasses is used heavily in Strangers On A Train. Miriam, an eyeglass wearer, is strangled while we, the audience, witness the murder through her dropped glasses. Black and white, the scene is gorgeous and cinematic and continues to be studied in film schools everywhere.

Later, Anne’s younger sister Barbara (comically played by Hitchcock’s daughter Pat Hitchcock), who also wears glasses, becomes an important character as Bruno is mesmerized by her likeness to the deceased Miriam, as a mock strangulation game at a dinner party goes wrong.

The concluding carnival scene is high-intensity and contains impressive special effects for 1951.

The spinning out-of-control carousel, and panicked riders, with the cat and mouse chase scene leading to a deadly climax, is an amazing end to the film.

Strangers On A Train (1951) is one of Hitchcock’s best classic thrill films.

Rear Window-1954

Rear Window-1954

Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring James Stewart, Grace Kelly

Top 100 Films #50

Scott’s Review #317


Reviewed January 2, 2016

Grade: A

I love several Alfred Hitchcock films dearly, and Rear Window (1954) is very high on that list.

The film is a unique experience in that much of the filming is through the point of view of the main character L.B. Jeffries, played with conviction by James Stewart who is a fixture in several of Hitchcock’s great films.

Wheelchair-bound and confined to his Manhattan apartment, he has nothing more to do than spy on an apartment full of neighbors across the street.

He witnesses a crime and a cat-and-mouse game ensues.

What is great about this film is the viewer gets to know the series of neighbors L.B. watches and glimpses into their lives, some happy lives, some sad.

Rear Window is shot sort of like a play. The chemistry between Stewart and Grace Kelly is nice but secondary to the great main story.

Rear Window (1954) can be watched repeatedly and enjoyed with each subsequent viewing.

Oscar Nominations: Best Director-Alfred Hitchcock, Best Screenplay, Best Sound Recording, Best Cinematography, Color



Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman

Scott’s Review #265


Reviewed August 11, 2015

Grade: A

Notorious is a classic Alfred Hitchcock film from 1946, a period that preceded his golden age of 1950s and 1960s brilliant works, but is a marvel all the same.

Perhaps not as wonderful as future works, but that is like comparing prime rib to filet mignon. Shot in black and white, the subject matter is familiar to Hitchcock fans- political espionage.

The film contains elements common with Hitchcock’s films- romance with suspenseful plot.

Starring two greats of the time (and Hitchcock stalwarts), Carey Grant and Ingrid Bergman, one is immediately enthralled by the chemistry between the characters they play- T.R. Devlin and Alicia Huberman. Devlin, a government agent, recruits Alicia, per his bosses, to spy on a Nazi sympathizer, Alex Sebastian (Claude Raines), who is affiliated with her father.

Her father, having been convicted and sentenced to prison, has committed suicide. Alicia’s allegiance is questioned as she goes to drastic measures to prove her loyalty and complete the hated assignment.

The film is set between Miami and the gorgeous Rio De Janeiro, where much of the action is set at Alex’s mansion.

A blueprint for his later works, Hitchcock experiments with creative camera shots and angles- specifically the wide and high shot overlooking an enormous ballroom. I also love the airplane scene- subtly, Hitchcock treats the audience to background views of Rio, from the view of the airplane, as Devlin and Alicia have a conversation.

The plane is slowly descending for landing, which allows for a slow, gorgeous glimpse of the countryside and landscape in the background.

Subtleties like these that may go unnoticed make Hitchcock such a brilliant director.

The character of Alicia is worth a study. Well known for his lady issues, did Hitchcock hint at her being an oversexed, boozy, nymphomaniac?

I did not think the character was written sympathetically, though to be fair she is headstrong and loyal in the face of adversity.

She parties hard, drives at 65 miles per hour while intoxicated, and falls into bed with more than one man. It is also implied that she has a history of being promiscuous.

Made in 1946, this must have been controversial during that period. The sexual revolution was still decades away.

Notorious also features one of the most sinister female characters in Hitchcock history in the likes of Madame Sebastian (Leopoldine Konstantin). The woman is evil personified and her actions are reprehensible. She is arguably the mastermind behind all of the dirty deeds as well as a fan of slow, painful death by poisoning.

My favorite scene is without a doubt the wine cellar scene. To me, it epitomizes good, old-fashioned suspense and edge-of-your-seat entertainment.

A cat-and-mouse game involving a secret rendezvous, a smashed bottle, a key, champagne, and the great reveal enraptures this scene, which goes on for quite some time and is the climax.

Perhaps Notorious is not quite as great a film as Vertigo (1958), Psycho (1960), or The Birds (1963), but is a top-notch adventure/thriller in its own right, that ought to be watched and given its due respect.

Oscar Nominations: Best Supporting Actor- Claude Rains, Best Original Screenplay



Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Jon Finch, Barry Foster

Top 100 Films #24     Top 20 Horror Films #8    

Scott’s Review #244


Reviewed May 17, 2015

Grade: A

Frenzy (1972) is a latter-day Alfred Hitchcock film that returns the masterful director to his roots in London, England, Hitchcock’s country of origin, and where his early films were made.

As with numerous other Hitchcock stories, the protagonist is falsely accused of murder and struggles mightily to prove his innocence before time runs out and he meets his doom.

The film is quite British, with an entirely British cast, and mixes in a humorous side story of the primary investigator’s wife, a horrid cook, who prepares exotic, yet tasteless meals for her husband.

This comic relief perfectly balances the heavy drama encompassing the main murder story as Frenzy is one of Hitchcock’s most violent and graphic.

Made in 1972- post-movie sanctions, he was able to get away with much more explicit content. A neck-tie murderer, who also rapes his female victims, is on the loose in London.

In the opening sequence, we see a dead woman floating in the Thames River during broad daylight, nude, except for a neck-tie that she has been strangled with. A crowd of spectators races to see what all the fuss is.

We then meet the central character of the film- down-on-his-luck bartender Richard Blaney, who is fired from his job as a bartender by his hateful boss.

Blaney has a loyal girlfriend in Babs, a barmaid at the same local watering hole. Babs is sexy, yet plain. He also has a successful ex-wife, Brenda, who runs a dating company. Blaney regularly sponges money and dinners from Brenda. Also in the picture is successful fruit-market trader, Bob Rusk, who is a friend of Blaney’s.

All four of these central characters have much to do with the main plot.

As events begin to unfold, the film is not a whodunit as traditionally it could have been. Instead, the audience knows very quickly who the murderer is and their motivations, which is an interesting twist in itself.

Regardless of this knowledge, the film is quite compelling as a classic Hitchcock horror thriller.

It is interesting for Hitchcock fans to compare this film with many of his earlier works. Released in 1972, at a point in film history where aforementioned sensors were more lax, it is the first Hitchcock film to feature nudity.

It is also the film of Hitchcock’s that features the most brutal rape/murder scene of all, surpassing the shower scene from Psycho, in my opinion.

The victim’s ordeal is prolonged, as she begins praying, thinking she will only be raped, at first unaware that her attacker is also the neck-tie murderer and her life is running short. This leads to a sad, gruesome outcome for her.

One of the most interesting murder scenes takes place off-camera and is an ingenious idea by Hitchcock. The neck-tie murderer lures a victim to his apartment complex under the guise of being a friend of hers.

They walk upstairs to his unit and go inside, all the while the camera remains poised outside of the apartment so the viewer only imagines the horrors occurring inside.

The camera then slowly goes back down the stairs and out onto the street and looks up at the murderer’s window. The fact that the victim is one of the principal characters makes one’s imagination run wild as to what is transpiring inside the apartment and the viewer is filled with grief.

This is a brilliant choice by Hitchcock and so effective to the story.

Another great scene is the potato truck sequence.

As the neck-tie murderer has dumped his victim, like garbage, into a potato sack, he is panicked to realize that she has taken his pin from his jacket and presumably clenched it in her fist as a clue, despite her demise.

What will he do now?

The long scene features the murderer inside the potato truck attempting to unclench his pin from her hand and escape the moving truck without being caught.

It is my favorite scene in Frenzy.

Frenzy (1972) is a return to triumph for Hitchcock, after the complex Topaz (1969) and Torn Curtain (1966), underappreciated political thrillers made a few years before this film.

He returns to the horror genre like gangbusters throwing some good, sophisticated British humor into his recipe for good measure.

What a treat this film is.



Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Sean Connery, Tippi Hedren

Scott’s Review #180


Reviewed October 4, 2014

Grade: A

When evaluating a myriad of Alfred Hitchcock films,  Marnie (1964) certainly stands as one of the more complicated of his films, and in recent years has earned higher praise than at the time of release- a la Vertigo (1958).

It contains one of the most complex and psychological Hitchcock characters of all time and is as much a character study as a psychological thriller.

Tippi Hedren stars as Marnie Edgar, a troubled young woman who travels from one financial company to another using a false identity and her good looks to insinuate her way into a clerical job, without references- she then, over time, steals thousands from the companies when her trust is gained.

Eventually, she is caught by Mark Rutland, a handsome, wealthy widower and a client of one of the firms, played by Sean Connery. Infatuated with Marnie, he strikes a deal with her- marry him and he will not turn her over to the police.

Marnie gives most of her stolen money to her crippled mother, Bernice, in Baltimore- played by Louise Latham.

Why Bernice is crippled, avoids affection with Marnie, and why Marnie despises most men and is terrified of the color red make up the film’s mysterious nature. Diane Baker is compelling as Lil, the snoop, sister-in-law to Mark, and somewhat nemesis of Marnie.

The film features three scenes I am enamored with each time I watch- in one scene, Marnie hides and waits in the bathroom until all the employees have gone home for the night; she carefully steals money from her employer’s safe and prepares to leave- suddenly she notices an unaware cleaning woman with her back to Marnie yet blocking the exit.

How will Marnie escape unnoticed? The surprise in this scene is wonderful. Hitchcock plays the scene with no music, which adds to the level of tension- brilliant.

In an emotional scene later in the film, Marnie’s horse, Forio, is injured and a sobbing Marnie must choose between killing her beloved friend or letting him suffer until a veterinarian can be summoned.

It is a heart-wrenching scene.

The third scene takes place at a racetrack as Marnie and Mark are enjoying one of their first dates together before Mark learns the truth about Marnie- the date is ruined when a former victimized employer of Marnie’s recognizes and makes accusations towards her.

Marnie turns from sweet girl to ice queen seamlessly.

A huge controversial aspect of the film is that, while not shown, it is heavily implied that Mark rapes Marnie on their honeymoon. The next morning Marnie attempts suicide but is rescued by Mark.

This scene had to have been filmed carefully to not make Mark hated. Perhaps saving Marnie the next morning lessens what he did the night before in the eyes of the audience? This is open to debate.

Hedren is fantastic at showing the complexities of the character of Marnie throughout the entire film and does a wonderful job in a difficult role.

As excellent as Hedren is (and she is amazing), I have difficulty buying her as a poor, icy criminal and this comes up each time I view the film. Could this be a result of having identified Hedren as the sophisticated, glamorous, socialite in The Birds made a year earlier so many times? This is quite possibly so.

During the filming of Marnie, the set was reportedly fraught with tension, mainly between Hedren and Hitchcock, who refused to speak with each other throughout filming. This may have added to the overall tension the film has and Hedren appears anxious throughout.

Could this be art imitating life? As the ending nears, Marnie and Mark align together and form a team as they try to avoid the police altogether- Mark more or less becomes an accomplice.

The final reveal seems rushed, takes place mostly in flashbacks, and wraps up quickly as Marnie has blocked much of her childhood from her memory, which seems far-fetched.

Still, Marnie (1964) is a complex, psychological classic Hitchcock film from his heyday.

The Man Who Knew Too Much-1956

The Man Who Knew Too Much-1956

Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring James Stewart, Doris Day

Top 100 Films #38

Scott’s Review #176


Reviewed September 26, 2014

Grade: A

The Man Who Knew Too Much is a classic Alfred Hitchcock film from 1956 starring James Stewart and Doris Day, who share tremendous chemistry.

They play a successful married couple- Ben and Jo McKenna, a Doctor and a well-known singer, who travels on a lovely trip to Morocco, with their young son Hank in tow.

They are a traditional American family on vacation abroad that the viewer trusts and believes in.

Suddenly, they are approached by a Frenchman named Louis Bernard, who seems a bit too curious about Ben and his work.

Jo is immediately suspicious of the mysterious man.

This begins a series of events involving mistaken identity, an assassination attempt on England’s Prime Minister, and a trip to London in an attempt to locate Hank, who has been kidnapped by criminals.

As with other Hitchcock films- think North by Northwest (1959), the motivational plot is unclear and one might argue, unnecessary. Why are they attempting to assassinate a political figure? Is there money to gain? Is there power to be obtained?

These questions are never answered- the film is not about that, but rather about Ben and Jo’s predicaments. The villains- primarily an innocent-seeming English couple and a sneering, rat-like assassin, are one-dimensional characters. The motivations are not revealed.

A remake of a 1934 version with the same title, but far superior, the film is a suspense/ political thriller.

Some interesting comparisons to other Hitchcock films released around the same time that I continue to notice with each passing viewing-

North by Northwest– the ordinary man falling into international intrigue and Vertigo– Jo is dressed in almost identical fashion to Madeleine/Judy- a classic, sophisticated grey suit with a pulled-up bun hairstyle; the musical scores are extremely similar- identical in instances; Vertigo’s bell tower is reminiscent of Ambrose Chappel in The Man Who Knew Too Much. Stewart’s Ben climbs up the bell tower in The Man Who Knew Too Much whereas in Vertigo is terrified of heights, let alone climbing.

These are fascinating tidbits to note for any Hitchcock fan.

Impressive to me is Doris Day’s performance, which is her greatest. Known for the lightweight, romantic comedy, and fluff roles, she turns in a wonderfully emotional and dramatic role and is quite effective in her own right.

The six-minute climactic final sequence, set at a musical concert at the Royal Albert Hall, is among the best in film history and uses no dialogue. This technique is jaw-dropping as one realizes just how much transpires within the six minutes, solely on physical activity and facial expressions alone- the entire plot of the film reaches a searing crescendo- quite literally.

Day is strong in this sequence.

James Stewart, in his fourth turn in a Hitchcock film, is charismatic playing the everyman tangled in a web of deceit and espionage.  He takes charge, but is identifying to the audience- he can be your friend or neighbor and we trust his character- he is a successful doctor.

The now-legendary song from the film “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” is an important part of the finale and remains with the audience in a happy yet terrifying way long after the curtain closes on the film.

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) is exciting, suspenseful, interesting, and fun- just what a Hitchcock film should be.

Oscar Nominations: 1 win-Best Song-” Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” (won)

The Birds-1963

The Birds-1963

Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor

Top 100 Films #2     Top 20 Horror Films #2     

Scott’s Review #173


Reviewed September 22, 2014

Grade: A

The Birds is one of director Alfred Hitchcock’s finest works.

Made in 1963, following Psycho, it continues Hitchcock’s run of successes, both commercially and critically.

Set in northern California (in both San Francisco and Bodega Bay) it tells the story of unexplained bird attacks in a peaceful small bay town.

Tippi Hedren plays Melanie Daniels, a wealthy socialite from San Francisco, who drives to Bodega Bay to romantically pursue a love interest, Mitch Brenner.

Mitch, played by Rod Taylor, is a successful attorney who meets and shares a flirtation with Melanie the day before at a San Francisco pet store. He regularly visits his mother (Jessica Tandy) and sister (Veronica Cartwright) in Bodega Bay.

Once Melanie arrives in town birds begin periodically attacking the locals living in the sleepy community.

The Birds is a film that holds up incredibly well and is as exciting and horrifying today as it has ever been in the past.

One intriguing aspect of the film is that it offers no rhyme or reason for the bird attacks, which keeps the viewer guessing from the moment a gull swoops down and attacks innocent Melanie.

It is completely mysterious and open to interpretation- are birds fed up with being caged?

Are the love birds that Melanie purchased the cause of the attacks? Do the birds hate humans? Why do they attack the children? Why do they peck the eyes of their victims out?

One could spend hours debating these questions.

A major creative success of the film is its elimination of a musical score. The eerie silence mixed in with the loud sounds of the birds attacking is a haunting dynamic.

My favorite scene of The Birds features Melanie sitting on a wooden bench in the schoolyard enjoying a cigarette. Behind her is a deserted jungle gym. She barely notices a tiny bird innocently fly past her and land on the jungle gym.

She continues smoking her cigarette. The viewer sees what Melanie cannot- as slowly hundreds of birds land on the jungle gym behind her.

Without music, this scene is deadly silent and very dramatic as it switches from close-ups of Melanie to long shots of the birds gravitating behind her.

Another interesting aspect of The Birds is the character relationships- Mitch’s mother Lydia is afraid of losing her son so she initially despises Melanie; Mitch’s ex-girlfriend, schoolteacher Annie Hayworth strikes up a close friendship with Melanie- one might expect them to be rivals.

A hysterical mother lashes out at Melanie, calling her evil, and blaming her for the attacks.

One wonders, amid the long periods of calm, when the next attack will occur- and we know it will. We look for clues as to what triggers the attacks and we find none.

This makes for brilliant and suspenseful filmmaking. They hardly come better than the masterpiece that is The Birds (1963).

Oscar Nominations: Best Special Effects



Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins

Top 100 Films #1     Top 20 Horror Films #1

Scott’s Review #165


Reviewed September 6, 2015

Grade: A

Psycho (1960) is the film to end all films and not just within the horror genre- at the time of release it transcended the art of film to a new level and has influenced generations of films since, and still holds up incredibly well today.

It is certainly one of the greatest Alfred Hitchcock films and one of the greatest films ever made, in my opinion.

Hitchcock took a huge risk and dove from the thriller genre to the horror genre with Psycho.

The story involves a young woman named Marion Crane, superbly played by Janet Leigh. Marion lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and sees her boyfriend (the dashing John Gavin) for frequent afternoon rendezvous at cheap motels when he is in town because they are both struggling financially.

She is presented with an opportunity, via her job, to steal $40,000 and flee the state to start a new life with her beau. She seizes the opportunity.

On the run, she stops at a run-down Bates motel where she meets owner Norman Bates, hauntingly played by Anthony Perkins.

Perkins and Leigh have amazing chemistry together and the audience picks up on it- is it romantic? Is there mysteriousness to it? Something is odd about Norman. They bond over a quiet meal of sandwiches at the motel while discussing life and his ailing mother.

The famous shower scene and the shocking twist after the film are now almost taken for granted since most people know about them already, but I can only imagine the shock when viewers were first treated to these two delights.

To this day both are still suspenseful to watch.

When I saw this film for the first time I, fortunately, did NOT know the ending and I am glad I didn’t because my breath was taken away.

To kill off the main actor at the start of the film halfway through was a novel idea and mind-blowing at the time of release (1960).

This act had the audience’s mouths hanging open in disbelief and saying, “What now”? “How can this be followed”? This act would later influence the original Scream (1996) film and surprise audiences all over again.

Per Hitchcock, no one could enter the film after it had started and viewers were persuaded not to reveal the ending- oh how I wish that occurred these days.

A very important aspect of the success and longevity of Psycho is the chemistry between Perkins and Leigh who got along famously while shooting Psycho, and more importantly, the likability of Norman Bates. There is a rooting value for him even though he is the villain.

When Marion’s car is only half-submerged in a lake containing her dead body, we root for the car to completely sink because Norman does and the concerned look on Norman’s face has a sincerity to it that affects the audience. Norman is troubled and wounded and the audience does not know why at this point in the story.

Let’s not forget the likability of Janet Leigh. The audience sympathizes with her predicament. She is hopelessly in love with her man, steals money, is conflicted, and at her core is a nice, decent, kind woman.

Halfway through the film Marion’s sister Lila, played by Vera Miles, is introduced as well as a detective and the film becomes more of a suspense/mystery as they search for Marion and investigate the Bates Hotel and Norman Bates himself.

Miles then takes center stage as the lead in the film, which is intriguing in itself.

The film then returns to horror at the terrific and terrifying conclusion, which will shock first-time viewers.

The musical score (especially the shrill strings) is incredibly effective and was a huge influence on horror films to come (Friday the 13th immediately comes to mind).

Psycho is a film that can certainly be enjoyed and studied over and over again.

Oscar Nominations: Best Director-Alfred Hitchcock, Best Supporting Actress-Janet Leigh, Best Art Direction, Black-and-White, Best Cinematography, Black-and-White



Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring James Stewart, Kim Novak

Top 100 Films #6

Scott’s Review #151


Reviewed August 7, 2014

Grade: A

Over the years Vertigo (1958) has easily become one of my favorite Alfred Hitchcock films and I learn, appreciate, or see something new with each repeated viewing.

It is an absolute masterpiece.

The primary appeal to Vertigo is its mystique and dream-like quality which provides a beautiful cinematic experience. It is ominous, psychological, and gloriously complex, even confusing at times.

That is what makes it wonderful.

The colorful opening visuals are dynamic, groundbreaking, and stunning considering the time.

The story involves a retired detective, Scottie, played by Hitchcock stalwart Jimmy Stewart. Scottie suffers from vertigo, which hinders his daily life.

After an incident in which a police officer is killed and Scottie blames himself and his vertigo for causing the death, he whiles away the days brooding and keeping companionship with Midge- a college friend whom he was once engaged to.

One day he is hired by another college friend to follow his wife, played tremendously by Kim Novak, who is acting strangely and periodically disappearing, obsessed with a painting of a woman from years past.

From this point, the plot twists and turns in a mysterious fashion, and mixed in is a romantic, bizarre, obsessive, love story.

Is Scottie in his right mind? Will his vertigo continue to haunt him? What is the secret to Madeleine and Judy? Is Midge as sweet as she appears?

The score to Vertigo is haunting and unforgettable adding so much mood and ambiance to the film.

Set in San Francisco, several location shots are featured- Golden Gate Bridge, downhill streets, the Mission, and Red Wood forest.

As with all Hitchcock films, all sets and details are perfect from paintbrushes, coffee mugs, curtains, and furniture, to the gorgeous bright red décor of the restaurant heavily featured in the film.

How exquisite does Kim Novak look in the film??

Originally critically panned upon its release it is now considered one of the greatest films. Influential to other films with its unique camera angles and slow, methodical pacing.

The film is not always an easy watch as it is complex, to be fair, but like a fine wine, it gets better and better.

Vertigo (1958) is a layered psychological thriller that is appreciated more with each viewing.

Oscar Nominations: Best Sound, Best Art Direction

Shadow of a Doubt-1943

Shadow of a Doubt-1943

Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Joseph Cotten, Teresa Wright

Top 100 Films #40

Scott’s Review #117


Reviewed July 17, 2014

Grade: A

Shadow of a Doubt (1943) is an Alfred Hitchcock film from 1943, made in black and white, that tells the story of a quaint California town with a killer in its midst. The town is idyllic and wonderful- folks go to church on Sunday and meet at the drug store for ice cream sodas.

The film was shot on location in a small town in California rather than on a sound stage, adding much authenticity.

The Newton family is at the center of the thriller, led by Charlie (Teresa Wright), a young woman who idolizes her recently visiting Uncle, also named Charlie (Joseph Cotton). They are very close- almost like father and daughter.

When Uncle Charlie is suspected of being the notorious Merry Widow Murderer, Charlie is conflicted. Could her Uncle be the murderer?

Shadow of a Doubt is one of Hitchcock’s simpler films and a huge plus is the town itself. It’s quiet, and family-oriented- what could go wrong? But evil embodies the town, and events slowly start turning dark.

A scene in which the family sits down for a quiet meal that turns into a conversation about death is famous and powerful. The train sequence is nicely shot. There is also a wonderful side plot involving two friends playing an innocent game of “how would I murder you?”, unaware of the irony of the game itself.

The film is not as flashy or complex as other Hitchcock films, specifically Vertigo, but that aspect works to its credit.

Hitchcock adored the idea of a small town with foreboding secrets and this film is quite the gem.

Shadow of a Doubt (1943) is a good, old-fashioned thriller and a must-see for Hitchcock fans.

Torn Curtain-1966

Torn Curtain-1966

Director Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Paul Newman, Julie Andrews

Scott’s Review #109


Reviewed July 15, 2014

Grade: A-

Torn Curtain is an under-appreciated and largely forgotten Cold War political thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock circa 1966.

The fact is, the film is very good but was troubled from the start, which presumably, has led to its poor reception and a trip to film oblivion.

The trouble with the film lies with the casting otherwise is a compelling, suspenseful adventure.

Starring Paul Newman and Julie Andrews- two enormous stars at the time the film was made, both were chosen by the studio, and neither did Hitchcock desire on the set.

This led to conflict, especially with Newman, who disliked the script.

His continued script “rewrites” and method of acting annoyed the famous director.

Newman plays an American physicist, Michael Armstrong, who is attending a conference in Copenhagen. Andrews plays his assistant and fiancee, Sarah Sherman.

Michael mysteriously flies to East Germany, behind the Iron Curtain, unknowingly with a concerned Sarah in tow. This event sets off political intrigue and espionage as Michael attempts to secure a formula and return it to the United States.

But is he a patriot or a defector, colluding with the Germans?

Presumably, the main reason for the poor reviews for Torn Curtain is the lack of chemistry between Newman and Julie Andrews coupled with behind-the-scenes problems with this film (both stars were unhappy throughout the shoot and Hitchcock did not want either actor in the film).

In truth, there is little chemistry between the pair and I cannot help to think how delicious it would have been if Sean Connery and Tippi Hedren were cast instead! After all, this duo had great chemistry in Marnie, released just two years prior.

Despite the backstage drama, overall the film is complex, exciting, and taut, and the bus escape scene is the edge-of-your-seat fantastic.

The best scene though comes in the middle of the film when Michael is in East Germany. Revealed to be part of a syndicate enabling him to sneak out of the country, he goes to a remote farm, where he is involved in a tortuous fight with a security officer and a farmer’s wife.

The scene is spectacular in its long length and edge-of-your-seat drama.

The scenic locales are wonderful and the film is bright, colorful, and sharp, especially on Blu-Ray. The gorgeous opening scene is aboard a cruise ship in the breathtaking Fjords of Scandinavia.

Frankly, I am surprised this film has not been rediscovered on a larger scale. Along with Topaz (1969), Torn Curtain (1966) is another forgotten gem of Hitchcock’s, worthy of praise.