Saturday, June 25, 2011

My Favorite Directors
Sir Alfred Hitchcock, Master of Suspense

After overviewing my favorite director of all times, Stanley Kubrick, I think its appropiate to move on to my second favorite director of all times, and that's none other than horror and suspense master Alfred Hitchcock, director of such classics as Psycho, Vertigo and North by Northwest. With a career spanning almost six decades, he hardly ever made a misfire (not one that I have seen at least, but I have heard that he's done like two or three that don't compare to his other better films), and that is a great achievement. I have seen many directors having a roller coster of a career, but not Hitchcock. A few "bumps" on the road to becoming one of the most memorable directors of all times can be forgivable... and if that's not a good enough reason, then watch his greatest films and you'll see that those alleged minor wrongs are no big thing.

Top 5 films:
5. The Lady Vanishes: An intriguing tale of conspiracies and espionage in pre-World War II Britain. This early Hitchcock thriller has the ingridients that would make his films from the coming decades such a hit, and those are a tight suspenseful plot, colorful characters, a few twists on the way and his trademark cameo. The theme of espionage, recurring in his early films, is very well carried out in the film, nd it certainly assures a very intriguing train ride.
4. Rear Window: His first collaboration (or at least I believe it is his first) with praised actor James Stewart. The film is about suspicion and murder, and the fact that it developes through the telescope of a man in a wheelchair, which makes it harder for him to escape when he have to, makes it all more thrilling. This excellent thriller is definitely one to remember.
3. Shadow of a Doubt: One of his earliest American films, Hitchcock definitely masters the serial killer trama in one of his first attempts. Another great story about suspicion, Hitchcock keeps the audience glued to the film as he keeps adding suspense to both sides of the party, the girl who suspects her uncle is a killer and to the uncle who is very possibly a killer.
2. Psycho: Probably everybody's Hitchcock favorite, but for me it comes in as second. But that doesn't mean it isn't a masterpiece in its own right. The film, the mother of horror and slasher films, its a wonderful and macabre ride that every movie fan is bound to take. Anyone who has seen it knows that that almost every slasher film released after it pales in comparison, but also knows that it was because of this that those movies were made. And I have to of course mention the unforgettable shower scene, which is one of the better known and most memorable scenes in history.
1. Vertigo: The film which I do believe to be his masterpiece. The psychological thriller about a retired police detective suffering from acrophobia is nothing but excellent. The film's great direction and style make for what isone of his most celebrated films. James Stewart's performance is definitely one of his best. I know it is hard to choose which one is the best, especially with so many great films, but I do believe that this is his very best film. If you haven't seen it see it now. Trust me, any Hitchcock fan must see this.

I know there are at least a dozen films that should be mentioned, but I could only say five as it is a top five. I guess that honorable mentions go to: North by Northwest, Dial M for Murder, The Wrong Man, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The 39 Steps, The Birds, Rebecca, Notorious, Blackmail... damn, I'll leave it there.

Alfred Hitchcock is often cited as "the master". While I think that this term should be applied to the greatest director of all times (a term applief to Stanley Kubrick), I think that it does suit Sir Alfred Hitchcock, as he is indeed a master. He is the master of horror and suspense, the greatest mind in the genre of thriller and terror. His body of work amasses over 50 films and reaches almost six decades of work. He is one of the
most, if not the most, unforgettable directors of all times, and when you check a list of the greatest directors you'll most definitely will find his name near the top of the list.
Hitchcock's films were, for the most part, concise and short, many that didn't go over hour and a half, and I think that his loongest film ran just about ten minutes over two hours. But that doesn't mean he was lazy or that his stories were lacking something. The reason is that he, instead of many other directors who cared for delivering a message throughout the whole film, the message he wants to deliver is shortly given to the audience. And I think that his purpose of filmmaking wasn't to deliver his views on humanity or to reflect on a situation (like Stanley Kubrick or Federico Fellini), but to simply just give a good time to the viewer. I'm not saying any of the two ways is wrong. I enjoy both this ways of filmmaking. It is hard to pick one out of the two, but yo
u there are certain times that you'd rather watch a Hitchcock film than a Kubrick film. When you're feeling down I don't think you'd watch a film about a man trying to murder his family or a solider abused and finally kills himself and his commanding officer, but rather something short and fun maybe? And again, I'm not saying that because Hitchcock's films are more cheerful or rather gurantee a good time are better, I'm saying that they are two different ways of expressing into the big screen.
While Fellini and Kubrick will go deep into the human psyche and explore the reasons of why humans act the way we do, Hitchcock would rather simply explore a situation in which unlikely heroes may arise. As I said, I think Hitchcock made his films for fun and for giving the audience a good time, unlike other filmmakers like the ones mentioned. And as I said, there are times for every director.

Hitchcock is undoubtly one of the most iconic and well remembered directors in cinema history. In every top 100 list you'll find at least three of his films, and in most you'll find more than that. He is the master of suspense and horror. He practically gave birth to the slasher genre (sad that it turned out to be so shameful after its first couple of hits), as well as he probably gave birth to the thriller and suspense genre. It is sad that he never won an Academy award (just like Kubrick), even when his film Rebecca did win Best Picture. He got snubbed several times, and thats a crime, as he is one of the better remembered directors in history.


  1. Terrific overview of a director who knew what he was doing for sure. I have seen many hitchock films, and actually, I haven't seen any of the ones in that list. I am soon getting them on DVD.

  2. Great blog..

    Agree with your views on Hitchcock...but I don't think he belongs to the same league as other masters like Kubrick, Kurosawa,Lynch, Kieslowski or others who gave us films in different genres, while Hitch delivered only suspense films!