The Master of Suspense: Alfred Hitchcock
October… A time for autumn leaves, cooler weather, Oktoberfest, beer, and scary movies. There is no shortage of movies to frighten you and give me bad dreams.
Sorry to be such a horror movie wimp, but I prefer ‘old-school’ scary. When movies left you on the edge of your seat and made you check all the locks in the house before you took a shower. Oh, you know you do it too. I am referring to the Master of Suspense, himself: Alfred Hitchcock.
One of the wonderful things about Hitchcock is the way he featured women in his movies. Hitchcock’s women were always stunningly beautiful blonds who got involved in mysteries, murder, and mayhem, all while remaining impeccable dressed. These are just a few of Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite actresses:
- Grace Kelly (Rear Window)
- Joan Fontaine (Suspicion, Rebecca)
- Ingrid Bergman (Spellbound, Notorious)
- Eva Marie Saint (North By Northwest)
- Janet Leigh (Psycho)
- Tippi Hedren (The Birds, Marnie)
- Vera Miles (Psycho)
- Kim Novak (Vertigo)
Even the most timid of his heroines steps up to the challenge when needed. Well, wouldn’t you if you were being attacked by a flock of birds? Here are two of my favorite Alfred Hitchcock movies.
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Janet Leigh starred as Marian Crane in Psycho, one of the scariest movies ever. Ok, yes Tony Perkins was extremely creepy too. It’s a simple story. In order to run away with her lover, Sam (played by John Gavin) Marian steals $40,000 from her boss. That may not seem like much now, but in 1960 dollars, $40, 000 was a fortune.
She runs off with the money and hides out in the seedy Bates Motel, run by Norman Bates and his invalid mother. This is not really a spoiler since we already know what happens at the Bates Motel. Poor Marian Crane. She will forever be remembered as the woman in the shower.
As frightening as the shower scene may be, the suspense grows when Marian’s determined sister, Lila (played by Vera Miles) enlists Sam to help her find Marian, return the money to avoid a jail sentence.
Lila hires a private to detective to track down her sister. He follows Marian’s trail to the Bates Motel, where he also meets a tragic end. Note to self: Don’t go snooping around creepy old houses inhabited by 30-year-old men who still live with their mother.
I have seen Psycho 100 times over the years. And I was scared every time. How does Alfred Hitchcock do that? To tell you any more would ruin the suspense and the surprise ending.
Rear Window stars one of my favorite classic film stars, Jimmy Stewart. He is L.B. (Jeff) Jeffries, a wheelchair-bound photojournalist with a broken leg. His gorgeous supermodel girlfriend, Lisa Fremont is played by the glamorous and future Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly.
Rear Window also stars Thelma Ritter as the smart-mouthed nurse. Sounds pretty boring right? But Hitchcock likes to show the terror next door and that’s just what Jeff finds while staring out his window into the courtyard below his apartment.
OK…so what if your neighbor’s dog finds a femur bone in the flower bed.
Gee, I wonder why Mr. Thorwald is taking those large trunks out of his house in the middle of the night?
Whatever happened to Mrs. Thorwald, I haven’t seen her in days?
Is Jeff just a bored invalid with a vivid imagination or has he stumbled upon a grisly murder? He enlists his nurse and girlfriend in his amateur investigation of the missing Mrs. Thorwald.
I love how Grace Kelly’s character jumps right into the center of Jeff’s case. Did she lay around his place looking gorgeous? Yes, but when the time came for action she was ready to help her man out by breaking into the suspected murder’s apartment to look for clues.
Other Alfred Hitchcock Movies
Hitchcock, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins as Hitch and Helen Mirren as his wife, screenwriter Alma Reville. The movie tells the behind the scenes making of Pyscho.
Marnie, a young and extremely handsome pre-007, Sean Connery stars with Tippi Hedren in this psychological mystery.
The Birds. Tippi takes a second turn in a Hitchcock movie that features the original ‘angry birds’.
North By Northwest, starring Cary Grant and Mount Rushmore.
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