10 Best Hitchcock Films
Is Alfred Hitchcock the greatest movie director of all time? Certainly a case could be made for him. He is considered the master of suspense and many of today's best directors were greatly influenced by Hitchock films. While Hitchcock was outstanding at suspense and used it in all of his films, he also was able to use suspense across a wide variety of genres including action thrillers like North by Northwest, horror films such as Psycho and crime dramas like Dial M for Murder.
Not only was Alfred Hitchcock a brilliant director, but he also was wise enough to work with the best actors and actresses of his time including Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly, Kim Novak, Laurence Olivier, Ray Milland and Claude Rains.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flatery, then certain today's modern day Directors respect Alfred. You can see elements of his form of suspense in modern day films from Spielberg to Carpenter to Tarantino to Nolan. During his career, Hitchcock directed over 50 feature films and surprisingly he was only nominated for the Best Director Oscar 5 times and never won. It is a shame that the suspense thriller genre was less respected at that time than it is today. The Academy did grant him the Lifetime Achievement Award (known as the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award) in 1968.
This top ten ranking of the best Alfred Hitchcock films is based on movie bloggers and other fans that ranked the best Hitchcock movies category.
If you like Hitchcock films, you might also want to check out Alfred Hitchcock Geek as they provide some great in depth reviews of the best Hitchcock Movies. You can also learn more about Alfred Hitchcock, the man behind the legend, at the Alfred Hitchcock wiki.
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10. Notorious (1946)
A Film Noir Suspense Thriller from Hitchcock
Notorious is considered one of Hitchcock's best films and was nominated for two Oscars. It is the story of Alice Huberman (Ingrid Bergman), a US citizen whose German father is convicted of treason against the US. Devlin (Cary Grant) is a government agent that approaches Huberman to spy on certain of her father's Nazi friends who live in Rio De Janeiro. Claude Rains plays the leader of the Nazis' Alexander Sebastian.
This is a suspenseful drama as Huberman is pulled into many dangerous situations investigating the Nazis, but it is also a romantic film as Huberman and Devlin begin to fall in love working with each other. As we see in so many great Alfred Hitchcock Films, there is both sexual and suspense tension building in many of the scenes. Grant and Bergman are great together and Claude Rains is excellent as the villainous Nazi.
If you enjoyed Notorious... - You might also like Spellbound
Alfred Hitchcock takes on Sigmund Freud in this thriller in which psychologist Ingrid Bergman tries to solve a murder by unlocking the clues hidden in the mind of amnesiac suspect Gregory Peck. Kind a precursor to Inception, but 60 years its predecessor.
9. To Catch a Thief (1955)
Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, What More Could you Want?
This is a great Alfred Hitchcock film that defies categorization. It is part suspense, part comedy and part drama. John Robie (Cary Grant) is a reformed jewel thief and former resistance fighter for the French in WWII who is living the high life in the French Riviera. Frances Stevens (Grace Kelly) is in town with her mother while vacationing and shopping for a husband (clearly a different era). But there is also a jewel thief on the loose and of course Robie is one of the prime suspects.
In order to prove that he is not the thief, Robie is going to have to uncover the real thief. Grant is so much fun to watch and this role is perfectly suited for him. Stevens is a debutante that has the eye of every young man in the room, but Robie appears uninterested, which drives Stevens crazy. As a result, Stevens is the pursuer and Robie parries her advances as if uninterested. Of course, he is absolutely interested and who wouldn't be, Kelly is absolutely stunning in this film.
This is a fun movie with lots of intrigue and great sexual tension and innuendo. It is a different type of movie for Hitchcock but he handles this film brilliantly.
8. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
The McKenna Family Get in Serious Trouble on Vacation
Similar to North by Northwest, in The Man Who Knew Too Much the McKenna family are tossed into an accidental suspense drama, with murder, an assassination plot and a lot of intrigue. While traveling through Africa on holiday, Dr. Ben McKenna (Jimmy Stewart), his wife Josephine (Doris Day) and their son, Hank, encounter a stranger Louis Bernard on a bus who is later murdered. Before he dies though, he confides to the McKennas that he has knowledge about an assassination plot that is planned for London.
To make matters worse, Hank is kidnapped by the conspirators to try to silence the McKennas. In classic style, Hitchcock presents this thriller with amazing suspense and keeps us guessing about what will happen next.
If you liked The Man Who Knew too Much - You might also enjoy Rope
Another Hitchcock thriller starring Jimmy Stewart, Rope is a macabre spellbinder, which was inspired by a real-life case of murder.
7. Dial M for Murder (1954)
"It is Easy to Plan the Perfect Murder..."
It is the carrying out of the plan that is difficult because humans do not react the way you expect them to." says Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings), a mystery writer which foreshadows the plot of this Hitchcock murder suspense film. In this film all of the suspense is related to whether the murder planner, Tony Wendice (Ray Milland) will be caught by the police.
This is one of Hitchcock's movies in which we are forced to empathize with the villain as we watch his perfectly planned murder go awry and we feel his stress as the police inspectors close in around him. The story is made infinitely more interesting by the presence of Mark Halliday, a family friend and one-time lover of the victim, Wendice's wife, Margot Wendice (Grace Kelly). He unravels many of the inconsistencies with the inspector because of the murder mystery books that he has written.
While we know the killer and have watched the murder, this film still is filled with suspense as we unsure of whether the police and Mark Halliday will be able to piece together the murder and figure out that Tony planned it.
If you enjoyed Dial M for Murder...
Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray star in this gripping film noir from Academy Award-winning director Billy Wilder. A calculating wife encourages her wealthy husband to sign a double indemnity policy proposed by smitten insurance agent Walter Neff. As the would-be lovers plot the unsuspecting husband's murder, they are pursued by a suspicious claims manager (Edward G. Robinson).
6. Strangers on a Train (1951)
What a Crazy Plot for a Movie
Two strangers meet on a train and spend many hours with each other drinking and discussing each others life. Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker) is in a hopeless situation with his father and want to get rid of him, while Guy Haines (Farley Granger) is in love with another woman and would like to rid himself of his wife, Miriam. During their train ride, Bruno suggests that each of them "off" the other person's problem. While Guy passes it off as a joke, Bruno is very serious.
When Bruno sets the plan in motion by killing Miriam for Guy, he expects Guy to reciprocate and threatens him with evidence that he will release to the police. The film is another suspenseful film in which the tension builds as the police investigation zooms in on Guy.
5. The Birds (1963)
What if the Birds Weren't Afraid of Humans...
In Hitchcock's The Birds the World is turned upside down when the birds in a Northern California town realize that in massive numbers they could overpower any humans. The situation is even more shocking because there is no explanation for the birds' behavior. Hitchcock knew that by not providing an explanation, there is a sense that this could happen anywhere.
In birds, Hitchcock knew that he could invoke complete terror because we quickly realize how well equipped birds are to actually reek havoc on the human race. There are great numbers of birds, they can fly (terrifying in itself) and their beaks and claws could tear through our soft flesh. Oh and one more thing, they are everywhere. Yes, Tigers are more fearsome but we never see tigers. We see hundreds of birds everyday.
If you enjoyed The Birds... - You might also like
Hitchcock creates a masterful psychological thriller about a compulsive liar and thief (Tippi Hedren), who winds up marrying the very man (Sean Connery) she attempts to rob.
4. North by Northwest (1959)
One of the Best Thrillers of All-Time
North by Northwest is a classic thriller movie and one of the first to use the 'accidental detective' themes that is so often copied these days. Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is an advertising executive in New York City, one of the original Mad Men, when he is mistaken for a CIA operative by a group of foreign spies. He ends up in a cross country chase with Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint) who herself has ties to government agents, we are just not sure which ones.
Along the way, a spark develops between Thornhill and Kendall while the plot twists and turns several times until we don't know which end is up. Cary Grant is brilliant as the reluctant sleuth and of course his artistry with the spoken word is unrivaled. Hitchcock weaves an amazing story with outstanding cinematography. The Mt. Rushmore setting and the beautiful Western landscapes provide the perfect backdrop for Hitchcock's suspenseful scenes.
North by Northwest is considered one of the all time great thrillers and my favorite Hitchcock film. Hitchcock delicately balances action, suspense and humor into a film masterpiece.
If you liked North by Northwest... - You should also look into Chinatown
Another great drama thriller, Roman Polanski's marvelous blend of '40s "noir" mystery and '70s sexual tensions stars Jack Nicholson as Jake Gittes, the L.A. gumshoe involved in a case of shady business dealings and corrupt politics who sticks his nose where it doesn't belong one time too many.
3. Rear Window (1954)
Only Hitchcock Could Bring us Suspense Like This
Rear Window is probably the best example of a Hitchcock suspense film. The film's cast is loaded with Jimmy Stewart headlining in the role of Jeff Jeffries, a professional photographer who has broken his leg and is confined to a wheelchair in his Manhattan apartment. After photographing his neighbors with his telephoto lens, he begins to suspect one of his neighbors, played by Raymond Burr, of killing his wife.
He enlists the help of his girlfriend, Lisa Freemont (Grace Kelly), and his nurse (Thelma Ritter), into his plan to uncover the murder. The brilliance of this film is the suspense that is created as Jeffries watches helplessly as Freemont is caught in the apartment when Burr is returning home.
You would not think that an entire movie framed out the rear window of an apartment would be exciting but yet it is a great film with lots of suspense and excitement. It is a fantastic Hitchcock film that captivates its viewers.
2. Vertigo (1958)
A Highly Complex and Unfolding Plot with Many Twists and Turns
Vertigo is an incredibly complex Hitchcock film with several plot twists and surprises throughout. If you loved films like, Inception, The Sixth Sense and Body Double, then you will also love Vertigo. They have all stolen some elements from the Hitchcock movie.
Scottie Ferguson (Jimmy Stewart) is a retired police inspector forced to retire because of his fear of heights. He is hired by Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore), a college friend, to trail Madeline Elster (Kim Novak), Gavin's wife. Gavin fears Madeline has gone insane and may commit suicide.
Scottie is immediately captivated by the beautiful Madeline and follows her throughout the city. There are several twists and turns in this film and I don't want to reveal too much.
It is an amazing Hitchcock film that slowly peels back the onion to reveal more of the story. Put this one high on your rental list, you won't be disappointed.
1. Psycho (1960)
One of the Scariest Films Ever
Hitchcock is the master of suspense but he was also a master of horrror. He only made a few horror films, but all of them became instant classics and Psycho is one of the best horror films of all time. But the brilliance of Hitchcock is that his horror films were also suspense movies. We identify with the victims during the horror scenes, but then the film switches gears and we identify with the killer while the police are investigating the murders.
Much of the film explores the tension between Anthony Perkins and the investigators and those scenes are outstanding. You can see the tension in Perkins face as he notices clues that he hopes the investigators miss. I love the tension created in these scenes and it keeps you on edge throughout the film.