• The Trouble with Harry

    The Trouble with Harry

    ★★★

    “The Trouble with Harry” is Alfred Hitchcock casually meandering out of his element. Taking a hike into the hills of comedy, he spends the film sowing horror like apple seeds across small town America. 

    “Harry” has the lush visual presentation of a Sirk picture, but the absurdist malice of later auteurs, from Kubrick to the Coens. It’s no surprise that the mixture of formality and satire only befuddled audiences of its time. “Harry,” was dead on arrival. 

    It’s telling of…

  • To Catch a Thief

    To Catch a Thief

    ★★★★★

    To the critics who bemoaned on the release of “To Catch a Thief” that it lacked Alfred Hitchcock’s usual suspense, I ask:

    Is the wonderment of what Grace Kelly will wear in the next scene not enough? 

    There is a marked lack of psychopaths with thirsty daggers in “To Catch a Thief,” but the film hardly lacks in revelations that take a viewer’s breath away. Perhaps not with a startled gasp, but rather a sigh. A golden ballgown, a white…

  • Rear Window

    Rear Window

    ★★★★★

    Perhaps the greatest movie about the making of movies, “Rear Window” is often undervalued for how it is also one of the most essential city films ever, despite its production happening entirely on the Paramount Studios backlot. 

    Some of the greatest movie criticism has derived from writings about “Rear Window.” It has not just the distinction of being arguably Hitchcock’s best work (second only, maybe, to “Vertigo”), but also a film so intensely cinematic, it appeals to the fanatic and…

  • Dial M for Murder

    Dial M for Murder

    ★★★½

    The best laid murders go awry in Alfred Hitchcock’s first, last, and only 3-D film. 

    “Dial M for Murder” has a crime worthy of the more ingenious entries in its director’s filmography. Depicting a man who plots the killing of his cheating wife to gain her inheritance, there is a devilish thrill in the conceit alone. 

    There are whiffs of “Rope” and “Strangers on a Train’s” cyanide-flavored schemes in “Dial M,” along with relationship interplay reminiscent to iconic Hitchcocks like…

  • Zero Fucks Given

    Zero Fucks Given

    ★★★★½

    Cassandre has nothing to show for her life except an innate talent at running away from it. 

    A flight attendant for a budget airline, she is envied by her childhood friends in Belgium for her privilege to exist without attachments. And also, questioned on how it’s possible to even do so.  

    The answer lies in the title of the film, “Rien à foutre,” a French expression that more or less translates to the work’s English name, “Zero Fucks Given.” …

  • I Confess

    I Confess

    ★★

    Alfred Hitchcock lets Catholic guilt get in the way of steamy melodrama in “I Confess.” 

    The Montgomery Clift-starring film centers around a priest who hears confession about a killing, and must not reveal the culprit at the risk of compromising his holy vows. 

    “I Confess” is perhaps shaky in its conceit that Clift’s character would risk prison to protect a guilty parishioner. But, the screen play nearly sets up a fascinating psychology piece in the question of whether it is…

  • Strangers on a Train

    Strangers on a Train

    ★★★★★

    “Strangers on a Train” ranks amongst Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest love stories. 

    Whether this love is between a man and a murderer or a man and murder, is a delineation that has the answerability of the film’s key debate on nature versus nurture in the making of a soul. 

    “Strangers,” deliberately crafted by Hitchcock with a homoerotic subtext between its lead characters of Guy (Farley Granger) and Bruno (Robert Walker), plays out in a duel over how men’s proclivities come to…

  • Stage Fright

    Stage Fright

    ★★★½

    If “Rear Window” is Alfred Hitchcock’s meta masterpiece on the art of filmmaking, then it’s “Stage Fright” that is his commentary on the theatre. 

    It is, however, no masterpiece. 

    While Hitchcock has a stage director’s eye for blocking, a consideration passed over in favor of pure camera trickery by many of his cinematic peers, his is still an outsider to the world of the theatrical tradition. So, it is little shock that his portrayal of it comes across as, well,…

  • Under Capricorn

    Under Capricorn

    ★★★★

    On release, many critics accused “Under Capricorn” of insulting their intelligence and their time. Re-examined though, the film is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest achievements in emotional and temporal perception. 

    Lush, sumptuous and elegant; “Capricorn” is a slow-moving period piece utterly absent the expected theatrics and thrills of its director. It doesn’t need them. “Capricorn” floats like a sigh shared at the end of a waltz between two lovers. Just as precious. Just as weighted with implication. 

    The story of…

  • Rope

    Rope

    ★★★★★

    In Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rope,” every clue is diegetic and waiting to be discovered. 

    The film, staged in a theatrical single setting and comprised of just ten cuts; most of them hidden, is Hitchcock’s magnum opus of blocking. Through precise staging of actors in a physical environment, the director puts the audience in the place of both detective and witness; knowing from the outset what happened (murder), but with the task of deciphering nuance of space and movement to figure out…

  • The Paradine Case

    The Paradine Case

    ★★

    In a film on the theme of obsession, it is only appropriate for “The Paradine Case” to be a product of that same breed of obsession on the part of its producer, David O. Selznick. 

    A meddling force in the movies of Alfred Hitchcock (notice whose name comes second in this critique) since “Rebecca,” the producer saw himself rather as the director too, evidentially controlling aspects of “Paradine’s” production down to the editing process and the lighting. 

    It shows.

    While…

  • Notorious

    Notorious

    ★★★★★

    There is hardly an image more definitively Hitchcock than that of a stolen key; concealed behind the back of a partner; blocked from view by a sudden embrace. 

    This a moment in, and the essence of, “Notorious;” a film that puts the notion of trust through every obstacle real and imagined. And, the idea of trust itself… is found wanting. 

    An early Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece of his American era, “Notorious” stars two Brits and a Swede, with action that largely…