His movies are referenced in countless other movies and even on television. You might even whistle the theme song to his television series or easily recognize that iconic silhouette.
Yes, we’re talking about Alfred Hitchcock! August 13 is the birthday of the jack-of-all-trades (he wore the hat of producer, director, actor, writer, art director and a lot more!), so it’s the perfect time to celebrate his works. There are so many to choose from (check out imdb.com if you don’t believe it), but we whittled down the list and picked our five favorite Hitchcock films.
So grab a bucket of popcorn and get ready for the show! Don’t forget to look for Hitchcock – one of his trademarks is making cameo appearances in his films. (Okay, we’ll make it a little easier for you to find him with some hints.)
North By Northwest (1959)
It’s all about mistaken identity and no one is who they seem. New York advertising executive Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is kidnapped by a gang of spies who believe that he is CIA agent George Kaplan. While following Kaplan to Chicago as a fugitive of justice, Thornhill is helped by the beautiful Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint). One of the most famous movie scenes appears in this film: Cary Grant being chased in an empty cornfield by a plane. Pay attention during the opening credits: Hitchcock arrives at a bus stop too late, only to have the bus door close in his face. Oh, and the chase scene on Mount Rushmore? Hitchcock couldn’t get permission to shoot an attempted murder on a national monument, so a replica was created in the studio.
The Birds (1963)
You may want to skip the beach this summer! The beautiful and young Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) meets Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) at a pet shop. Brenner pretends to mistake Daniels for a salesperson and Daniels goes along with it. Later intrigued by Brenner, Daniels drives to Mitch’s home in Bodega Bay. Over the next few days, dangerous bird attacks ensue. Hitchcock makes his cameo at the start of the film, walking his two dogs (they’re his own dogs) past the pet shop. Film Fact: The scene where Daniels is ravaged by birds near the end of the movie took a week to shoot, and the birds were attached to her clothes by long nylon threads so they could not get away. It’s no wonder why Tippi described that climatic scene as “the worst week of my life!”
Next time, we’ll pass on doing a favor for an old friend! Retired detective John “Scottie” Ferguson (James Stewart) is hired as a private detective by an old college buddy, Galvin, who wants his beautiful blond wife Madeleine (Kim Novak) followed. Galvin is worried that his wife suffers from a mental illness or spiritual possession, so Scottie follows (and eventually falls in love with) Madeline who spends her days visiting the grave and painting of Carlotta Valdes, a woman who killed herself 100 years earlier. Watch for Hitchcock in a gray suit walking past Gavin’s shipyard (about 11 minutes into the film). San Juan Batista, the Spanish Mission where key scenes were shot, doesn’t have a bell tower – it was added with trick photography.
Rear Window (1954)
Keep your blinds shut! Confined to his apartment with a broken leg, photographer L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries (James Stewart) passes the time watching his neighbors – including a salesman and his invalid wife, a dancer and newlyweds – go about their every day activities. One day, Jeff notices the wife has inexplicably disappeared, and the salesman starts doing things that lead Jeff to believe that he may have murdered her. Lacking proof or anyone to believe him, Jeff enlists the help of girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) and his nurse Stella to come up with a plan to catch the killer red-handed, and possibly put all of their lives in danger. Watch the clock – Hitchcock appears as the man winding the clock in the songwriter’s apartment. FYI: At the time, the set of this movie was the largest indoor set built at Paramount Studios!
Lock the doors and stay out of the shower! Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is fed up with her life – sneaking away during lunch breaks to meet her lover Sam Loomis who cannot get married because his money goes to alimony. Desperate to make a change in her life, Marion leaves town with the $40,000 that her boss asked her to deposit at the bank. On her way to California to start a new life with Sam, torrential rain keeps her from driving, so she decides to spend the night at the desolate Bates Motel run by the creepy Norman Bates who is obsessed with his mother. After dinner, Marion decides to go back to her room for a shower and, well…you know the rest! Where’s Hitchcock? He’s outside Marion’s office wearing a cowboy hat (four minutes into the film). Film Fun: The blood used in the infamous shower scene was really Bosco chocolate syrup!