November 08, 2008
... in my giddyup
It speaks somehow to what I suspect is an interesting sea change in my life here as, in revisiting a few of Alfred Hitchcock’s films, I’m finding that I like them now in a way that I didn’t used to before. It’s not that I knew that I was more respecting a picture like Rear Window for instance, than liking it, it’s that now, freed of feeling like I had to respond to it in a certain way, I discovered that I responded to it like a motherfucker. Curious about that, I popped in his remake of his own The Man Who Knew Too Much to discover, to my delight, that a film I’d always sort of disdained was, in fact, tight as the proverbial kettle drum and, more, with a few years under my belt, emotionally affecting as well. My fave Hitch is still 1943’s Shadow of a Doubt, Hitch’s first truly “American” film, his only collaboration with Thornton Wilder, and starring faves Joe Cotten and Theresa Wright – but I’m coming around to the idea that what I’d always considered to be “light” late pictures in the Master’s oeuvre are not so easily dismissed. No wonder Truffaut sounds like a fawning sycophant in that interview he did with him.
Lists being what they are, I’d still like to offer up my top ten Hitchs:
Shadow of a Doubt
Strangers on a Train
The Lady Vanishes
Oh dear – that leaves off a great many, doesn’t it? Frenzy and North by Northwest and The Wrong Man and I Confess and The Lodger… where do they fit?
It’s also led to a couple of other skylarks nagging at the back of my head – like what, exactly, the term “Hitchcockian” means outside of specific context?
And which is the Hitch you hate the most to love? Me? Family Plot.
I’m doing a series upcoming at a local library system of “Forgotten Classics” – we’ll be showing, as Saturday Afternoon matinees, Ace in the Hole, Seven Men From Now, The Day the Earth Caught Fire, The Late Show, and Being John Malkovich. Better title might have been “Classics in the Rearview”. Next month, I’ll be doing a Marlene Dietrich series with the Denver Public Library.
Will be doing minor coverage of the Denver Film Festival in the next couple of weeks and catching, I hope, at last a screening of The Wrestler – the last real film I’m interested in seeing this year.