I’ve mentioned several times on the blog that my sister and I have a long-standing tradition of sharing movie nights — or, as we call them, “Sister Movie Time.” Usually, we load up on snacks, cuddle with her cats, and watch the nostalgic films of our youth or rent some recent releases we missed in theaters.
For our latest movie night, we agreed to do something different. Britt had enjoyed my Halloween movie night curation last year — which included Carnival of Souls and Cat People — so she gave me free rein to put together another classic movie night. And for a while, I’ve wanted to curate a Hitchcock movie night to convert Britt into a fan!
Now, she’s never hated Hitchcock — she just didn’t really get the hype. She’d seen Rear Window in a film class and liked it, but never felt the need to delve further into his filmography.
To turn her into a fan, I decided to show her five films — some of my personal favorites, and a mix of Hitch’s most famous works and underrated gems. Of course, since I’m the type of person that somehow attracts mishaps, things didn’t totally go as planned; when packing my DVDs into their tiny travel case, I accidentally grabbed the special features disc for Vertigo instead of the film! Still, we had four great features to watch:
- The Birds (1963)
- Notorious (1946)
- Rope (1948)
- To Catch a Thief (1955)
After our first screening, we were discussing the film, and Britt graciously agreed to share brief thoughts on each film for a blog post. You’ll find her impressions and opinions, as well as my thought process in curating the evening, below!
To Catch a Thief: The Effervescent Hitchcock
For our first screening, I chose To Catch a Thief, one of my all-time favorite films (which most Hitch fans seem to place at the bottom of their ranking). I thought it would be fun to start the evening off with Hitchcock’s lightest, most stylish film — and you can never go wrong with Cary Grant!
- Rating: 4.5 out of 5
- Favorite character: Jessie
- Liked the dialogue and the chemistry/banter between the characters
- Found it thrilling to watch at times, though it is one of Hitchcock’s lighter films and not a traditional “thriller”; found it enjoyable overall
- Suspected the big reveal from the beginning, and was sure she’d be right after the funeral scene — but found the film engaging regardless of predicting the ending
- Now dreams of living in a villa in the French Riviera
The Birds: The Iconic Hitchcock
I didn’t need much of a reason to include The Birds; it’s not only one of Hitch’s best-known films, but a genuinely chilling horror flick, with plenty of suspense and atmosphere. It’s practically required viewing for anyone who enjoys film, especially classic film!
- Rating: 5 out of 5
- Favorite character: The birds themselves!
- Wishes the audience got to learn the cause of the avian frenzy, but also kind of loves that it isn’t revealed
- Thought it started like a hate-to-love romantic comedy until the birds came through and ruined everything for poor Melanie
- Didn’t like birds before watching; now feels validated in her dislike of birds
- Liked that it had a different flavor than the other Hitch films she’s seen; enjoyed his take on horror
- Sees very clearly how influential this film has been on other horror movies
- “I now hear birds in my head. I’m scared to go outside!”
Notorious: Classic Hitchcock Intrigue
It’s me, so of course, I had to program not one, but two Cary Grant films into the evening! I had other good reasons to choose Notorious for the roster, though. Notorious is the romantic mystery at its very best, equal parts elegant and thrilling. To me, it is a perfect film, from the performances to the cinematography to the suspense — and that ending!
- Rating: 5 out of 5
- Favorite character: Alicia and Madame Sebastian (though she liked everyone)
- Liked going backward in Hitchcock’s career to see how his signature style carried on throughout his filmography
- Loves Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant as a pair
- Found the film somewhat noir-ish; loves its grit, darkness, and sense of mystery
- Liked that the film shows women pulling the strings — like how Alexander seems entirely incapable of making a decision without the guidance of his mother
- If anyone ever has the occasion to ask her what her favorite Hitchcock film is, this will now be the one!
Rope: The Innovative Hitchcock
Rope is not a film I hear a lot of chatter about, compared to the better-known titles of Hitchcock’s filmography, but its unique style and gripping story have made it a favorite of mine since the first time I watched it. I thought this would be a good choice to end the evening, given our mutual interest in crime and its innovative, real-time structure.
- Rating: 5 out of 5
- Favorite character: Brandon and Rupert
- Loved the real-time/”continuous shot” style and appreciated Hitchcock’s interest in experimentation
- Loved Farley Granger’s distressed facial expressions
- Liked that it felt very much like watching a play, but without being static or stagey; “a smart adaptation”
- Left her on the edge of her seat
- “A riveting, psychological murder story”
Apparently, indecision runs in the family; Britt struggled to rank the four films. As she explained it, if she had to rank them, Notorious and Rope would be tied for first place; The Birds belongs in a category all its own, because it is so iconic/horrifying/influential; and To Catch a Thief rounds out the list (but is still a lot of fun to watch).
It’s safe to say that Britt is now a Hitchcock fan. I think she was by the time we finished the first film, even though it was her least favorite of the bunch! There’s still more to be watched — I thought she’d at least seen Psycho, but she hasn’t! So a Hitchcock Night, Part II will be in order. Stay tuned!
When I first glanced at this article when it was posted, I’d just gotten off the phone an hour earlier with a friend who wanted to have a Hitchcock night; he wants to learn more about classic films, so we’ve already had a classic sci-fi and classic Western night, and it was his choice to go with Hitchcock this time around.
He’s already seen Psycho, so my picks for him will probably be Rear Window, North by Northwest, and Notorious, the latter of which he wants to see because I’ve discussed it with him a few times. That’s cool that your sister liked all of your picks…I’m curious to see what my friend thinks of mine.
Oh, fun! You’ll have to make a blog post about it, or just report back — I’m curious to know whether your friend likes them!
My sister is a fellow movie buff but has a lot of blindspots pre-1965. She has her favorites (Scarlet Street, Gone With the Wind, etc) but has never ventured too far beyond them. It’s been fun to introduce her to more! I have a notebook full of ideas for our future movie nights, haha.