A former policeman wrestles with his personal demons and slow becomes obsessed with a hauntingly mysterious woman : So why is Alfred Hitchcock’s VERTIGO amongst the top tier of the great man’s work? yes Coppel & Taylor’s screenplay is as good as any in the genre, the way the great Jimmy Stewart tackles Scottie’s infatuation & fear of heights is superbly played out, the magnificent striking color’s used throughout literally take your breath away, it’s San Francisco backdrop add’s a certain comfort to each scene and Barbara Bel Geddes gives a career best in playing Scottie’s best friend Midge : all of these give VERTIGO it’s energy but for me the real spark comes from Chicago born Kim Novak and she is why us cinephile’s still talk about this GREAT 50s thriller today, it’s as alluring a performance I’ve seen in any of Hitchcock’s movies, her mystery, beauty and character switch still gives me chills each & everytime I revisit this cinematic classic : I love that moment when Scottie lays eye’s on Madeleine for the first time in the restaurant, Novak’s beauty against the red decor is a sight to behold : and take the moment around 95 minutes in by which time Madeleine has died, Scottie has spent some time in a hospital recovering and upon his release spots a young lady walking down the street that he thinks resembles his lost love, he follows her, knocks on her hotel door only to find a startled Judy Barton standing before him…. the acting from Novak in this scene is captivating, her mind working overtime, the dreaded guilt, the excitement and the possibility are all laid out bare by a vunerable yet driven Kim Novak performance : I truly love revisiting the GEMS from yester-year and there’s not many that better Alfred Hitchcock’s thrilling VERTIGO for it’s towering achievement in suspense, the camera work including the terrific zoom out effect and it’s undoubted beauty ★★★★★
It’s always tough when listing any Top Movie List but as this will become a steady feature on the site I have decided to start Our Top Four with the enormous talent that is Grace Patricia Kelly : I started my obsession & collecting movies during the early 80s, films from all era’s & genre’s, facinated in general by anything and everything movie orientated and I remember watching Dial M for Murder one afternoon whilst home from school and being mesmerised by this screen goddess, this lady that oozed sex appeal yet had this commanding persona one that filled the screen with a kind of movie magic, I guess Grace Kelly became my first movie love and what a magnificent yet short career this American Sweetheart gave us : I hope you enjoy my ramblings….
Born on the 12th November 1929 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania GRACE KELLY not only had the beauty & elegance of a Hollywood Leading Lady but also had the acting chops of a high quality veteran working & becoming goods friends with the likes of Alfred Hitchcock on three occassions, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder and To Catch a Thief and also winning the Academy Award for Best Actress in the wonderful George Seaton picture The Country Girl, this was viewed as a major shock, many thought Judy Garland would win that year for her turn in A Star is Born : in her short Hollywood career Grace would star with Gary Cooper in the acclaimed western High Noon, William Holden in The Bridges of Toko-Ri and Clark Gable in Mogambo : in 1956 Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier ending her love affair with the screen until her death in 1982
One of my favorite Grace Kelly quotes : Mr. Hitchcock taught me everything about cinema. It was thanks to him that I understood that murder scenes should be shot like love scenes and love scenes like murder scenes
Number 7 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : A wealthy socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small town on the coast that slowly takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds begin to attack the town folk : the film premiered in 1963 and for me THE BIRDS is the jewel in Alfred Hitchcock’s crown of suspense, imagery and pure dread, from it’s story which is loosely based on a short by Daphne du Maurier, the confidence, beauty & fear of it’s star Tippi Hedren, it’s breathtaking backdrop of Bodega Bay and the way Hitchcock builds up the story, slowly allowing you to know a little about each of the characters before the chaos rains down and The Birds attack which is utterly frightening to watch : there’s also very little music during the movie which also adds greatly to it’s atmosphere, just the screeching, scratching and calling of The Birds : although they lacked the chemistry the leads in the majority of Hitchcock movies had I did feel Rod Taylor was a fabulous leading man and gives a strong protect what I love at all cost performance alongside Hedren and the scenes at the bird shop between the two are fun to watch, there’s also a great Jessica Tandy performance who catches the eye in a supporting role, playing the distressed and over protective mother and a young Veronica Cartwright and the terrific Suzanne Pleshette both fleshing out the cast and doing fine jobs in their respective roles : The Birds has so many great scenes but I really love that moment around 85mins in when Hedren’s character finds herself stranded in a phone box and watches in panic, spinning around almost hypnotized in terror as The Birds cause mayhem around her, the gas station and cars lit on fire and people running for their lives, it’s perfect and not only one of the most chilling moments in the movie but possible the best shot also : there are certain horror movies that I revisit that could be placed higher on my list and Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds is certainly one of them, I can only imagine how shocked the audiences must have been back in the 60s when it was released : it’s a well structured, ALARMING ride into FEAR and a Hitchcock MASTERPIECE that deserves it’s place amongst the Greatest Movies of all time ★★★★★
Number 13 of My Top 31 Horror Movies : A secretary embezzles $40,000 from her employer’s client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother. : PSYCHO the grand daddy of all Hitchcock movies… how can you not be overcome with terror at Bernard Herrmann’s intrusive, iconic stringed score, gasp with wonder at the beauty of Janet Leigh’s Marion Crane but most of all shudder with genuine fear when the curtain is pulled back on Norman Bates personality disorder : as far as my favorite scenes in Psycho go there are just too many to mention, but obviously the shower scene & it’s aftermath are the most memorable, with Anthony Perkins in terrifying form, the effectiveness of John L. Russell’s black-and-white photography leaves you speechless at times with the opening shots of Marion lying of the bed in the hotel room, the atmospheric road trip and our first glimpse of the Bates Motel being fine examples, all of which are breathtaking, one of my favorite moments in the film is the scene when Arbogast gets stabbed on the stairs, the camera work of him falling backwards and then getting attacked again is something else, Martin Balsam who plays the private detective is superb : Psycho was shot at Revue Studios with a budget of around $800,000 and was released in 1960 becoming a box office smash for Alfred Hitchcock and receiving Four Oscar Nominations, with it’s star Janet Leigh winning a Golden Globe for her performance (trivia: the official theatrical trailer for the movie back in 1960 was over six minutes long) : if Rear Window, Vertigo and North by Northwest didn’t cement Hitchcock’s filmmaking legacy then Psycho certainly did, giving us an early taste of the slasher movie with two great performances and a haunting Herrmann score ★★★★★
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”
Academy Award winning actress JOAN FONTAINE has died aged 96 – Fontaine delivered some of her best work during the 40’s in classic movies such as Rebecca, Suspicion, The Constant Nymph, The Affairs of Susan and Letter from an Unknown Woman – She and her sister Olivia de Havilland are the first sisters to win Academy Awards and the first ones to be Oscar-nominated in the same year – I first came across the name Joan Fontaine whilst watching 1952’s Ivanhoe where she played Lady Rowena & instantly fell in love with this actress who was not only incredibly beautiful but also in my opinion ranks right up there alongside the likes of Katherine Hepburn, Olivia De Havilland, Bette Davis and Meryl Streep in some of the best actresses to grace the movie screen – If you’ve not seen the Hitchcock classics Rebecca and Suspicion then please do so, not only are they amongst Hitchcock’s finest work but the films leading lady delivers some memorable performances – thanks for the journey Ms Fontaine it’s been one swell ride….