May 19, 2013
Written by Mark Schumann, Father of Three
Thursday, 09 June 2011 12:43
As you look for movies to share with your family, consider putting together your own “Alfred Hitchcock Festival” for your older children to enjoy. While the master’s grand films provide entertaining thrills and chills, they are rather tame by today’s standards. That makes them ideal selections for a family evening at the movies. Here are a few suggestions.
North by Northwest. Everyone will enjoy this roller coaster ride from 1959. Cary Grant plays a suave Madison Avenue advertising executive who gets caught in a wild case of mistaken identity that takes him through the United Nations, to a suspenseful train ride from New York to Chicago, an exciting cat-and-mouse game across a corn field on the prairie, and the climactic chase through the Black Hills of South Dakota. Along the way, Hitchcock delivers one thrill after another, as well as a few laughs. And Grant has never been more engaging.
Rear Window. Perhaps the best in the Hitchcock collection, this exciting tale set in Greenwich Village never ages. James Stewart shines as a photographer confined to a wheelchair after suffering an injury on a shoot. While looking outside his window, onto the adjoining courtyard, he believes he sees more than he should through a neighbor’s window. Is he actually seeing the signs of criminal mischief or is his imagination getting the best of him? Hitchcock takes his time to offer the answers in this exciting mystery from 1954. Grace Kelly and Thelma Ritter costar.
The Man Who Knew Too Much. James Stewart is again at the center of a mysterious series of coincidences that begins when a doctor, his wife and son visit Marrakech, Morocco, on vacation. When a suspicious man suddenly dies in the market — after whispering secrets to Stewart — the doctor begins to engage in a kind of political espionage he never learned in medical school. Doris Day plays his wife in this 1955 release and, in a critical moment, sings the Oscar-winning tune, “Que Sera Sera.” The climactic sequence in Royal Albert Hall ranks among Hitchcock’s best.
Vertigo. Dismissed by critics when it opened in 1958, this almost-forgotten masterpiece discovered a new and appreciative audience when re-released in the 1980s. Today most consider it one of Hitchcock’s best, which is no surprise given its ingenious plot (a man, who suffers a fear of heights, falls in love with a mysterious woman he believes fell to her death) and a brilliant performance by James Stewart. Film buffs continue to applaud the dazzling way Hitchcock uses minimal dialogue to tell the complex story. Instead he relies on visuals and performances to advance the plot.
Notorious. No Hitchcock festival would be complete without this film noir classic from 1946. The great Ingrid Bergman shines as a “woman with a past” who is asked by the U.S. government to spy on a group of Nazis in Rio de Janeiro just after World War II. But when she falls in love with the man who recruited her (a suave Cary Grant) she puts herself, and the mission, at great risk. Beautifully shot in black-and-white, this masterpiece is as entertaining today as when it was first released. And Bergman and Grant are magic on screen.
Start the popcorn and enjoy the show. And remember to look for Hitchcock’s cameo appearance. The famed director was known to show up, by surprise, in every movie he made.
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