Archive for January, 2011

Week 54: The Alfreds

January 10, 2011

Best Picture

  1. ‘Vertigo’ – I know this contradicts what I said in week 39 but it’s just so darned good…
  2. ‘Rear Window’
  3. ‘North by Northwest’
  4. ‘The Birds’
  5. ‘Shadow of a Doubt’
  6. ‘Strangers on a Train’
  7. ‘Psycho’
  8. ‘Spellbound’
  9. ‘Marnie’
  10. ‘The 39 Steps’

Best Star

  1. James Stewart
  2. Cary Grant
  3. Robert Walker
  4. Grace Kelly
  5. Ingrid Bergman
  6. ‘Tippi’ Hedren
  7. Janet Leigh
  8. Joseph Cotton
  9. Barry Foster
  10. Robert Donat

Best Baddie

  1. Robert Walker as Bruno Anthony (‘Strangers on a Train’)
  2. Joseph Cotton as Uncle Charlie (‘Shadow of a Doubt’)
  3. The Birds
  4. Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates (‘Psycho’)
  5. Barry Foster as Rusk (‘Frenzy’)
  6. Raymond Burr as Lars Thorwold (‘Rear Window’)
  7. James Mason as Vandamm (‘North by Northwest’)
  8. Wolfgang Kieling as Herman Gromek (‘Torn Curtain’)
  9. Anthony Dawson as ‘Captain’ Lesgate (‘Dial M for Murder’)
  10. Walter Slezak as Willy (‘Lifeboat’)

Best set piece

 

  1. The multiple bell tower sequences (‘Vertigo’)
  2. Mount Rushmore (‘North By Northwest’)
  3. The shower
  4. The fun fair climax (‘Stranger on a Train’)
  5. The murder of Gromek (‘Torn Curtain’)
  6. The Statue of Liberty (‘Saboteur’)
  7. Mr. Memory (‘The 39 Steps’)
  8. The attack on Melanie in the upstairs room (‘The Birds’)
  9. The attempted murder (‘Dial M for Murder’)
  10. The neck tie murder (‘Frenzy’)

Worst Picture

  1. ‘Number Seventeen’
  2. ‘Topaz’
  3. ‘Juno and the Paycock’
  4. ‘The Farmer’s Wife’
  5. ‘Waltzes From Vienna’
  6. ‘The Paradine Case’
  7. ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith’
  8. ‘Champagne’
  9. ‘Easy Virtue’
  10. ‘Torn Curtain’

 

Best camera move/thing

 

  1. The big old crane shot to the key in ‘Notorious’
  2. That stretchy zoom in/track back (or the other way around) thing from ‘Vertigo’
  3. The glass ceiling in ‘The Lodger’
  4. The Dali dream sequence (‘Spellbound’)
  5. The possibly poison milk in ‘Suspicion’
  6. Above all those umbrellas in ‘Foreign Correspondent’
  7. The long dissolve to the Right Man (‘The Wrong Man’)
  8. The merciless interrogation in ‘Foreign Correspondent’
  9. Most of ‘Rope’
  10. The singing/talking in the Tabernacle in ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ (1934)

 

Best Hitchcock personal appearance

 

  1. From wheelchair to on his feet (maybe the best thing in ‘Topaz’ – reminds me of ‘Little Britain’)
  2. Deadpan next to Cary Grant on the bus (‘To Catch a Thief’)
  3. Reduco advert (‘Lifeboat’)
  4. Holding all the cards (‘Shadow of A Doubt’)
  5. As a photographer (‘Young and Innocent’)
  6. Silhouette behind glass door (‘Family Plot’)
  7. Baby on his knee (‘Torn Curtain’)
  8. With two dogs (‘The Birds’)
  9. Double bass hefting (‘Strangers on a Train’)
  10. Missing the bus (‘North by Northwest’)

(check out ‘Alfred Hitchcock Cameo Appearances’ on YouTube)

 

Best Costume Design

Edith Head, of course

Best DoP

 

Robert Burks. Come on.

Best Music

Bernard Herrmann. Who’s making up these categories?

Best Director

Oh, give it up…

Week 53: The End

January 4, 2011

In the annals of film criticism certain reviews stand out for me. My favourite is the last line of Time Out’s review of the 1990 comedy ‘Cold Dog Soup’ which simply advised: ‘kill yourself rather than endure it’. I also liked Mel Gibson’s quote to a member of the press during promotion of the Wim Wenders movie ‘Million Dollar Hotel’ (which Gibson starred in and co-produced) in which he says: ‘I think it’s as boring as a dog’s ass’. Thanks for that, Mel, always thinking of the public profile…

But the last line of the Time Out review of ‘Once Upon A Time in the West’ (undoubtedly a top five movie experience) reads ‘critical tools needed are eyes and ears – this is Cinema’. This is the line that I can safely say about the 52 collected movies of Alfred Hitchcock. Watching them in order over the past year (and really watching them and really listening to them) it’s a striking and unparalleled body of work, taking in so many stone cold undeniable classics it fairly beggars belief. Even when he misfires he does it in an interesting and bold way, his failures brave and innovative and containing some vestige of attempted-for glory.

In Week 11 I mentioned the Powell and Pressburger motto ‘the arrow was pure gold, but somehow missed the target – but as all golden arrow trippers know: it’s better to miss Naples than hit Margate’ (which I’m always banging on about) and this can aptly be applied to Hitchcock. Time and time again, relentlessly, he pushes his movies forwards in interesting ways – camera moves, storylines, sound design, clothing, editing: all the filmmaking tools available become that marvelous Orson Welles-mentioned train set to play with. You cannot come away from watching these films without a massive respect and admiration for someone who was just plain brilliant – undoubtedly some kind of a genius. Just when you think he’s winding down into his dotage after the patchy ‘Torn Curtain’ and the risible ‘Topaz’ he pulls out ‘Frenzy’ (aged 73!) and then ‘Family Plot’ (ok, not as great but still worth a look). What an amazing fellow he was, and I haven’t even got into all the TV work he did at the same time!

I will add to The Project this year, in particular with key still frames from all the films to illustrate points mentioned but right now it’s complete. It’s been a long and relentless journey but a fun and diverting thing to have done. Now I just need to find another filmmaker whose output numbers exactly 52…

Robin Guise,

January 2011