Happy Birthday, Alfred Hitchcock! What's Your Favorite From The Master Of Suspense?

Alfred Hitchcock Best

Alfred Hitchcock may have been, as the folks behind HBO's upcoming Tippi Hedren telefilm The Girl allege, "a monster," but he was also a cinematic genius, a visionary storyteller, an indelible presence on the pop culture landscape, and, perhaps, a ham. (His words — see below.) So today, on what would've been his 113th birthday, how do you best remember Hitch?

My first Hitchcock was the newly-anointed Sight & Sound greatest film of all time, 1958's Vertigo, and to this day it's the one that's endured most vividly for me through the years. Childhood trips to Muir Woods always seemed haunted by Scottie and Madeleine's forested exchange (Big Basin subbed in for the actual location); visits to Fort Point, where Madeleine jumps into the icy San Francisco Bay right below the Golden Gate Bridge, made the film come alive during a formative time in my life.

Watching Vertigo as a child decades after Hitchcock had made it, I had my first inkling of the magnitude of time — of the past, the present, and how connected a person can be to people, stories, ideas from long ago.

I faintly recall my subsequent Hitchcocks being Rope, and then North by Northwest, the byproduct of living in a household in which AMC was on all the time, back when AMC was more like TCM. Cameo-spotting became a fun watch-along game, as it is for any Hitch enthusiast (my favorite is still Hitchcock walking two little dogs in The Birds), highlighting his humor and hubris in equal measure.

While it's been kicking around the internet for a while, this classic episode of the popular 1950s celebrity spectacle What's My Line? reminds me of that very spirit — cheeky, intelligent, and hilariously game for playing along on his own terms. Watch it and join in with your own celebration of The Master of Suspense below.

Above: Hitchcock in Cannes, May 1972 [Getty Images]

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Comments

  • Jake says:

    I like Vertigo, like most, but it has never been my favorite, for whatever reason. In no particular order...

    Strangers on a Train
    North by Northwest
    The Man Who Knew Too Much (both versions)
    Blackmail
    Psycho (for the music alone!)
    Notorious
    Rear Window

    I'm probably leaving some off, but I love all these films, even if some aren't his absolute best (like Blackmail).

  • Dimo says:

    I will always be creeped out by the two parakeets mimicking the motion of the car being driven by Tippi Hedren at the beginning of The Birds.

  • It's impossible to pick one fave, isn't it? Vertigo, Rebecca, Rope are probably my top three.

  • Remy says:

    My Hitchcock Top 10:

    1. Rear Window
    2. Vertigo
    3. Psycho
    4. Notorious
    5. North by Northwest
    6. The Birds
    7. To Catch a Thief
    8. Rope
    9. Strangers on a Train
    10. The 39 Steps

  • hitchman says:

    the underrated Frenzy.

  • The Pope says:

    In no particular order,
    Notorious
    Notorious
    Notorious
    Notorious
    Notorious

  • Tony Clifton says:

    If I HAD to pick a fave I'd probably say Vertigo or Psycho but I think if I had to pick my favorite of the lesser known Hitch films you should DEFINITELY check out Lifeboat. That movie is absolutely great and it FOR SURE has my fave Hitch cameo.

  • Jimmy Stewart/Burt Lacanster/buster Keaton says:

    REAR WINDOW
    Everything that Hitchcock wanted to say about the art of cinema is in this great movie..
    My favorite actor also stars in it

  • Joe Vigil says:

    1. Psycho
    2. The Birds
    3. Rear Window
    4. Vertigo
    5. Shadow of a Doubt
    6. Notorious
    7. The 39 Steps
    8. To Catch a Thief
    9. Rope
    10. Foreign Correspondent

  • Baco Noir says:

    Notorious and Shadow of a Doubt. Though I like Vertigo, I think Sight and Sound got the wrong Hitch at the top of their "once-a-decade" Top 10 list. It should be Notorious. Plus, for pure entertainment, I've always had a soft spot for North By Northwest.

  • Emile says:

    Psycho will always be my favourite, followed by Rear Window.
    Psycho is at once classy, scary, suspenseful with a great story and truly unexpected story twists.
    Name one other movie that has the guts to kill off its main character in the first half.
    Anthony Perkins was superb, that ultra-creepy final shot of Bates staring into the camera with his mother's voice speaking to us. Brrrrr....I get chills just remembering it.
    I just wish I could have been in the theatre when this showed - imagine the audience reaction during the infamous shower scene and the heart-stopping climax. Remember, everybodu knows the twist now, but back then people honestly thought Norman was a good guy and his mother a mean old hag. Imagine their shock-horror when the revelation hit.
    The best horror movie of all time and endlessly re-watchable.
    Hitch is an icon.

  • Robert says:

    Psycho, then Rear Window, then Vertigo, then Strangers on a Train, followed by many, many more. I think 8 or 9 Hitchcock films are on my favorite films list. Happy b-day H-man.

  • Ingle Woods says:

    1. Shadow of a Doubt
    2. Psycho
    3. The Birds
    4. North by Northwest
    5. The 39 Steps
    6. Vertigo
    7. The Lady Vanishes
    8. Notorious
    9. Rear Window
    10. Marnie

    All of these films I consider to be masterpieces and the order I rank them basically depends on my mood (except Shadow of a Doubt is my favorite).

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