The 'Master of Suspense', Alfred Hitchcock, who directed over 50 films in a career spanning six decades is widely regarded as one of cinema's most influential personality. Born on August 13, 1899 in Leytonstone, Essex, the filmmaker is known for his "Hitchcockian" style which includes the use of camera movement to mimic a person's gaze, creating voyeurs out of viewers, and framing shots in a manner that would maximise anxiety and fear.
Hitchcock made his directorial debut with the silent film The Pleasure Garden (1925), however, he first tasted success with The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927). The film helped shape the thriller genre as we know it today. His 1929 film, Blackmail, was the first British "talkie".
On the director's 120th birth anniversary, here's looking at 5 Hitchcockian films one must watch.
Rear Window (1954): Based on Cornell Woolrich's 1942 short story "It Had to Be Murder", the film is considered by many to be one of Hitchcock's best. The film had James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter, and Raymond Burr in pivotal roles. The film sees the protagonist trying to solve a murder he is sure has been committed, while no one believes him.
Vertigo (1958): Based on the 1954 novel D'entre les morts (From Among the Dead) by Boileau-Narcejac, the film stars James Stewart as former police detective who is forced into early retirement because an incident in the line of duty. This caused him to develop acrophobia (an extreme fear of heights) and vertigo (a false sense of rotational movement). The film sees him being hired by an acquaintance, Gavin Elster, as a private investigator to follow Gavin's wife Madeleine (Kim Novak), who is behaving strangely. While it received mixed reviews at the time of its release, it is now often cited as being a classic Hitchcock film.
North by Northwest (1959): A tale of mistaken identity, the thriller saw an innocent man being pursued across the United States by agents of an organization trying to prevent him from stopping them from smuggling out microfilm which contains government secrets.
Psycho (1960): Considered to be one of Hitchcock's best films, Psycho centres on an encounter between Marion Crane (Leigh), a secretary who ends up at the Bates motel after stealing money from her employer, and the motel's owner-manager, Norman Bates (Perkins). What happens next becomes the crux of the thriller. Psycho is based on Robert Bloch's 1959 novel of the same name, and was inspired by the case of convicted Wisconsin murderer and grave robber Ed Gein.
The Birds (1963): The horror-thriller based on Daphne du Maurier’s story of the same name that was published in 1952, focused on a series of sudden and unexplained attacks by birds on the people of Bodega Bay, California, over the course of a few days. The film starred Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren. In the film, Hitchcock made use of sound effects and sparse source music in counterpoint to calculated silences.