My Top 5 Hitchcock Films

Posted by Brandy Dean February 12, 2013 23 Comments 23539 views

Alfred Hitchcock is the master. Not the master of suspense or any other subcategory of mastery, but just the master. I will not support this point with evidence or reason. I will merely state it as a fact, because it is. If you disagree, then begone. Or lay it on me in the comments… I love a good fight.  Hitch has a looong filmography and, rationally, so of those films are more masterful than others. To satisfy the grubby little list-making part of my dark heart, I present to you…

What are your top 5 Hitchcock films? Leave your list in the comments!

My Top 5 Hitchcock Films

The 39 Steps (1935) or Saboteur (1942)

Still image from "The 39 Steps"

Ha! I just started my list and I’m cheating already! But the thing is The 39 Steps and Saboteur are both excellent and amazing movies and they are also the same movie. No, it’s true. While I have seen both of these movies, multiple times, I very recently watched them very close together. I didn’t realize until now that they are essentially the same exact movie. This is a known Hitch quantity (there’s a scene in these two which is also recycled in North by Northwest – third time’s a charm?). I mean, this is the director, who overtly remade the same movie twice, which leads me to…


The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) and The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

Still image from "The Man Who Knew Too Much"

I did it again! I’ve managed to squeeze 4 movies into 2 slots on my top 5 list! I’m almost as subversive as the man himself. The Man Who Knew Too Much has always intrigued me, but really Hitch’s remaking of his own film isn’t that surprising. The Man Who Knew Too Much is quintessential Hitchcock, a man who is mistaken for another man and seems to know too much without nothing anything is the nut of the matter as it goes to Hitchcock movies. The fact that the master would later remake the movie with a bigger budget, better actors, and more sophisticated marketing makes sense. But I’m still fielding theories on why the little girl morphs into a boy.


The Lady Vanishes (1938)

Still image from "The Lady Vanishes"

Hitchcock could be terrifying, quite subversive, sometimes sadistic. But there is a riotous sort of humor (or as riotous as any Brit can be) that underlies much of his work. The Lady Vanishes brings together a lot of tropes common to Hitchcock films, notably trains and black humor. I just love it and you will too.


Spellbound (1945)

Still image from "Spellbound"

I tend to read Spellbound as a take down of the field of psychiatry, much like I read the pat psychiatric summation at the end of Psycho. Not everyone agrees with this opinion and I feel sorry for those wrong-headed people. But while Hitchcock was himself a insightful student of human psychology, he seemed to view psychiatry as a field of quacks. At any rate, this movie has a dream sequence designed by Salvador Dali and the most erotic delivery of the word “liverwurst” ever to be captured on film.


Vertigo (1958)

Still image from "Vertigo"



What are your top 5 Hitchcock films? Leave your list in the comments!

About Brandy Dean

Social media consultant, blogger for hire, and lover of classic movies and silent films.

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There are 23 Comments

  1. Kerry Fristoe @echidnabot
    - February 12, 2013
      -   Reply

    1-Rope…I know but I can’t get enough of this movie. I own it and still watch it every time it’s on. The in jokes and sick sense of macabre get to me.
    2-The Lady Vanishes…I love the acting, the look, the dialogue, and Michael Redgrave.
    3-The 39 Steps…It’s funny. I just realized this was the same as Saboteur when I saw it a few weeks ago. This version is better even without Otto Kruger. Robert Donat trumps Robert Cummings every time.
    4-Psycho…The conversation between Tony Perkins and Martin Balsam makes life worth living and Bernard Herrmann’s score is sublime.
    5-Suspicion…That milk! The capon dissection scene fills me with joy.

  2. Brandy Dean
    - February 18, 2013
      -   Reply

    I’ve had that Saboteur/The 39 Steps convo a hundred times in the past month. It seems to have flown under the radar for most people that IT’S THE EXACT SAME MOVIE! I had seen them both multiple times but it was only when I watched them within a few days of each other that it dawned on me.

  3. @goofymansmoo
    - May 6, 2013
      -   Reply

    I would put my top 5 as (in no particular order), Dial M for Murder for its pure perfection, Shadow of a Doubt for its thrilling terror, Psycho for its genius, Rope for its direction, and Lifeboat for its ingenuity.

  4. - May 8, 2013
      -   Reply

    I can’t believe North By Northwest isn’t being mentioned. Or Rear Window. Or Foreign Correspondent. But mostly North By Northwest. Not just my favorite Hitchcock–one of my favorite films ever.

    • Brandy Dean
      - May 8, 2013
        -   Reply

      Believe it! No, actually North by Northwest, Rear Window, Foreign Correspondent – pretty much every Hitch film except Juno and the Paycock could be on my top Hitchcock list. Sometimes you just have to make tough choices.

      Here’s part of the logic. I think of NxNW, RW, and Vertigo as a sort of trinity of absolutely perfect films, so I only allowed myself to choose one. Vertigo is my fav, so it makes the list.

      But you’ve got 3 here… if you could only pick 5, what would the 5 be?

      • - May 8, 2013
          -   Reply

        North By Northwest
        Rear Window
        Foreign Correspondent
        The 39 Steps

  5. Victoria
    - May 17, 2013
      -   Reply

    Vertigo, Psycho, I. Confess and Rope.

    North By Northwest, Rear Window and Strangers on a Train are tied for sixth.

    Honorable mentions for The Trouble With Harry, Rebecca, Shadow of Doubt and Dial M for Murder.

    Sorry. There are just so many. I love the majority of his work. I have to say that I believe Psycho was his last great film, though. The rest were blah.

  6. - June 1, 2013
      -   Reply

    1. Notorious- I’m a romantic sap and then there’s the famous “key scene” with the amazing crane shot.
    2. North By Northwest- Hitchcock was by o means a comedic director, but he understood how to use humor in a film.
    3. Dial M for Murder- Essentially a play shot on film and just terrific dialogue and acting. John Williams kills it as the London detective,
    4. Vertigo- Nuff said
    5. Rear Window& Rebecca- Well you added more than 5 so, great voyeurism & melodrama respectively.

  7. 1.Vertigo
    2.Young & Innocent
    3.Rear Window
    5.Shadow of a Doubt

  8. - August 4, 2013
      -   Reply

    North By Northwest
    Shadow of a Doubt

  9. Elaine
    - August 14, 2013
      -   Reply

    Rear Window
    Strangers On a Train
    North By Northwest
    Shadow of A Doubt

  10. Presty
    - September 12, 2013
      -   Reply

    Rear Window
    North by Northwest
    The Birds

  11. Thom
    - October 9, 2013
      -   Reply

    1. The Lodger
    2. Rope
    3. Rear Window
    4. North by Northwest
    5. The Trouble with Harry
    Honorable Mentions:
    Strangers on a Train

  12. - October 9, 2013
      -   Reply

    Dial M For Murder
    The Birds

  13. Zach
    - October 16, 2013
      -   Reply

    North by Northwest
    Rear Window
    Shadow of a Doubt

  14. hustlebynature
    - October 16, 2013
      -   Reply

    Pretty Nice list but cant agree. Here is my crack at it…
    1. To Catch A Thief
    2. Psycho
    3. Rear Window
    4. The Birds
    5. Strangers on a Train (or if I’m drunk, Throw Mama from the Train)
    I would have listed North By Northwest but since it became the name of Kanye West’s baby I just cant do it. I will say this…Hitchcock IS the Master and You guys at Pretty Clever Film rock!

  15. - October 18, 2013
      -   Reply

    1. Strangers on a Train
    2. Vertigo
    3. Frenzy
    4. North by Northwest
    5. Lifeboat

    Vastly underrated: Stage Fright

  16. - October 20, 2013
      -   Reply

    1. Marnie – Run, Marnie, Run! Or maybe not very fast as Connery’s about. Darkly interesting.
    2. Notorious – Cary, Ingrid, Claude and evil Nazis in South America. Cary best film apart from Arsenic and Old Lace.
    3. North by Northwest – James Mason carries it – or maybe his house does. Very slick.
    4. Shadow of a Doubt – what do you do if your uncle happens to be a serial killer? It is Joseph Cotten though and you are irritating.
    5. Rope – that opening sequence and James Stewart is sublime. Very tight script.

  17. - November 22, 2013
      -   Reply

    1. Mr and Mrs Smith…love this comedy and Carole Lombard is so beautiful and she and Robert Montgomery are so funny & sexy.

    2. Notorious…what a love story!

    3. Rear Window…fabulous insight to NYC of the 50s and voyeurism

    4. North by Northwest…the dialogue is clever and sexy

    5. The Birds…simply foretelling the strength of nature vs man and who might win.

  18. mj stubbs
    - November 22, 2013
      -   Reply

    1.n x NW
    2. The Lady Vanishes (until we see the foggy window we don’t know who to believe.)
    4. Strangers on a train
    5. The Birds (my kids school has a spider climber like the one the crows land on)

  19. - January 31, 2014
      -   Reply

    Vertigo (1958)

    Psycho (1960)

    North by Northwest (1959)

    The Birds (1963)

    Frenzy (1972)

  20. - February 19, 2014
      -   Reply

    1. Vertigo
    2. Dial M for Murder
    3. Rebecca
    4. Strangers on a Train
    5. Rope

  21. - February 22, 2014
      -   Reply

    Well, your five are all fine films, but I am a little surprised that so many early efforts are being ranked in the Top 5. I do feel that Hitch got better over time (up to a point.) His own favorite of his works was Shadow of a Doubt!

    Number one to me is NXNW. It’s funny that this film was conceived originally just for its action scenes. They went back and filled a story in between the cropduster attack and the transit across Mt. Rushmore, etc., etc. Doesn’t seem that way, but that’s what they did.

    #2 would be Vertigo, which might have been #1 but for going on so long. I think Hitchcock got a little too extravagant on this one, which is still among the best movies ever made!

    #3 Psycho. Hell of a film, and it has to be on the list just for the impact it has had on the collective consciousness. (For better or worse!)

    #4 Rope. Yet another masterpiece, this one clicks with dialogue, cinematography, acting, innovative techniques, suspense – everything.

    #5 I know it is controversial, and widely reviled, but I loved The Birds. I love surreal stories, for one thing, but also an unresolved ending. This movie doesn’t have an ending! All of a sudden the Universal Studios logo appears and the house lights go up! That takes guts.

    A quick observation about The 39 Steps. That actor who played the villain with the missing finger – Could he look any more like FDR??? The guy is a veritable dead-ringer for Franklin Roosevelt, who was president at the time. Was Hitchcock trying to have fun, or say something with that, or was that simply a 1930’s look that lots of guys had?

    Follow me on Twitter @BartStewart1

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