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Which Alfred Hitchcock film would you show to a newbie?


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I have an adult friend who has never seen an Alfred Hitchcock film!!!! Amazing, I know.

I was contemplating which Hitchcock film would be the best to show to someone who doesn't know much about pre-1980 films.

My choice finally landed on REAR WINDOW (1954) for these reasons.

1) It's in color. (Yeah, yeah, I know too.)

2) Great performances.

3) Taut murder suspense, tight script.

4) Easy to digest.

Thoughts?

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Psycho probably has the most lore associated with it that someone uninterested in movies may be familiar with. And it has the sequels. Lots of twists. Creepy as hell. 

So it's in black and white. Tell them to deal with it. 

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8 minutes ago, yanceycravat said:

I have an adult friend who has never seen an Alfred Hitchcock film!!!! Amazing, I know.

I was contemplating which Hitchcock film would be the best to show to someone who doesn't know much about pre-1980 films.

My choice finally landed on REAR WINDOW (1954) for these reasons.

1) It's in color. (Yeah, yeah, I know too.)

2) Great performances.

3) Taut murder suspense, tight script.

4) Easy to digest.

Thoughts?

I'd have to agree with you on Rear Window, although North by Northwest is a close second. Reason I'd go with with Rear Window is my daughter took a film class as an elective and she found it on her own and she loved it. She's 24 and they have an issue with Black and White. Set the hook with color then roll them into the good stuff.

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I just find it so odd that there are people who cannot or will not watch a black and white movie. Can they also not appreciate a black and white photograph? I used to put it down to intelligence level. (Sorry, but stupid people also tend to be tasteless.) Now there seems to be a sort of reverse cultural snobbery among young people and their attitude toward past tastes and preferences. I have no patience with it. 

If that's what you're dealing with, then they may not even be receptive to Rear Window, where concerns about sexism might come up, with Grace trying to snare Jimmy into marriage. And Miss Torso. Objectification! 

Good luck.

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3 minutes ago, LuckyDan said:

I just find it so odd that there are people who cannot or will not watch a black and white movie. Can they also not appreciate a black and white photograph? I used to put it down to intelligence level. (Sorry, but stupid people also tend to be tasteless.) Now there seems to be a sort of reverse cultural snobbery among young people and their attitude toward past tastes and preferences. I have no patience with it. 

If that's what you're dealing with, then they may not even be receptive to Rear Window, where concerns about sexism might come up, with Grace trying to snare Jimmy into marriage. And Miss Torso. Objectification! 

Good luck.

There is no question Psycho is the better film on just about all levels. If I was going to put any stink on it it'd be that it crosses over into horror a bit. And that could be a plus depending on the newbie. 

You want to get them into Black and White though and if you've  got to show Rear Window, North by Northwest or Dial M for Murder to get them there so be it.

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Just now, Moe Howard said:

You want to get them into Black and White though and if you've  got to show Rear Window, North by Northwest or Dial M for Murder to get them there so be it.

I'm not following your thinking on how showing color movies makes someone more tolerant of black and white. I'd rather find good looking - and interesting - black and white films. Get right to it. 

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13 minutes ago, LuckyDan said:

I'm not following your thinking on how showing color movies makes someone more tolerant of black and white. I'd rather find good looking - and interesting - black and white films. Get right to it. 

Call it 'grooming'.  Developing a palette. If you develop a Hitchcock fan you will run out of color in short order. Yancey will have to decide if throwing them in the water is better than a few swimming lessons first.

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Just now, Moe Howard said:

Call it 'grooming'.  Developing a palette. If you develop a Hitchcock fan you will run out of color in short order. Yancey will have to decide if throwing them in the water is better than a few swimming lessons first.

Okay. I get that. 

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4 hours ago, yanceycravat said:

My choice finally landed on REAR WINDOW (1954) for these reasons.

1) It's in color. (Yeah, yeah, I know too.)

2) Great performances.

3) Taut murder suspense, tight script.

4) Easy to digest.

5)  The banter between Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly and Thelma Ritter, and the "funny" subplots of the neighbors' windows, make a newbie think it's going to be a funny light-hearted mystery spoof, in the spirit of Hitch's self-spoofing TV intros.  Heheh, and THEN...  😈

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Well I have introduced Classic Film to many a teen to get them interested. PSYCHO is one of the movies I first show to get them to accept b&w. Because of the reputation of it being a "horror" and the fast pace, they usually stick with it. If they groan that it's b&w, I just say "most of the best horror IS" and site the Universal Monsters. 

I think the lack of color is quickly forgotten due to the strength of the story telling. 

After SOME LIKE IT HOT they usually forget about color, so then throw them SINGIN' IN THE RAIN which is a tough sell being a musical. It's a parent/teacher's job to open kid's minds.

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I would  suggest SHADOW OF A DOUBT. It's very easy to follow, just under 110 minutes and the characters are relatable (even the villain, somewhat.)

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I will be the odd voice here and suggest beginning with: The Trouble with Harry (1955). 

1) It is in color.

2) Comedy is more accessible. 

3) A wider range of character types than most Hitchcock movies.

4) It will ground them in Hitchcock's brand of slightly surreal situations.

I would follow this with: Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941) because they have been opened to Hitchcock's humor and this will introduce them to black&white.

I would follow that with: Rebecca (1940), Dial M for Murder (1954) and Rope (1948).

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7 hours ago, yanceycravat said:

I have an adult friend who has never seen an Alfred Hitchcock film!!!! Amazing, I know.

I was contemplating which Hitchcock film would be the best to show to someone who doesn't know much about pre-1980 films.

My choice finally landed on REAR WINDOW (1954) for these reasons.

1) It's in color. (Yeah, yeah, I know too.)

2) Great performances.

3) Taut murder suspense, tight script.

4) Easy to digest.

Thoughts?

I cut a DVD copy of REAR WINDOW and gave it to a friend to view. He's 71, a big fan of THE BIRDS but had never seen REAR WINDOW or, I gathered, most Hitchcock films.

Much to my surprise he had mixed feelings about the film. All of that bantering between Stewart and Kelly in the earlier portions of the film seemed to bore him. He said he enjoyed the film's climax and said that compensated for the film's "draggy" sections. He's a guy who enjoys action films.

When I asked him how REAR WINDOW compared to THE BIRDS it was no contest. It was THE BIRDS all the way for him,

Bottom line, ya never know how someone will respond to a film.

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If the friend is a restless viewer conditioned by modern movies (needs non-stop plot movement, action, explosions, etc) I'd vote for NXNW first over Rear Window.   Rear Window is a great movie, but because of the voyeuristic trick of remaining in one apartment, it can feel plodding, stagey and/or confining to some.

 

 

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TCM programmers feel NORTH BY NORTHWEST is the one with the greatest appeal, and I suppose on some level it can be used as a gateway to Hitch's other films.

Though THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY is my favorite because of its cryptic humor and fine ensemble performances, for purposes of this exercise, I'd probably choose TO CATCH A THIEF. The gimmicks are not overdone, the story could have been directed by Stanley Donen or anyone who specializes in breezy romantic fare and we have Cary Grant & Grace Kelly at the peak of their charm. Also I think the setting is a bit more glamorous than most of Hitch's other films, which often have a seedier aspect to them.

Added bonus- TO CATCH A THIEF is in color and in VistaVision.

Screen Shot 2021-06-20 at 8.00.20 AM

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19 minutes ago, txfilmfan said:

If the friend is a restless viewer conditioned by modern movies (needs non-stop plot movement, action, explosions, etc) I'd vote for NXNW first over Rear Window.   

OR:  just put on REBECCA, hit the strobe light, and then set the house on fire. 
 

(I’m a big believer in making film watching an immersive experience.)

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2 hours ago, SansFin said:

I would follow that with: Rebecca (1940), Dial M for Murder (1954)

Oh I had forgotten about REBECCA! Good choice, especially for a teen since they never feel "good enough". I think DIAL M's somewhat circuitous plot can be hard for a younger person to follow.

But as earlier stated, I'm totally coming from a parent/teacher POV and Tom's friend's fist view was a 71 y/o, a wholly different situation.

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Rear Window is my pick. The Birds is a personal favorite but I know it isn’t his best. I think I’ve seen all his films except perhaps some early silent work as he was my first serious interest in film as he must be for so many.

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Great choices; however, didn't see anyone mention Vertigo (which was once compared to Citizen Kane - which I prefer), Notorious, or Family Plot.

Rebecca is a great choice (especially if you realize how much Hitchcock clashed with Selznik); also the original Man Who Knew Too Much (with Leslie Banks & Peter Lorre?). or Spellbound.  If I had to choose one, I would choose Notorious - great performance by Claude Raines in a supporting role, and, if given the proper intro on TCM, had the perfect example of what Hitchcock referred to as "The MacGuffin" (sp?).

 

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Rope was based on Leopold and Loeb (watch Compulsion with  Welles, Bradford Dillman and Dean Stockwell for another take on the story).  Farley Granger was also great in Strangers on a Train.  Too many to choose from.  Also, if the person doesn't have a long attention span, Alfred Hitchcock had a TV Show (which, I believe, the late Norman Lloyd - who went off Lady Liberty and recently died, had a hand in).  Personally, heard about Psycho before I saw it.  What scared me the most was the scene with Vera Miles and Mrs. Bates.

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11 hours ago, yanceycravat said:

I have an adult friend who has never seen an Alfred Hitchcock film!!!! Amazing, I know.

I was contemplating which Hitchcock film would be the best to show to someone who doesn't know much about pre-1980 films.

Thoughts?

Since your friend is an adult, my choice would be either NORTH BY NORTHWEST or STRANGERS ON A TRAIN.

Both have plots that pull a viewer in and have interesting characters, Bruno in STRANGERS is especially a hoot.

NORTH BY NORTHWEST has the advantage of being in color while STRANGERS ON THE TRAIN has a shorter running time.  

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24 minutes ago, chaya bat woof woof said:

Great choices; however, didn't see anyone mention Vertigo (which was once compared to Citizen Kane - which I prefer), Notorious, or Family Plot.

Rebecca is a great choice (especially if you realize how much Hitchcock clashed with Selznik); also the original Man Who Knew Too Much (with Leslie Banks & Peter Lorre?). or Spellbound.  If I had to choose one, I would choose Notorious - great performance by Claude Raines in a supporting role, and, if given the proper intro on TCM, had the perfect example of what Hitchcock referred to as "The MacGuffin" (sp?).

 

Oh that would be a given during the initial stages of film snobbery conversion. That and Spellbound have the added intrigue of alternative art mediums. Spellbound with Salvador Dali and Vertigo with John Ferren plus title by Saul Bass.

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32 minutes ago, TikiSoo said:

Oh I had forgotten about REBECCA! Good choice, especially for a teen since they never feel "good enough". I think DIAL M's somewhat circuitous plot can be hard for a younger person to follow.

But as earlier stated, I'm totally coming from a parent/teacher POV and Tom's friend's fist view was a 71 y/o, a wholly different situation.

I had an unfortunate experience with: Rebecca (1940). A new campus security protocol meant we often had to remain in a lounge between classes. I was the only old fogey there. Most were under twenty-one. I would normally have spent the time studying but this movie was coming on when I entered so I joined the clutch around the television. Most did not like the movie because they felt she was weak-willed and had no fashion sense and therefore did not deserve such a yummy husband. A few even supported Mrs. Danvers' treatment of her because she needed educatin'. Those with purple streaks in their hair, heavy eye make-up and braless were the most vocal in their dislike of her.

I am not sure how much in favor of the movie it was that they preferred to watch a black&white movie rather than opening a book.

yanceycravat stated this was for an adult friend so I would not hesitate to recommend it but I might have reservations suggesting it for younger viewers.

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