A hapless New York advertising executive is mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies, and is pursued across the country while he looks for a way to survive
Like the Greenwich Village courtyard view from its titular portal, Alfred Hitchcock's classic Rear Window is both confined and multileveled: both its story and visual perspective are dictated by its protagonist's imprisonment in his apartment, convalescing in a wheelchair, from which both he and the audience observe the lives of his neighbors. Cheerful voyeurism, as well as the behavior glimpsed among the various tenants, affords a droll comic atmosphere that gradually darkens when he sees clues to what may be a murder. Photographer L.B. "Jeff" Jeffries (James Stewart) is, in fact, a voyeur by trade, a professional photographer sidelined by an accident while on assignment. His immersion in the human drama (and comedy) visible from his window is a by-product of boredom, underlined by the disapproval of his girlfriend, Lisa (Grace Kelly), and a wisecracking visiting nurse (Thelma Ritter). Yet when the invalid wife of Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr) disappears, Jeff enlists the two women to help him to determine whether she's really left town, as Thorwald insists, or been murdered. Hitchcock scholar Donald Spoto convincingly argues that the crime at the center of this mystery is the MacGuffin--a mere pretext--in a film that's more interested in the implications of Jeff's sentinel perspective. We actually learn more about the lives of the other neighbors (given generic names by Jeff, even as he's drawn into their lives) he, and we, watch undetected than we do the putative murderer and his victim. Jeff's evident fear of intimacy and commitment with the elegant, adoring Lisa provides the other vital thread to the script, one woven not only into the couple's own relationship, but reflected and even commented upon through the various neighbours' lives. At minimum, Hitchcock's skill at making us accomplices to Jeff's spying, coupled with an ingenious escalation of suspense as the teasingly vague evidence coalesces into ominous proof, deliver a superb thriller spiked with droll humour, right up to its nail-biting, nightmarish climax. At deeper levels, however, Rear Window plumbs issues of moral responsibility and emotional honesty, while offering further proof (were any needed) of the director's brilliance as a visual storyteller. --Sam Sutherland
A high point of Hitchcock's pre-Hollywood career, 1935's The Thirty-Nine Steps is the first and best of three film versions of John Buchan's rather stiff novel. Robert Donat plays Richard Hannay, who becomes embroiled in a plot to steal military secrets. He finds himself on the run; falsely accused of murder, while also pursuing the dastardly web of spies alluded to in the title. With a plot whose twists and turns match the hilly Scottish terrain in which much of the film is set, The Thirty-Nine Steps combines a breezy suavity with a palpable psychological tension. Hitchcock was already a master at conveying such tension through his cinematic methods, rather than relying just on situation or dialogue. Sometimes his ways of bringing the best out of his actors brought the worst out in himself. If the scene in which Donat is handcuffed to co-star Madeline Carroll has a certain edge, for instance, that's perhaps because the director mischievously cuffed them together in a rehearsal, then left them attached for a whole afternoon, pretending to have lost the key. The movie also introduces Hitchcock's favoured plot device, the "McGuffin" (here, the military secret), the unexplained device or "non-point" on which the movie turns. --David Stubbs
Based on an unpublished novella by John Steinbeck (written on commission expressly to provide treatment material for Hitchcock's screen scenario), Lifeboat found the Master of Suspense navigating a course of maximal tension - in the most minimal of settings - with a consistently inventive, beautifully paced drama that would foreshadow the single-set experiments of Rope and Dial M for Murder. After a Nazi torpedo reduces an ocean liner to wooden splinters and scorched personal effects, the survivors of the attack pull themselves aboard a drifting lifeboat in the hope of eventual rescue. But the motivations of the German submarine captain (played by Walter Slezak) on the eponymous craft might extend beyond mere survival... With a cast including Shadow of a Doubt veteran Hume Cronyn and the extraordinary, irrepressible Tallulah Bankhead, this picture of characters, as Franois Truffaut aptly termed the film, oscillates dazzlingly between comic reparte and white-knuckle suspense - a perfect example of the Hitchcock touch.
Titles Comprise:Rear Window: When professional photographer J.B. Jeff Jeffries (James Stewart) is confined to a wheelchair with a broken leg, he becomes obsessed with watching the private dramas of his neighbours play out across the courtyard. When he suspects a salesman may have murdered his nagging wife, Jeffries enlists the help of his glamorous socialite girlfriend (Grace Kelly) to investigate the highly suspicious chain of events that lead to one of the most memorable and gripping endings in all of film history.The Birds: As beautiful blonde Melanie Daniels ('Tippi' Hedren) rolls into Bodega Bay in pursuit of eligible bachelor Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor), she is inexplicably attacked by a seagull. Suddenly thousands of birds areflocking into town, preying on school-children and residents in a terrifying series of attacks. Soon Mitch and Melanie are fighting for their lives against a deadly force that can't be explained and can't be stopped in one of Hollywood's most horrific films of nature gone berserk.Vertigo: Set in San Francisco, James Stewart portrays an acrophobic detective hired to trail a friend's suicidal wife (Kim Novak). After he successfully rescues her from a leap into the bay, he finds himself becoming obsessed with the beautifully troubled woman. One of cinema's most chilling romantic endeavours - this film is a must for collectors.Psycho: Anthony Perkins stars in Alfred Hitchcock's landmark masterpiece as the troubled Norman Bates whose old dark house and adjoining motel are not the place to spend a quiet evening. Janet Leigh plays Marion Crane, the ill-fated traveller whose journey ends in the notorious shower scene. Horror and suspense mount to a terrifying climax where the mysterious killer is finally revealed after both Marion's sister and a private detective search for her.
Dreamlike and nightmarishly surreal, Vertigo is Hitchcock's most personal film because it confronts many of the convoluted psychological issues that haunted and fascinated the director. The psychological complexity and the stark truthfulness of their rampant emotions keeps these strangely obsessive characters alive on screen, and Hitchcock understood better than most their barely repressed sexual compulsions, their fascination with death and their almost overwhelming desire for transcendent love. James Stewart finds profound and disturbing new depths in his psyche as Scotty, the tortured acrophobic detective on the trail of a suicidal woman apparently possessed by the ghost of someone long dead. Kim Novak is the classical Hitchcockian blonde whose icy exterior conceals a churning, volcanic emotional core. The agonised romance of Bernard Herrmann's score accompanies the two actors as a third and vitally important character, moving the film along to its culmination in an ecstasy of Wagnerian tragedy. Of course Hitch lavished especial care on every aspect of the production, from designer Edith Head's costumes (he, like Scotty, was most insistent on the grey dress), to the specific colour scheme of each location, to the famous reverse zoom "Vertigo" effect (much imitated, never bettered). The result is Hitch's greatest work and an undisputed landmark of cinema history. On the DVD: This disc presents the superb restored print of this film in a wonderful widescreen (1.85:1) anamorphic transfer, with remastered Dolby digital soundtrack. There's a half-hour documentary made in 1996 about the painstaking two-year restoration process, plus an informative commentary from the restorers Robert Harris and James Katz, who are joined by original producer Herbert Coleman. There are also text features on the production, cast and crew, plus a trailer for the theatrical release of the restoration. This is an undeniably essential requirement for every DVD collection. --Mark Walker
Hitchcock's masterful film about intrigue and espionage is filled with suspense and excitement.
One of Alfred Hitchcock's classics, this romantic thriller features a cast to die for: Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant and Claude Rains. Bergman plays the daughter of a disgraced father who is recruited by American agents to infiltrate a post-World War II spy ring in Brazil. Her control agent is Grant, who treats her with disdain while developing a deep romantic bond with her. Her assignment: to marry the suspected head of the ring (Rains) and get the goods on everyone involved. Danger, deceit, betrayal--and, yes, romance--all come together in a nearly perfect blend as the film builds to a terrific (and surprising) climax. Grant and Bergman rarely have been better. --Marshall Fine
Celebrated for the macabre tour-de-force plots and sublime twist endings that would come to define the very genre of suspense Alfred Hitchcock is one of cinema's greatest auteurs his career spanning six decades and over sixty films. One of Hitchcock's most significant pre-war thrillers – a series of films that would help pave the way to even greater success in Hollywood – Young and Innocent stars Derrick de Marney as Robert Tisdall a man who turns fugitive after he finds the body of a young woman washed up on a beach and is promptly accused of her murder; Nova Pilbeam is the beautiful young lady whose help he enlists and George Curzon features in one of his best-known British film roles as the jealous ex-husband who harbours a terrible secret...
None of Hitchcock's films has ever given a clearer view of his genius for suspense than Rear Window. When professional photographer J.B. ""Jeff"" Jeffries (James Stewart) is confined to a wheelchair with a broken leg he becomes obsessed with watching the private dramas of his neighbours play out across the courtyard. When he suspects a salesman may have murdered his nagging wife Jeffries enlists the help of his glamorous socialite girlfriend (Grace Kelly) to investigate the highly suspicious chain of events... Events that ultimately lead to one of the most memorable and gripping endings in all of film history.
The French Riviera… two luminous stars (Grace Kelly, Cary Grant)… and the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, behind the camera. They all add up to one romantic, dazzling screen thriller. Grant plays John Robie, a retired jewel thief once known as 'The Cat', who catches the eye of Frances Stevens (Kelly), a pampered, vacationing heiress. But when a new rash of gem thefts occurs amongst the luxury hotels of the spectacular French playground, it appears that 'The Cat' is on the prowl once again. Is Robie truly reformed? Or is he deviously using Frances to gain access to the tempting collection of fabulous jewellery belonging to her mother (Jessie Royce Landis)? Romantic sparks fly as the suspense builds in this glittering Hitchcock classic that nabbed an Oscar for Best Cinematography. Special Features: Commentary by Peter Bogdanovich and Laurent Bouzereau Featurettes: 1.) Writing and Casting To Catch A Thief 2.) The Making Of To Catch A Thief 3.) Alfred Hitchcock and To Catch A Thief: An Appreciation 4.) Edith Head- The Paramount Years Featurette Theatrical Trailer
Like the Greenwich Village courtyard view from its titular portal, Alfred Hitchcock's classic Rear Window is both confined and multileveled: its story and visual perspective are dictated by its protagonist's imprisonment in his apartment, convalescing in a wheelchair, from which both he and the audience observe the lives of his neighbours. Cheerful voyeurism, as well as the behaviour glimpsed among the various tenants, affords a droll comic atmosphere that gradually darkens when he sees clues to what may be a murder. Photographer LB "Jeff" Jeffries (James Stewart) is, in fact, a voyeur by trade, a professional photographer sidelined by an accident while on assignment. His immersion in the human drama (and comedy) visible from his window is a by-product of boredom, underlined by the disapproval of his girlfriend, Lisa (Grace Kelly), and a wisecracking visiting nurse (Thelma Ritter). Yet when the invalid wife of Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr) disappears, Jeff enlists the two women to help him to determine whether she's really left town, as Thorwald insists, or been murdered. Hitchcock scholar Donald Spoto convincingly argues that the crime at the centre of this mystery is the MacGuffin--a mere pretext--in a film that's more interested in the implications of Jeff's sentinel perspective. We actually learn more about the lives of the other neighbours (given generic names by Jeff, even as he's drawn into their lives) he, and we, watch undetected than we do the putative murderer and his victim. Jeff's evident fear of intimacy and commitment with the elegant, adoring Lisa provides the other vital thread to the script, one woven not only into the couple's own relationship, but reflected and even commented upon through the various neighbours' lives. At a minimum, Hitchcock's skill at making us accomplices to Jeff's spying, coupled with an ingenious escalation of suspense as the teasingly vague evidence coalesces into ominous proof, deliver a superb thriller spiked with droll humour, right up to its nail-biting, nightmarish climax. At deeper levels, however, Rear Window plumbs issues of moral responsibility and emotional honesty, while offering further proof (were any needed) of the director's brilliance as a visual storyteller. -- Sam Sutherland, Amazon.com
Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again..." From the first classic line of this unforgettable film, Rebecca casts its spell. David O. Selznick brought Alfred Hitchcock to the United States in order to give this adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's novel the proper atmosphere. The resulting film is a stunning marriage of their sensibilities. It paid off critically and financially as well. Like Gone with the Wind, which Selznick released a year earlier, Rebecca won the Academy Award for Best Picture.Laurence Olivier stars as Maxim de Winter, who, reeling from the recent and unexpected death of his glamorous wife Rebecca, impulsively marries a young and adoring governess (Joan Fontaine). The new Mrs de Winter tries to fit into her role as mistress of the great house Manderley, but every step she takes is haunted by Rebecca's spirit. The ghost's brooding presence is personified by the insanely meticulous Mrs Danvers, brilliantly portrayed by Judith Anderson. As Fontaine's character begins to uncover the dark secrets of the de Winter clan, the house seems to take on a life of its own.Passionate love and romance blend seamlessly with typically Hitchcockian emphases on guilt, sexuality and Gothic horror. The production values are stunning and the cast is excellent, down to the least of the supporting players. While Rebecca has enough surprises to captivate even the most jaded of moviegoers, it is also one of those rare films that improves with each viewing. --Raphael Shargel
It's generally acknowledged that the Master of Suspense disliked costume dramas and Jamaica Inn--a rip-roaring melodrama drawn from a Daphne du Maurier pot-boiler, set in 1820s Cornwall--is about as costumed as they come. So what was he doing directing it? Killing time, essentially. In 1939 Hitchcock was due to leave Britain for Hollywood, but delays Stateside left him with time on his hands. Never one to sit idle, he agreed to make one picture for Mayflower Productions, a new outfit formed by actor Charles Laughton and émigré German producer Erich Pommer. An innocent young orphan (the 19-year-old Maureen O'Hara in her first starring role) arrives at her uncle's remote Cornish inn to find it a den of reprobates given to smuggling, wrecking and gross overacting. They're all out-hammed, though, by Laughton at his most corseted and outrageously self-indulgent as the local squire to whom Maureen runs for help. Since his star was also the co-producer, Hitch couldn't do much with the temperamental actor. He contented himself with adding a few characteristic touches--including a spot of bondage (always a Hitchcock favourite), and the chief villain's final spectacular plunge from a high place--and slyly sending up the melodramatic absurdities of the plot. Jamaica Inn hardly stands high in the Master's canon, but it trundles along divertingly enough. Hitchcock fanatics will have fun comparing it with his two subsequent--and far more accomplished--Du Maurier adaptations, Rebecca and The Birds. --Philip Kemp
This box set features the following films: The Wicked Lady (Dir.Leslie Arliss) (1945): The lusty bawdy epic story of England's legendary highwayperson Lady Barbara Skelton who married a nobleman lusted after a highway-man and sought the love of the only man she could never have... Love Story (Dir. Leslie Arliss) (1944): After successful pianist Lissa Campbell is diagnosed with a terminal heart defect she vows to make her last months worth living. She takes a trip to Cornwall where she meets Tom Tanner Kit Firth and Judy Martin. Bank Holiday (Dir. Carol Reed) (1938): Various people set off on an August bank holiday including a raucous Cockney family a would-be beauty queen and two young lovers - whose relationship starts to come apart when one has to deal with a bereavement at the hospital where she works. Give Us The Moon (Dir. Val Guest) (1944): A young man Sascha joins a group call 'The Elephants' whose principle is to abide by a complete disregard for work. However chaos ensues when the group decides to help run the hotel owned by Sascha's father! Highly Dangerous (Dir. Roy Ward Baker) (1950): When British Intelligence discovers that a (mythical) Iron Curtain country is developing insects as weapons they dispatch entomologist Fraces Gray to get into the county and collect specimens. However her cover is almost immediately blown on her arrival and her contact is murdered... The Lady Vanishes (Dir. Alfred Hitchcock) (1938): Intrigue and espionage and the effects on the lives and futures of passengers aboard a Trans-Continental Express emerge when a girl traveller (Margaret Lockwood) returning from a holiday strikes up an acquaintance with a middle-aged English governess who during the journey mysteriously disappears from her compartment. The girl seeking an explanation for the disappearance is accused of hallucinating and is nearly convinced that her new friend does not exist. However further inquiries made among the passengers reveal the curious behaviour of a group of foreign government agents who are also travelling as passengers... Classic Hitchcock!
From the 'Master of Suspense' this box set features many of his very best films. Titles comprise: 1. Vertigo 2. The Birds 3. Rear Window 4. Marnie 5. Frenzy 6. Topaz 7. The Trouble With Harry 8. Torn Curtain 9. Psycho: Special Edition (includes the Bonus disc the Hitchcock legacy) 10. Family Plot 11. Saboteur 12. Shadow Of A Doubt 13. The Man Who Knew Too Much 14. Rope For individual synopses please refer to the individual products.
Vacationing in northern California, Alfred Hitchcock was struck by a story in a Santa Cruz newspaper: "Seabird Invasion Hits Coastal Homes". From this peculiar incident, and his memory of a short story by Daphne du Maurier, the master of suspense created one of his strangest and most terrifying films. The Birds follows a chic blonde, Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren), as she travels to the coastal town of Bodega Bay to hook up with a rugged fellow (Rod Taylor) she's only just met. Before long the town is attacked by marauding birds, and Hitchcock's skill at staging action is brought to the fore. Beyond the superb effects, however, The Birds is also one of Hitchcock's most psychologically complicated scenarios, a tense study of violence, loneliness, and complacency. What really gets under your skin are not the bird skirmishes but the anxiety and the eerie quiet between attacks. The director elevated an unknown model, Tippi Hedren (mother of Melanie Griffith), to being his latest cool, blond leading lady, an experience that was not always easy on the much-pecked Ms. Hedren. Still, she returned for the next Hitchcock picture, the underrated Marnie. Treated with scant attention by serious critics in 1963, The Birds has grown into a classic and--despite the sci-fi trappings--one of Hitchcock's most serious films. --Robert Horton
The Ultimate Collection of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest films, including Psycho, Vertigo, Frenzy, Rear Window and The Birds come together on Blu-ray in perfect High-Definition picture and sound. With hours of bonus features.Saboteur: Aircraft factory worker Barry Kane goes on the run across the United States when he is wrongly accused of a fire that killed his best friend.Shadow of a Doubt: A young woman discovers her visiting Uncle Charlie may not be the man he initially seemed to be.Rope: Two young men strangle their classmate, hide his body in their apartment and invite his closest friends and family to a dinner party as a means to challenge the perfection of their crime.Rear Window: A wheelchair bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his window and becomes convinced one of them has committed a serious murder.The Trouble with Harry: The trouble with Harry is that everyone seems to have a different idea of what needs to be done with his body.The Man Who Knew Too Much: A family holidaying in Morocco stumble on to an assassination plot and the conspirators are determined to prevent them from interfering.Vertigo: A San Francisco detective suffering from acrophobia investigates the activities of an old friend's wife, whilst becoming dangerously obsessed with her.Psycho: A young woman steals $40,000 from her client and subsequently encounters a young motel proprietor who has been too long under the presence and domination of his mother.The Birds: A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a Northern California town that takes a bizarre turn when birds of all kinds begin to attack people in increasing numbers and with increasing viciousness.Marnie: Mark marries Marnie, although she is a thief and possesses serious psychological problems, Mark tries to help her confront and resolve the issues.Torn Curtain: An American scientist defects to East Germany as part of a cloak and dagger mission to find the solution for a formula resin and has to figure out a plan to escape back West.Topaz: A French intelligence agent becomes embroiled in Cold War politics first uncovering the events leading up to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and then back to France to break up a Russian spy ring.Frenzy: A serial killer is murdering women in London with a necktie, the police have a suspect but he isn't the correct man...Family Plot: Suspense film about a phony psychic/con artist and her taxi driver/private investigator boyfriend who encounter a pair of serial kidnappers while following a missing heir in California.
A hapless New York advertising executive is mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies, and is pursued across the country while he looks for a way to survive
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