24. “Psycho”, Alfred Hitchcock (1960)

Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list.

Psycho

Psycho

dir. Alfred Hitchcock scr. Joseph Stefano based on the novel by Robert Bloch cin. John L. Russell with Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam, John McIntire, and Janet Leigh

In 100 words: Groundbreaking entertainment and incalculably influential, Psycho is the greatest of Hitchcock’s incredible filmography because it is the most evocative of his formal control and unmatched ability to build suspense. Additionally, it’s evidently friskier and more daring, jarringly edited and shot. Plus, it’s genuinely frightening and shocking, something his previous films lacked, a product of not only his provocative linking of sex and violence, but also his great character-building. Consider the depth he imbued in Norman Bates’ regressive psyche or Marion Crane’s desperation, aided considerably by Perkins and Leigh, and their startling effect as scenes unfold. Broadened what’s considered mainstream filmmaking.

Other Movies for Context: Genuinely thrilling horror movies are hard to find these days because they often resort to lame and easy gorey tricks. Psycho feels like Hitchock at his most unleashed–left to his devices (with his own funding), he has total control of everything here and therefore it showed. Gus van Sant made a shot-for-shot remake of this movie in 1998 with Anne Heche. Additionally, Psycho has a TV show based on it called Bates Motel starring Freddie Highmore as Norman Bates and Vera Farmiga as his mother. They’re interesting takes on this material.

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82. “Rear Window”, Alfred Hitchcock (1954)

Part of the 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list.

Rear Window

Rear Window

dir. Alfred Hitchcock (1954) scr. John Michael Hayes based on the short story “It Had to Be Murder” by Cornell Woolrich cin. Robert Burks with James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter, Raymond Burr

In 100 words: The ultimate movie about watching movies. A literal male gaze. A portrait of the cycles of marriage. An astute study of voyeurism. A nonstop cinematic lesson in suspense. Pop culture landmark. Window is a lot of things at the same time, managing to spin all of its plates without worry of any falling apart. Hitchcock’s immaculate construction allows the audience to know only what they see, using Stewart as a vehicle for our curiosity but also to indulge or maybe even judge us in our fascination with looking. All without leaving that one apartment room. Now that’s a neat trick.

Other Movies for Context: Well, Alfred Hitchcock certainly has, in my mind, one of five most amazing oeuvre by a director. North by Northwest (1959) and Vertigo (1958) are the two that come to mind and that I associate with the most when I think of Rear Window. Their energies feel similar, even if their constructions are different. Love Hitch, he’ll show up once more on this list with an even more suspenseful and incredible picture.