“A boy’s best friend is his mother.”
When Paramount agreed to let Alfred Hitchcock (North by Northwest, Vertigo) make Psycho, they were sure it would be a flop—so much so that Hitchcock actually negotiated 60% of the profits rather than a flat rate. I had never seen the movie before last night, and I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure how good it would be. Well, Hitchcock proved Paramount and my doubts wrong—this is a masterpiece. Starring Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, and Vera Miles, this is as clever as it is classic, and, while it may be a bit tame by today’s standards, the suspense holds up very well. I’m not usually a big fan of horror movies, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It’s endured as one of the best horror films of all time, and that position is well-earned.
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“That’s a secret, private world you’re looking into out there. People do a lot of things in private they couldn’t possibly explain in public.”
It’s no secret that movie-watchers love to watch people commit crimes. Crime drama is a huge sub-genre, and even films that don’t revolve around crime frequently use it to push the plot forward. There’s a bit of a voyeur in each of us that perks up when we see a crime on film, and it usually makes for a pretty entrancing story. Rear Window, directed by suspense master Alfred Hitchcock (Psycho, North by Northwest) and starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly, is a meta, almost self-aware reference to this tendency in us: it shows a man watching someone commit what he presumes is a crime. It’s a great classic suspense film with a unique gimmick: the movie takes place almost entirely in one apartment. Whether you appreciate the gimmick or not, this is a clever and entertaining suspense movie that holds up well today.
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“Now you listen to me, I’m an advertising man, not a red herring. I’ve got a job, a secretary, a mother, two ex-wives, and several bartenders that depend upon me, and I don’t intend to disappoint them all by getting myself slightly killed.”
If you’re looking for the best classic-era action film, this is it. North by Northwest, directed by master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock (Psycho, Vertigo) and starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint, may not be Hitchcock’s most thought-provoking film, but it’s certainly among his most entertaining. The action and suspense are top-notch—definitely not overdone like action movies today. Cary Grant delivers his trademark vintage-cool charm, and the script is full of iconic lines that make modern action flicks look painfully uncultured. This movie holds up very well today, even in the modern landscape of slow-motion quick-cut action sequences, and is universally loved by viewers—it’s one of the few movies to achieve a 100% rating on movie review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.
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