Famed film directors share their favourite Hitchcock movie
Time Out Dubai staff
It’s staggering that Alfred Hitchcock never won a Best Director Oscar. Known affectionately as ‘the directors’ director’, his oeuvre of more than 50 feature films arguably did more to influence the course of modern cinema than any other director’s work. He left behind such a large collection of work that it’s often hard for new fans to know where to start. With a wave of fresh Hitchcockian interest surrounding the release of new biopic Hitchcock – a breezy drama chronicling the shooting of self-funded classic Psycho – we asked eight directors to pick their favourite Hitch moment. Hitchcock is in UAE cinemas now.
Joanna Hogg on Suspicion (1941) ‘Of all of Hitchcock’s films, Suspicion jumps into my mind straight away as one I’d like to watch again. I last saw that film in the ’80s when I was going out with someone I was suspicious of – he wasn’t going to kill me, but I knew that he lied. Little details become significant when you’re suspicious…’ Joanna Hogg is the director of Unrelated and Archipelago.
Stephen Frears on Notorious (1946) ‘Hitchcock was just a very clever man. The interplay between the psychology and action in Notorious is brilliant. For a popular thriller, it’s so psychologically complex. As a director you become very aware of the tricks he plays.’ Stephen Frears is the director of The Grifters and Dangerous Liaisons.
Joe Wright on Strangers on a Train (1951) ‘This is the Hitchcock film I like the most, for its elegance, its simplicity and its formal experimentation. I also particularly like Robert Walker’s performance as one of two men – the strangers – who agree to carry out separate murders.’ Joe Wright is the director of Pride & Prejudice and Atonement.
David Cronenberg on Rear Window (1954) ‘I thought long and hard about my choice, because I could probably talk about any of Hitchcock’s movies. I don’t think I’ve missed a single one of them. But I would point to Rear Window as the one that affected me. It’s intense and full of overtones. I can see now that its constriction of space inspired a lot of my films, especially Cosmopolis.’ David Cronenberg is the director of The Fly and Crash.
John Carpenter on Vertigo (1958) ‘Vertigo exists somewhere outside of time, in your unconscious. It’s a dark film – a deep, dark nightmare. The techniques involved are unbelievable – the music, the editing, the colour, the slow, deliberate, dreamlike pace. Everybody who’s ever tried to do anything suspenseful has copied Hitchcock. As a matter of fact, everyone who’s ever put two pieces of film together has copied Hitchcock. That’s how it’s done.’ John Carpenter is the director of Halloween and The Thing.
William Friedkin on North by Northwest (1959) ‘I directed the last Alfred Hitchcock Hour show on television in 1965. I was a very young man and Hitchcock was brought on the set to say hello to me. He extended his hand, which looked like a dead fish. I told him I was honoured to meet him. He looked at me and said: “Mr Friedkin, usually our directors wear ties.” I was in a T-shirt and sneakers. Among his films, North by Northwest, I’d say, is the very best he made about mistaken identity, a favourite topic of his.’ William Friedkin is the director of The Exorcist.
Ben Wheatley on Psycho (1960) ‘I really like the fact that Psycho was made with a TV crew as a reaction against big Hollywood movies. Hitchcock wanted to get out on his own, so he just did it. It’s such a modern film – structurally incredible, psychologically really interesting, and he wrote the book on misdirection by killing off Janet Leigh. I’d never try to rip him off. That kind of mastery is a long way off.’ Ben Wheatley is the director of Kill List and Sightseers.
Mark Cousins on Marnie (1964) ‘The Hitchcock film I think about most is Marnie. Maybe that’s because it’s the movie in which Hitchcock’s instinctive anti-realism is least checked. It certainly seems to be made mostly out of unconscious material. But maybe it stays with me so much because of the human qualities: Tippi Hedren is in a kind of trance for most of it.’ Mark Cousins is a critic and the director of The Story of Film.