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July 11 - September 28, 2013

The Complete Alfred Hitchcock

Where the critic Robin Wood once felt it necessary to pose the rhetorical question, “Why should we take Hitchcock seriously?,” the complete retrospective before us, including its new restorations of nine of Hitchcock’s extant silent features, begs a different question: When did Hitchcock become Hitchcock? It would take time for the director’s formal and moral fixations to cohere as the compound effect known all too simply as “suspense,” but there is no mistaking the master’s touch in the persistent ambiguities of The Lodger, theobsessive reiterations of the circle motif in The Ring, the menacing voyeur crowding the edges of Champagne, or the spiraling delineation of guilt in the silent Blackmail. Even within the seemingly inhospitable confines of a comedy of manners (Easy Virtue) or melodramatic fall (Downhill), the young Hitchcock experimented with different styles of point-of-view and disclosure, ever attentive to the audience in relation to the characters. The director learned Expressionism during an early apprenticeship at Berlin’s UFA Studio and Soviet-style montage from London Film Society screenings, quickly absorbing both styles into his own deeply intuitive grasp of entertainment as moral reckoning. Already in the silent films we see the interpolations of subjective and objective viewpoints, the rupture of fantasy in authentic settings, the condensation of whole characterizations into discrete details, and the genius for soliciting the audience’s complicity. From the very first, a Hitchcock film lays special claims to our role as viewer.

So fully did Hitchcock match his preoccupations to a distinctly cinematic language that they now seem like basic conditions of narrative film. Whenever a critic theorizes Hollywood’s construction of the “gaze,” you can be sure that Hitchcock is not far behind. The “Hitchcocko-Hawksians” at Cahiers du Cinéma fashioned auteurism from close study of his films, even as his signature cameo appearances give the impression of a preemptive gag on their directorial obsessions. Gus Van Sant’s shot-for-shot remake of Psycho is only the most literal reflection of the director’s haunting afterlife in the post-classical imagination. Even Hitchcock’s self-mythologizing, his image of himself as a showman, seems quintessentially modern, a brilliant piece of conceptual art before there were such a thing. Hitchcock’s influence cuts across Hollywood and the avant-garde, academia and the art world; more than thirty years after his death, his life and work remains the subject of endless speculation and interpretation. For undergraduate film students, close analysis of a Hitchcock sequence has long been a rite of passage, the equivalent of memorizing your Shakespeare. There is simply no getting around him.

Not that we would ever desire such a shortcut. In the same way that Hitchcock’s mature masterpieces always reward another look, so the lesser works invariably offer a fresh vantage from which to consider his passionate artistry. Hitchcock was the rare filmmaker to successfully traverse several distinct eras of film history: from silent to sound, Gainsborough Studios to Hollywood independent, Technicolor to television. “Summing it up,” the director told François Truffaut, “One might say that the screen rectangle must be charged with emotion.” So it was, and so it is still. – Max Goldberg, writer and frequent contributor to CinemaScope

The Hitchcock 9 – the restored silent film collection – is a joint venture of the BFI, Rialto Pictures/Studiocanal, and Park Circus/ITV.

Film notes by Max Goldberg, Haden Guest, David Pendleton and Jason Michelitch

Thursday July 11 at 7pm

Vertigo

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes
US 1958, 35mm, color, 120 min

Hitchcock’s grand enigma was recently enshrined as the greatest film of all time in the British Film Institute’s respected survey, infamously displacing Citizen Kane for the first time in fifty years. A tantalizing spiral into the abyss, the film follows Scottie Ferguson, an ex-police detective in forced retirement after his last case ended in a tragic death, as he is enlisted as a private investigator to keep an eye on an old friend’s wife. Following Madeline, he is drawn into a sprawling riddle of love and death, from which he may never emerge. This is Hitchcock’s most profound and troubling exploration of his persistent themes: doppelgängers and duality, obsession, women trapped by deceit and the inexorable destructiveness of male desire. A cinematic landmark, Vertigo retains its power as a perplexing and harrowing nightmare.

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Live Piano Accompaniment by Martin Marks
Friday July 12 at 7pm

The Lodger

Part of the Hitchcock 9 restored silent film collection - full description here.

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Friday July 12 at 9pm

Frenzy

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Jon Finch, Barry Foster,
Barbara Leigh-Hunt
US 1972, 35mm, color, 116 min

The London of Frenzy is seamy, barren and inescapably misogynistic – hardly the nostalgic treatment one might expect of Hitchcock’s first feature set in England since Stage Fright. The film’s plot hearkens all the way back to The Lodger – a man stands wrongly accused for a brutal series of sex crimes – only here the innocent man is coldly unlikeable and the potential for violence seemingly limitless. Hitchcock reveals the true identity of the necktie killer early in the film, the better to situate his crimes in a full range of abject appetites. Controversial for its prolonged murder-rape sequence, Frenzy’s disturbing quality finally rests with its relentlessly macabre humor. The colorful cast of supporting roles includes a police inspector and his wife spinning out various murder plots over dinner – a cinch for Hitchcock and his lifelong co-scenarist Alma.

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Live Piano Accompaniment by Martin Marks
Saturday July 13 at 7pm

Blackmail

Part of the Hitchcock 9 restored silent film collection - full description here.

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Saturday July 13 at 9pm

To Catch a Thief

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Jessie Royce Landis
US 1955, 35mm, color, 106 min

Like many of his mid-Fifties' films, To Catch a Thief finds Hitchcock working primarily to entertain his audiences, in preparation for the more challenging work to come. Hitchcock concocted the perfect caprice by bringing together two of the most alluring of his preferred actors: Grace Kelly and Cary Grant. The film’s tale of using a (reformed) thief to catch a thief takes a back seat, for the most part, to the romantic sparring between the stars, and indeed, the juxtaposition of these two plot elements may owe something to Lubitsch, whom Hitchcock acknowledged as “a man of pure Cinema.” An affectionate valentine to the good life, To Catch a Thief pays homage to Hitchcock's sybaritic pleasures with glittering champagne parties, bucolic picnics and a celebratory embrace of Monte Carlo's luxurious pleasure garden.

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Sunday July 14 at 4:30pm

Foreign Correspondent

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Joel McCrea, Laraine Day, Herbert Marshall
US 1940, 35mm, b/w, 119 min

Deemed a “masterpiece of propaganda” by Josef Goebbels, Hitchcock’s second American film smuggles its interventionist message under cover of a snappy espionage plot. Joel McCrea’s beat reporter is sent to Europe to scoop the impending war, but once there the guileless American finds danger hiding in plain sight: a debonair Peace Party diplomat conspires for war, an assassin poses as a newspaper photographer, and foretelling the open sightlines of North by Northwest’s crop duster sequence, William Cameron Menzies' brilliantly designed windmill spinning against the wind points the way to subterfuge. Ben Hecht dashed off the prescient closing speech imploring American action amidst rumors of an impending bombing campaign; as it happened, the Blitz began less than a month after Foreign Correspondent’spremiere.

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Sunday July 14 at 7pm

The Wrong Man

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Henry Fonda, Vera Miles, Anthony Quayle
US 1957, 35mm, b/w, 105 min

An austere black and white fable dating from the period of Hitchcock’s Technicolor epics, The Wrong Man is the crowning expression of the director’s interest in documentary realism and one of his most overtly religious films. Hitchcock’s favored motif of the cathartic return to a scene of trauma figured into the production itself, with a film employing actual locations and real-life participants to dramatize the true story of a New York musician falsely accused of robbery and his wife’s subsequent mental breakdown. Hitchcock’s characteristic preoccupations with madness, policemen, doppelgangers, money and the transference of guilt are all precisely delineated without the usual leavening of comedy and adventure. Instead, the director patiently interlaces subjective and objective camerawork to draw us into Manny Balestrero’s waking nightmare. A police procedural narrated from the prisoner’s view, in which even the most routine mechanisms of the law seem ominous, The Wrong Man’s saving grace cannot dispel its cruel revelations of fate.

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Live Piano Accompaniment by Stephen Horne
Monday July 15 at 7pm

The Ring

Part of the Hitchcock 9 restored silent film collection - full description here.

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Friday July 19 at 9pm

Rope

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With James Stewart, John Dall, Farley Granger
US 1948, 35mm, color, 80 min

From his innovative silent visuals, pioneering experiments with dialogue and sound effects, and brilliant narrative use of models and optical effects, Hitchcock’s constant formal experimentation became intrinsic to his work. For his first color picture, he produced an audacious technical high-wire act: a film story told in real time with no evident cuts, shot on a series of 10-minute reels which were seamlessly edited together to create an illusion of one 80-minute-long take. Adapted from a play by Patrick Hamilton and loosely based on the real-life Leopold and Loeb case, Rope features a sadistic detective game as two young homosexuals commit a murder and then dare their Nietszche-spouting headmaster who inspired their experiment in amorality to discover their crime.

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Live Piano Accompaniment by Robert Humphreville
Saturday July 20 at 7pm

The Pleasure Garden

Part of the Hitchcock 9 restored silent film collection - full description here.

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Sunday July 21 at 7pm

Blackmail

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Anny Ondra, Sara Allgood,
John Longden
UK 1929, 35mm, b/w, 85 min

British International Pictures only asked Hitchcock to remake enough portions of Blackmail with dialogue to make for a passable “part-talkie,” but the ever ambitious director made preparations on the sly to avail himself of the new medium’s creative possibilities. In spite of the restrictive nature of the early sound technology, Hitchcock staged a remarkable series of expressionistic effects. The theme of “guilty woman,” in particular, is reinforced by subjective sound—most famously when a breakfast conversation is smudged out except for the increasingly insistent word “knife.” Idle chatter about the homicide clarifies Hitchcock’s pleasure in revealing our workaday fascination with murder. Joan Barry read the lines for a pantomiming Anny Ondra, the Czech actress whose English film career stalled with the coming of sound.

Followed by

Juno and the Paycock

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Sara Allgood, Edward Chapman, Sidney Morgan
UK 1929, 35mm, b/w, 99 min

Hitchcock’s first sound film after Blackmail closely adheres to Sean O’Casey’s hit play about an Irish family’s wildly changing fortunes during the Troubles. The director would later deride Juno and the Paycock as a “photograph of a stage play,” but his camera comes alive in the presence of the family’s wayward son, Johnny, a young man who lost an arm for the same cause he now informs against. Aural hallucinations of gunfire attach to Johnny's point-of-view, a sharp break from the otherwise theatrical conception of character. O’Casey made a lasting impression on Hitchcock, serving as the model for a disheveled doomsayer in The Birds.

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Live Piano Accompaniment by Robert Humphreville
Monday July 22 at 7pm

The Farmer's Wife

Part of the Hitchcock 9 restored silent film collection - full description here.

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Live Piano Accompaniment by Robert Humphreville
Thursday July 25 at 7pm

Easy Virtue

Part of the Hitchcock 9 restored silent film collection - full description here.

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Friday July 26 at 9:15pm

Psycho

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles,
John Gavin
US 1960, 35mm, b/w, 109 min

Phoenix, $40,000, car lot, traffic cop, Bates Motel, taxidermy, keyhole, shower, knife: every cinephile has committed these details to memory, with the composite whole long since contaminating the broader cultural imagination. Filmed in thirty days using Hitchcock’s television crew (along with indelible contributions from composer Bernard Herrmann and title designer Saul Bass), the densely pathological film, arguably Hitchcock’s most complete manipulation of point-of-view, has provided endless fodder for film theorists. With its profit-sharing contracts, incendiary content and shocking narrative reversals, Psycho slammed the door on Hollywood’s classical studio era. The shower scene gave rise to entire film genres, but Hitchcock’s original remains the gold standard for film’s visceral effect. Of the film’s many interpretations, perhaps none remains as unsettling as the director’s own: “To me it’s a fun picture.”

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Live Piano Accompaniment by Robert Humphreville
Saturday July 27 at 7pm

The Manxman

Part of the Hitchcock 9 restored silent film collection - full description here.

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Sunday July 28 at 4pm

Topaz

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With John Forsythe, Frederick Stafford, Dany Robin
US 1969, 35mm, color, 127 min

One of Hitchcock’s only overtly political films, Topaz is a densely-layered spy story set during the Cuban Missile Crisis, inspired in part by the director’s admiration for John F. Kennedy. Taken from the best-selling novel by Leon Uris and based on an allegedly true account of a communist spy being discovered within General Charles de Gaulle’s entourage, the film also served as Hitchcock’s opportunity to create a “realistic” counterpoint to the James Bond films, which in his mind had plagiarized and ruined his trademark brand of romantic suspense. Featuring a huge cast without any stars and relying largely on dialogue to forward its complex plot, Topaz engages with reality on a level unseen in Hitchcock’s other films, even incorporating actual footage of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.

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Sunday July 28 at 7pm

The Man Who Knew Too Much

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Peter Lorre, Leslie Banks, Edna Best
UK 1934, 35mm, b/w, 75 min

The first of six thrillers that Hitchcock would direct for Gaumont-British and his first international success, the original Man Who Knew Too Much rushes headlong to its street battle finale inspired by the Siege of Sidney Street. A carefree family vacation comes unwound when a debonair friend is shot on the ballroom floor. The dying man entrusts Leslie Banks’ husband with the details of an assassination plot, but before Banks can unburden himself of the time-sensitive information he learns that his daughter’s life depends on his silence. The action swings deliriously from a Swiss chateau to the famous climax at Royal Albert Hall, a marvelously assured orchestration of moral dilemmas and perceptual jolts. In his first role after fleeing Nazi Germany, Peter Lorre fleshes out the continental Hitchcock villain with volatile charisma and a punkish shock of white hair.

Followed by

The Skin Game

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Edmund Gwenn, Jill Esmond,
John Longden
UK 1931, 35mm, b/w, 77 min

As with John Galsworthy’s original play, The Skin Game pits the genteel Hillcrists against the industrialist upstart Hornblower in a bitter land feud. Hitchcock’s simultaneously dispassionate and incisive dramatization lays bare the self-consuming nature of the class rivalry, with a central auction sequence placing the audience in the midst of the two families’ furious jockeying for power. Long derided as a merely serviceable adaptation hampered by the limitations of early sound, Hitchcock’s Skin Game nevertheless evinces interest for shifting the focus of the play from class warfare to character assassination – an intimate crime that would take many different forms across the director's entire oeuvre.

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Live Piano Accompaniment
Thursday August 1 at 7pm

Champagne

Part of the Hitchcock 9 restored silent film collection - full description here.

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Friday August 2 at 9:15pm

The Trouble with Harry

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Edmund Gwenn, John Forsythe, Mildred Natwick
US 1955, 35mm, color, 99 min

In the midst of his dark Fifties’ masterworks Hitchcock found a moment of oddly whimsical and bucolic repose in his second comedy, an affectionate valentine to the small town America that had so captured his imagination earlier on in Shadow of a Doubt. A disastrous failure at the box office, John Michael Hayes’ adaptation of an eponymous play about village folk strangely unperturbed by the appearance of a corpse they each try calmly but unsuccessfully to get rid of, The Trouble With Harry has since been recognized as one of Hitchcock's most surrealist films. Hitchcock's only film set in New England, The Trouble With Harry made dramatic use of its Vermont location and autumnal season, with the fall foliage gorgeously showcased in radiant Technicolor that can be fully appreciated in the splendid and rare vintage print from the Harvard Film Archive collection. Print courtesy Universal Studios.

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Live Piano Accompaniment
Saturday August 3 at 7pm

Downhill

Part of the Hitchcock 9 restored silent film collection - full description here.

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Sunday August 4 at 7pm

The Secret Agent

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Madeleine Carroll, John Gielgud, Peter Lorre
UK 1936, 35mm, b/w, 83 min

Musing over the disappointing box office of Secret Agent, a film he otherwise liked, Hitchcock told Truffaut,“There was too much irony, too many twists of fate.” Those same qualities make it one of the most enduringly complex features of his Gaumont-British years, a film that Raymond Durgnant saw as anticipating the “eerie and unwelcome alloy of freedom and guilt” found in the auteur’s best films. Based on Somerset Maugham’s Ashenden stories, the film serves as a veritable compendium of Hitchcockian motifs: from a fake funeral to a falsified marriage, a spy ring operating out of a chocolate factory to a murder observed through a telescope, a seemingly telepathic dog to an expired organist. Two English agents played by John Gielgud and a curly-haired Peter Lorre track their target by a telltale missing button, but in this case the irresistible Hitchcockian premise proves gravely misleading. Madeleine Carroll is the phony wife whose eagerness to play detective curdles just as quickly as the plot’s farcical tone.

Followed by

Rich and Strange

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Henry Kendall, Joan Barry, Percy Marmont
UK 1931, 35mm, b/w, 83 min

Fed up with the evening commute and steak-and-kidney pie, Henry Kendall complains to his wife that he wants more from life. Rich and Strange may be relatively free of conventional suspense, but Hitchcock gives the characters plenty of reason to watch what they wish for: an exotic cruise instigates a prolonged crisis of faith. Initially a box office disappointment, the film’s steely-eyed study of a relationship under pressure now seems to directly anticipate later triumphs like The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) and Marnie. Hitchcock deftly interweaves his protagonists’ blinkered emotions and cultural values in crafting the cautionary tale about the moral danger of pursuing life in fantasy—a peculiar message to find delivered in a film entertainment, to be sure, but one close to the heart of Hitchcock’s knotted art.

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Monday August 5 at 7pm

The Paradine Case

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Gregory Peck, Ann Todd,
Charles Laughton
US 1947, 35mm, b/w, 129 min

Hitchcock’s last film for producer David O. Selznick is a courtroom drama about a society woman on trial for murdering her husband. The director’s interest clearly lies in the love triangle linking the defendant, her attorney and his wife, but the film takes advantage of the ensemble nature of the story to provide a panoply of fascinating character studies, including a distasteful judge and his long-suffering wife. Shooting entirely on a soundstage, Hitchcock focuses on the faces of his cast as canvasses on which to juxtapose light and dark, emphasizing the characters’ moral complexities in a reminder of the influence that German Expressionist cinema had on the young filmmaker. Print courtesy Disney.

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Friday August 9 at 9:30pm

Stage Fright

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Jane Wyman, Marlene Dietrich, Michael Wilding
US 1950, 35mm, b/w, 113 min

A man wrongly accused of murder flees the law with the help of a credulous ingénue. But not so fast: Stage Fright proves that not even the standard Hitchcock plot is safe in a Hitchcock film. Dismissed at the time of its release as the director’s third consecutive failed experiment following Rope and Under Capricorn, Stage Fright now seems one of his most intriguingly self-conscious creations. The film’s theatrical setting allows the director unusual leeway in pursuing one of his consummate themes: role-playing. Characters engage in actorly duplicity without realizing their own blinders; even Marlene Dietrich’s resplendently cynical diva is eventually caught unaware. Anticipating the deeply embedded ironies of his richest work, Stage Fright realizes the power of Hitchcock’s technique by revealing its capacity to mislead. Print courtesy Warner Brothers.

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Sunday August 11 at 7pm

Sabotage

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Sylvia Sidney, Oscar Homolka, John Loder
UK 1936, 35mm, b/w, 76 min

Beginning with a citywide blackout that empties a busy cinema, Hitchcock’s hard-edged adaptation of Conrad’s The Secret Agent never strays far from London’s maddening crowds. The city’s normally innocent diversions are shot through with dire suspense during a celebrated and once controversial sequence of a young boy lolling through the streets unaware of the explosive contents of the package he’s ferrying for Oskar Homolka’s cinema operator and saboteur. Contrasting this masterful manipulation of documentary realism, Sabotage’s second spasm of violence unfolds in the privacy of the family home. Not for the last time in Hitchcock’s oeuvre, the spy thriller ultimately gives way to an altogether more unnerving picture of a marriage disfigured by false premises.

Followed by

Number Seventeen

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Léon M. Lion, Anne Grey, John Stuart
UK 1932, 35mm, b/w, 64 min

Hitchcock’s final assignment for tiny British International Pictures came freighted with mystery clichés of stolen necklaces, creaky houses, and disappearing corpses. Palpably impatient with his source material, Hitchcock takes every opportunity to color outside the lines, often to rather surreal effect. The film opens with the camera insistently pushing into the titular London address, immediately establishing the rule of style over explication. Expressionist shadows lengthen to the point of self-parody, though listless tracking shots suggest a characteristic undercurrent of disorientation. An intricately edited race to the finish complete with model ships and trains epitomizes the innocent phase of Hitchcockian illusion – velocity without the vertigo. Print courtesy British Film Institute.

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Thursday August 15 at 7pm

Rebecca

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier, Judith Anderson
US 1940, 35mm, b/w, 130 min

Hitchcock's debut American film and his first working under his troubled and conflict ridden contract for the ambitious and mercenary independent producer David O. Selznick was a faithful yet subversive adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's best-selling, now beloved, Gothic fable of unrequited, obsessive love. In the inspired casting of coltish Joan Fontaine as Rebecca’s unnamed heroine, Hitchcock found a perfect foil to the indelible, imposing caricature of dark menace played by Judith Anderson's jealous, twisted Mrs. Danvers and the even more imposing character of Manderley, the overwrought labyrinthine mansion brought to life by the restlessly gliding camera. A deeply influential film, Rebecca inspired the wave of dark Gothic romances with haunted mansions – and uncanny portraits – that remained popular in Hollywood throughout the Forties. Print courtesy Disney.

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Friday August 16 at at 7pm

Notorious

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman,
Claude Rains
US 1946, 35mm, b/w, 101 min

Proclaimed by Truffaut to be “the very quintessence of Hitchcock,” Notorious stands as one of the director’s unquestioned masterpieces and one of his most brazen explorations of sexual power and insecurity. Ingrid Bergman plays Alicia, the daughter of a convicted Nazi spy who, in the wake of her father’s conviction, falls into a life of drunken cynicism and loose morals. Enter Cary Grant as Devlin, an American secret agent who appeals to her patriotism and recruits her for a mysterious mission in South America. While waiting in Rio de Janeiro for the details of the mission, the pair fall in love, only to be crushed by the true nature of her assignment: to infiltrate a Nazi spy ring by seducing one of its members, Alexander Sebastian. Torn between duty and passion, and poisoned by pride, Devlin alternately woos and spurns Alicia, who takes ever-increasing risks to discover Sebastian’s dark secret. Scripted by the legendary Ben Hecht, the definitive romantic thriller features some of Hitchcock’s most masterful filmmaking. Print courtesy Disney.

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Saturday August 17 at 9pm

Rear Window

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey
US 1954, 35mm, color, 112 min

Hitchcock's masterpiece is a thrilling and profound meditation on scopophilia and the cinematic imagination that invites the viewer to share the perspective of a crippled photojournalist, played with cranky avuncularity by Jimmy Stewart, whose forced convalescence in a wheelchair allows him to obsessively spy on his Greenwich Village neighbors. Even more perverse than Stewart's stubborn rejection of Grace Kelly's eager advances is Hitchcock's careful restriction of the camera to the titular apartment window, resulting in the film's dramatically suspenseful play between on and off screen space. Among Hitchcock's most beloved late works, Rear Window has been justly canonized as one of the great meta-cinematic films of the studio era. Print courtesy Universal.

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Sunday August 18 at 7pm

The Lady Vanishes

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Dame May Whitty
UK 1938, 35mm, b/w, 96 min

One of Hitchcock’s last and most popular British films before departing for Hollywood permanently, The Lady Vanishes is also one of his lightest, most delectably witty creations. Containing both a critique and a celebration of British insularity and classism, Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder’s disarmingly charming script embroils a band of strangers into a political espionage plot within the microcosmic confines of a moving train. Its mirrored layers of imagination, deception and camouflage craftily conspire to unify a brisk comedy of manners with a political thriller – Hitchcock’s perfect ode to the UK with suggestive shadows of the darker Hollywood productions to come. Print courtesy Park Circus/ITV.

Followed by

Waltzes from Vienna

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Jessie Matthews, Edmund Gwenn, Fay Compton
UK 1934, 35mm, b/w, 81 min

Originally intended by the producers to be a vehicle for Jessie Matthews, a famous star of the British stage and screen, Waltzes From Vienna was dismissed by Hitchcock as one of his lesser efforts. Undertaken when his career was ebbing after the success of The Lodger and Blackmail, Hitchcock did admit that his biopic of Josef Strauss, Jr. – focused on his composition of “The Blue Danube” – allowed him “opportunities for working out ideas in the relation of film and music.” Lacking both the director’s approval and his distinctively suspenseful storyline, this period piece has long been ignored. Seen today, it is a charming example of Hitchcock’s flair for comedy. Print courtesy the British Film Institute.

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Thursday August 22 at 7pm

Marnie

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Tippi Hedren, Sean Connery, Diane Baker
US 1964, 35mm, color, 110 min

A feverish and bittersweet fable about compulsion, repression and the perils of Pygmalion love, Marnie remains among Hitchcock's least understood major works. The film's astonishing opening shot of a mysterious woman and her "alligator purse" reveals Marnie's breathtaking formal rigor and the elaborate design shaped by Hitchcock's precisely poetic command of color, camera movement, theatrical artificiality and geometric form. A novice fashion model famously discovered in a television commercial by Hitchcock, Tippi Hedren embodies Marnie's dark paradox, oscillating between destructive cynicism and wide-eyed, traumatized vulnerability. Once a source of ardent controversy among Hitchcockians and detractors confused by the film's willful melodramatic excesses, Marnie is an offbeat and touchingly sincere expression of the strong Romantic tendency running throughout Hitchcock's rich late period. Print courtesy Universal Studios.

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Friday August 23 at 7pm

Dial M for Murder

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, Robert Cummings
US 1954, 35mm, color, 105 min

Hitchcock defined newcomer Grace Kelly's coolly urbane screen persona in her role as the unknowing victim of her jealous husband's devilish and seemingly perfect plan to have her murdered. Often dismissed as one of Hitchcock's minor films, Dial M for Murder is indeed more stylistically understated and subtle than his other Fifties’ films. Yet, seen in the context of the larger oeuvre, Dial M for Murder pushes to a further extreme Hitchcock's vision of the meticulously designed and plotted murder as a dark metaphor for cinema, with the camera's deadly gaze transforming the beautiful star into potential victim and each object in the frame into a potential weapon. Hitchcock's close adaptation of the eponymous play maintained the taut stageboundness of the original while adding a literal a new dimension through the use of the then still novel 3-D process, the director's first and only foray into the shortly popular format. Dial M for Murder will be shown here in the rarely screened 2-D version, released simultaneously for theaters not equipped for 3-D. Print courtesy Warner Brothers.

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Saturday August 24 at 7pm

The 39 Steps

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll, Lucie Mannheim
UK 1935, 35mm, b/w, 81 min

Freely adapted from John Buchanan’s spy novel, The 39 Steps set the standard for many Hitchcock chase pictures to follow: a charming and smugly self-satisfied man wrongly accused of a crime, his radiant and initially unwilling blonde accompaniment, a MacGuffin to bait the action, a rapidly evolving scenario, magnetic details, and the sneaking suspicion that the whole thing has more to do with sex than espionage. Robert Donat’s troubles begin after he brings a woman spy to his flat on a presumed one-night stand. Her dying words sets him off to the Scottish Highlands—beautifully photographed by Bernard Knowles—in search of a top spy with the telltale missing finger. The wrong man ends up handcuffed to Madeleine Carroll, a screwball turn that offers a fine preliminary sketch of Hitchcockian sexuality (“much teasing, much dissatisfaction, much tussling for dominance,” in the words of Raymond Durgnat).

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Saturday August 24 at 9pm

I Confess

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Montgomery Clift, Anne Baxter, Karl Malden
US 1953, 35mm, b/w, 95 min

The motif of Catholic guilt which many have read as an overriding theme of Hitchcock's oeuvre takes literal form in this lesser known thriller about a priest trapped by his vow of silence and a dark secret from his past life. A young Montgomery Clift quivers with Method angst as the frightened priest forced to challenge his own convictions and duties by an ethical and existential double-bind of the kind so important to the logical absurdity at the heart of Hitchcock's cinema. Shot largely on location in Quebec, I Confess renders the city's chilly baroque grandeur dynamically cinematic, transformed into a menacing labyrinth of dark alleys and accusatory street arrows seen in the film's ingenious opening sequence. Print courtesy Warner Brothers.

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Sunday August 25 at 7pm

Jamaica Inn

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Charles Laughton, Maureen O’Hara, Robert Newton
UK 1939, 35mm, b/w, 99 min

The last of Hitchcock’s British pictures, Jamaica Inn was produced by star Charles Laughton through his own company – leading Hitchcock into battle with Laughton’s business partner, the director and German expatriate Erich Pommer, whose meddling oversight infuriated Hitchcock. Siding with Pommer, Laughton brought his own micro-managing to the set, such as instructing Hitchcock on what camera angles to use. Despite the strained production, the film features a thrilling game of cat-and-mouse as disguised lawman Robert Newton attempts to put an end to a gang of thieves who instigate shipwrecks, then loot the wrecks and kill the survivors. This was the first time Hitchcock adapted a Daphne du Maurier story, a source he would return to twice more for Rebecca and The Birds. Print courtesy the British Film Institute.

Followed by

Young and Innocent

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Derrick de Marney, Nova Pilbeam, Percy Marmont
UK 1937, 35mm, b/w, 80 min

Foregrounding the romantic elements of Hitchcock’s “double chase” plots, Young and Innocent is as much screwball comedy as thriller. A constable’s daughter takes her chances with a wrongly accused man on the run, and the pair encounters all walks of life in their search for an exculpatory raincoat and a chance at unmasking the real murderer by his telltale twitch. Hitchcock’s denouement – a single dolly shot travelling nearly 150 feet from a wide view of a ballroom to a tight close-up of the killer’s eyes – is both an astonishing technical feat and a characteristically complex meditation on spectatorship: our triumph at the disclosure of the man’s identity comes tempered by the killer’s anxiety and the camera’s aggression. The American release of the film excised the birthday party centerpiece, in many ways the most purely Hitchcockian sequence in the film, but nevertheless proved instrumental in convincing David O. Selznick to bring Hitchcock to Hollywood. Print courtesy Park Circus/ITV.

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Monday August 26 at 7pm

Lifeboat

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Tallulah Bankhead, William Bendix, Walter Slezak
US 1944, 35mm, b/w, 96 min

Hitchcock's long fascination with entrapment and containment inspired his contribution to the Hollywood war effort, a rousing and cynically sharp-edged anti-adventure of survivors of a sunk cruise ship stranded in the eponymous lifeboat with a mysterious survivor of the Nazi vessel that attacked them. First appearing in an incongruous mink coat with a 16mm camera in hand, Broadway legend Tallulah Bankhead found her strongest screen role as a haughty uppercrust journalist who offers a bridge between the spirited heroines of Hitchcock's brisk British films and the troubled, psychologically complicated women of his long American phase. Although based on an original idea by Hitchcock, Lifeboat included the first writing for the screen by John Steinbeck, hired by the director to write a treatment after Ernest Hemingway declined. Hitchcock in turn reworked and reinvented Steinbeck's structure and characters, resulting in a morally complex conversion narrative that dumbfounded and outraged outspoken critics who contributed to the film's box office failure. Print courtesy 20th Century Fox.

Preceded by

Aventure Malgache

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With the Moliére Players
UK 1944, 35mm, b/w, 31 min. French with English subtitles

One of two short propaganda films Hitchcock made late in World War II to be shown in newly liberated France to highlight the contribution of the French Resistance, Aventure Malgache grew under Hitchcock’s direction from a simple celebration of heroism to a complex tale of collaboration and deception in the then-French colony of Madagascar during the Vichy regime. Hitchcock courted controversy by incorporating the political fights he observed amongst his French consultants into the story, and the film was held back from distribution for fear of promoting the idea of a divided resistance. The director toyed with re-shooting it as a Paramount feature in the 1950s, but this lost gem remained virtually unseen until unearthed and released on video in the 1990s. Print courtesy Milestone Films.

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Thursday August 29 at 7pm

North by Northwest

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint,
James Mason
US 1959, 35mm, color, 136 min

North by Northwest was Hitchcock’s self-conscious attempt at outdoing his previous chase films, “the Hitchcock picture to end all Hitchcock pictures” in the words of screenwriter Ernest Lehman. It is also one of his most pointedly American films, surveying the country’s monumental landscapes and gleaming surfaces, not least that of the Madison Avenue man. Mistaken as a nonexistent spy with the suggestive middle initial “O,” the man is quintessential Cary Grant. Certainly one of Hitchcock’s most beautifully constructed entertainments, North by Northwest splits the difference between mass entertainment and pop art. At the center of it all is the crop duster sequence, itself a monument of film history and perhaps Hitchcock’s single most audaciously conceived montage. “The fact is,” Hitchcock told Truffaut when pressed on the existential dimensions of the scene, “I practice absurdity quite religiously!” Print courtesy Warner Brothers.

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Friday August 30 at 9pm

Saboteur

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Priscilla Lane, Robert Cummings, Otto Kruger
US 1942, 35mm, b/w, 108 min

Conceived as an American variation on The 39 Steps, Saboteur’s double chase plotgave Hitchcock license to exploit the monumental scale of his adopted homeland. Robert Cummings stars as a factory worker ensnared in a wartime espionage plot that carries him from the California desert to the Statue of Liberty. That the worst of the saboteurs shield themselves behind a veneer of wealth and respectability surely owes something to radical novelist Dorothy Parker’s acerbic screenwriting, though Hitchcock himself showed a subversive streak in wanting to cast cowboy star Harry Carey as the villainous rancher eventually played by Otto Kruger. Art director Robert Boyle helped Hitchcock achieve the mélange of larger than life set pieces, setting the stage for their subsequent collaborations on North by Northwest, The Birds, and Marnie. Produced at a vulnerable moment in the director’s American career, Saboteur was the box office success the director needed to secure that rarest Hollywood commodity: creative control. Print courtesy Universal Studios.

Preceded by

Bon Voyage

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With John Blythe, the Moliére Players
UK 1944, 35mm, b/w, 26 min. French with English subtitles

Despite the dramatically tight budget of Hitchcock's second propaganda short in support of the French Resistance, the director nevertheless managed to secure the talents of camerman Günther Krampf, who had worked with F.W. Murnau, and composer Benjamin Frankel, a regular collaborator of Noel Coward’s. Fittingly, the cast was drawn primarily from the Moliére Players, a group of French actors exiled to London due to the war. Bon Voyage depicts a tale of escape and survival behind enemy lines from two very different points of view, and unlike Aventure Malagache it was widely distributed throughout liberated France and Belgium. Print courtesy Milestone Films.

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Sunday September 1 at 7pm

Murder!

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Herbert Marshall, Nora Baring,
Phyllis Konstam
UK 1930, 35mm, b/w, 108 min

Taking a page from Hamlet (“The play’s the thing”), Hitchcock used Murder! to explore his interest in melodrama bleeding into reality and vice versa. Herbert Marshall stars as a respected actor serving on the jury when a young actress is brought to trial for killing another woman in her same company. Failing to persuade his fellow jurors of the girl’s innocence, Marshall stages his own investigation. Hitchcock would later disparage the film’s trappings as a whodunit, though the theatrical element brokers a sophisticated analysis of role-playing that encompasses gender and class. Ever willing to go to great technical lengths to achieve a subtle effect, Hitchcock employed a full orchestra to play the prelude from Tristan und Isolde just beyond the set where Marshall contemplates the murder case in a stream-of-conscious voiceover. The innovative approach to film sound expands the subjective tissue of Hitchcock’s filmmaking, but it’s finally the silent and still shocking death of the villain that stays in mind.

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Friday September 6 at 7pm

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Carole Lombard, Robert Montgomery, Gene Raymond
US 1941, 35mm, b/w, 90 min

On loan to RKO early in his Hollywood career, Hitchcock tried his hand at a “comedy of remarriage” starring Carol Lombard and Robert Montgomery as a quarrelsome Park Avenue couple who discover that, because of a bureaucratic mix-up, they are not legally married. Hitchcock would later claim that he didn’t understand the screwball characters, but he seems right at home with the genre’s reliance on duplicity, role-playing, and violent turns of phrase (“Someday when your back is turned I’ll stab you!”). Indeed, the director tips his hand as the Master of Suspense throughout the film, perhaps never more than when an indignant Lombard holds back Montgomery’s head for a worrisome shave. Print courtesy Warner Brothers.

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Friday September 6 at 9pm

The Birds

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren,
Jessica Tandy
US 1963, 35mm, color, 120 min

“The antagonists were birds, you know,” set designer Robert Boyle told Cahiers du Cinéma. “It wasn’t a distant country that’s trying to do us in, it wasn’t a murderer or a rapist. It was something... strange.” A magnificent technological achievement involving complex matte work and an innovative electronic soundtrack, The Birds is also one of Hitchcock’s most intensely personal and mysterious films. The director admitted to Truffaut that he experienced an unusual degree of “emotional turmoil” on the set, much of which he invested in Tippi Hedren’s anxiety-ridden performance. Alternatively read in terms of nuclear threat, repressed desires, and the audience’s own complacency, the birds finally stand for forces beyond our control. As much as any of the more expressly modernist films released in 1963, Hitchcock’s masterpieceis precisely about the failure to find meaning—the director’s last word to those critics who would fault his films for being implausible. Print courtesy Universal.

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Saturday September 7 at 9:30pm

Family Plot

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Karen Black, Bruce Dern,
Barbara Harris
US 1976, 35mm, color, 120 min

Although his career was revived a bit by the excellence of the brutal Frenzy, Hitchcock remained chastened by the failures of his work of the late 1960s, and he approached warily the making of what would become his last project. In the end, Family Plot marks a marvelous return to the comedies of his British and postwar periods. The film centers on a couple of petty crooks – a fake psychic and a con man – who find themselves in over their heads when they run afoul of more serious-minded criminals. The relaxed eccentricity of Family Plot shows Hitchcock adapting to the New Hollywood of the 1970s, and the film’s bemused attitude towards the scheming of its characters makes it a fitting coda to a career spent examining human foibles.

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Sunday September 8 at 4:30pm

Under Capricorn

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotton, Michael Wilding
US 1949, 35mm, color, 116 min

Conceived as a star vehicle for Ingrid Bergman, this Gothic romance remains little-seen and underappreciated, perhaps because of its hothouse period setting, despite the esteem in which it is held by numerous critics. Bergman plays the alcoholic spouse of a successful Australian businessman who is nonetheless a social outcast. The arrival of an Irish acquaintance brings out the tortured past that links husband and wife. Hitchcock’s experiment with long takes in Rope pays off here, as the film incorporates several brilliant lengthy shots, climaxing with one built around a tour-de-force monologue by Bergman. Under Capricorn in fact constitutes one of Hitchcock's most moving, and most sensual, portrayals of the power of love and the struggle for fulfillment. Print courtesy the British Film Institute.

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Monday September 9 at 7pm

The Man Who Knew Too Much

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With James Stewart, Doris Day,
Brenda de Banzie
US 1956, 35mm, color, 119 min

Far fewer shots are fired in the remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much, but there’s nothing nearly so harrowing in the earlier version as the scene in which James Stewart’s manifestly anxious husband sedates his wife before explaining that their son has been kidnapped. A prime example of Hitchcock’s tendency to invest his ostensibly lightweight entertainments with rich characterizations and location detail, the second Man Who Knew Too Much turns on a portrait of marriage every bit as devastating as the one found in Rossellini’s Voyage to Italy (1955). The famous Royal Albert Hall sequence is an object lesson of the director’s mastery of point-of-view, though it’s only one piece of this subtly structured puzzle of character and predestination that a euphoric André Bazin claimed as embodying Hitchcock’s art “near the top of its perfection.” Print courtesy Universal.

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Saturday September 14 at 9:30pm

Spellbound

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Michael Chekhov
US 1945, 35mm, b/w, 116 min

The tremendous popularization of Freudian psychoanalysis in postwar American cinema and popular culture informs Hitchcock's witty and sophisticated romantic thriller about a bookish analyst falling for a mysterious amnesiac analysand who is either himself a brilliant therapist or a traumatized patient with murderous tendencies. Inspired by David O. Selznick's own "cure" through psychoanalysis, Spellbound was Hitchcock's second picture under contract with the mercurial and tyrannical producer who struggled to impose ideas that Hitchcock, working closely with screenwriter Ben Hecht, was largely able to deflect and subvert. Sadly, Hitchcock was unable to prevent Selznick from damaging one of the film's centerpieces – an extended and now lost dream sequence designed by Salvador Dalí which Selznick considered excessive and ordered recut by William Cameron Menzies. Miklos Rozsa's moody score is often credited as the first use of a theremin in a Hollywood film.

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Friday September 20 at 9:30pm

Strangers on a Train

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Farley Granger, Ruth Roman,
Robert Walker
US 1951, 35mm, b/w, 100 min

Strangers on a Train’s apparently schematic construction (“mapped out like a diagram,” per Truffaut) belies its deeply insinuating treatment of guilt—a firing shot for Hitchcock’s golden 50s. Dressed to kill in a lobster-adorned tie specially designed by the director, Robert Walker gives an impressively chaotic performance as Bruno, the rogue who proposes a coolly logical murder scheme to tennis star and rising politician Guy Haines: Bruno will kill Guy’s disagreeable wife in exchange for Guy dispatching Bruno’s father. Hitchcock’s incessant doublings and crossings suggest irrepressible forces coinciding with Bruno’s vicarious plan. Guy narrowly triumphs over his fear of exposure, but the precise cuts linking these perfect strangers implies a deeper line of culpability, one that leads directly to the audience’s own stakes in the game. Raymond Chandler was hired to adapt Patricia Highsmith’s novel but proved indifferent to Hitchcock’s visual style of narration; cinematographer Robert Burks, by contrast, became one of the director’s most trusted collaborators.Print courtesy Warner Brothers.

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Sunday September 22 at 4:30pm

Torn Curtain

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Paul Newman, Julie Andrews,
Lila Kedrova
US 1966, 35mm, color, 128 min

Torn Curtain finds Hitchcock returning to the spy thriller at the height of the Cold War. Eschewing the gadgetry and sexual innuendo of the James Bond films, Hitchcock instead crafts a lean, tense portrayal of the quest to rescue the formula for an anti-missile system from behind the Iron Curtain. At the same time, in true Hitchcockian fashion, this quest also serves as a test for the relationship between an American spy and his wife. While the film has never achieved classic status, several of its sequences remain striking examples of the master’s ability to construct heart-stopping set pieces, perhaps most famously in the ambivalent depiction, in real time, of a brutal murder committed out of expedience by the film’s hero.

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Friday September 27 at 9:30pm

Suspicion

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine,
Sir Cedric Hardwicke
US 1941, 35mm, b/w, 102 min

One of Hitchcock’s most caustic portraits of a disintegrating marriage, Suspicion is also perhaps his purest exercise in suspense. Joan Fontaine plays the smitten wife who gradually comes to believe the worst of her charlatan husband, otherwise known as Cary Grant. Even a glass of milk becomes an object of dread in this poisonous atmosphere, an eerie and oddly beautiful revelation of terror that the surrealists might have envied. After turning down the screwball lead of Mr. and Mrs. Smith for fear of being typecast, Grant here tenders a performance in which the very qualities that made him the consummate romantic lead are cause for alarm. Hitchcock disavowed the ending’s sudden reversal, but subsequent critics have latched on to the film’s inconsistencies as being suggestive of the deeper ways in which the auteur’s work was at odds with itself.

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Saturday September 28 at 9:30pm

Shadow of a Doubt

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. With Teresa Wright, Joseph Cotton, MacDonald Carey
US 1943, 35mm, b/w, 108 min

Arguably the earliest masterpiece among Hitchcock’s Hollywood films, Shadow of a Doubt engagingly states one of the great themes of his oeuvre: the idea that evil is not something foreign and distant, but close and familiar. This theme emerges naturally from the story of young Charlie and her love for her charming uncle, also named Charlie, who also happens to be a serial killer. Bored by her humdrum existence in all-American Santa Rosa, California, Charlie is thrilled when her uncle shows up; she understands him so well that she becomes the only one to notice he is not what he seems. The contributions of playwright Thornton Wilder – author of Our Town – further intensified the small-town ambiance so crucial to Hitchcock. Throughout his career, the director would count Shadow of a Doubt his own favorite.

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