Hitchcock in the 1940s – vote now!

Alfred-Hitchcock-in-HollywoodWith the success of The Lady Vanishes, Hitchcock got a contract with producer David O Selznick and headed to Hollywood to make the Oscar-winning Rebecca – and never looked back. This period saw the director blossom as he got to use bigger budgets and international stars but was unhappy at being loaned to pretty much every studio in town (including RKO, Fox and Universal) by his wayward and over-stretched producer. He ultimately got his freedom and headed to Warners, to make one of his most technically ambitious films, Rope. And it was during this time that he found his great on-screen alter egos in the shape of Cary Grant and James Stewart.

“What is drama but life with the dull bits cut out.”

Rebecca was a huge hit but was also a baptism by fire, as the director clashed constantly with a producer who wouldn’t deviate from the text when ti came to adapting the popular Du Maurier novel. In britain Hitch had been used to playing fairly fast and loose with his literary sources if he and his writers felt it necessary. Conversely, when it came to turning the Anthony Berkeley novel Before the Fact (as by ‘Frances Iles’), textual fidelity was out of the question for the controversial climax, much to the director’s chagrin. Along with transplanting his ‘innocent man on the run’ scenario (for Foreign Correspondent and Saboteur),  it was during this time that Hitch also experimented with screwball comedy (Mr and Mrs Smith starring Carole Lombard), made the first of his films restricted to a single setting (Lifeboat) and also his first in Technicolor (Rope). There was also a very fruitful collaboration with Thornton Wilder that resulted in a fascinating look at the dark side of Americana with Shadow of a Doubt starring Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotten. And then there were the three films starring Ingrid Bergman, two of which – Notorious and Spellbound – remain as popular now as they were then. But of the dozen films Hitchcock directed in the 1940s, which two are your favourites?


You can vote for your two favourites Hitchcock movies from the 1940s below, and don’t forget to vote for your favourites in the previous polls covering the 1920s (click here) and the 1930s (click here) too.

Ready, Steady, Vote!

This entry was posted in 'In praise of ...', Alfred Hitchcock, Amnesia, Anthony Berkeley, Australia, California, Cold War, Courtroom, Daphne Du Maurier, England, Espionage, Film Poll, Francis Beeding, London, Los Angeles, New York, Noir, Patrick Hamilton, Philip MacDonald, Screwball, Spy movies, The Netherlands, World War II. Bookmark the permalink.

59 Responses to Hitchcock in the 1940s – vote now!

  1. Santosh Iyer says:

    There are so many brilliant films of this decade that it was difficult to choose. Finally I selected Rebecca and Spellbound.

  2. Jose Ignacio says:

    Agree there are many brilliant films of this decade. Finally I’ll go for The Rope and Spellbound.

  3. Colin says:

    Now it gets tricky – I made my two picks but some tough choices, and the following decade is going to be even harder.

  4. Frank Downs says:

    With Hitchcock It’s always hard to choose. But in the 40’s I really had to go for Notorious and Spellbound. But the next decade will be even harder!!

  5. Two picks only is very hard as I regard this decade as Hitchcock’s finest (not that he didn’t make great films before and after but that is his most varied period, he hadn’t yet found his formula) After much hesitation and hand-wringing I finally opted for Shadow of a Doubt (my all-time favorite Hitch film and certainly his most satisfying in terms of writing and acting) and Rebecca.

    • Great choices Xavier, thanks very much. I picked one of those too … Not saying which one until the polls are closed for fear that my mighty opinion might influence anyone else 🙂

  6. Another great list of Hitchcock films, Sergio. I had absolutely no idea he had made so many fine movies. Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca” has been filtering in and out of my mind. It’s a book I look forward to reading.

    • It’s a grr=eat bit of popular literature Prashant, well worth a read (especially if you like Jane Eyre). The movie is enormously entertaining and I expect it to do quite well int he polls.

    • Santosh Iyer says:

      Incidentally, there is a Hindi film adaptation of Rebecca in Indian settings: Kohraa (1964). A brilliant film .

      • Thanks for that Santosh, I found a clip onlinee that looks more like Hitchcock’s Psycho 🙂

        • Santosh Iyer says:

          It is actually a faithful adaptation (though uncredited !). Maxim De Winter becomes Raja Amit Singh. The mansion Manderley is changed into a sprawling seaside haveli. The first wife Rebecca becomes Poonam and the second wife Rajeshwari. The housekeeper is Dai Maa.
          However, just as Hitchcock altered the ending, here also the ending is altered (which is different from the Hitchcock ending).

          • All kidding aside Santosh, I though the section i saw online looked really good and very atmospheric too – I hope there’s an English-friendly edition out there as I’d be really curious to see it! If you ever want to write a review of it I’ll be glad to publish it here at fedora!

  7. Bobbi Johnson says:

    I chose Foreign Correspondent and Lifeboat because they take place during the darkest period in human history WW2.

  8. Margot Kinberg says:

    We are spoilt for choice here, Sergio!! Can’t wait to see how this all turns out.

  9. Bev Hankins says:

    My number one was easy–Rebecca. Number two gave me a much harder time.

  10. Brad says:

    Just showed Notorious to my film class last week! Another brilliant tracking shot as we try and figure out where Alicia hid the key, plus the brilliant Claude Rains as the most heartbreaking villain in Hitchcock. And then there’s the battle of the Charlies in Shadow of a Doubt! Anyone up for an all night movie party?

    • Many days of the week, they are probably the two titles that I would pick (not saying if I did or didn’t), not least for the way that they offer contrasting approaches to that classic dualism in his films as the active and passive characters seems to switch places over the course of the story.

      • Brad says:

        Yes, Sergio! I love that duality – the realization that hero and villain are more alike than the hero might care to admit! We will see that again and again in the brilliant movies of the 1950’s, too (the decade where you HAVE to let me vote for four films, do you hear me, damn it?!?!?)

  11. Chose my 2 with difficulty: what a body of work for 10 years…

  12. Pingback: 1950s Hitchcock – vote for the best | Tipping My Fedora

  13. neer says:

    Well, I went for REBECCA and SPELLBOUND (Love that dream sequence designed by Dali). ROPE, I find very very disturbing and as for LIFEBOAT, I still can’t believe that Hitchcock could have directed that banality of easy categorization.

    • Rebecca and Spellbound and wonderfully entertaining films. I find Lifeboat technically fascinating and I think is perhaps more ambiguous then you might think (especially in relation to its lone African American character) but the propaganda element does, absolutely, get in the way of the drama, no question. Rope I find really fascinating for its dark theme and technical bravura, but there is no denying that this version of the Leopold and Loeb story is still upsetting.

      • Bobbi Johnson says:

        one must remember the year that “Lifeboat” was made and released. The world was at war so of course there is going to be a propaganda element to it just as there was in the non Hitchcock movie “Action in the North Atlantic” the Germans were at that time the bad guys and so they were painted that way. There are so many levels to “Lifeboat” that are for the most part overlooked.
        I feel it was one of Hitchcocks best movies of that dark period.
        It is also quite possible that the studio heads wanted the propaganda element in the movie and at that time Hitchcock may not have had the clout to say no but needless to say it was and still is a great movie about the human spirit and the need to survive even under the horrible conditions of war.

        • He did a fair number of propaganda features one way or another (Saboteur immediately springs to mind) but I agree, there is a bit more to this one, despite the inevitable simplifications.

          • neer says:

            Sergio and Bobbi sahib, I do agree that LIFEBOAT has its plus points: the setting for one, the way class hierarchies are shown as nothing but man-made structures which collapse when it is a matter of survival etc. but the overwhelming impression that the movie left on me was that Germans were spawns of the Devil and I have never been comfortable with the image of EVIL Germans, Japs etc.So, okay it was propaganda but this was a movie by Hitchcock! And to me that was the most unbelievable part that he could have gone with the flow.

          • Well, lets put it this way, I have no problem with Hitchcock saying that Nazis are scum of the earth, wherever they come from – good enough?

      • Santosh Iyer says:

        Speaking of propaganda, in 1944 Hitchcock directed 2 short propaganda films in French for British Ministry of Information: Bon Voyage and Adventure Malgache (I have both films with English subtitles).

  14. Rosemary says:

    Went for Notorious for that tracking shot and Bergman and Grant at their most beautiful, plus the wonderful Claude Rains (funny that I’ve gone for NBNW for the fifties without noticing till now the similarities of theme and attractive baddies). Second choice harder but, because I’ve gone off Rebecca as a book, perhaps, unfairly, I’ve looked elsewhere and, rather to my surprise, gone for Rope. Not sure if I’ve seen it through to the end, because of family interruptions, but last time I saw it, I was not only impressed by its technique but by the wit of the script. Looks like I’m establishing a pattern of one Cary Grant, one Jimmy Stewart per pick.

    • My admiration for Rope has grown and grown over the decades, though I keep wondering if it would;t have been better if Cary Grant had played the role instead of Jimmy Stewart (who, however, is perfect in Rear Window and Vertigo).

      • Rosemary says:

        Cary Grant (to misquote Audrey Hepburn from the film that could have been Hitchcock) is perfect in everything and I long to be carried off by him (no I don’t want to know about his off-screen life) and I want Jimmy Stewart as my favourite uncle/elder brother – which is perhaps why I can’t cope with Vertigo, although it confirms his stature as an actor.

        • Grant just could’t have played the character in VERTIGO convincingly in my view, while Stewart in the 50s was so impressive when playing characters with very deep neuroses.

  15. Pingback: Hitchock in the 60s and 70s – time to vote | Tipping My Fedora

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