Hitchock in the 60s and 70s – time to vote

Psycho08Hitchcock’s life and career changed forever with the release of Psycho in 1960. Made on a tight budget, its enormous success made him a very wealthy man and saw him change studios to Universal for the rest of his career. He was now finally being taken seriously as a filmmaker, books were being written about him (the interview tome by Truffaut merely the most famous) and he was now the biggest star of his own films. He finally had the freedom and resources to make almost anything he wanted (or so he thought, until he tried making an experimental erotic thriller entitled Kaleidoscope Frenzy which was cancelled by the studio even after very expensive tests were made). Ultimately though, was this a good thing?

So he we are, the end of the line – what are the film you think stand up best from his late period? There are the tales of Cold War espionage (Torn Curtain and Topaz), a return to London and a latter-day Jack the Ripper (Frenzy), a comedy thriller about a fake spirit medium (Family Plot) as well The Birds and Marnie, starring his discovery, Tippi Hedren. Which two are you favourites? And how well do they stack up against the films he directed din the previous decades?

If you haven’t already, please remember to also vote for your favourite two films from the preceding decades:


I’ll give the chronological results of the top ten films you have voted for this weekend – and also offer a final showdown to see what comes top of that to 10 poll.

So while we can probably all guess what might come first, what will your second choice for your favourite be? The one set in Cuba, the two in San Francisco, or the ones from Europe? Over to you …

This entry was posted in 'In praise of ...', Alfred Hitchcock, Amnesia, Boston, Cold War, Cuba, Daphne Du Maurier, Ed McBain, Espionage, Film Poll, France, Germany, London, New York, Norway, Paris, Psycho, Robert Bloch, San Francisco, Spy movies, Sweden, Washington DC. Bookmark the permalink.

63 Responses to Hitchock in the 60s and 70s – time to vote

  1. Colin says:

    OK, this is easier. I decided to go for what I guess will be less traditional choices this time – should prove interesting.

  2. Margot Kinberg says:

    I have to admit to being a bit of a traditionalist here, Sergio. I voted for Psycho and The Birds..

  3. le0pard13 says:

    Same as Margot. But, believe it or not, I saw ‘Marnie’ first-run, as a kid. I’ve held it close, strangely, for all this time and almost place a vote for it. Great little series, here. Thanks, Sergio.

  4. Santosh Iyer says:

    The results of this are being shown and not set to private !

  5. Bev Hankins says:

    Please don’t beat me up ( 😉 ) but…I’ve never seen Psycho and I can’t vote for what I haven’t seen…. I never could bring myself to watch it know that shower scene was in there. [I’m pretty much a horror weenie].

    • Listen Bev, I can;t do with proper horror, but the shower sequence in Psycho is completely abstract and you never see anything, I promise – it’s all int he cutting. You really should see it, even if you know what the twist is 🙂

  6. tracybham says:

    This one was much easier. Haven’t seen many but I did have one favorite in this list.

  7. Rosemary says:

    I’ve been awkward here because I can’t vote for Psycho and I find Tippi Hedren irritating so I’ve voted for the one I remember enjoying most – Torn Curtain – and the great British cast of Frenzy. Incidentally, has anyone else READ The Birds? It is much scarier than the film. Actually, I think I probably have been very contrary with my votes as no other film has meant that, if you see a large collection of birds sitting on phone lines, you experience a frisson of fear.

    • Ho Rosemary – do you mean you can;t vote for PSYCHO because you haven’t seen it? It’s a great film in my view. I know what you mean about Tippi but I find THE BIRDS to be a very rich and dark text – and it has many, many interesting parallels with YOUNG AND INNOCENT (and I don’t just mean the shots of birds flying).

      • Rosemary says:

        Oh yes. I have seen Psycho and can admire without enjoying it – although isn’t Anthony Perkins’ performance the only memorable one? Not seen Young and Innocent – once again, I’d like to see older movies on the TV and life’s too short to go looking for yet more DVDs (I even have unopened Cary Grants waiting for a rainy day). Realise I’m probably perverse in putting Frenzy in as I seem to remember it getting a lot of flack for its misogyny and I’ve rejected Psycho, Vertigo and, perhaps, Marnie on those sorts of grounds. Sergio, you’ve got me chatting too much, but I am enjoying this!

        • Very glad to have you here Rosemary! With Psycho while I agree that the other performance s are not especially memorable, I really like its black wit and I’ve seen it several times at the cinema and keep being impressed, which you would think might vanish once you know the ending, which is a very neat trick. Frenzy is fascinating if uncomfortable viewing, with several standout sequences and makes for a great comparison with The Lodger, 50 years on!

          • Todd Mason says:

            I’ve never liked THE BIRDS (even if I never hated it as much as Harlan Ellison did), and it compares Very unfavorably with the Du Muarier story…my first disappointment with Evan Hunter (reading LAST SUMMER was probably my second). It is a pretty dispiriting list, the late films…considered FAMILY PLOT and MARNIE, but opted for TOPAZ.

          • Thanks for the votes Todd – well, I figured we might disagree about the Ed McBain one 🙂 Thanks for showing Topaz some love (it needed it).

  8. Mike says:

    I’ve gone for the obvious one, but rather than choose the avian nightmare for my second choice I’ve picked FRENZY, which I think is an absolute hoot, not to mention a withering insight into Hitchcock’s impressions of contemporary London. THE BIRDS has some brilliant scenes, but it doesn’t feature the culinary massacres as served up here – it’s one I really like.

    I can’t wait to see the results 🙂

    • Thanks very much Mike – I do wonder how well FRENZY will do as it has to be a close third if not better – we could have a bit of an upset here 🙂

      • Mike says:

        I must confess in passing that I’ve never seen FAMILY PLOT or TOPAZ – I own them but haven’t got around to it. I could be missing s couple of gems there, though from the sounds of it “oddities” would be more accurate. Surely both are better than the disappointment of TORN CURTAIN.

        • I admit, Torn Curtain is a bit forgettable – Topaz suffers from loungers, a turgid plot and a severe lack of star power in its main leads but has some very good sequences all the same (especially in Cuba and New York) and the Blu-ray has the full length version and all the alternate endings too, which makes it an interesting viewing experience academically speaking at the very least. Family Plot is a light comedy thriller that may feel a bit flat after the pyrotechnics of Frenzy but is thoroughly entertaining all the same.

  9. MarinaSofia says:

    How did I miss the previous votes in the series – it must have been when the internet was down for 5 days. I hope it’s not too late to go back and vote!

  10. Bobbi Johnson says:

    I too went with “Psycho” and “The Birds” even though I almost chose “Topaz” over “The Birds”.
    The ironic thing about “The Birds” is the the ending of the movie was changed slightly.
    After they drove off they arrive at the Golden Gate Bridge and see the bridge covered with birds, I do not remember if it was Hitchcock himself or it was the studio heads who made the change but the Golden Gate Bridge scene was cut out. Which in my opinion made the ending of the movie better as it leaves you wondering what happens to the survivors.
    As for Psycho the influence of the movie is still felt to this day, how many movies have in one shape or another have “borrowed” scenes from “Psycho” or had a Norman Bates type of character in them.

    • Yes, the extended attack sequence at the end was all storyboarded, wasn’t it? I’m not sorry it is gone but I remember, when I first saw it as a kid, finding the open ending a disappointment and I suspect many felt that way. It does tend to pinpoint the fact that the film is aiming for something much broader, which is what I like about it – I remember the screenwriter Evan Hunter saying that he felt it was a mistake, which i totally get and there are those that feel to this day that by this stage Hitch may have been trying for artistic credibility at the expense of thrills. I think it works but it does undermine one’s desire for a more traditional narrative. Instead you get sucked in to the way that the bird attacks are emblematic of the turmoil in the characters lives.

  11. Brad says:

    I always show Psycho to my high school students, so Bev Hankins, you have nothing to fear! It is brilliant, and I disagree that Perkins’ performance is the only one of merit. He HAS to stand out, for obvious reasons, but the rest of that grubby lot of ordinary people are perfectly cast. Janet Leigh perfectly plays Marion Crane’s wistful moral ambivalence, and she’s perfectly believable as the object of Norman’s conflicting desires.

    When I do show The Birds on occasion to my class, I warn them about Tippi Hedren. Her presence is an interesting testament to Hitchcock’s ego, but he still manages to create an intriguing film despite her, and the rest of the cast has a lot to do with it. It’s interesting to compare these two films, with their central romantic triangle between boy, girl and mother and their technical brilliance.

    Oh, guess which two I voted for! 🙂

  12. Yvette says:

    I’ve never seen PSYCHO all the way through because I found the people in it repellent. I also knew from the getgo (probably from the casting) all about the mother. I haven’t read a million or so mysteries for nothing. Ha! So I found the big reveal rather flat. So needless to say, didn’t vote for it. I voted for THE BIRDS which, despite Tippi Hedren’s wooden acting and wishing Suzanne Pleshette had been the heroine, I enjoy watching even now. Only voted for one film since I can’t remember the others – probably never saw them. I’m more fond of Hitchcock’s 30’s and 40’s.

  13. Sergio, I watched PSYCHO several years ago and by a coincidence borrowed the film from a colleague only this afternoon. You know, this is the only film I remember Anthony Perkins for. Which of his other films should I watch?

    • I actually like Perkins quite a lot – he got a bit typecast from this film, playing twitchy neurotic types but in fact was very good in all sorts of films. If you can, I would really recommend ON THE BEACH from the Nevil Shute novel and THE MATCHMAKER (late turned into the musical HELLO, DOLLY!) from Thornton Wilder’s play. He made quite a good Javert in the 1978 TV movie version of Hugo’s LES MISERABLES and I liked it a lot as Josef K in THE TRIAL, Orson Welles’ take on the Kafka classic. I find Crimes of Passion, in which he starred with Kathleen Turner, to be a very guilty pleasure so I would only recommend it to fans of his work. I also think the first two Psycho sequels to be pretty interesting actually and Perkins did a good job of directing the Psycho III especially.

  14. John says:

    I guess being the utter film geek that I am I’m choosing which movies I think are the best as an overall film. He is after all one of the most iconic masters of telling a story visually and his experimentations with the medium have yet to be surpassed IMO. Having said all that for this round since I have thoroughly enjoyed five of these movies (Psycho, Torn Curtain, Marnie, The Birds and Family Plot) I have to vote for my utter favorites which turn out to be the first and last in the list. Probably the only person who’s choosing FAMILY PLOT! If I could vote for three, then Marnie would definitely be in there because for me it’s quintessential Hitchcock with all it’s artificiality and movie techniques. But FAMILY PLOT for me is so thoroughly entertaining that I have to vote for it. Plus that out of control car sequence alone deserves some kind of award and this is how I do it. :^D

    • Thanks for that John, the car sequence is such a great standout for its mixture of comedy and terror and I like the fact that bowed out on a lighter note after the brilliant but grim Frenzy. In fact you are not alone, as Family Plot got an amazing 11 votes, just one less than Marnie – full results to be revealed in about 20 minutes!

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