1. Rope (1948): This is by far the most clever, sickest film Hitchcock has done. The story of two men who kill another man and then invite his family to have a dinner party with the body hidden in the room, this thing is perhaps the best written film I’ve ever seen. This is also one of those rare times where you see the director’s choices actually controlling the story, and Hitchcock proves to be a master at manipulating your tensions.
2. The Trouble With Harry (1955): This is easily the nicest Hitchcock film. It’s essentially a soft, but dark comedy about a group of people who find a body and all think they may have killed him.
3. North by Northwest (1959): This film should be in the debate for greatest film of all time. The acting, the direction, and the twisting plot are iconic and nearly perfect. This film also has the sexiest scene ever shot as Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint flirt on the train.
4. Lifeboat (1944): Made during WWII, or else I suspect the ending would be different, this is a highly political film as it is awash in capitalists, communists, and Nazis, and it all takes place on board a single lifeboat. This is another one that needs incredibly strong characters and dialog to work, and it has them.
5. Dial M For Murder (1954): Ray Milland deserves consideration as one of the most vile villains of all time in this film. The way he lets his wife go down for murder is sickening and Hitchcock manages to convey a tremendous amount of raw emotion to his audience in a film that is so sedate on the surface that it could be about an afternoon tea.
6. Topaz (1969): This is a deeply flawed film and perhaps what draws me to it is the potential it never achieves. Actually, what draws me to this film is that it is the only real attempt at making a true (i.e. real life) spy story during the Cold War and everything about it overflows with interest. It’s just too bad that the film ultimately feels like it lacks a climax.
7. The Birds (1963): Tippi Hedron and Rod Taylor have amazing chemistry in this suspense/horror film. The effects are amazing too, given the total lack of CGI and other similar effects. And while the premise may not be that scary in real life, the story feels real and this is a character film more than anything.
8. Turn Curtain (1966): This is another defective film. This one is about Paul Newman as the defector whose girlfriend Julie Andrews follows him to East Germany against his desires. But is he really a defector? The plot to this one feels a little too restrained to call this a great film, but the story has tension and solid characters. I suspect that if Hitchcock had dropped Andrews from the story, he might have made an all time classic here. As it is, he made an enjoyable film with an interesting plot and characters you like a good deal.
9. Vertigo (1958): A tale of obsession, this is often listed by critics as Hitchcock’s greatest film. Others cite it as evidence of his own sick mental state. Personally, I see it as a beautifully shot, beautifully acted film that holds strong interest, but isn’t my favorite to watch.
10. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956): As with the others, this film has some flaws. Things happen too easily for the heroes. Some scenes are too drawn out. And Doris Day isn’t the greatest actress. That said, this one feels solid. The trip to Marrakesh is fascinating, even if it is all faked. Jimmy Stewart is compelling. And the way the mystery of the plot builds holds your interest.
11. Strangers On A Train (1951): This is a fascinating film. With homosexual undertones and an array of moral questions just beneath the surface, this one is about a man who stupidly agrees to exchange murders with another man he meets on a train.
12. Rear Window (1954): This is probably Hitchcock’s favorite film for the public and it is a very good film. It’s also one of Hitchcock’s most straight-forward “what you see is what you get” films.