Alphabetical Movie – Lifeboat
For as much of a movie fan as I claim to be, there are far more movies that I haven’t seen than movies that I have. I attribute that to having a life that makes movie watching a luxury in which I can’t always indulge. In a perfect world, I’d be done with the Alphabetical Movie Project and moving on to some other insane plan, like the alphabetical commentary track project.
So while I have no problem admitting that I love Alfred Hitchcock, I must confess that it was only comparatively recently that I began exploring his films. I saw my first Hitchcock film just over ten years ago.
The first Hitchcock film I saw was Lifeboat.
I don’t recall why that was the first Hitchcock film I’d seen. It seems so much more likely that one’s first Hitchcock would be Psycho or North By Northwest or Rear Window. Instead, it was a film that spends even more time in a lifeboat than Life of Pi. Given the name of the film, I suppose that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
While I’m not going to suggest that the film is the best introduction to Hitchcock, the movie is so good, it would most likely drive one to seek out the rest of his work. If he can create tension and suspense in a film set entirely in one tiny boat, one would imagine that he can certainly do better if he is working on a larger scale.
Few directors manage to attract attention the way Hitchcock did. When you understand film, you understand how much influence the director can have over the finished product but there are few directors who have left as iconic a stamp on movies as Alfred Hitchcock.
I knew about his most memorable movies before I ever saw them. I recognized moments in his films because they’d been copied by so many others.
I was never one to watch movies on television and that, I imagine, is why I came very late to Hitchcock. I don’t like my movies broken up by commercials and in my youth, the only way to see his films would have been interspersed with ads for Tide and Pepsi-Cola.
I’m kind of a nut about this but I don’t think movies should ever be watched that way. There is not a single Summer’s Eve commercial that will make Lifeboat a better film.
My stubborn refusal to watch movies broken up by commercials, though, meant that it took a while to expose myself to the works of Hitchcock, Kurosawa, Wilder and other great directors whose names didn’t start with Spiel, Coppo or Scorse. The entry points weren’t always natural. In the case of Hitchcock, I entered his world through one of the more unlikely doors.
But you know, it doesn’t always matter how you find your way to a great artists’ work. Not everyone became a fan of Van Gogh because they saw Starry Night.
Hitchcock’s fingerprints are all over Lifeboat in the same way that they are all over Rear Window. There are certainly some Hitchcock’s films that would represent a bad introduction to his work. Lifeboat is definitely not one of them.