Alfred Hitchcock is one of the directors film fans must watch. His worst movies are still crafted well and his best movies are – well – as good as anyone’s best movies. Ever.
I’m a film fan, not a film student. I can recognize why certain movies are shot well and why other movies are shot poorly. If you want me to explain why Hitchcock’s films are film school standards, I’m not going to do a great job. I just know that there is something to like in nearly all of his films.
As I’m going through all of the movies in my collection (oh so slowly at the moment), I’ve gone through many of Hitchock’s early films that are part of a set I own encompassing all of his British work.
Some of the movies in that group are not particularly good. Others, like this one, are considered part of his lasting legacy.
All of them are possibly the shittiest quality film transfers you can ever hope to see.
Here’s the thing – you get what you pay for.
If you pay $40 for a Criterion edition of The Seven Samurai, you are going to expect a really top quality transfer of the film in addition to thoughtful and well produced extras.
If you pay $40 for 30 Hitchcock films, you are aren’t going to get anything that even approaches that level of quality.
Hitchcock’s The Lodger is loosely based on the story of Jack the Ripper. It seems possible that the ripper will continue to be the most famous serial killer of all time for the simplest of reasons – he was never caught.
How many stories can you tell about Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer? One. There is no rampant speculation about who they were or what they did. We all know.
You can make one movie about Ted Bundy and you’ve pretty much covered the story.
Jack the Ripper, on the other hand, could be anyone. He could be a time travelling alien! He could be professor Moriarty! He could be a lady! He could be Abraham Lincoln (the assassination was faked so he could emmigrate to England and fulfill his darkest desires)!
Lightning Strikes Twice is a film that wants to be a Hitchcock movie*. I say that because it is about a man who is wrongly accused and a woman who loves him but also fears he wasn’t so wrongly accused after all. Thing is, it isn’t a Hitchcock movie. It wants really badly to be Rebecca but that movie was directed by Hitchcock and this one wasn’t.
There are plenty of films out there that are described as “Hitchcockian” and I would think any director would like their movie to be thought of in that way. Hell, M Night Shyamalan wanted to be thought of that way so badly, he even did cameos in each of his films. He wanted to be Hitchcock so bad, he started spending all of his time trying to be Hitchcock and none of his time making good movies.
Well, he’s been trying. He just hasn’t been succeeding.
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.
L.A. Confidential is the perfect film to open the L section of the Alphabetical movie project because I have to admit, I’d been rushing to get to the L’s for a while.
I like most of the movies I own. I mean, I wouldn’t own them if I didn’t. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I like some more than others. That means there are some letters that get me more excited than others as well.
Take the letter D, for instance. Man was I looking forward to the letter D. I started out with movies like Dark City and The Day the Earth Stood Still and near the end I got to watch Dr. No and Dr. Strangelove. It was a great letter.
Right off the bat, though, you can see the potential in the letter L. L.A. Confidential is an amazing film. Just knowing I got to start the next batch of movies with such a great one got me really excited.
Around Christmas last year, there was a good deal on a collection of all of Alfred Hitchcock’s British films. I’m a big fan of his work but his British period was pretty much a blank slate for me. Aside from The 39 Steps, I’m pretty ignorant of his developmental period.
I don’t remember the exact price but it was less than $2.00 per movie. As far as I was concerned, it was a great deal if all I’d gotten was The 39 Steps and The Lodger.
Decisions like that are one of the reasons I’m doing the Alphabetical Movie project. I have something like twenty Hitchcock films on four discs. Left to my own devices, I would probably watch one or two in the next five years.