Having started this list of ten with three examples of films from the Great One, let’s move to three more on the list!
4. Rope (1948)
This psychological crime thriller is based on a stage play. Not surprising since it all takes place in one apartment. These two guys Shaw and Morgan (played by John Dall and Farley Granger) get the genius idea that it would be fun to strangle their college classmate to death and stuff him in a trunk, then throw a party, thus committing the “perfect crime”. Guess they figured that awesome view of the Manhattan skyline from their place would distract everyone from the gnarly smell coming from the trunk.
Naturally, they invite all sorts of friends and acquaintances of the victim—his father, his aunt, his fiancée, his ex-lover—you name it. After a while, people start to notice that someone they all know is missing. So this publisher, Rupert Cadell (Jimmy Stewart) starts asking a few pointed questions. It would seem that, back in the day, Cadell spoke approvingly of the two men’s attitudes about Nietzsche and other metaphysical claptrap about proving superiority through the “art of murder”.
The film combines suspense, irony and a chilling look into the minds of sociopaths. The scenario makes near-zero sense—but then sociopaths don’t have to. The movie also gives the illusion of being done in one take—increasing the aura of voyeurism and claustrophobia in the picture.
5. The Trouble with Harry (1955)
This film represents an unusual dip into black comedy by Hitchcock. The setting is small town Vermont, where resident Harry Worp inconveniently turns up dead—mysteriously dead, that is. And, without Miss Marple or that Murder She Wrote lady to solve the mystery, the trouble with Harry is what to do about the whole thing.
There’s a whole cast of characters who are either convinced they know whodunnit or are ready to take the blame for Harry’s death. But they are united on at least one front: they’ll do anything to keep the “authorities” (in the form of the sourpuss deputy sheriff who gets paid by the arrest—can you imagine?) from getting involved. So, Harry’s bod gets shuffled around a bit.
And the answer is … no! That would be telling! This film may have been a box office flop, but it’s a fascinating look at how the Master of Suspense created a unique (almost screwball with a dead body) comedy.
6. The Wrong Man (1956)
Once again, Hitchcock presents us with a man falsely accused. The big difference is that this movie is based on a true story. Another example of a one-of-a-kind Hitchcock flick.
Henry Fonda (Hollywood’s favorite everyman) plays Manny Balestrero, a musician who’s just getting by and needs money to pay for his wife’s major dental work. She’s played by Vera Miles, and we wouldn’t want her to suffer unduly from unextracted wisdom teeth. And since America has such a crap healthcare policy, Manny must try to borrow against his wife’s life insurance to pay the bill.
Now, here’s the sticky wicket. Some clerk-typists at the insurance firm say they recognize Manny as the guy who robbed their insurance office. And based on every possible thing going wrong for Manny, he’s unable to prevent the matter from going to trial. It all seems so hopeless, his wife ends up hospitalized for depression. And those impacted wisdom teeth couldn’t have helped.
Due to the nail-biting aspect of this film, I dare not say more. But I recommend it as a nearly documentary-style movie.
More to come next week!
PS: If I don’t respond to your comments, bear with me, please. I’m off to the big Bouchercon mystery convention in New Orleans.
If you’re in N’Awlins’, c’mon by the Marriott on Canal Street.
Meanwhile, enjoy my vlogged #52FilmsByWomen movie review!