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The Criticwire Survey: Underrated Hitchcock

Criticwire By Matt Singer | Criticwire November 19, 2012 at 10:03AM

Which Hitchcock movie doesn't get enough acclaim? The critics weigh in.
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"Frenzy."
"Frenzy."
Every week, Criticwire asks film critics a question and brings you their responses in The Criticwire Survey. We also ask each member of the poll to pick the best film currently playing in theaters. The most popular choices can be found at the bottom of this post. But first, this week's question:

Q: In honor of the release of the new film "Hitchcock," what is the most underrated Alfred Hitchcock film?

The critics' answers:

Cole AbaiusFilm School Rejects:

"The easy answer is 'anything that isn't 'Vertigo.'' Right, Sight & Sound? The difficult answer is to look at all the Hitchcock movies that have been pushed to the side by the sheer amount of insanely excellent ones. One that doesn't seem to be talked about too often is 'The Paradine Case,' a brooding morality play about a barrister (which is what the British call a lawyer with a wig) who falls in love with an exotic woman accused of poisoning her elderly husband. The only problem? The barrister's already married. The only other problem? His infatuation drives him a little bit crazy. It's a hell of a thriller, but it's worth checking out specifically for head-spinning performances from Gregory Peck, Ann Todd, Charles Laughton, Charles Coburn, Ethel Barrymore (who scored an Oscar nomination) and the gorgeous Alida Valli (whose real name was, no kidding, Alida Maria von Altenburger baroness von Markenstein und Frauenberg of the Holy Roman Germanic Empire). Also, 'Lifeboat' rules."

Mark Adams, Screen International:

"'Secret Agent.' Great film version of the W Somerset Maugham short stories."

Michael J. AndersonTativille:

"As tempted as I am to cite an auteurist Hollywood-period favorite such as 'I Confess' or 'Family Plot,' it is clear to me that Hitchcock's silent corpus remains the most underrated phase in the great director's career -- excepting the justifiably canonized bridge between Hitchcock and his Soviet sources, 'The Lodger.' Of the underrated rest, I would highlight the deeply felt, if thematically atypical 'The Farmer's Wife.' Whether or not we can say that we really see the Hitchcock we know in 'The Farmer's Wife,' what we can say with confidence is that this is the work of Britain's greatest silent director."

Ali ArikanDipnot TV:

"'Frenzy.'"

Edwin ArnaudinAshvegas:

"Released the same year as 'Rear Window,' 'Dial M For Murder' unjustly gets swept under Hitchcock's late career rug. What a shame! The film is just as taut and squirm-inducing as his more revered works and the failed attack on Grace Kelly's Margot is one of the director's most memorable sequences. Whenever I use scissors, I think of that scene... and shiver."

Adam BattyHope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second:

"Hitchcock's penultimate picture, 1972's 'Frenzy' is my candidate for most underrated. 'Frenzy' marked a return to London for the Master of Suspense, in a tale which acts as a neat thematic bookend to Hitch's career with 1928's 'The Lodger.' While neither were the first or last films of the filmmaker's career, it's arguable that they are the ones that feel like they ought to be (Hitchcock himself claimed that 'The Lodger' was his first 'proper' film, while 'Family Plot,' his final film is little more than a curiosity). 'Frenzy' makes for the perfect postscript to the earlier mainstream hits like 'Shadow Of A Doubt' and 'Psycho,' while the recurrent plot line of a wrong man linked to a crime makes it the ultimate adieu to everything from 'Saboteur' to 'North By Northwest.' It's pleasing to note that reappraisal seems to be on the rise, with Raymond Foery's classy monograph on the film, Alfred Hitchcock's 'Frenzy: The Last Masterpiece' published earlier this year."

Nicholas BellIONCINEMA:

"The most underrated of Hitch's filmography has to be 'Stage Fright.' Dietrich smoking in that wedding dress is sexy, deadly, and amazing. Shout out to 'Marnie' as well as his most lascivious effort."

William BibbianiCrave Online:

"It is a universally acknowledged truth that Hitchcock's films took a dive in quality after the one-two-three-four punch of 'Vertigo,' 'North by Northwest,' 'Psycho' and 'The Birds,' but most of his later films were actually pretty danged good (except for 'Topaz,' which really does suck; I'm looking forward to seeing if any of my fellow critics defend that meandering spy thriller). My favorite film from this period is 'Frenzy,' Hitchcock's second-to-last film and a return to the twisted thrills of his silent serial killer film 'The Lodger' crossed with his then-perfected 'wrong man' schtick. Jon Finch plays a thuggish ladies man whose ex-wife is raped and murdered, leading the authorities to believe that he's the killer. For a large portion of the film, it actually seems plausible. Hitchcock employs a sumptuous color palette and bravura camerawork that (for once) actually justifies all the comparisons to giallo director Dario Argento, and he seems to relish in the opportunity to make a film with all nudity and ultraviolence that sprang from the all the imitators of 'Psycho.' His last film, 'Family Plot,' is underrated too, but 'Frenzy' may be Hitchcock's last truly great movie, and I find that most people haven't even seen it."

Danny BowesTor.com/Movies By Bowes:

"'Shadow of a Doubt.' It's only underrated in comparison to other Hitchcock, but hey, 'underrated' is a problematic term, what can I say? Thoroughly great movie: Teresa Wright is a boss, and Joseph Cotten is Joseph Cotten; the way it concludes is marvelously dark. With Thornton Wilder co-writing this, it makes one wonder how hot a Hitchcock version of 'Our Town' would be."

Christopher CampbellDocBlog

"I haven’t seen all of Hitch’s films, particularly a lot that might be deemed underrated. What comes to mind of those I have seen is 'Lifeboat,' if only because 'Life of Pi' has made me want to rewatch it. Hitch deserves a lot of credit for making a film solely set in a little boat without any of the flashy spectacle that Ang Lee has in his."

Sean ChavelFlick Minute:

"'Frenzy' is the last evidence of Hitchcock attempting to surprise and shock his audience, and holds up as gut-wrenching suspense today. After three consecutive flops, it was something of a rebound. If you see his later era movies, this is the one to see."

Jake ColeNot Just Movies:

"I know it is, narratively speaking, so unlike Hitch's other work, but I will never understand the neglect of 'Under Capricorn.' Building off the formal experiment of 'Rope,' 'Under Capricorn' uses its movement throughout the Outback manor that houses most of the film's action to demonstrate both freedom and imprisonment, the constrictions of propriety and the subversion of same. The film brilliantly turns Hitchcock's deft ability to visualize the perception of his characters toward melodrama, making every character revelation doubly affecting for how others in the shot perceive those who reveal vulnerability. Yes, it is a melodrama, but take one look at the portentous establishing shots of the house and try not to think of the similarly looming Bates home overlooking the motel. That this missed out on the recent fit of remastering for Blu-ray when the likes of 'Torn Curtain' got in continues to depress me."

John DeCarliFilmCapsule:

"I don't hear a lot about 'The Trouble With Harry,' which is a great little Hitchcock film. This would probably top 'North By Northwest' as his most obviously comedic suspense film, in which a group of small town New Englanders inter and disinter poor Harry's body several times. It's got a quiet, subdued bucolic charm which fits Hitchcock's dark-tinged humor perfectly, as well as great use of color cinematography and a fun performance by Shirley MacLaine."

Steve DollarWall Street Journal/GreenCine Daily:

"I'm going to go with 'Frenzy.' I haven't seen it since it came out in 1972. I was 14 and remember thinking that it was very, very nasty -- and quite effectively so. Enough to leave me feeling seriously troubled afterwards. Even though it scored 87% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, I can't ever recall the film being a critic's favorite but rather getting dangled from the rafters as an example of TMOS's lapsing into slasher (or, rather, necktie-strangler) grotesqueries. It would be interesting to screen it back to back with some vintage De Palma, say, and see how it stacks up through the prism of revisionist appreciation."

Alonso DuraldeTheWrap/What The Flick?!:

"His one out-and-out comedy, 1941's 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith,' generally gets dismissed as an amusing asterisk on a career devoted to other genres, but here's the thing: it's hilarious. Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery have genuine screwball chemistry as a bickering married couple who discover they might not actually be married, and there are set pieces (one on a ferris wheel, the other in a restaurant) that brought me to in-tears laughter the first time I saw the film. Had the whole Master of Suspense thing not worked out, Hitch had it in him to be a top-tier comic director."

Jason GorberTwitch/Filmfest.ca:

"There's an argument to be made for 'Rear Window' here -- though it's received lots of plaudits, it hasn't been celebrated enough! It's still for me his most perfect film, even more deserving of praise than the likes of 'Psycho' or 'Vertigo.' The film that's likely the most overlooked is 'Foreign Correspondent,' a great little spy thriller that shows a side of the director that some may not be as familiar with. Desperately in need of a proper presentation (looking at you, Criterion), this is but one of dozens of his so-called 'second tier' films that are well worth seeking out, as even the stinkers have some flashes of brilliance that make them in their own ways quite remarkable."

Eric HavensDownright Creepy:

"I'm not sure it's entirely underrated, I have heard other people praise it, but my favorite Hitchcock film that is praised less than the general canon is 'Strangers on a Train.' From some amazing camerawork, to some equally amazing performances this one has always hit a special place in the Hitchcock appreciation section of my brain."

Jordan HoffmanScreenCrush:

"It's funny you should ask that, Matt Singer. I recently did a great deal of soul searching and ranked the entire Hitchcock filmography from worst to best. Two films I think deserve more attention are 'Blackmail,' Hitchcock's very clever transition to talkies, and the remake of 'The Man Who Knew Too Much.' The original is a fine suspense yarn, but the latter has big, bold Vistavision set pieces that, in my opinion, are as good as in 'North by Northwest.' It's also got an almost stream-of-consciousness quality to it. By the time Doris Day is singing 'Que Sera, Sera' to her tied-up son we're practically in David Lynch territory."

Drew HuntChicago Reader/The Talking Pictures:

"My initial instinct is to say 'Marnie,' a film I've always made a point to champion whenever discussing Hitchcock, but it seems to have gotten its due cred in recent years. So let's go with 'Lifeboat,' one of Hitch's most formally inventive films and the first of his 'limited setting' exercises. He'd master the style with 'Rear Window,' of course, but 'Lifeboat''s wide array of compositions and geometric approach to mise en scene delight throughout. Although somewhat heavy handed thematically, it's also one of the more respectable examples of moralistic Hollywood wartime parables."

John Keefer51Deep.com:

"I got to see 'Frenzy' on the big screen and I, along with the entire theater, thoroughly enjoyed it. At times it had the feeling of a greatest hits but with one or two new tracks that really kicked. The fumbling with the corpse sequence got some wonderfully uncomfortable laughs as well."

Adam KempenaarFilmspotting:

"There's a fair amount of 'minor' Hitchcock stuff I still need to see, but a really interesting, occasionally disturbing movie I never see in top 5 (or 10) lists is his 1972 serial killer thriller 'Frenzy.' I watched it in the context of viewing/discussing other classic Hitchcock films and recall marveling at its overt ugliness -- human not cinematic, though it's much grittier visually as well. Still, there's an amazing long take where the camera follows the killer up the stairs with his victim, then retreats back down as the door shuts, leaving her helpless and the audience powerless."

Ben Kenigsberg, Time Out Chicago:

"Given the amount and range of writing on Hitchcock, it depends on how you define 'underrated.' (Look at 'Marnie,' which has been received as everything from a bomb to a career-capping masterpiece.) With that caveat, I'd say that 'Rope' clearly belongs with canonical Hitch; make a case for 'Under Capricorn' as a gorgeous inversion of 'Rebecca;' stick up for several sequences apiece in 'Torn Curtain' and 'Topaz;' and note that even his rare misfires ('Juno and the Paycock,' 'Waltzes from Vienna') always have something to offer."

Glenn KennyMSN Movies/Some Came Running:

"Oh, they're all underrated in their way. Hitchcock himself hated 'Waltzes From Vienna' but it's kind of fascinating in the way it uses music. 'Mr. And Mrs. Smith' is never talked about although it's fascinating to see Hitchcock work out the technical challenges of screwball comedy. But having underrated it myself I'd have to say 'Under Capricorn,' an absolutely fascinating formal flourish undermined by some inapt casting. 'The Paradine Case' has a similar problem too. If I sound too Hitchcock-wonky, tough. I don't think Hitchcock non-wonks have much business writing about movies."

Jette Kernion, Slackerwood:

"Is 'Rebecca' underrated? It won a Best Picture Oscar, but I rarely hear people talk about it as a Hitchcock film, although it's a favorite of mine. I was a fan of the Daphne Du Maurier novel first, but it's an excellent adaptation, and I don't mind the deviations from the book. I first saw it in the student theater at LSU, where a lot of rowdy undergrads laughed at the dated dialogue, but even that didn't keep me from enjoying the movie. Lawrence Olivier seems a little stiff and Joan Fontaine's naivete occasionally is wearing, but they're balanced so well by George Sanders and Judith Anderson and the gorgeous, eerie, oppressive atmosphere of Manderley."

Eric Kohn, Indiewire:

"All of Hitchcock's silent work is underrated compared to the praise lavished on much of everything else, but I'm especially fond of 'The Manxman,' a lurid tale of sibling rivalry and kooky sexual politics involving two brothers in love with the same woman. A gloomy air hangs over each scene even as Hitchcock shows his characteristic ability to take twisted pleasure in the downward spiral of the proceedings. It is, I believe, one of the best early examples of film noir before the term had been invented."

Adam KuntavanishNext Projection:

"I suppose I'll go with 'Stage Fright,' a delightful, tricky affair starring the decidedly un-Hitchcockian Jane Wyman and Marlene Dietrich. Nearly every Hitch film has its own fervent defenders, but I have yet to see any for this perfectly good if deceptive comedy-thriller from the dawn of the 1950s."

Peter LabuzaLabuzaMovies.com/The Cinephiliacs:

"I'll tip my hat for the oft-forgotten 1956 classic, 'The Wrong Man.' It's certainly Hitchcock's quietest, most meticulously paced film about something ever so ordinary, as Henry Fonda is falsely accused of committing a robbery. But under the very simple surface is a world teething with Cold War anxiety and male malaise. As Fonda simply accepts that the world will eventually right itself, his own inability to surmise his individuality expresses a frightening conformity to a world that seems indifferent to his problems. Hitchcock's style here is one of his most visually restrained efforts, but in many ways expresses these problems in their most frightening form. This is not a fantastic story, but one that could happen right across the street, making it perhaps the most terrifying of all."

Joanna LangfieldThe Movie Minute:

"There are a few Hitchcock films I feel are popularly, if not critically, underrated. Perhaps the best example of that is 'Rope,' the experimental whodunnit Hitchcock delivered in 1948 and then took out of distribution for several decades. Based on a stage play loosely taken from the notorious Leopold and Loeb case, this is film with a truly creepy and unpleasant subject, allowing first rate actors (including Jimmy Stewart and Farley Granger) to stretch their commercial appeal and, most notably, to act the whole thing out in lengthy, continuous shots. 'Rope' may not be Hitchcock's most fun work, but it's still a treat to watch him play with all sorts of new ideas. I also have a soft spot for the 1956 remake of 'The Man Who Knew Too Much,' featuring a terrific Jimmy Stewart and a most surprising Doris Day. You'll never think of the pop hit, 'Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)' the same way ever again after seeing this chiller."

Josh LarsenLarsenOnFilm.com/Filmspotting:

"Considering how little it's discussed, I'd give 'Shadow of a Doubt' this honor. Teresa Wright plays Charlie, a suburban California teen who is smitten with the out-of-town uncle after whom she was named. When Uncle Charlie (a toothy Joseph Cotton) comes to live with her family, her affection gradually gives way to suspicion that he may be a murderer. This would be a Nancy Drew escapade if not for the seamy sexual undercurrent Hitchcock encourages, making it quite possibly his most perverted effort."

Scott MacDonaldToronto Standard:

"You didn't ask this, but the most overrated Hitchcock film is easily 'Vertigo.' I don't think it's terrible or anything, but there's a reason it was neglected at the time of its release -- it's cold and clammy, and it fails on the most basic level: telling a good story. It's only beloved now by film-school types who cherish it as a fetish object, a source of endless metatextual fascination. Give me the constantly underappreciated 'Strangers on a Train' over 'Vertigo' any day. 'Strangers' has just as much filmmaking panache and subtextual appeal, but it's also hugely enjoyable and witty, with tons of memorable sequences (the fairground murder, the tennis match, the runaway carousel) and a performance by Robert Walker that belongs in the pantheon of best movie villains."

Joey MagidsonThe Awards Circuit:

"It's 'Suspicion' for me. I may rank 'Rope' higher than many in Hitchcock's canon, but 'Suspicion' is the one that's not mentioned as one of his better works often enough for my taste. I'm aware that the newer and not so improved ending rankles many, but I enjoy the lead up to it so much that I barely care. It's Hitchcock making a psychological thriller; old hat, I know, but for some reason I've always found myself appreciating this one more than most."

Calum MarshSlant Magazine:

"'Marnie' is my favorite Hitchcock film and, given its long-standing reputation as a failure, I expect it'll be a common answer here. But of course the thing about Hitchcock is that nearly every one of his minor films, from late period coup 'Frenzy' all the way to the obscure bottle pic 'Lifeboat,' have their ardent defenders, which makes 'most underrated' practically impossible to call. They're all underrated to somebody."

Mike McGranaghanThe Aisle Seat:

"My pick would be 1940's 'Foreign Correspondent,' with Joel McCrea as a reporter in Europe who digs up the story of a lifetime, one involving a spy ring. I saw this movie back in the late '90s, when it screened as part of a weekly film society series at a local university. Despite uncomfortable wooden seats in a run-down auditorium, a scratchy 16mm print projected onto a fairly tiny screen, and tinny speakers that sometimes made hearing the dialogue a chore, I was completely enthralled by the story's twists and turns. 'Foreign Correspondent' also has a signature tour-de-force Hitchcock scene, this one involving windmills. It rarely, if ever, gets mentioned in the same breath as 'Psycho,' 'Rear Window,' or 'North By Northwest' (three films I also love), but 'Foreign Correspondent' is another example of Hitch at his best."

Jana J. MonjiThe Demanders/Pasadena Art Beat/Examiner.com:

"Why do I love 'To Catch a Thief?' What woman could symbolize the cool elegance and glamour of Monaco more than Grace Kelly? What man in the history of moviemaking embodied sophistication more than Cary Grant? Bringing them together, Alfred Hitchcock gave us fireworks and a fantasy of an American princess, Frances Stevens (Kelly), getting her reformed bad boy, John Robie (Grant), a former cat burglar. Not only did Hitchcock understand the onscreen chemistry between Grant and Kelly, he also was the first to match up Kelly with Monaco, a place that would become her home when she married the following year. In 'To Catch a Thief,' the main female character is formidable in her own right and her mother's not exactly clinging ivy either. If 'Psycho' subverts romance with irony, by having Marion offered domestic bliss in a letter by her divorced boyfriend after she has been murdered, then 'To Catch a Thief' subverts the gothic novel. While the good girl does catch and help clear the supposed bad boy's name, she and her mother have the upper hand at the end. Love, family, and marriage are in the future of Grant's Robie, but he won't be the preening king of the castle and will have to match wits and style with Frances and her fun-loving no-nonsense mother, Jessie (Jessie Royce Landis). One imagines that Frances and Robie could become a rich detective duo like the TV series 'Hart to Hart' or a cosmopolitan spy family with Jessie in tow such as in the TV series 'It Takes a Thief.'"

V.A. MusettoNew York Post:

"'Mr. & Mrs. Smith,' the director's only out-and-out screwball comedy, more Hawks than Hitchcock. It has nothing to do with the 2005 movie of the same name. In the latter, the titular couple (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) use guns to settle arguments. In Hitch's, the couple (Robert Montgomery and Carole Lombard) employ sophisticated dialogue. Runner-up: 'Saboteur.' The theme is familiar -- innocent man (Bob Cummings) on run  hooks up with blonde (Priscilla Lane) who believes his story. But the finale, at top of Statue Of Liberty, is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. It even surpasses the Mount Rushmore scene in 'North by Northwest.'' (By the way, 'Saboteur' is not to be confused with Hitchcock's 'Sabotage' from 1936.)"

Dan PersonsMighty Movie Podcast:

"Not so much underrated as unjustly less noted in the light of 'Psycho,' 'North by Northwest,' et al: 'Shadow of a Doubt,' Hitch's merciless savaging of heartland America."

Matt PriggePhiladelphia Weekly:

"I certainly don't think people dislike 'Foreign Correspondent,' but I don't imagine many are as high up on it as I am. (Robin Wood mentions it only once in passing in 'Hitchcock's Films Revisited.') Although it followed 'Rebecca' as the second film Hitchcock made after leaving England, I like to think of it as a transitional work. 'Rebecca' is really more of an anomaly, arguably more Selznick than Hitch, while 'Foreign Correspondent' has traces of the more sprightly, less intense work he made in his native country, but also an even more assured confidence that comes with being the new guy in Hollywood. It's as much a comedy as it is a disposable thriller (albeit a disposable thriller about WWII released in the thick of WWII). Which is not to say it's inconsequential: the murderer's escape in the rain, filmed overhead with his path traceable by umbrellas as they're bumped, and the climactic plane crash, filmed entirely inside the vessel, are canonical Hitch moments. But the tone is the thing, and the tone is humorous, the action carried by a game ensemble cast. The obvious MVP is George Sanders, as Scott ffolliott (On the odd lower-capitalization of his surname: 'One of my ancestors was beheaded by Henry VIII. His wife dropped the capital letter to commemorate it.'). Edmund Gwenn, eventually from 'The Trouble With Harry,' ekes out a great stretch for himself as a very Edmund Gwenn-y assassin who meets a witty end. But even Joel McCrea's usual stolidity is played for laughs, and the film gains much from being one of the rare Hitches that follows a group rather than merely one or two (or three) brave innocents in over their heads. It looks backwards to the lighter, funnier work Htichcock had left behind and forward to the heavier, even more masterful classics that lay ahead."

Kristy PuchkoCinema Blend:

"'Rope.' It's my favorite, but it's frequently written off as 'the long take one.' Yes, it's the one where Hitchcock attempted to shoot the film in 10 minute takes instead of typical coverage. Yes, this results in some clunky and noticeable transitions. But there's so much more to 'Rope!' It's disturbing and suspenseful with a demented sense of humor, and it's all about repressed sexual yearning and how that twists into something terrible, something dangerous, something deadly! Hitchcock was setting up the psychology of slasher films long before 'Psycho,' yet 'Rope' gets the short end of the... you get it."

Katey RichCinema Blend:

"I really like the tight, self-contained mysteries Hitchcock was making in the '40s, which I think get forgotten because they're not as psychologically heavy-duty as what came after. My favorite among them is probably 'Shadow of a Doubt,' partly because Teresa Wright is so great, and partly because it's got that great claustrophobic small town thing going, something Hitchcock did so well and which gets overlooked for some reason. And as you prepare to hang out with all your distant relatives over Thanksgiving, watching 'Shadow of a Doubt' may make you rethink that uncle you adore."

Andrew RobinsongmanReviews:

"I'm not quite sure if I can call it underrated as opposed to less touted as I want to throw my hat in for the almost single take extraordinaire that is 'Rope.' While the illusion is lost on the trained eye Hitchcock does well to try and disguise his cuts between these very long takes as we watch the progression of a dinner party and their discussion of a superior being who has the ability, power and right to decide who deserves life. Filled with brilliant monologues and tension beyond belief I feel sometimes it's skirted beneath a lot of the more famed features from the man behind the camera."

Michael SicinskiCinema Scope:

"Hands down, 'Rope.' It's too often dismissed as a failed experiment. However, it's as close as Hitchcock ever came to a purely avant-garde film. The technique is so distracting that it becomes impossible to lose yourself in the story, regardless of how compelling it may be. Given the fact that, at the time of its release in 1948, the Leopold and Loeb murders had happened 25 years ago, Hitchcock understood that the original 'crime of the century' was still in the living memory of most adults, but had faded into the distant enough past to allow for the requisite play and flexibility, without the specter of fidelity or 'good taste' hobbling the proceedings. This double-consciousness is at work in the film's formalist trickery as well. The mind is forced, rather uncomfortably, to process information on two rather cacophonous cognitive tracks. And, if we want to take the reading of 'Rope' even further, into the realm of the deliciously absurd, Hitchcock's hubris in trying to make the long, serpentine film without a single cut is on par, in its way, to the pseudo-Nietzschean criminal arrogance of Leopold and Loeb themselves. (Like the killers, Hitch didn't get away with it either.)"

Josh SpiegelMousterpiece Cinema/Sound on Sight:

"I hesitate to give an answer here, only because I’m not sure how many of Hitchcock’s films I’d classify as truly underrated. Even movies that don’t have a scene as iconic as the shower sequence in 'Psycho,' such as 'Rope' or 'Lifeboat,' are memorable for obvious technical and stylistic reasons. (And, though it may make me seem like sheep, I’m with the consensus on Hitchcock’s late-period movies like 'Family Plot' not being all that special.) So for all I know, this answer is only unique because readers will think I’m nuts for categorizing it as underseen. But here goes: 'Notorious.' There are days when I’m tempted to say this is Hitchcock’s best film, a taut thriller with a twisted ménage a trois of sorts at its core. Perhaps its sexual politics aren’t as disturbing as what goes on in 'Vertigo,' but the relationship between the characters played by Cary Grant (whose natural charisma is transformed here into something truly nefarious), Ingrid Bergman, and Claude Rains is damn close. And 'Notorious' is a pitch-perfect example of a movie knowing exactly when and how to end. Its last line -- 'Alex, will you come in, please? I wish to talk to you.' -- is a knockout."

Andreas StoehrPussy Goes Grrr:

"The mid-'50s saw the release of perhaps Hitchcock's two most beloved films, 'Rear Window' and 'Vertigo,' which might explain why 'The Wrong Man' tends to slip through the cracks. Pulled straight from the headlines, it's a step-by-step depiction of the justice system as a waking nightmare, a tightening and intractable vise. And since it's a Hitchcock movie, 'The Wrong Man' throbs with guilt, sardonic humor, and a jazzy Bernard Herrmann score. All this, and Henry Fonda too! (Runner-up: 'Lifeboat,' for Tallulah.)"

Luke Y. Thompson, Nerdist:

"Is Hitchcock ever underrated? I find people bring out the metaphorically long knives if ever a bad word is said about his output."

Anne-Katrin TitzeEye For Film:

"'Torn Curtain,' fiery and cold, right after his masterpiece 'Marnie,' holds up as an enigma. It seems as though Hitchcock wanted to explore the nature of contradictions on every level of filmmaking by making a spy thriller as anti-Bond as possible. The haunting colors are bright red and dull brown. The couple is the result of truly inspired casting: Paul Newman and Julie Andrews strike us as a chemical experiment by one of the East German scientists behind the iron curtain. Fire starts the movie, yet the heating system of the M/S Meteor, the ship where we first encounter Michael Armstrong and his fiancée under a blanket, is broken. Hitchcock's cameo brilliantly hooks 'Torn Curtain' to Prometheus and Freud -- the baby on the director's lap will have to learn to control himself."

Andrew WelchAdventures in Cinema:

"I would choose 'Frenzy,' though it may not be as underrated as I imagine it to be. Still, you don't often hear it mentioned in the same breath as 'Psycho,' 'Vertigo,' or 'North by Northwest.' I don't remember there being anything extraordinary about the performances or the plot as such, but it has some nicely photographed sequences -- ones that feel like they were made with the same technical sense of daring that fueled 'Rope,' another underrated picture."

Chase WhaleNext Movie/Twitch/Film.com:

"I haven't seen all of Hitchcock's films, so I'm disqualified from this survey question. However, I feel a lot his pre-'Vertigo' works don't get as much love as they should -- 'Shadow of a Doubt' and 'Rope' are two great examples."

Stephen WhittyThe Star-Ledger:

"There are plenty of films -- particularly the British talkies -- that aren't as well-known as they should be, but I wouldn't call them underrated; nobody who's finally gotten the chance to see 'Sabotage' would ever think it's anything less than assured. But I'm sentimentally fond of his last film, 'Family Plot.' I'm probably alone in that, too; it looks a bit cheap, and it's more whimsical than we're used to from him. But for me the lightness is part of its charm. And I love the audacity of the way he handles the narrative, arbitrarily (or so it seems, at first) switching between the two stories. So many years after 'Psycho' and he still enjoys pulling the rug out from under us (and, with the final shot, acknowledging his own tricks with a literal wink)."

Alan ZilbermanBrightest Young Things/Tiny Mix Tapes:

"The most underrated Hitchcock film is 'The Trouble with Harry.' People tend to forget the Master of Suspense also loved gallows humor, and this one is a terrific black comedy."

The Best Movie Currently In Theaters on November 19, 2012:
 

The Most Popular Response: "The Master"
Other Movies Receiving Multiple Votes: "Lincoln," "Anna Karenina," "The Comedy," "Silver Linings Playbook," "Holy Motors," "The Loneliest Planet," "Skyfall."

This article is related to: Criticwire Survey, Alfred Hitchcock


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