Alfred Hitchcock, Top Ten

Alfred Hitchcock: The Definitive Ranking

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A top 53. Not even close to a Top 10.

Hitchcock’s career as director spanned 51 years and saw the advent of sound, the profusion of color cinematography, the adoption of widescreen aspect ratios to combat television, and the beginnings of the fall of the studio system.

He started as a contract director with British International Pictures when the medium was still in its infancy and grew to such an assured hand on his own that he was able to move to Hollywood where he became an icon. With so many movies, and, in particular, so many movies of quality, this was a hard list to create. But those listicle gods must be appeased with sacrifices.

So here it is, the complete list of every surviving feature film by Alfred Hitchcock ranked from best to worst. Click on the links below to see the full reviews, and make sure to check out my other (shorter) definitive rankings.

Amazon.com: The Pleasure Garden Poster Movie 11x17 Virginia Valli ...

  1. The Pleasure Garden

“Without the Alfred Hitchcock connection, this 1925 silent film is an unfocused and rather stilted melodrama that plays with little success. With the Alfred Hitchcock connection it is still all of those things, but it is also the very first film by one of cinema’s great masters of suspense.”

File:Juno and the Paycock Movie Poster.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

  1. Juno and the Paycock

“This has to be Hitchcock’s least cinematic film he ever made. It’s a filmed play with almost nothing cinematic to add to the mix. It’s a miscalculation of the early sound era that equated theater and film because they shared a lot of the same parts. There are actors, sets, lights, and dialogue, and yet the mediums are actually really different because of the camera and the edit inherent in film.”

Amazon.com: Topaz POSTER Movie (27 x 40 Inches - 69cm x 102cm ...

  1. Topaz

“It’s an overlong, uninvolving mess of a film. It’s several stories that happen to involve some of the same characters squished together. It’s a drag, but at least it looks pretty good.”

Amazon.com: The Paradine Case Us Poster Art (Top) Gregory Peck Ann ...

  1. The Paradine Case

“It’s not a good film, though it’s reasonably well made and well acted. There’s no flash of style to it, just a rather handsome looking movie with very curious choices that color everything about it. It makes me glad that Hitchcock left Selznick behind.”

Champagne (1928) - IMDb

  1. Champagne

“This is an odd little movie that wants to be a comedy but takes its main character to a very, very dark place and doesn’t seem to realize it. The comedic bits are broad, but they’re surprisingly far apart. It’s a weird little movie.”

The Ring (1927) - IMDb

  1. The Ring

“Still, the movie’s largely kind of dull. There’s a lot of wide shots of people walking around. It’s not as dynamically filmed as The Lodger overall, and the central love triangle feels really tame and overblown at the same time. It’s an interesting curio from early in Hitchcock’s career, and little else.”

Amazon.com: GREATBIGCANVAS Spellbound - Vintage Movie Poster ...

  1. Spellbound

“I find it plodding and unconvincing for very long stretches with its much ballyhooed dream sequence to be too short to really stand out. It contains all of the elements of a Hitchcock thriller, but everything just feels off. I keep wanting to like it more than I do, but I just can’t do it.”

Secret Agent (1936) - IMDb

  1. Secret Agent

“It’s a mixed bag. There’s some basically entertaining stuff, mostly deriving from Peter Lorre and the chase sequences, but the mix of genres doesn’t work and Elsa is not really a good character.”

Mary (1931) - IMDb

  1. Mary

“I would imagine my complaints of the story’s structure and dialogue would still hold water, but I can’t say for sure. I imagine that with subtitles I would have probably scored this the same as the original version.”

Amazon.com: Murder! (Special Edition): Herbert Marshall, Norah ...

  1. Murder!

“The movie is overall pretty visually inventive, the problem is the plodding nature of the investigation itself. It takes forever to get to a point that it should have reached at the fifteen minute mark at the latest. What buoys the movie is really that visual inventiveness, especially when combined with the use of sound, and the rather effective ending to the film. As a showcase for Hitchcock’s directing ability, it’s a bit of a showcase. As an example of his grasp of story structure, it feels limited.”

Amazon.com: Waltzes From Vienna (Aka Le Chant Du Danube) Esmond ...

  1. Waltzes from Vienna

“So, it’s not that successful dramatically and not that successful comedically, but it’s light (have I used that word enough in this review yet?) and a quick 75 minutes. It’s at its best, though, when music is center stage, in particular the premiere ‘Blue Danube’.”

Number 17 (1932) - IMDb

  1. Number 17

“As a technical exercise, this is Hitchcock being playful, macabre, and fun all at once. It feels like a precursor to North by Northwest. The central problem is that there are simply too many characters floating around and no time to get to know them. If there was at least 20-30 minutes more and perhaps one less character, there could have been enough time to sort out who was who, who they said they were, and who they actually were. As it is, I got lost then was just happy that I stuck through it for the fun ending.”

East of Shanghai (1931) - Photo Gallery - IMDb

  1. Rich and Strange

“Overall, it’s a fine little film that undermines itself from time to time with forced comedy and bookends that don’t feel quite right. There’s something there, but Hitchcock’s not quite where he needs to be just yet.”

The Manxman (1929)

  1. The Manxman

“It’s an example of how adaptations go wrong, making sure to get in all the good bits without working to make the connections between the goods bits just as good. The movie is less about being a story unto itself and more about being subservient to the novel on which it is based. Hitchcock’s last silent film is another stumble that misses the mark”

Easy Virtue (1927)

  1. Easy Virtue

“Its first twenty minutes is fantastic, the bulk of the rest of it is fine, and the finale is curious. It’s not bad, showing off Hitchcock’s growing sense of editorial flare, but I just don’t think it quite connects as well as some of his other silent.”

Amazon.com: I Confess POSTER (11" x 17"): Posters & Prints

  1. I Confess

“My central problem though is that the movie is a character drama, and Hitchcock didn’t approach it that way. There’s not much in the movie that lends itself to the thriller genre, and Hitchcock didn’t film and edit the material in a way more conducive to what is actually playing out on screen. This needed someone more like David Lean at the helm. Hitchcock was the best at what he did, but this wasn’t it.”

Amazon.com: Marnie Movie Poster or Canvas: Posters & Prints

  1. Marnie

Marnie was almost a late career success, but it just decided to take the easy way out, giving its central character too pat an ending. Still, it’s handsome and well-acted, so it’s far from a total loss.”

Blackmail (1929)

  1. Blackmail

“Individual sequences work quite well, especially the chase through the British Museum, and there’s one really good example of early sound design, but I think the movie hasn’t quite thought through its own story and most of the sound work is really boring.”

Amazon.com: Mr. & Mrs. Smith: Carole Lombard, Robert Montgomery ...

  1. Mr. and Mrs. Smith

“So, it’s a minor work and the rare piece from Hitchcock in Hollywood where he was literally just a hired hand. It’s almost a throwback to his earliest days at British International Pictures (reminding me a bit of The Farmer’s Wife). It’s breezily entertaining and amusing, which is just fine with me.”

CUT 140 JAMAICA INN 1939 DANISH POSTER - RARE ALFRED HITCHCOCK W ...

  1. Jamaica Inn

“It’s far from a great film, but I do think there’s enough that goes right in the film that it comes together as a rather entertaining little movie.”

Amazon.com: Sabotage Movie Poster or Canvas: Posters & Prints

  1. Sabotage

“It’s good, but it could have been one of Hitchcock’s great British films. I’ll take it, though.”

Amazon.com: Young and Innocent POSTER Movie (27 x 40 Inches - 69cm ...

  1. Young and Innocent

“It’s a nice little diversion of a film, never taking itself or its own mystery too seriously, and almost feeling like a comfortable drive through the English countryside with a pair of nice people who bicker here and there. It’s far from Hitchcock’s finest work, but it’s also far from his worst.”

Amazon.com: Foreign Correspondent POSTER (27" x 40"): Posters & Prints

  1. Foreign Correspondent

“On the whole, this is an entertaining globe trotting adventure with a winning pair of leads, however I do have some issues that feel like would have been easy enough to fix and drag the film down a bit.”

Amazon.com: Stage Fright POSTER Movie (27 x 40 Inches - 69cm x ...

  1. Stage Fright

“I really did like this movie, even though, though my own fault, I had to work a little bit harder to appreciate it.”

Amazon.com: Family Plot POSTER (27" x 40"): Posters & Prints

  1. Family Plot

Family Plot is a fun, winking way for Hitchcock to leave the cinematic stage. It may not be his Ran, but it shows that the man was still adept enough to put together an entertaining film that never quite takes itself very seriously.”

Amazon.com: Torn Curtain Movie Poster (27 x 40 Inches - 69cm x ...

  1. Torn Curtain

“It’s not great Hitchcock, but it’s got some great stuff in it. The murder in the farmhouse, the reveal of the MacGuffin, and the Polish countess are all worth the price of admission.”

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) Original Movie Poster at Amazon's ...

  1. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

“Perhaps a bit too long and not as well built as it could have been, it’s still a fun time anchored by a pair of very good performances with a great climactic sequence at the Albert Hall.”

The Skin Game (1931)

  1. The Skin Game

“Hitchcock has a very good cast, uses his camera and the tools of editing to create a film that feels like more than just a filmed play. It also continues a series of films he had made about young men and women paying for the sins of their past, a theme that is surprisingly strong especially considering the nature of Hitchcock’s contract work. It’s a good film filled with strong performances. I do not understand the dismissal so many have towards it.”

Amazon.com: Lifeboat POSTER Movie (27 x 40 Inches - 69cm x 102cm ...

  1. Lifeboat

“That being said, the fact that the movie is able to remain interesting from beginning to end despite its small cast and tight location is evidence of Hitchcock’s talent. It’s a quality little entertainment that also happens to be a narrative and cinematic experiment.”

Amazon.com: Frenzy POSTER Movie (27 x 40 Inches - 69cm x 102cm ...

  1. Frenzy

“It’s a gripping little murder thriller set in Alfred Hitchcock’s old stomping grounds with some wonderful sequences. It seems to have been a bit overpraised contemporaneously, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that it’s still a solidly good film.”

Amazon.com: Posterazzi Rope Us Art From Top: Director Alfred ...

  1. Rope

“The most obvious example of Hitchcock’s experimental streak, Rope is the counterexample to his first full sound feature, Juno and the Paycock. Both were adaptations of plays, but the first film was boringly filmed with no cinematic touches while the later film is truly a cinematic experiment, offering a roving camera that highlights different elements of the scene in an effort to replicate the function of editing.”

The Farmer's Wife (1928)

  1. The Farmer’s Wife

“Still, it’s airy, light, and fun. A delightful little romantic comedy that attacks the viewer with several different types of comedy well. It’s a fun diversion and another small victory for Hitchcock early in his burgeoning career.”

Amazon.com: The Lady Vanishes POSTER Movie (27 x 40 Inches - 69cm ...

  1. The Lady Vanishes

“It’s well-built and a good ride through Europe. I enjoy it every time I watch it.”

When Boys Leave Home (1927) - IMDb

  1. Downhill

“As a showcase for Hitchcock’s emerging visual style, it’s a wonderful relic. As a drama, it sort of works, though it’s ending needed something more. The acting is really good, especially from Ivor Novello, the actor who plays Roddy. He sells the innocent determination and slow degradation of his character really well. It’s a good little example of Hitchcock learning his trade and producing quality content in the silent era.”

Amazon.com: The Lodger Movie Poster (27 x 40 Inches - 69cm x 102cm ...

  1. The Lodger

“Well acted, inventively filmed, and with very good art direction including a wonderful set for the house and great use of London in general, The Lodger represents an early success and an overall entertaining little movie from a future master of suspense.”

Amazon.com: Strangers on a Train Movie Poster (27 x 40 Inches ...

  1. Strangers on a Train

“It’s ironic, I think, that my biggest problems with the movie stem from one of its greatest strengths. Bruno is a great character, but in order for him to actually move the plot forward or even get it going, those around him have to behave in ways that don’t seem quite right. Still, it’s a solid thriller outside of those moments, and one that I really do enjoy.”

Amazon.com: Saboteur Movie Poster Fridge Magnet: Kitchen & Dining

  1. Saboteur

“Overall, it’s a fine adventure with a good enough lead, bogged down by some contemporary moralizing about a timely issue that doesn’t translate into drama as well as it could. It’s a fun time, a minor work from a director capable of much more.”

To Catch a Thief Original Movie Poster. 1955. Linen Backed at ...

  1. To Catch a Thief

“This is such an effortlessly charming film and an obvious excuse for Hitchcock to hang out with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in the south of France for a couple of months. It’s not challenging, but it’s intelligently built and lightly fun.”

The Trouble with Harry (1955) - IMDb

  1. The Trouble with Harry

“While I can understand why many modern audiences wouldn’t share my enthusiasm for The Trouble with Harry considering its slow pace and gentle sense of humor, I find the combination rather infectious. It’s a delightful movie that straddles a combination of tones rather deftly.”

Amazon.com: Posterazzi EVCMMDDIMMEC003 Dial M For Murder Movie ...

  1. Dial M for Murder

“It’s a highly entertaining mystery that moves through its twists deftly and with charm. It’s not Hitchcock’s best, but, if he was as disengaged as the stories say, then it’s probably his best work when he didn’t care.”

Amazon.com: The Birds (1963) Movie Poster 24"x36" These are ...

  1. The Birds

The Birds is far better than it really deserves to be. It thins as it goes along, but tension becomes the overriding factor and just dominates every moment. It’s a fun, tense movie that leaves you with a sense of dread at its ending.”

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) - IMDb

  1. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

“Barring a couple of small flaws, this is Hitchcock’s best movie up to this point in his career. It’s exciting and fun, filled with wonderful little human moments (my favorite being a police officer sneaking a sweet from a shop at the start of the shootout), and really well built. This Hitchcock character may have a future in the movies.”

Suspicion (1941) - IMDb

  1. Suspicion

“In the end, though, the movie’s an intricately built, really well realized story of, well, suspicion. It’s exceedingly well acted, especially by Grant, and includes Hitchcock’s only Oscar winning role for an actor in Joan Fontaine’s performance as Lina. There’s tension that steadily builds over the entire film from beginning to end.”

Under Capricorn (1949) - IMDb

  1. Under Capricorn

“I ended up loving this film. The stakes are small, but well-defined. The characters feel alive and imbued with all their own unique motives and personalities. The camera work is great and really does help define the drama. It’s evidence of Hitchcock’s long history of working as a contract director, able to move from project to project regardless of the type of story, and telling it well.”

Henry Fonda and Vera Miles in The Wrong Man (1956)

  1. The Wrong Man

The Wrong Man is a different film for Hitchcock, embracing certain aesthetics and narrative conventions that he hadn’t touched before while embracing a burgeoning set of cinematic techniques originating from France and Italy (as opposed to the early German influences on his visual style). It’s a great film.”

Amazon.com: Rear Window (1954) Movie Poster 24"x36": Posters & Prints

  1. Rear Window

“This really is one of Hitchcock’s best films. Its mechanics are hidden really well beneath wonderful, living characters, and the tension just builds from beginning to end.”

Amazon.com: Pop Culture Graphics Rebecca 11x17 Movie Poster (1940 ...

  1. Rebecca

“This is a sort of greatness that Hitchcock, up to this point, hadn’t really been working towards.”

Amazon.com: American Gift Services - North by Northwest Vintage ...

  1. North by Northwest

“The production is completely first rate with huge sets, wonderful uses of matte paintings, and a great array of locations. The music by Bernard Hermann is propulsive and energetic, helping to push along the narrative. It’s bright and colorful and the most purely fun movie Hitchcock had made since The 39 Steps.”

Amazon.com: The 39 Steps Movie Poster (27 x 40 Inches - 69cm x ...

  1. The 39 Steps

“The whole experience is a wonderful adventure, well told, and with a winning pair of central characters to carry the audience through with. It’s easily Hitchcock’s best movie up to this point, where the technical and narrative elements came together and meshed perfectly. It’s a great time at the movies.”

Amazon.com: Psycho - 11x17 Framed Movie Poster by Wallspace ...

  1. Psycho

“It’s Hitchcock playing with the audience, twisting the knife into them about expectations, emotional investment, and denouements. He’s playing the audience like a fiddle, and it works so incredibly well. It’s experimental, cruel, and wildly effective. For a movie that seems to rely so much on a twist, it holds up remarkably well because Hitchcock knew that it was more than just a twist. It was a story that needed fully fleshed out characters.”

Amazon.com: Pop Culture Graphics Shadow of a Doubt Poster Movie C ...

  1. Shadow of a Doubt

“There’s something extra sinister about this tale of lost innocence in a sleepy little California town. The dramatization and fictionalization of a real life killer takes what could have been completely standard tropes and twists them an extra degree or two by adding in an element of familial loyalty that makes the situation more than just another tale of grizzly murder.”

Vertigo (1958) Original Movie Poster at Amazon's Entertainment ...

  1. Vertigo

“It’s great to look at, it’s emotionally involving, and the mystery ends up playing second fiddle to the emotional arcs of the characters on multiple viewings. The movie actually gets better on rewatches because the characters are so well built that while Scottie is going through his end of the mystery that we already know, he’s not just following breadcrumbs. He’s building an ideal that carries him through the film to the end. Vertigo really is one of Hitchcock’s best films.”

Amazon.com: Posterazzi EVCMCDNOTOEC008 Notorious Movie Poster ...

  1. Notorious

“From beginning to end, this feels like Hitchcock at his most effortless and cynical at the same time. It’s a marvelous combination that turns a lot of things on their heads and creates a stately and remarkable achievement that balances a complex series of emotions while demonstrating incredible command of the craft of filmmaking. It’s an absolutely great film.”

 

27 thoughts on “Alfred Hitchcock: The Definitive Ranking”

  1. Um . . . the poster for THE LODGER is for the 1944 American remake, not Hitchcock’s 1926 original. But a good ranking, nonetheless.

    Like

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