Alfred Hitchcock recommendations

I have a small gaggle of 13 year old girls who have announced the need to watch an Alfred Hitchcock movie after their final Trick or Treat expedition tonight.

They are smart, but have already been exposed to far too much TV-14 LSV-The Birds and Psycho are out.

Limiting to the 40s and 50s work (I don’t think I can get 39 Steps on short notice)
what would you recommend for this group–Looking for a plot they can figure out themselves while simultaneously recognizing they are looking at a genius at work.

Your thoughts and why?

My personal favorite of Hitchcock, and (I think) the most successful of his masterpieces, is Rear Window. Aside from all of the thematic layers of the film (although ostensibly a murder mystery, it is actually about the relationship difficulties between the two leads, with the neighbors seen through the “rear window” and across the courtyard playing out different parts of their fears and neuroses) it is just a damned entertaining film, and Hitchcock gets a long run with tantalizing the viewer with the idea of a vicious murder and hideous dismemberment and disposal without actually showing a single drop of blood. The closest the film gets is nurse Thelma Ritter’s clinical commentary. (“Must have splattered a lot,” she says while watching the purported murderer sponging the bathroom walls.)

My second recommendation, and perhaps one more suited to 13 year old girls, is The Trouble With Harry, about a corpse found in the woods whom everybody is certain that they are responsible of either causing or concealing. In the best tradition of film noir combined with morgue humor, the plot is just one step ahead of the characters, and the body keeps disappearing and reappearing in the most inconvenient place and time. Not necessarily one of Hitchcock’s greatest films in terms of thematic depth, but terribly enjoyable to watch. The adults may want to follow it up with the French film, Harry un ami qui vous veut du bien (Harry, He’s Here to Help, or as it was marketed in the US, With a Friend Like Harry…), but that’s probably a bit much for pre-teen girls.

Good luck to you.


Oh man. young girls and a 40s Hitchcock movie? You gotta go with “Shadow of a Doubt.” A teen girl meets the uncle she was named for and boy is he creepy. Played by Joseph Cotton. Great film all around.

from wikipedia:
Shadow of a Doubt was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing, Original Story, Gordon McDonell. In 1991, this film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. In his book Bambi vs. Godzilla, David Mamet calls it Hitchcock’s finest film. Hitchcock sometimes told interviewers that the film was his personal favorite among his American films.

Oh, that’s a good one, too. I’d forgotten about that.


Partly depends on what you’re looking for, and partly depends on the kids (are they OK with black and white?) TROUBLE WITH HARRY is basically funny, not much in the way of “scare” or even suspense. SHADOW OF A DOUBT is great suspense build-up, no actual on-screen violence (well, not to speak of.) REAR WINDOW is my personal favorite, mostly murder mystery with disturbing undertones.

Alternately, STRANGERS ON A TRAIN might work, but can come across as a trifle dated to kids not sensitive to movie-making styles, acting styles, etc. Not quite as good, but probably great for early teens, might be his last film, FAMILY PLOT. They won’t necessarily emerge thinking taht they’ve seen a great director at work, but it’s thoroughly enjoyable.

Then there’s NORTH BY NORTHWEST – not Halloweeny, but the greatest spy/chase film of all time.

My vote is for Notorious- although it’s not as scary/creepy as other works. But it’s a bit romantic and the plot is easy to follow. It might not be scary enough for Halloween but it’s my favorite. I watched for the first time when I was 18, but pretty sure I would have loved it when I was much younger.

Love all of these, but for a gaggle of 13 year old girls I’d choose Rear Window–Grace Kelley is so totally audacious and beautiful in this movie. I don’t think I actually saw it until I was a college student but it’s hard not to image GK’s character winning over teenagers.

I’d endorse the suggestion of The Trouble With Harry. Macabre and fun at the same time. And Shirly MacLaine is cute as a pixie in it.

Oh lord, I’d forgotten Uncle Charlie. That’s definitely a great movie, but is it too slow for 13 yo girls?

Rear Window is wonderful - and appropriately creepy for Halloween.

To Catch a Thief would be a good follow-up. Not at all creepy, but a nice rom-com for your girls.

speaking as a female, I would pick:

Rear Window - Grace Kelly as a serious babe who has a REAL JOB, and isnt just fluff. No gore, all thrills are psychological.

The Trouble With Harry - great fun … one of my favorite. Theoretically a bit dated, but still I love it.

Shadow of a Doubt - a seriously good thriller. Charlie is played as a normal intelligent girl, again not arm candy or fluff. Uncle Charlie takes her very seriously as an opponent.

Strongly agree. One of Hitchcock’s funniest. Plus it’s very Halloweeny. Well, autumnal at least: there are brightly colored fall leaves in every shot, even in interiors, where they’re either in a window or in a vase. A symbol of death to be sure, but also an image of a that last blast of color; a denial of death. Plus, you know, pretty.

But yeah, Shirley McLaine’s first movie, and she’s darling. And it’s a hoot from beginning to end.

Rear Window is an absolute classic that everyone needs to watch at some point. Might as well be now. All the others mentioned are great, but if some of the girls go their whole entire lives never seeing another AH movie, at least they will have seen Rear Window, and will get all the references that are made about it.

And besides, they’ll see what the big deal was about Grace Kelly. That alone makes it worth introducing into their lives.

My personal favorite is *Rebecca, *and I think the girls would love it. I’ve always thought *The Trouble with Harry *was rather stupid, but they might think otherwise.

Oh I forgot about Rebecca- I would think that would be perfect!

REBECCA may be hard for teen agers to get into, and NOTORIOUS ditto. I love both, but I think they require a fairly sophisticated palate to enjoy; both are slow-moving by today’s standards.

Let us know what you chose!

No mention of Vertigo yet?

Vertigo? to entertain 13yrold girls? The thread is not “greatest Hitchcock movie.” It’s “how to entertain Twilight fans.”

Probably his least accessible work, and not one that 13 year old girls could possibly appreciate. It is a masterpiece, mind you–maybe his second or third best film–but it is really a struggle to get into, and the odd structure and pacing are intentional but distracting on a first time viewing.


I agree, it took me two or three times through it to really get the movie.

Definitely go for one of the other mentioned ones … and Rear Window is still one I will always watch when it comes on! [especially a no commercial movie channel]