Psycho was on AMC the other night and I caught it from the beginning for the first time in years. I can’t remember the last time I saw the scene of Vivien Leigh driving in the rainstorm before she ends up at the hotel and meets Norman Bates.
The whole opening 20 minutes has an almost surreal, off-kilter feel. It is definitely a classic for many reasons beyond just the shower scene, but also just one of many from Hitchcock’s oeuvre that continues to influence filmmakers today. If you are a fan of the genre and Psycho, Vertigo, or Rear Window are the only films of his that you know, you are missing out.
In addition to those well-known Alfred Hitchcock films, he has also directed several lesser-known thrillers that are worth mentioning. Some of these films may not have gained as much commercial success or critical acclaim as some of his more famous works, but they still showcase Hitchcock’s mastery of the thriller genre.
Here are five of my favorites:
- “Shadow of a Doubt” (1943): A psychological thriller about a young woman who becomes suspicious that her beloved uncle may be a notorious serial killer. “Shadow of a Doubt” is known for its dark and suspenseful atmosphere, and it explores themes of family, deception, and morality.
- “The Lady Vanishes” (1938): A mystery thriller set on a train traveling through Europe, where a young woman investigates the disappearance of an elderly passenger. “The Lady Vanishes” features Hitchcock’s signature blend of suspense, humor, and intrigue, and is often considered one of his best early British films.
- “Sabotage” (1936): A suspenseful thriller about a woman who discovers that her husband may be involved in a terrorist plot in London. “Sabotage” is known for its tense and atmospheric storytelling, and it includes a memorable sequence involving a time bomb.
- “Foreign Correspondent” (1940): A spy thriller about an American journalist who uncovers a conspiracy while covering the events leading up to World War II in Europe. “Foreign Correspondent” features Hitchcock’s trademark blend of action, intrigue, and wit, and it includes several memorable set pieces, such as a thrilling plane crash sequence.
- “Frenzy” (1972): A late-career film by Hitchcock, “Frenzy” is a British thriller about a man who becomes a prime suspect in a series of gruesome murders in London. Known for its dark and gritty tone, “Frenzy” is often regarded as one of Hitchcock’s more underrated films.
I probably could have made a top ten and kept going. These are just a few examples of Alfred Hitchcock’s lesser-known thriller films, and while they may not be as widely recognized as some of his more famous works, they still showcase his unique style, storytelling prowess, and ability to create suspenseful and engaging films. If you are a fan of the thriller genre, you owe it to yourself to check them out. Better yet, visit the library and literally check them out. Maybe try a book or two, as well.