I have no idea what the best Hitchcock is. I suspect it’s probably Shadow of a Doubt. It was his favourite, so you’d think he would know, and it’s got that glorious, time-freezing moment when Uncle Charlie turns to address you, mid-speech, eyes meeting across the ages and you feel somehow caught, somehow complicit – you feel the way, I gather, that Hitchcock felt his entire life.
Yes! Shadow of a Doubt is a banger and no mistaking, but my favourite? My own favourite Hitchcock – and I am not for a second trying to say it’s the best, whatever that would mean anyway – is Rope.
I first encountered Rope through Moviedrome, the single greatest programme about cinema there ever was. And Rope itself? Pure cinema, but also pure theatre, and pure craft. Rope is the tale of two college students who murder a friend and then serve dinner to his parents off a chest that holds the poor boy’s corpse. It’s based on a real crime, which made it controversial at the time of its release and still gives it a sickly kind of chill today.
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