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The 11 best Alfred Hitchcock movies and where to watch them

All the best masterpieces from the illustrious career of the Master of Suspense.

Best Hitchcock films

There can be no doubting that Alfred Hitchcock remains one of the most enduring filmmakers of all time, with many of the techniques he pioneered continuing to have a clear impact on film and TV.

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Hitchcock, who died aged 80 in 1980, was responsible for some of the finest films of the Hollywood Golden Era after first having established himself in the UK, and many of those films remain just as effective today as when they were first screened.

Of course, given the Master of Suspense directed more than 50 feature films throughout his illustrious career, any list of favourites would be incomplete – but we’ve picked out 11 works that serve as a neat summary of the best of the best of his filmography.

These are our best Hitchcock films to enjoy now – and where you can watch them.

The 39 Steps (1935)

The 39 Steps
Gaumont British Distributors

Hitchcock had already made several films by 1935, but this is arguably his first bonafide classic. Based on John Buchan’s novel of the same name, the film follows a Canadian visitor to London who unwittingly gets drawn into an espionage plot and is forced to head to Scotland in the process. With great chemistry between the two leads Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll and some standout set pieces, it’s easy to spot several of the themes that would continue to play a key role in Hithcock’s work for the next three decades. The film has been remade several times since – with a new TV version starring Benedict Cumberbatch on the way – but Hitchcock’s version hasn’t yet been topped.

Where to watch: On BBC iPlayer until 21st March and free with a subscription on Amazon Prime Video.

The Lady Vanishes (1938)

Lady Vanishes

This has often been regarded as the best of Hitchcock’s pre-American films, with the mixture of British humour and classic Hitchcockian suspense making for a movie that is equal parts comedy and thriller. It centres on a train passenger who strikes up a conversation with an elderly lady during a delay to their service, only for her to seemingly disappear when the train is back in motion. Several of the remaining passengers – including more than a couple of eccentric characters – team up to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Where to watch: On BBC iPlayer until 22nd March, and free with a subscription on Amazon Prime Video.

Rebecca (1940)

Rebecca

When promoting his recent adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s book for Netflix, director Ben Wheatley went to great lengths to point out that the film was not a remake of the Hitchcock version. It’s easy to see why he would want to avoid comparisons – this 1940 classic, Hitchock’s first American film, is a near-perfect adaptation of the great gothic novel, with superb turns from Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine in the lead roles. Surprisingly, it’s also the only Hitchcock film to have won Best Picture at the Oscars – seeing off competition from classics such as The Philadelphia Story and The Grapes of Wrath.

Where to watch: Unfortunately, the film is currently not available on any streaming platforms but you can buy it on DVD from Amazon.

Suspicion (1941)

Suspicion

A slightly less acclaimed entry in Hitchock’s filmography, perhaps, but this thriller is notable for being the first time the director worked with Hollywood icon Cary Grant – who would go on to appear in some of his best-known works such as Notorious and North By Northwest. Grant stars opposite Joan Fontaine, who plays a timid woman who becomes terrified that the roguish man she has recently married is plotting to kill her – fears which are exacerbated when his business partner dies under mysterious circumstances.

Where to watch: Available on BBC iPlayer.

Notorious (1946)

Notorious

The second collaboration between Hitchcock and Cary Grant is arguably the most romantic of the director’s films – but thankfully none of the usual suspense is sacrificed in the process. Grant, starring as an undercover agent, is joined in the cast by fellow Golden Age superstar Ingrid Bergman, who plays the socialite daughter of a convicted German war criminal, tasked with infiltrating a group of Nazi collaborators in Brazil. This is pure Hollywood magic and easily one of Hitchock’s best.

Where to watch: Unfortunately, the film is currently not available on any streaming platforms but you can buy a DVD from Amazon.

Strangers on a Train (1951)

Strangers on a Train

If Hitchcock is the Master of Suspense on screen, Patricia Highsmith has more than a claim to being the literary equivalent, and so this adaptation of her debut novel – with a screenplay written by Raymond Chandler, no less – was always going to be a triumph. The plot concerns a chance meeting between a charming psychopath and a tennis professional aboard a train, with the former proposing a deal: that they each commit a murder on the other’s behalf. The tennis player agrees, thinking his new acquaintance can’t actually be serious, but soon finds himself desperately having to prove his innocence. Full of his trademark suspense, it features some of Hitchock’s best set pieces – most notably a thrilling scene at a fairground towards the film’s conclusion.

Where to watch: The film is available to rent for £3.49 from a number of VOD services, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV and Google Play.

Rear Window (1954)

Rear Window

It’s hard to think of a more perfectly constructed thriller than this masterpiece – the second of four collaborations between Hitchock and James Stewart. Pretty much the entire film is set in one room, where Stewart’s photojournalist is recuperating from an injury, but the action all plays out through his window as the character voyeuristically watches his various neighbours. When he becomes convinced one of those neighbours has murdered his bed-ridden wife, he desperately tries to prove this theory to his high society girlfriend (Grace Kelly), visiting nurse Stella and his detective friend Doyle, but finds it difficult to persuade them.

Where to watch: The film is available to rent for £2.49 from a number of VOD services, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV and Google Play.

Vertigo (1958)

Vertigo

This film famously knocked Citizen Kane off the top spot in Sight and Sound’s critics poll for the best film of all time in 2012, and it’s not difficult to see why. This is a practically perfect noir with a faultless script and two tremendous lead performances. James Stewart stars as recently retired detective John “Scottie” Ferguson, who is called on by a friend to track his suicidal wife Judy, played by Kim Novak. Scottie soon finds himself falling desperately in love with Judy from a distance, but he fails to prevent her from tragically ending her life. Not all is what it seems, though, and months later Scottie spots a woman who looks identical to the apparently late Judy, drawing him into a complex mystery that threatens to tear him apart.

Where to watch: The film is available to watch for free with a NOW TV or Sky Go subscription, and available to rent for £2.49 from a number of VOD services, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV and Google Play.

North by Northwest (1959)

North by Northwest

Hitchcock reteamed with Cary Grant for this superb espionage thriller, which – not unlike The 39 Steps – sees an innocent man accidentally pulled into a dangerous plot. That innocent man is Roger Thornhill, an unassuming advertising executive who is mistaken for an American intelligence agent and finds himself being pursued by foreign spies. Complete with buckets of tension, a helping of wicked humour, and two incredibly memorable set pieces – one featuring a rouge airplane and the other an irresistible climax at Mount Rushmore– this is another unquestionable masterpiece from Hitchcock.

Where to watch: The film is available to rent for £3.49 from a number of VOD services, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV and Google Play.

Psycho (1960)

Psycho

This is arguably the most iconic of all Hitchcock’s films and features perhaps his most famous moment: the shocking shower scene. Essentially a slasher film before the slasher genre even existed, Psycho revolves around Marion Crane, a woman on the run who seeks refuge at the seemingly unnoteworthy Bates Motel. She soon finds, however, that her stay has put her in more danger than ever – with the motel’s curious operator, Norman Bates emerging as a deeply untrustworthy fellow. Anthony Perkins is inch-perfect in his creepy portrayal of Bates, whose unconventional relationship with his mother is one of the film’s standout features.

Where to watch: The film is available to watch for free with a NOW TV or Sky Go subscription or with an Amazon Prime Video subscription. It is also available to rent for £2.49 from a number of VOD services, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV and Google Play.

The Birds (1963)

The Birds

Perhaps the last of Hitchock’s true masterpieces, this is another deeply unsettling gem from the Master of Suspense. It follows a San Francisco socialite (Tippi Hedren) who travels with her new boyfriend to the coastal town of Bodega Bay, expecting a relaxing getaway and a chance to bond with her man. The trip, however, doesn’t go according to plan as the town’s avian population soon cause havoc by carrying out seemingly orchestrated attacks on the residents. After watching this, you’ll never look at a flock of birds the same way again.

Where to watch: The film is available to watch for free with a NOW TV or Sky Go subscription, and available to rent for £2.49 from a number of VOD services, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV and Google Play.

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