Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hitchcock's Top 5 Underrated Leading Ladies.

How do you decide who the best leading ladies are in Hitchcock films? Do you go by the popularity of the film? Their beauty? Their talent? There have been many lists made like this, but how about we make one based on great performances in the lesser known Hitchcock's…

5. Margaret Lockwood in The Lady Vanishes

Perhaps this isn't a minor Hitchcock, but Lockwood's performance is the foundation for the entire film and she puts in a great showing, making it an entirely exciting experience. This film has now been done many times in many different ways, but I still love Lockwood's performance, thrilling as the confident fun-girl becomes the maddened panicked woman who really isn't sure if she’s going crazy or not. Plus, there is something so exciting about an entire train full of people accidentally conspiring to drive a woman crazy.

4. Tippi Hedren in Marnie

I’ve added this in because Marnie is usually considered a lesser Hitchcock merely because it was so misunderstood for so long. Again, Hitchcock bases the entire film on a woman’s performance as someone on the brink of insanity and the much maligned at the time Tippi Hedren turns out to be way ahead of her time. Marnie is not only very romantic, but it stars a young Sean Connery as the male lead when he was only famous for being James Bond. Hitchcock, typically ahead of his time, pits Connery against Hedren and gives Hedren most of the power, so Tippi’s performance looks, at many different points, as though she is out witting James Bond. It’s a powerhouse performance.

3. Joan Chandler in Rope

Joan as Janet Walker starts out as the gentle woman in love, but it all starts to crumble when she is unwittingly one of the chess pieces in the game of life played by the psychopathic Brendan and his follower Phillip. As the deadly practical joke plays out, it is Janet Walker who first realizes the men are up to something and Janet Walker who first notices David is missing. Where Joan Chandler was sweet and blissfully in love, she is at first crushing with her biting wit, and then slowly deeply troubled as she can sense something terrible has happened to David. Joan plays Janet Walker as a bright sophisticated women, decades ahead of her time.

2. Maureen O’Hara in Jamaica Inn

It’s difficult to know just how Hitchcock could get Jamaica Inn so very wrong, but there is just one thing in the film he gets right. Maureen O’Hara is a great May Yellen, and even with Hitchcock giving her a terrible supporting cast and mysteriously cutting the character of Jem out of the film  - why did he do that? Mary had no one to love – Maureen O’Hara remains the only reason to see Jamaica Inn. A side bit of information, Jamaica Inn turned out to be so despised by Daphne Du Maurier herself that she almost withheld Rebecca from Hitchcock. Thank god that didn't happen, but when you see the difference between the book and the film, it really is a wonder she ever spoke to the man again he so botched the adaptation.

1.  Ingrid Bergman in Spellbound

Spellbound – this will come as no surprise – remains one of my all time favorite Hitchcock films, and not just for the Salavdore Dali sequence, but also for the complex problems Constance has to deal with. She is a wonderful character, brought to vibrant and fantastic life by Ingrid Bergman. Its her voice, and her gentle lilting manners that are so beguiling at the best of times, but used to great effect in Spellbound that make Ingrid's performance my very favorite in the lesser known Hitchcock works.


  1. How interesting. I hadn't considered many of the female roles in Hitchcock. Though i only ever remember watching the black and white films when i was younger on TV. Probably a shame since I'm an avid fan of Freddy Crugar and the like, but Hitchcock is a different kind of terror....

    I found you from the A-Z challenge and look forward to more form you.

    1. Hi DK - thanks so much for stopping by!
      I agree... there is a special sort of terror displayed in Hitchcock. All the films above deal with fear and suspense, but in subtle and different ways. They all give me chills...