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Alfred Hitchcock Pictures at Aero Theatre
by Scott Holleran
Alfred Hitchcock
August 17, 2007

Burbank, California—The great Alfred Hitchcock's (1899-1980) motion pictures are part of an ongoing retrospective presented by American Cinematheque at its Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, beginning with a new 35 millimeter print of Hitch's classic philosophical thriller Rope (1948, Universal, 80 min.) tonight. The program runs through Aug. 25 but, for those unable to attend, most movies are available on DVD. All are well worth watching.

The riveting Rope, starring James Stewart, Farley Granger and John Dall, features a college professor having to face the murderous consequences of his teachings—in one long evening at his students' apartment. Next on tonight's double bill is Lifeboat (1944, 20th Century Fox, 96 min.), with Hitchcock working in a similarly confined setting with eight survivors (led by John Hodiak, also starring Tallulah Bankhead) of a German attack who pick up a stray Nazi. John Steinbeck (The Grapes of Wrath) wrote the script and Glen MacWilliams did the Oscar-nominated cinematography. Both Rope and Lifeboat address serious moral dilemmas.

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956, Universal, 120 min.), an underrated family suspense drama starring James Stewart and Doris Day, is paired with the marital murder thriller Dial M for Murder (1954, Warner Bros., 105 min.) on Aug. 18th. In The Man Who Knew Too Much, Hitchcock remakes his own 1934 original as tourists Stewart and Day navigate Europe looking for their kidnapped son. Ray Milland tries to murder his wife (Grace Kelly) in Dial, later remade rather neatly as A Perfect Murder, in a picture that was originally presented in 3-D.

The Aero Theatre in Santa Monica
On Aug. 19th, the Aero screens Suspicion (1941, Warner Bros., 99 min.), featuring Joan Fontaine as a young wife suspecting cavalier husband Cary Grant of plotting to kill her, and the World War 2-themed Saboteur (1942, Universal, 108 min.), with Robert Cummings as an aircraft worker in Glendale, California, who is wrongly blamed for an explosion. As he pursues the enemy saboteurs, he finds the American public in denial, and the movie builds toward an exciting climax at the Statue of Liberty.

It's Vertigo (1958, Universal, 128 min.) in 70 millimeter on Aug. 22, Hitchcock's psychological suspense movie starring Kim Novak as both Madeleine and Judy, with an entranced James Stewart spinning out of control. The Aug. 23 program includes a double dose of Hitch with The 39 Steps (1935, MGM Repertory, 86 min.)—foreign spies pursue hero Robert Donat—and The Lady Vanishes (1938, MGM Repertory, 97 min.) starring Margaret Lockwood as a woman whose claims no one believes.

Next Friday, Aug. 24's program features a screening of the well-known Psycho (1960, Universal, 109 min.) with Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins and a showing of Spellbound (1945, Walt Disney Co., 111 min.) with Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck as psychiatrists and featuring a dream sequence designed by artist Salvador Dali.

The Aero series concludes on Aug. 25 with the director's ingenious Rear Window (1954, Universal, 112 min.), adapted from a Cornell Woolrich short story with James Stewart as photographer L.B. Jeffries opposite society darling Grace Kelly, followed by The Trouble with Harry (1955, Universal, 99 min.), the story of a community's attempt to dispose of a corpse.

These are intriguing movies, one and all, and American Cinematheque deserves credit for holding this fine mini-festival, which celebrates some of Hitchcock's best works. General admission is $10 per ticket and all screenings are at the Max Palevsky Theatre at the Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Avenue, in Santa Monica.

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RELATED LINKS
American Cinematheque's Aero Theatre Schedule
American Cinematheque
Scott Holleran Column Index

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