If there’s anything that Alfred Hitchcock and Beyonce have in common it’s that you can’t criticise either of them without being shunned by the rest of society. We’ve all heard the term the phrase “master of suspense” used countless times in reference to the British director, and I’m certainly not about to deny that.
Films like Rear Window, Vertigo, and The Birds are perfectly crafted pieces of cinema and a testament to Hitchcock’s ability to control complex narratives with the dexterity of a circus snake handler.
But, what about those other films? having learnt his trade on the job, Hitchcock has a stunning list of credits to his name, many of which have been forgotten altogether. Experts estimate that he made something like 48 films in total, and pardon me for saying, but it’s impossible for all of those 48 to be up there with Psycho.
Perhaps the funding fell through. Perhaps he cast the wrong actor in the lead role. Perhaps the script wasn’t working. Whatever it might have been, I feel like it’s about time we had another look at Hitchcock’s films and explored the titles that flopped.
So, without further ado, here are the five worst Hitchcock films of all time.
The five worst Alfred Hitchcock films:
The Mountain Eagle (1926)
The Mountain Eagle was Alfred Hitchcock’s second attempt at directing, and the result was, well, anticlimactic, to say the least. The film is an altogether implausible melodrama about romantic jealousy in a mountain village. It was filmed on location in Austria and featured the extraordinary presence of Bernhard Goetzke, the real-life giant who had performed in Fritz Lang’s Destiny.
Despite Hitchcock’s commitment to the script, when the film was released in 1926 it failed to capture the public’s imagination and has since been almost entirely forgotten. Today, no reels of the original film are known to exist, but Hitchcock always considered its disappearance in this regard no great loss to the world.
Based on an original story by writer and critic Walter C. Mycroft, Hitchcock would refer to his 1928 film Champagne as being “Probably the lowest ebb in my output”. I’d like to say Hitchcock would being hard on himself, but it really is a god awful film.
It’s a riches-to-rags story about an aristocratic girl forced to get a job after her father loses all of his money. It was intended as a comedy, but Hitchcock never really mastered the genre. The film was received poorly after its attempts to disguise a poorly constructed plot with risque shots of ladies underclothes failed entirely.
Rear Window (1954)
What’s this? Somebody sullying the name of Hitchcock? Yes, before you get too worked up, I recognise that Rear Window is regarded as one of Hitchcock’s finest films. This one is on the list simply because of the sheer hamminess of the acting. It is an elaborate web of a film, which centres on the character of ‘Jeff’ who is confined to a wheelchair in his apartment in Greenwich Village, Manhattan.
Using his binoculars to observe his neighbours, he soon finds himself in the role of amateur sleuth, attempting to build a case against a man he suspects has murdered his wife. There are some glorious performances throughout the film, but there are also some gloriously camp ones. Take the moment Jeff fends off the killer by trying to blind him with the flash of his camera. It is the only moment in which Hitchcock loses his grip on the film’s tension, resulting in a scene which, by today’s standards, is so preposterous it’s laughable.
Rich And Strange (1931)
1931 may have been a busy year for Hitchcock, but it certainly wasn’t a successful one. Rich And Strange is an utter misfire, despite being written by Hitchcock himself. For some bizarre reason, the director decided to caption great swathes of it, although it wasn’t a silent film. Hitchcock also lost control of his actors, allowing a great deal of over-acting to make its way into the final product.
The resulting film is an inconsistent melodramatic mess, dispersed with misplaced experimental sections. It’s one of the moments in Alfred Hitchcock’s filmography that we should all simply turn our heads.
Juno And The Paycock (1930)
Directed at a point in Hitchcock’s career during which he had little choice over the films he made, Juno And The Paycock is pervaded by a sense of desperation. It is based on a play of the same name by Seán O’Casey and follows the story of an Irish family who are told they are to get a hefty inheritance and are corrupted by the resulting wealth.
Hitchcock’s biggest mistake was that he basically just shot the stage play on camera, changing very little about the script and keeping all of the original actors.
Of the production, Hitchcock would go on to say: “I photographed the play as imaginatively as possible, but from a creative viewpoint it was not a pleasant experience. The film got very good notices, but I was actually ashamed of it, because it had nothing to do with cinema.”