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Tuesday
Aug062013

Team Top Ten: Most Memorable Performances in a Hitchcock Film

Amir here, with this month's edition of Team Top Ten. To celebrate Alfred Hitchcock's birthday next week (Aug 13th), we've decided to celebrate his career by looking at something that isn't discussed quite as often as it should be: the performances he directed.

Hitchcock has more auteur cred than any other director so its understandable that his presence behind the camera attracts the most attention in all discourse about his oeuvre. Yet, his films are undeniably filled with amazing performances, from archetypal blondes and influential villains to smaller, eccentric supporting turns from characters actors. The list we've compiled today is the Top Ten Most Memorable Performances from Alfred Hitchcock's Films.

Make of "memorable" what you will! Our voters each certainly had their own thinking process. Some of us - myself included - took the word literally and voted for what had stuck with us the most, irrespective of size and quality of the performance. Some went for the best performances, some for the best marriage of actor and role and some for a mix of all of those things. Naturally, the final list veers towards the consensus, but as always, I've included bits and pieces of our individual ballots that stood out after the list.

Without further ado...

10. Grace Kelly as Lisa Fremont (Rear Window)
There's memorable, and there's iconic. And then there's Grace Kelly in Edith Head. A performance all at once decadent and demure, Hitchcock's crown jewel struts and strolls glowingly in Rear Window, lithely giving off the allure to which she's come to recognize is her signature (and she worries, her sole) appeal. It's only as the mystery of the picture begins to unravel that the shades are lifted (literally) and the flinty little girl we thought we knew positions herself to be the real knight in shining armor. The famed icy Hitchcock blonde archetype manages that most remarkable and memorable of transformations in this, his best film; thanks to and because of Ms. Kelly, the sculpture discovers itself and its purpose. It's a beautiful thing when an actor can make a director forget himself and his tendencies. Something New Happens.
- Beau McCoy

9 more iconic turns after the jump

9. Cary Grant as Roger Thornhill (North by Northwest)
With his transatlantic voice, dashing good looks, and debonair style, Cary Grant was never cut out to be the 'everyman'. His was a persona that filled the screen effortlessly with charisma. A movie star in every sense of the word. So when he does try to play a regular type in North by Northwest (his fourth and last collaboration with Hitchcock), his Roger Thornhill, the New York advertising executive in the grey suit that is mistakenly taken for a government agent by a group of spies, becomes, in way, more believable and enjoyable because of his star status. No way could the man we see before us be living some drab, office-job life. This man has to be destined for greater things. And as he narrowly avoids scrape after scrape in an increasingly elaborate series of events (staged car accidents, stabbings, malicious crop-dusting biplanes, a freaking chase scene across Mount Rushmore, for christsake) the everyman becomes the superman we know only a Cary Grant could be. 
- Andrew Stewart

8. Claude Rains as Alexander Sebastian (Notorious)
Arguably the best acted film of Hitchcock's career, Notorious boasts legendary turns from Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant, as well as a career-crowning performance from the greatest  character actor of Hollywood's Golden Age, Claude Rains. As a scheming nazi hopelessly in love with Bergman's Alicia Huberman, Rains walks an impossibly thin line between being the film's villain and its most potent tragic figure, a despicable man whose one noble feeling will be his undoing. Torn between his heart's desire and his abject duty (embodied, in typical Hitchcockian fashion, by his tyrannical mother), Rains' Alexander Sebastian remains, for my money, the most complex, moving and unforgettable member of Hitchcock's inimitable gallery of psychos.
- Julien Kojfer

7. Robert Walker as Bruno Anthony (Strangers on a Train)
There have been charming monsters and there have been psycho killers but there has never been a villain quite like Robert Walker in Strangers on a Train. His Bruno is an overgrown rich boy, a middle aged sociopath still throwing tantrums when he doesn’t get his way. Yet the endlessly fascinating thing about Walker’s performance is just how endearing he makes this nutcase. Bruno's ingenious crisscrossing murder scheme is like a shiny new toy he can’t wait to get out of the box, and sharing it with straight arrow Farley Granger is an act of undisguised puppy love. Nine years before Norman Bates, Walker created a Hitchcock antagonist audiences could root for.
- Michael C.


6. Kim Novak as Judy Barton/Madeleine Elster (Vertigo)
It's all in the eyes. Those all-seeing, impenetrable eyes. There is simply no actress with eyes as bewitching as Kim Novak's. and they haven't been used to better effect than in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo. As "Madeleine Elster" they usually have a far-away, half-present look - cold as ice. As Judy Barton, they burn like fire - with disbelief, anger, and passion. Vertigo has many virtues (the dolly zoom, the location photography, the score), many of which are even on Novak's person (that spiral hairstyle, those dresses). But for me, the reason Novak stands out in Vertigo, what makes this the most memorable role in both Hitchcock's filmography as well as her own, is that look in her eyes. That look that alternately accuses Scottie and pleads with him; that loves and hates and feels sorry for him in equal measure. That impossibly alluring look that stares into the depth of your soul and asks, "Wouldn't you become obsessed with me, too?" As details from other Hitchcock films fade, Novak's eyes only seem to burn brighter.
- Daniel Bayer

5. James Stewart as Scottie Ferguson (Vertigo)
Does the lead actor in the best film of all time really need to be justified as a memorable character? Then again, he is one of the reasons Vertigo is held in such high regard. No one before or after has been haunted as much by love as Scottie. His obsession with Madelein/Carlotta redefined the way audiences saw an iconic Hollywood leading man. It changed the way we perceived on screen love and its ability to lead us to both ecstasy and a never-ending cycle of misery.
- Jose Solis

4. Janet Leigh as Marion Crane (Psycho)
There are few actresses with Janet Leigh's gift for the underwritten part. A glance, a pout, a downcast eye, and Janet Leigh speaks volumes. This served her well in many movies in which her character was virtually "the girl" and she gave that girl life. Marion Crane in Psycho is not just "the girl," but her brief screentime means that the character requires an actress who can deliver quite a lot with very little, and that actress is Janet Leigh. Her journey from honest, passionate woman to thief and back again, and then to victim, is complex, sensual, thoughtful, and tragic. The shower scene is not just brilliantly-filmed horror, it is the death of a character we have come to love and sympathize with. We rooted for her, and she lost.
- Deborah Lipp

3. Ingrid Bergman as Alicia Huberman (Notorious)
Daughter of infamy, drunken hostess, bristling recruit, swooning beloved, deep-cover spy, panicking agent, endangered asset, barely conscious body: even more than most Hitchcock women, Alicia Huberman gets pulled into multiple roles, and nearly pulled apart.  Her husky voice and pugnacious demeanor suggest real mettle, but her increasingly wild eyes and catching throat suggest that she might not make it.  Bergman, like her character, hungers to please a charismatic seducer-employer who both inspires her and forces her into submission.  Tougher and more carnal than she was in Gaslight, she's nonetheless as anxious, as imperiled, and as brutally controlled, more by her lover-ally than her dangerous target, and there's a new and wicked sense that she likes it this way.
- Nick Davis

2. Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers (Rebecca)
Neither the first nor last Psychopathic Queer in Hitcock’s canon, Anderson’s Mrs. Danvers is, nevertheless, the most frightening and intense and purely evil. Moving with spectral grace, staring like a bird of prey, speaking in a menacing half-whisper, Anderson gave a terrific physical performance that the camera absolutely fell in love with, positioning her as the primary focal point of every frame in which she appears, dominating the viewer just like she dominates the mousy protagonist. But even beyond her terrific presence, it’s the sense of unabashed hatred right behind Anderson’s eyes, turning even the most banal domestic scene into an act of emotional violence, that makes her one of the most terrifying villains in the director’s career.
-Tim Brayton


1. Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates (Psycho)
I once read a 'nice guys' article in Jezebel with Norman Bates picture as the leading image and it changed the way I thought of him. This Norman coexists with his deranged end. We spent an hour or so watching him, we can’t negate all his facets. Anthony Perkins shows us psychological ambiguities, an approach that’s absent even in a lot of Hitchcock’s work which is itself fascinated by psychology. Portraying Norman this way Perkins makes us look at him differently and want certain things for him. We’re reminded of the ‘nice guys’ in our lives, their facade conflicting with their troubled pasts and lack of confidence. We even want him to recover from his neuroses and marry Marion, just like the normal Norman, the one struggling to come out and defeat his fiery demons, must have needed.  This classic character subverts what we’ve come to know about movies, which often depict disruption only to restore equilibrium. Norman's violence changed the movies and haunts forever.
- Paolo Kagaoan

 

Trivia

Hitchcock's cameo at the beginning of Marnie


• Twenty of Hitchcock's films were represented, most with more than one performance cited. In total forty-five performances were mentioned on the ballots

• Only two voters left Anthony Perkins off their ballot. Nearly everyone who mentioned him ranked him in their top three. Quite a memorable performance, I'd say. 

• Five actors were mentioned for more than one of their collaborations with the master of suspense: Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Tippi Hedren.

• The more most frequently cited performances which didn't make the final collective ballot were Joan Fontaine (Rebecca), Tippi Hedren (The Birds), Doris Day (The Man Who Knew Too Much) and Joseph Cotten (Shadow of a Doubt).

• Individual Ballots? Not everyone will share them but here is Tim's in brief and JA's with capsules!

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Reader Comments (49)

Joan Fontaine should have taken Grace Kelly's place...

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrick

rick -- you think so? I'm not really a huge Grace Kelly fan but I love her in Rear Window (though she didn't make my list).

August 7, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Good list, I would have had Kelly closer to the top.

Other memorable performances I would add:

Teresa Wright in Shadow of a Doubt
Raymond Burr in Rear Window (gave me nightmares as kid!)
Barbara Bel Geddes in Vertigo
Barry Foster in Frenzy ("lovely! lovely!")
Barbara Harris in Family Plot What? we're going with "memorable", right? Who can forget the histrionics in the out-of-control-car scene? ;)

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTravis

That's a darn near perfect list, though I'm a little surprised that Joseph Cotton from "Shadow of a Doubt" didn't make the top 10--it's not my favorite performance, but a lot of people like it a lot. I like the way this list chose pretty much the creme de la creme of Hitchcock, and then seemed to zero in on the performance that made each movie click. (However, if "Suspicion" didn't have the cop-out ending, would Joan Fontaine or Cary Grant made the list for that one?)

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDback

Dback -- i expected Cotten to make it, too. I was kinda hoping for Tippi in Marnie, not because i think her performance is amazing but because the role is INSANE.

August 7, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Wow, I think Thelma Ritter in "Rear Window," deserved to be in the top 10. Her Stella is unforgettable. I also feel Joan Fontaine in "Rebecca," is a top 10 performance.

Lastly, Monty in "I Confess," is underrated and usually overlooked. I fall in love with him again every time I watch his performance.

Glad to see Perkins at number 1. Greatest of all, with Oscar snoozing through 1960s Best Actor nominees.. (Also overlooked was Robert Mitchum from 'The Sundowners).

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

Since I know everyone will be asking for this eventually, here's 11-20 (in that order):
Rebecca - Joan Fontaine
Lifeboat - Tallulah Bankhead
Notorious - Leopoldine Konstantin
Shadow of a Doubt - Joseph Cotten
The Birds - Suzanne Pleshette
Rear Window - Thelma Ritter
The Man Who Knew Too Much - Doris Day
The Birds - Tippi Hedren
Psycho - Mother
Marnie - Tippi Hedren

I was also surprised that Frenzy, The Wrong Man and Suspicion failed to get a vote for any of the performances.

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

I think the five best and most memorable performances are:
1. Ingrid Bergman in "Notorious".
2. James Stewart in "Vertigo".
3. Anthony Perkins in "Psycho'.
4. Kim Novak in "Vertigo".
5. Janet Leigh in "Psycho". In that order
.
I would also include in a top ten list Barbara Harris in "Family Plot", the most adorable of all Hitchcock's heroines, and Eva Marie Saint, with her gorgeous white-on-white look as Eve Kendall, the most soignee and sophisticated of Hitchcock's blondes.
And, my personal favorites, two incredibly wonderful supporting actresses in similar heartbreaking roles: Patricia Collinge in "Shadow of a Doubt" and Ethel Barrymore in "The Paradine Case"- they both steal their respective films from the stars.

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTrippy Trellis

What?!
No list is completed without Tippi Hendren in Marnie and Joseph Cotten in Shadow of a Doubt.

Shame on you!

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrandon

This is a good, solid list, though personally I'd have (reluctantly) dropped Rains, Stewart in Vertigo, and Leigh for Eva Marie Saint, Barbara Bel Geddes, and Marlene Dietrich. It's so sad Robert Walker died so young - he was amazing in Strangers on a Train.

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

Great list and nice writeups! :)

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSquasher88

I truly wish that Doris Day had made the list. She was spectacular in The Man Who Knew Too Much, and the Albert Hall scene (that scream) is possibly my favorite single scene in any movie EVER.

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

Amir -- I'm guessing you haven't sees Suspicion? If you had, its absence probably wouldn't surprise you :)

I'm glad that Grace Kelly in Rear Window - a perfect movie star performance - managed to squeeze into the top ten. Love most of this list (haven't seen Strangers on a Train and don't much care for North by Northwest).

I'd be interested to know what people think is the worst performance in a Hitchcock film. My choice would be Laurence Olivier in Rebecca.

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJan

1 - James Stewart, Vertigo
2 - Henry Fonda, The Wrong Man
3 - Tippi Hedren, Marnie
4 - Kim Novak, Vertigo
5 - Anthony Perkins, Psycho
6 - Cary Grant, North by Northwest
7 - Ingrid Bergman, Notorious
8 - Doris Day, The Man Who Knew Too Much
9 - Joseph Cotten, Shadow of a Doubt
10 - Vera Miles, The Wrong Man

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I'll take Cary Grant in Notorious over Cary Grant in North By Northwest every day of the week. In fact, I found space for all four of Notorious's leading roles. I nearly voted for the wine bottle full of mineral ore.

It pained me most to leave Thelma Ritter off, and I would have loved to give Frenzy a mention but it just couldn't compete.

My Ballot:

1. Robert Walker - Strangers on a Train
2. Ingrid Bergman - Notorious
3. Anthony Perkins - Psycho
4. James Stewart - Vertigo
5. Leopoldine Konstantin - Notorious
6. Kim Novak - Vertigo
7. Cary Grant - Notorious
8. Joseph Cotten - Shadow of a Doubt
9. Judith Anderson - Rebecca
10. Claude Raines - Notorious

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichael C.

Had to read the introduction at the top to see if there was a deliberate exclusion of Hitch's British films. Can't see one, so I'd like to offer, for starters: Peter Lorre in The Secret Agent (memorable in so many ways), Robert Donat in The 39 Steps (the prototype of Hitch's 'man on the run': resourceful, romantic, funny) and Basil Radford & Naunton Wayne in The Lady Vanishes (the beginning of a beautiful double act).

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterestienne64

I put a couple of curveball entries on my list, such as Virginia Gregg as the voice of "Mother" (hey, what's more memorable than that?) and Suzanne Pleshette in "The Birds" (because I love how the character is played so sympathetically and likeable and then she just goes and gets pecked to death rather unexpectedly). Stupidly I forgot to include Judith Anderson. Silly me.

Genuinely surprised that it's split 50/50 between men and women.

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

When compiling my list, I just wrote the first ten roles that came into my head. I initially thought I would rewatch some things and then come back to it, but then decided that if I needed to rewatch something to remind myself of it, then it wasn't really "most memorable". The only spot that was ever up for grabs was the tenth.

1. Anthony Perkins, Psycho
2. Kim Novak, Vertigo
3. Ingrid Bergman, Notorious
4. Raymond Burr, Rear Window (so menacing - even from across the courtyard and without speaking!)
5. Judith Anderson, Rebecca
6. Doris Day, The Man Who Knew Too Much (I love her in this SO. MUCH.)
7. Josephine Hutchinson, North By Northwest (talk about doing a lot with very little)
8. Jessie Royce Landis, To Catch A Thief (and North by Northwest)
9. Grace Kelly, Rear Window (greatest entrance EVER)
10. Martin Landau, North by Northwest (another performance where the eyes have it)

I just adore the supporting cast of North by Northwest so fucking much. Just missing were Joseph Cotten, Marlene Dietrich, Tallulah Bankhead, Leopoldine Konstantine/Claude Rains, John Gavin/Janet Leigh, and Leo G. Carroll (The Professor in North by Northwest).

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Anthony Perkins, Psycho

Robert Walker, Strangers on a Train

James Stewart & Kim Novak, Vertigo
-It's insane how much my original position changed on who I sympathized with the most from when I first saw the movie. Scottie Ferguson, you are really screwed up.

Joseph Cotten, Shadow of a Doubt

Tippi Hedren, Marnie

Judith Anderson, Rebecca

Robert Donat, The 39 Steps

Doris Day, The Man Who Knew Too Much

Claude Rains, Notorious

Tallulah Bankhead, Lifeboat
-She should've been a bigger star but at least she got this role.

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Great post however I complied and am entering my list before reading yours. Anxious to see if they correspond anywhere along the way.

I can't really pick any of these as most memorable and I hated to leave some people off but I did end up with a pair of actors from three separate films:

Thelma Ritter & Grace Kelly-Rear Window: What a team of housebreakers! Grace the ultimate Hitchcock blonde & Thelma the ultimate supporting player.

Tallulah Bankhead & Walter Slezak-Lifeboat: Tallulah was such an individual persona it's great that Hitch was able to refine her essence and capture it on screen. Slezak is so sly and relaxed that he makes his character much more ominous than he would normally be. Everybody in the movie is great and both Canada Lee and William Bendix would have made a longer list.

Ingrid Bergman & Leopoldine Konstantin-Notorious: She might not have won any awards for it but I think this is Ingrid's best performance. She shows so many emotions at different times and even when being deceitful remains sympathetic to the viewer. Madame Konstantin is simply riveting in her evil malevolence something she shared with his other great villainess, Mrs. Danvers.

Kim Novak-Vertigo: Never the greatest actress but always a strong film presence Hitchcock uses that component to make these dreamy lost women by far her best work and most memorable role(s).

Judith Anderson-Rebecca: Dasterdly, Demented, Delirious, Divine. The overall film left me cold but she is brilliance.

Joseph Cotton-Shadow of a Doubt: His typical screen presence was one of moral rightness so to see that upended adds an extra layer to his work but even without his gimlet eyed charmer who under the thin veneer is a monster is great stuff.

Robert Walker-Strangers on a Train-If I had to pick a number one this would be it. Part of it I think is the shattering of his gee golly image which would be lost on people unfamiliar with his other work but mostly it is the utter perfection of his performance.

Best group performance in one of his films has to go to the circus troupe in Saboteur. Hitch was so clever to make them a microcosm of society when of course everyone else see them as outsiders and all the performers are so distinctive.

I have to do some honorable mentions although that list could be endless:
My top performers that I had to leave off the first list besides Bendix and Lee are Norman Lloyd and Otto Kruger-Saboteur, Sylvia Sidney-Sabotage, Teresa Wright-Shadow of a Doubt, Marlene Dietrich-Stage Fright, James Stewart-Vertigo, Anthony Perkins-Psycho and Suzanne Pleshette and Jessica Tandy in the Birds.

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

My own favorites:
Peggy Ashcroft "The 39 Steps"
Florence Bates "Rebecca"
Leopoldine Konstantin "Notorious"
Alida Valli "The Paradine Case"
Janet Leigh "Psycho"
Lila Kedrova "Torn Curtain"

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKen

Clearly I'm in the minority, as I think "Suspicion" is a better film than "Rebecca" and features a better performance by Joan Fontaine, as well as the BEST Cary Grant performance in a Hitchcock film (I personally can't stand him in "North by Northwest").

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

Excellent list.

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

I'm surprised that Paul Newman in Torn Curtain doesn't register---the scene in the farm house where he has to kill the farmer is still etched in my mind.

Great list none the less. In addition to Newman, Hedren and Pleshette in the Birds, Bankhead in Lifeboat, Walker in Strangers, Stewart in Rope, Burr in Rear Window, Wright and Cotten in Shadow, Grant and Kelly in Thief (it does say memorable) and both Stewart and Day in Man who knew too much.

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHenry O.

I definitely would have put Joseph Cotten on my list -- great performance in my favorite Hitchcock film, Shadow of a Doubt. In particular, I've always loved his voice and how it makes the character more charming and more sinister at the same time. A highlight is the monologue about "greedy" women he gives at the family dinner table (though he certainly wasn't turning on the charm in that scene). Hitchcock recognized what a great voice Cotten had beyond this film, using it for dramatic effect in "Breakdown," an episode of Alfred Hitchcock presents.

Otherwise, great list!

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSusanP

@Michael C.: I also had all four actors from Notorious, and I also prefer the wine bottle in Notorious to, say, Cary Grant in North by Northwest.

Some of my favorite Hitchcock films are favorites because of style, technique, and narrative ingenuity (The Lady Vanishes, Saboteur...) and thus came nowhere close to this list. I did consider Alida Valli in The Paradine Case, so gorgeously troubled and remote. Also thought about the three fellas from Rope, none of which are performances I particularly like, but they sure are memorable. Maybe that's just because it's the only Hitchcock movie I ever wind up teaching in my classes.

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

Joseph - I like Suspicion quite a lot actually, hence my surprise that no one voted for any of its performances.

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

Nick and Michael - I agree with you that Grant's performance in NXNW isn't the greatest, but almost anyone, even without ever seeing the film, will recognize certain sequences from that film, particularly with the jet scene. Blurry line between memorable performance vs. character/film, but memorable, surely.
That being said, he wasn't on my ballot.

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

Confession: I have never seen Psycho even though I own it. I play chicken with it constantly. On one hand, I am ashamed that I have not seen one of Hitchcock's (and horror's) best offerings. On the other hand, I am way too sensitive and I'm afraid I wouldn't sleep for a week. Plus, what if I am expecting too much and it disappoints me? I mean, I know about the big surprise (who doesn't?) and what if that takes all the fun and meaning out of it? On the other hand, when I started Notorious I was initially disappointed before realizing at the end of the film that it had totally blown me away. (Notorious has a terrific ending -- best Hitchcock ending perhaps?) Argh, the game of chicken goes on. Someone convince me to see it already!

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercash

No Tippi????

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAle-Alejandro

Amir - If I was going to pick a NXNW performance I'd go for Martin Landau. The most memorable part of Grant's character for me has always been his atrocious approximation of drunk driving. Meanwhile Lanadau, you wonder what's up with that dude. The look on his face when he steps on Grants fingers as he clings to Rushmore is the most memorable character beat in the film.

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichael C.

Excellent list, although I do disagree with Kelly in the #10 slot. I definitely would have ranked the work of Cotten, Clift, Hedren, Ritter, Saint, Burr, Bel Geddes and Kelly herself (in Dial M for Murder or To Catch a Thief) above her performance in Rear Window, not that she isn't a lovely and iconic presence in the film.

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I have this biggest crush on Farley Granger. I wish he'd been born in this generation so that his being gay won't affect his acting career.

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commentergomski

I wrote up a big post about my own personal top ten over at MNPP. I could have listed fifty more; y'all are giving love to so many greats. Such an unbelievably rich crowd to choose from.

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJA

I came up with these ten as being the most memorable...

10. Judith Anderson - Rebecca (1940)
9. Ray Milland - Dial M for Murder (1954)
8. Claude Rains - Notorious (1946)
7. Robert Walker - Strangers on a Train (1951)
6. Tippi Hedren - Marnie (1964)
5. Doris Day - The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
4. Joseph Cotten - Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
3. Thelma Ritter - Rear Window (1954)
2. Janet Leigh - Psycho (1960)
1. Anthony Perkins - Psycho (1960)

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSean Troutman

I wrote up my own choices at my place, though I wasn't as thorough about it as JA was.

A little devastated that my girl Thelma Ritter couldn't make it on the final list, and a little surprised Robert Walker wasn't higher. Still, with so many riches to choose from, it would be next to impossible to come up with a list of 10 that wasn't entirely made up of richly worthy performances. I will confess myself shocked that it was that Cary Grant performance that made it on (I think he's far better in Notorious and even in the maligned Suspicion, where I think he is very much the best part), but that's the only real "huh?" moment for me. This was an awesomely fun, awesomely hard ballot to whittle down.

August 7, 2013 | Registered CommenterTim Brayton

My favorites are Anthony Perkins, Barbara Harris, Robert Donat, Ingrid Bergman (in Spellbound), Judith Anderson, Robert Walker, Eva Marie Saint and Joan Fontaine in Rebecca. I notice that Larry isn't getting a lot of love for that film. I'm also very partial to Michael Chekhov in Spellbound. Utterly spellbinding.

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Excellent compilation. It's clearly difficult to pick just 10.

Incidentally, it's cool to see people really appreciate Marnie, or at least Tippi Hedren's performance. I watched it again recently and found it pretty intriguing. Tippi is luminous.

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

I'm not going to pretend I'm really able to do this, but some I would've loved to see mentioned

Michael Redgrave, The Lady Vanishes
Joseph Cotten and Teresa Wright, Shadow of a Doubt
Montgomery Clift, I Confess

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

I've lost count of how many times I've tried to write this post, so I'll take it as a sign that I should refrain from compiling a Top 10. It's probably for the best seeing as how there are quite a few (notable) Hitchcock films I have yet to see, though I'm making my way through the Masterpiece Collection and other releases.

I watched both versions of The Man Who Knew Too Much back-to-back over the weekend and was really taken with both (the original wins overall because I prefer its very British, very wry sensibilities). Nova Pilbeam and Edna Best were great in the '39 version and I could easily see Pilbeam being a contender for a slot in my Top 10. She's wonderfully expressive. Doris Day was a real surprise for me in the remake, maybe not Top 10 but she'd be close.

It's hard for me to imagine anyone besting Stewart in Vertigo, though.

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterthefilmjunkie

Oh, Michael Redgrave! He was the very definition of charming in The Lady Vanishes. I love that Nick had all four of the principal actors in Notorious on his ballot. Everyone was firing on all cylinders in that one, huh? Question to Nathaniel: Couldn't we see everyone's individual ballots? I'd love to know Nick, Tim and the others' favorites.

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterManny

Manny -- but then the post would be a hundred pages long ;) the way we've been playing it now is that people who want to post their lists in the comments or at their own personal blogs if they have them. some people like the secret ballot effect though... but it's a good question. it reminds me i should link up to those who did share there whole ballot.

August 7, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

This was my top 10. Everyone who's mentioned Tallulah Bankhead will like!

1. Tallulah Bankhead, Lifeboat
2. Suzanne Pleshette, The Birds
3. Janet Leigh, Psycho
4. Anthony Perkins, Psycho
5. Doris Day, The Man Who Knew Too Much
6. Kim Novak, Vertigo
7. Virginia Gregg, Psycho
8. Thelma Ritter, Rear window
9. Robert Donat, The 39 Steps
10. Ingrid Bergman, Notorious

August 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

Both Tippi and Sean in Marnie deserve spots on this list,

August 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlittle my

I went rather off-consensus with my list:

1. Margaret Lockwood in The Lady Vanishes
2. Marion Lorne in Strangers on a Train
3. Madame Konstantin in Notorious
4. Anny Ondra in Blackmail
5. Judith Anderson in Rebecca
6. Peggy Ashcroft in The 39 Steps
7. Anthony Perkins in Psycho
8. Joseph Cotton in Shadow of a Doubt
9. Doreen Lang in The Birds
10. Mort Mills in Psycho

I left off the bigger stars because off the blur of star and performance with people like Ingrid and Cary - these were what I thought of when thinking pure character and performance. I don't know if there's anyone who loves Margaret Lockwood as much as I do, but she's a real treasure of British cinema. Such a charismatic and sharp performance.

August 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Great list! Great fun - Thanks N. ! And a damn difficult choice to make :) One of the most memorable performances for me is still Jessica Tandys subtle, strange & disturbing mother in "The Birds" but she didn't made my list.
Just as a side note: Doris Days performance in "The Man.." is one of Hitchcocks most touching, her breakdown scene somehow painful to watch... she was great! As I see she got a huge fan base, even here, an Oscar nomination and is still alive and kicking as far as I know - Why don't we read more about her Nathaniel ?

10. James Stewart - Robe
9. Jessie Royce Landis - To Catch A Thief
8. Joseph Cotten - Shadow of a Doubt
7. Ingrid Bergman - Notorious
6. Grace Kelly - To Catch A Thief
5. Cary Grant - North by Northwest
4. Doris Day - The Man Who Knew Too Much
3. Robert Walker - Strangers on a Train
2. Tippi Hedren - The Birds
1. Anthony Perkins - Psycho

August 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermartin

My choices:

Janet Leigh (Psycho)
Anthony Perkins (Psycho)
Claude Rains (Notorious)
Robert Walker (Strangers On A Train)
Judith Anderson (Rebecca)
Robert Donat (The 39 Steps)
Patricia Collinge (Shadow Of A Doubt)
Tallulah Bankhead (Lifeboat)
Louis Jourdan (The Paradine Case)
Ray Milland (Dial M For Murder)

August 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDouglas

ANTHONY PERKINS IS THE GREATEST ACTOR EVER , NORMAN BATES IS THE GREATEST CARACHTER EVER AND PSYCHO IS THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER !

August 16, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternorman bates

I somehow managed to miss this first time round. So pleased that a famous non-Kelly fan had Grace on the list for her career best performance. For me the Oscar (a no a very sore point.....) was as much for Rear Window as it was the TCG. The whole film is perfection, of course, but Grace's performance is the cherry on top. She would be No.1 on my list but this is a great selection.

September 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChrisD

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