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Hitchcock Films Rated the Most Thrilling

by Ron Weiskind

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 13 June 2001 page E-1

Now it's official. The master of suspense is also the king of thrills.

Alfred Hitchcock's stout shadow permeates the American Film Institute's "100 Years, 100 Thrills" list, the latest of its annual surveys of Hollywood's greatest
hits. The rotund filmmaker has three of the top 10 films on the list, including the No. 1 selection, "Psycho," and nine of the 100 overall selections.

If Hitchcock is the king, Steven Spielberg is the crown prince with six films on the list, including the No. 2 selection, "Jaws," and the No. 10 film, "Raiders of the
Lost Ark." Hitchcock might have had even more films on the list except that the rules restrict the choices to primarily American movies, which eliminates most of
his British work, including such classics as "The 39 Steps," "Sabotage" and the original "The Man Who Knew Too Much."

The other key criterion, other than the usual "stands the test of time" caveat, is "the total adrenaline-inducing impact of a film's artistry and craft, creating an
experience that engages our bodies as well as our minds."

A jury of 1,800 voters including film artists, critics and historians selected the list from a ballot of 400 nominated films. A show on CBS last night revealed the

It seems appropriate that "Psycho" came out on top, given that it contains the most shocking scene in cinema, the shower murder of the lead character,
played by Janet Leigh, about a third of the way into the movie. Not only does it happen unexpectedly and quickly, in a series of edits that seem to show more
than they do, it leaves the audience vulnerable and disoriented because it eliminates the star of the film and the point-of-view character up to that point.

And just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, along came Spielberg with "Jaws," with its perfectly paced series of shark attacks prefaced by
the pounding music of John Williams' score. The No. 3 film, "The Exorcist," also took audiences where they had never been with its combination of horror,
religious imagery and amazing special effects.

One might argue with the artistic value but not with the thrill quotient of films like "Fatal Attraction" or "Halloween." Conversely, one can question whether
great films like "Casablanca" or "All the President's Men," both of which made the list, qualify as thrillers.

And lists like this inevitably create arguments about the order in which films are listed. Is "Titanic" really more thrilling than "Star Wars"? Is "Butch Cassidy and
the Sundance Kid" more thrilling than "The Matrix"?

But no obvious choices seem to have been omitted, although several classes of film seem to have gotten short shrift:

* Only 17 of the films date from before 1950, which makes the "100 Years" claim a bit fatuous. Granted, many films from the silent era are gone forever, but
D.W. Griffith's "Way Down East," with Lillian Gish heading for her doom on an ice floe, and Charlie Chaplin's "The Gold Rush," with its Arctic comedy, might have
deserved consideration. Among sound films, the first great gangster film, "Public Enemy" with James Cagney, has its share of shocking moments, including the
grapefruit in the face and Cagney's death scene.

* Maybe age discrimination also explains the fact that many classic westerns, including "Stagecoach," "Red River" and "My Darling Clementine," weren't even
nominated. Only four horse operas made the grade, all of them from after 1950: "High Noon," "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "The Magnificent Seven"
and "The Wild Bunch."

* Maybe voters thought that laughter dilutes the jolt, because comic relief didn't rate high on this list. Harold Lloyd's silent classic "Safety Last," about a
"human fly" meeting innumerable obstacles while climbing a skyscraper, made the cut, but you can make a case for "also-rans" like "The Bride of
Frankenstein" (her old man made it), "Fargo" and even "Ghostbusters."

Some personal favorites that didn't make it include John Frankenheimer's "Black Sunday," about a terrorist plot to bomb the Super Bowl; some of the great
submarine epics, including "Run Silent, Run Deep" (not eligible: "Das Boot," a German film); and "L.A. Confidential," a great crime flick that hit Hollywood too
close to home.

Three movies that were shot in southwestern Pennsylvania made the list: "The Silence of the Lambs," which made Hannibal Lecter a household name; "The
Deer Hunter," which includes scenes filmed at steel mills in Clairton; and "Night of the Living Dead," the seminal horror film that launched the career of director
George Romero, who continues to make his home in Pittsburgh.

The American Film Institute's "100 Years, 100 Thrills" list (with director and year released):

  1. "Psycho" (Hitchcock; 1960)
  2. "Jaws" (Spielberg; 1975)
  3. "The Exorcist" (Friedkin; 1973)
  4. "North by Northwest" (Hitchcock; 1959)
  5. "The Silence of the Lambs" (J. Demme; 1991)
  6. "Alien" (R. Scott; 1979)
  7. "The Birds" (Hitchcock; 1963)
  8. "The French Connection" (Friedkin; 1971)
  9. "Rosemary's Baby" (Polanski; 1968)
  10. "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (Spielberg; 1981)
  11. "The Godfather" (F. Coppola; 1972)
  12. "King Kong" (Schoedsack-Cooper; 1933)
  13. "Bonnie and Clyde" (Penn; 1967)
  14. "Rear Window" (Hitchcock; 1954)
  15. "Deliverance" (Boorman; 1972)
  16. "Chinatown" (Polanski; 1974)
  17. "The Manchurian Candidate" (Frankenheimer; 1962)
  18. "Vertigo" (Hitchcock; 1958)
  19. "The Great Escape" (J. Sturges; 1963)
  20. "High Noon" (Zinnemann; 1952)
  21. "A Clockwork Orange" (Kubrick; 1971)
  22. "Taxi Driver" (Scorsese; 1976)
  23. "Lawrence of Arabia" (Lean, with De Toth; 1962)
  24. "Double Indemnity" (B. Wilder; 1944)
  25. "Titanic" (J. Cameron; 1997)
  26. "The Maltese Falcon" (J. Huston; 1941)
  27. "Star Wars" (G. Lucas; 1977)
  28. "Fatal Attraction" (A. Lyne; 1987)
  29. "The Shining" (Kubrick; 1980)
  30. "The Deer Hunter" (Cimino; 1978)
  31. "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (Spielberg; 1977)
  32. "Strangers on a Train" (Hitchcock; 1951)
  33. "The Fugitive" (A. Davis; 1993)
  34. "The Night of the Hunter" (Laughton; 1955)
  35. "Jurassic Park" (Spielberg; 1993)
  36. "Bullitt" (P. Yates; 1968)
  37. "Casablanca" (Curtiz; 1942)
  38. "Notorious" (Hitchcock; 1946)
  39. "Die Hard" (McTiernan; 1988)
  40. "2001: A Space Odyssey" (Kubrick; 1968)
  41. "Dirty Harry" (Siegel; 1971)
  42. "The Terminator" (J. Cameron; 1984)
  43. "The Wizard of Oz" (V. Fleming, with K. Vidor; 1939)
  44. "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" (Spielberg; 1982)
  45. "Saving Private Ryan" (Spielberg; 1998)
  46. "Carrie" (De Palma; 1976)
  47. "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (Siegel; 1956)
  48. "Dial M for Murder" (Hitchcock; 1954)
  49. "Ben-Hur" (W. Wyler, with A. Marton; 1959)
  50. "Marathon Man" (Schlesinger; 1976)
  51. "Raging Bull" (Scorsese; 1980)
  52. "Rocky" (Avildsen; 1976)
  53. "Pulp Fiction" (Tarantino; 1994)
  54. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (G.R. Hill; 1969)
  55. "Wait Until Dark" (T. Young; 1967)
  56. "Frankenstein" (Whale; 1931)
  57. "All the President's Men" (Pakula; 1976)
  58. "The Bridge on the River Kwai" (Lean; 1957)
  59. "Planet of the Apes" (Schaffner; 1968)
  60. "The Sixth Sense" (Shyamalan; 1999)
  61. "Cape Fear" (J. Lee-Thompson; 1962)
  62. "Spartacus" (Kubrick; 1960).
  63. "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?" (Aldrich; 1962)
  64. "Touch of Evil" (Welles; 1958)
  65. "The Dirty Dozen" (Aldrich; 1967)
  66. "The Matrix" (Wachowski brothers; 1999)
  67. "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" (J. Huston; 1948)
  68. "Halloween" (J. Carpenter; 1978)
  69. "The Wild Bunch" (Peckinpah; 1969)
  70. "Dog Day Afternoon" (Lumet; 1975)
  71. "Goldfinger" (G. Hamilton; 1964)
  72. "Platoon" (O. Stone; 1986)
  73. "Laura" (Preminger; 1944)
  74. "Blade Runner" (R. Scott; 1982)
  75. "The Third Man" (C. Reed; 1949)
  76. "Thelma & Louise" (R. Scott; 1991)
  77. "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (J. Cameron; 1991)
  78. "Gaslight" Review (Cukor; 1944)
  79. "The Magnificent Seven" (J. Sturges; 1960)
  80. "Rebecca" (Hitchcock; 1940)
  81. "The Omen" (Donner; 1976)
  82. "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (R. Wise; 1951)
  83. "The Phantom of the Opera" (Rupert Julian; 1925)
  84. "Poltergeist" (T. Hooper-S. Spielberg; 1982)
  85. "Dracula" (T. Browning; 1931)
  86. "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (Lewin; 1945)
  87. "The Thing From Another World" (C. Nyby, with H. Hawks; 1951)
  88. "12 Angry Men" (Lumet; 1957)
  89. "The Guns of Navarone" (J. Lee-Thompson; 1961)
  90. "The Poseidon Adventure" (Neame; 1972)
  91. "Braveheart" (M. Gibson; 1995)
  92. "Body Heat" (L. Kasdan; 1981)
  93. "Night of the Living Dead" (Romero; 1968)
  94. "The China Syndrome" (J. Bridges; 1979)
  95. "Full Metal Jacket" (Kubrick; 1987)
  96. "Blue Velvet" (D. Lynch; 1986)
  97. "Safety Last" (F. Newmeyer-S. Taylor; 1923)
  98. "Blood Simple" (Coen Brothers; 1984)
  99. "Speed" (De Bont; 1994)
  100. "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (M. Curtiz-W. Keighley; 1938)

2001 P.G. Publishing Co.

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