The 13 Alfred Hitchcock movies you need to watch in your lifetime

Alfred Hitchcock GettyGettyAlfred Hitchcock (R) with Jimmy Stewart, who starred in multiple movies for the director.

Alfred Hitchcock is more than just the master of suspense.

Throughout his career, the legendary director transformed cinema as we know it today through his unique visual eye, masterful storytelling, and incredible showmanship.

In celebration of his birthday on Sunday, we look back on his most memorable works — ranging from the crowd-pleasing “Psycho” to a movie regarded as one of the best ever made, “Vertigo.”

Here are the 13 Alfred Hitchcock movies you need to watch in your lifetime:

1. 'The Birds' (1963)

Universal

Hitchcock uses the attack of birds on a small Northern California town to highlight the madness that overcomes people when thrust into extraordinary situations. Made three years after the hit 'Psycho,' and in the midst of the TV show 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents,' this is the high watermark of Hitchcock's prominence in popular culture in his lifetime.

2. 'Dial M for Murder' (1954)

Warner Bros.

Perhaps the most famous 'Hitchcock blonde,' Grace Kelly stars in this crime thriller about a man who attempts to kill his wife after learning she's had an affair. And things get very complex from there.

3. 'North by Northwest' (1959)

MGM

Another favourite of Hitchcock's, Cary Grant plays a New York advertising executive who is mistaken for a government agent and finds himself on a cross-country chase from police, and bad guys, to clear his name. The movie features the iconic plane-chasing-Grant shot, and the thrilling conclusion on Mt. Rushmore.

4. 'Notorious' (1946)

RKO Pictures

Featuring one of Hitchcock's most famous 'MacGuffins' (a story element that the characters are concerned about but the audience has no vested interest in), Ingrid Bergman is asked to spy on a group of Nazi friends to gain information on their fiendish plot. But all we care about is the love building between her and Cary Grant. The movie would receive two Oscar nominations, including a best supporting actor nom for the villain role played by Claude Rains.

5. 'Psycho' (1960)

Paramount Pictures

It's the movie Hitchcock will always be remembered for. From the chilling score by Bernard Herrman to the twist ending, the movie is a timeless classic.

6. 'Rear Window' (1954)

Paramount

Here Hitchcock teams with Jimmy Stewart to explore voyeurism and the the dangers it can lead to. Hobbled by a broken leg, Stewart's Jeff character spends his time looking into his neighbours' windows with his binoculars. But after he believes one of them has committed a murder, the Master of Suspense weaves his magic as Jeff and his girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) try to find proof.

7. 'Rope' (1948)

Warner Bros.

Perhaps Hitchcock's most unique movie of his career, this slow-burn murder mystery stars Jimmy Stewart as a school housemaster who is invited to a dinner party -- only to learn that his two former students hosting the party have murdered someone. What makes the movie special is that Hitchcock shot the entire movie in one continuous shot.

8. 'Saboteur' (1942)

Universal

One of Hitchcock's first Hollywood hits, this spy movie is known best for the ending when the mysterious Frank Fry slips off the top of the Statue of Liberty to his death.

9. 'Shadow of a Doubt' (1943)

Universal

Hitchcock sets this thriller in the sleepy suburbs. That's where Charles Oakley (Joseph Cotten) shows up on the train to the surprise of his family, particularly his niece Charlie (Teresa Wright), who idolizes him. But she eventually realises that her Uncle Charlie is not a nice guy. In fact, he has a tendency of killing rich widows.

10. 'Spellbound' (1945)

United Artists

Ingrid Bergman plays a psychiatrist who helps an amnesia patient accused of murder, played by Gregory Peck, escape capture by police. The movie features an incredible dream sequence created by the legendary artist Salvador Dalí.

11. 'Strangers on a Train' (1951)

Warner Bros.

This Hitchcock essential follows two men who, after a chance encounter on a train, agree to kill the person each wants murdered. They are essentially pulling off the perfect crime -- until things go wrong.

12. 'To Catch a Thief' (1955)

Paramount Pictures

Set on the French Riviera, Cary Grant plays a retired jewel thief who has to clear his name when he's accused for a robbery he didn't commit. Things get more complicated when he falls for the actual thief, played by Grace Kelly.

13. 'Vertigo' (1958)

Universal

Arguably Hitchcock's masterpiece, Jimmy Stewart plays a cop forced into early retirement after developing a fear of heights. Later on, he's asked to do some private detective work which leads to him falling for the woman he's following (played by Kim Novak). But when his acrophobia stops him preventing her suicide he becomes obsessed and finds a lookalike to continue his obsession with her. Then things get really wacky. 'Vertigo' combines all of Hitchcock's loves -- sex, voyeurism, obsession, death -- and along with an incredible use of colour creates a flawless movie.

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