Everything director Alfred Hitchcock touched contained a spark of his genius–even the walk-on roles he played in each of his movies. Which makes choosing a favorite impossible, but of course we had to try. Here are our top picks.
1. North by Northwest
This is how we feel. Every. Morning.
Although Hitchcock makes his confirmed cameo here, getting a bus door slammed in his face just as his director credit flashes across the scene, it was once claimed that Hitch had a second cameo in North by Northwest. About 44 minutes in, a woman in a turquoise dress appears. Some eagle-eyed fans thought this character was Hitchcock in drag. However, it was later confirmed that the character was actually played by Jesslyn Fax.
Out-of-Control Children + Public Transportation = Worst Nightmare
One of Hitchcock's earliest films, and the first British movie filmed with sound, Blackmail is still beloved today. This film features one of Hitchcock's longest cameos, clocking in at 20 seconds.
3. Rear Window
The film’s true mystery: Why is Hitchcock winding that man’s clock? (And no, that’s not a euphemism.)
As a wheelchair-bound James Stewart watches his neighbors' daily life from his window, he sees an assortment of strange things, including Hitchcock, winding the songwriter's alarm clock. Why the man was incapable of winding his own clock is, unfortunately, not discovered by the end of the film.
4. To Catch A Thief
Hey buddy, take a picture; it’ll last longer.
Cary Grant and Grace Kelly (in her final Hitchcock film) star in this romantic thriller. When John Robie (Grant) is accused of returning to his thieving days, he escapes the police by feigning a getaway in his car and instead boarding a bus, where he sits down next to Hitchcock.
5. The Birds
We love a man who loves dogs.
Trivia time: Those are Hitchcock’s real pooches in the shot. The dogs, Sealyham Terriers, were named Geoffrey and Stanley. There's something charming about the stately names for such small pups.
Although these dogs threaten to steal the show, the film's really about the birds, which are threatening to take over the small town of Bodega Bay after Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) arrives in town and begins spending time with a local lawyer, Mitch Brenner.
Never the before; always the after.
Lifeboat presented a bit of a conundrum when it came to Hitchcock's signature cameo. Since all of the characters were trapped on a boat, it wouldn't be possible for another person to briefly show up then leave. Then Hitchcock had an idea. The auteur had recently lost a lot of weight–so why not star in a weight loss ad of his own creation?
7. Shadow of a Doubt
Forget directing. Hitchcock’s true calling: card shark.
Shadow of a Doubt, which inspired Park Chan-wook's 2013 film, Stoker, follows a teenage girl named Charlie, who is ecstatic to hear that her Uncle Charlie is coming to visit. Uncle Charlie takes a train to the family's house, where he encounters Hitchcock, who has a full suit of spades.
8. Strangers on a Train
The Master of Suspense goes maestro.
In this film, adapted from a Patricia Highsmith novel, two men meet each other on a train and decide to "swap murders". One wants his wife killed so he can marry his new girlfriend, the other wants to kill his father. Hitchcock's cameo occurs early in the film, before the deal has been made, carrying a double bass bigger than him.
9. Dial M for Murder
A black-tie “Where’s Waldo?”
Dial M for Murder features the barest flash of a Hitchcock cameo. After Tony decides to kill his wife, Margot, he invites an old classmate from Cambridge who has gone a bit seedy to his flat. He blackmails the man into helping him kill Margot–but not before showing off a class reunion photo, with Hitchcock on the left side.
10. The Wrong Man
No man casts a longer shadow.
The Wrong Man is a bit of an oddity within the Hitchcock canon–it's based on a true story and is meant as a docudrama, following the real events described closely. To underscore that intent, Hitchcock appears at the beginning of this film, walking onscreen to assure the audience that every word of this film is true.
Featured still from "Blackmail" via Twentieth Century Fox