Floundering mimics and hopeless imitators come and go behind the camera, but there is only one Alfred Hitchcock. The "master of suspense," the committed ritualist who combined sadism and satire with the ease of a god, the schemer who created what critic Anthony Lane once called "a whole new etiquette of fear," remains a movie director without peer. What a pleasure, then, to behold the prospect of seven great Hitchcock thrillers back on the big screen. The Denver Art Museum's "Dial S for Suspense" series at the Starz FilmCenter is a virtual textbook of Hitchcockiana and bears watching by anyone who cares about film as art and entertainment. The schedule: September 13, The Lady Vanishes (1938), a sophisticated masterpiece from the director's formative British period, starring Margaret Lockwood as a vacationer in Europe and Dame May Whitty as the elderly traveling companion who disappears from their train; September 20, The 39 Steps (1935), an early espionage thriller that leads its embattled, wrongly accused hero, Robert Donat, from London to the Scottish Highlands in the company of a reluctant Madeleine Carroll; September 27, Shadow of a Doubt (1943), a wry portrait of small-town America in which mysterious Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten) keeps a dark secret from his sister and his adoring niece (Teresa Wright).
October 4, Notorious (1946), starring beautiful Ingrid Bergman as the daughter of a Nazi war criminal and suave Cary Grant as a government agent who forces her to infiltrate a ring of German refugees in Rio de Janeiro; October 11, the dazzlingly complex Vertigo (1958), the most obsessive of all Hitchcock thrillers (not least for its suggestion of necrophilia), in which San Francisco detective James Stewart becomes fixated on a shop clerk (Kim Novak) who bears a striking resemblance to the woman he loved, now dead; October 18, Psycho (1960), the scariest Hitch of the lot, complete with Mrs. Bates perched in her high window, the most famous murder sequence in the history of movies (get back in there and scrub that shower, Norman) and countless instances of the director's famous hair fetish; October 25, The Birds (1963), in which Tippi Hedren and Rod Taylor weather a relentless ornithological nightmare in the scenic coastal town of Bodega Bay.
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All films are at 7 p.m. The Starz FilmCenter is at 900 Auraria Parkway in the Tivoli Center. For information, call 303-820-3456 or 720-913-0105.