The Durango Independent Film Festival and The Animas City Theatre Present the Summer of Hitchcock, a free classic movie series playing at 6 p.m. the second Sunday of each month at Animas City Theatre.

Here’s a quick look at each of the three films screening this summer in restored digital format. If you have not seen any them, take this chance to correct that oversight — all of them are exceptional and required viewing for any film lover.

Sunday, June 9 - PSYCHO
1960 ‧ Mystery/Slasher ‧ 1h 49m
It’s hard for contemporary audiences to truly appreciate how far Hitchcock pushed conventional film boundaries with “Psycho.”

Today, we marvel at how he built tension with deft edits and very little actual violence. (Filmmaker Alexandre O. Philippe devoted an entire documentary to the artistry of the infamous shower scene.)

In 1960, just showing Janet Leigh in her bra was way out there, not to mention raising gender identity issues with poor Norman Bates and (gasp) filming a flushing toilet.

The similarly edgy, voyeuristic “Peeping Tom,” also released in 1960, destroyed the career of respected UK director Michael Powell; perhaps only a filmmaker of Hitchcock’s mammoth stature could have gotten away with “Psycho.”

In many ways, it’s become Hitchcock’s most underappreciated film. “Psycho” introduced core tropes that were adopted by the Italian Giallos and then later American slashers (all due credit: so did “Peeping Tom,” which opened first).

But it’s so much more than its progeny would lead you to believe. Marion Crane is one of the most richly defined characters ever to appear in a thriller, and Hitchcock accomplished her entire arc in about 30 minutes. Masterful.

PG 1954 ‧ Mystery/Thriller ‧ 1h 55m

Hitchcock so perfectly captured the sense of helpless, claustrophobic panic in “Rear Window” that the film has been knocked off countless times. But nothing comes close to the original.

A lot of the credit must go to writer Cornell Woolrich, who created the story’s flawless mechanics — a voyeur passes the time by leering at his neighbors, until he stumbles upon a murder.

Jimmy Stewart stars as the wheelchair-bound photographer who’s morally compromised from the start — he wasn’t looking to fight crime when he first pointed that telephoto at other people’s windows. And then he draws Grace Kelly, the perfect porcelain idolum of ’50s femininity, into the whole tawdry mess.

Stewart can see the danger, but he can’t act directly to stop it. And he can’t look away.

“Rear Window” is perhaps the most subversive of all Hitchcock’s films — “Shadow of a Doubt” (1943) openly takes a shot at the fallacy of American wholesomeness through its villain, but in “Rear Window,” the good guys like it a little dirty, too.

It’s overtly voyeuristic, a theme that kept surfacing in Hitchcock’s work (yes, Hitch was a perv in real life) and in later films such as David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” (1986). The theatrical set design of the neighboring apartment building where all action happens creates a sense of staged unreality — in many ways, “Rear Window” is Hitchcock’s commentary on the new media of television.

And Raymond Burr is super creepy as the heavy.

1959 ‧ Drama/Mystery ‧ 2h 16m
The genius of this, the greatest of “everyman” thrillers, is that lead Cary Grant is about as far as you can get from being an everyman. He’s friggin’ Cary Grant — he maintains his effortless charm even as he is drawn into a world of peril, espionage and forced binge drinking. Every plot twist makes perfect sense, and Hitchcock builds more tension with a single crop duster than modern directors can wring from a fleet of CGI stealth bombers.

And that’s the point. Less is more, particularly when the less is Cary Grant and James Mason having a suave-off. All the performances are immaculate. Hitchcock somehow makes you believe Martin Landau is physically intimidating. Eva Marie Saint is perfect as the girl in peril who’s not a helpless as she looks.

More so than any of Hitchcock’s other spy thrillers, “North by Northwest” appeals to modern audiences, primarily due to its constant humor. But unlike Marvel superhero blockbusters, the quips heighten the tension, instead of diffusing it. If you know a big fan of the “Mission Impossible” franchise, take them to this movie. They will thank you for it.




See these classic thrillers on the big screen!

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