Vertigo was recently crowned the best film of all time, but the objectification of its heroine is hard to take on an empty stomach. Rear Window, also beloved by critics, is slow paced and clever rather than frightening, known for being groundbreaking in style. For the slow-burning suspense the master does so well, I’d begin with Notorious.
Technically, this is a film about a spy tracking down a Nazi plot. Actually, it’s about highly dysfunctional relationships, including the romance between stars Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant, which you would find disturbing if the relationships between Bergman and the Nazi and the latter (Claude Rains) and his mother weren’t so much worse.
Bergman is in peril as the spy who marries the Nazi, and Grant’s hurt feelings get in the way of his assistance. Watch it for the stars’ performances, your increasing fear about Bergman’s fate, and one of the creepiest mother-son relationships you’ll ever encounter. I haven’t been this horrified since I watched wholesome Angela Lansbury’s dangerous games with her son in The Manchurian Candidate (1962) or Lucille playing dress-up with hers in Arrested Development.