Good Evenings with Hitchcock and the Pittsburgh Classic Movie Club
A series of films from the master of suspense kicks off this week at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library in Carnegie.
For more than a century, the films of Alfred Hitchcock have maintained a beloved place in the minds and hearts of filmgoers.
Several of the master filmmaker’s works continue to show up on lists of the greatest films of all time; the recent update to the venerable Sight & Sound survey included the classic mystery “Vertigo” at No. 2. New generations continue to respond to landmarks such as “Psycho” and “The Birds.” And big-screen revivals of Hitchcock’s filmography are common.
But they rarely take place in environments as beautiful as the Andrew Carnegie Free Library in Carnegie.
That stately venue will host a new, free series of Hitchcock classics presented by the Pittsburgh Classic Movie Club. The lineup kicks off at 7 p.m. on April 5, with a showing of “Vertigo.”
“It’s the plot, the suspense,” says Wendy Whittick, the club’s president. “People really enjoy mystery-type films … It’s interesting, it’s suspenseful, it keeps them on the edge of their seats.”
Whittick selected the films for the series, which will also feature “Shadow of a Doubt” (April 19), Best Picture winner “Rebecca” (May 3) and “The Birds” (May 10).
“I try to start out with something I know people are going to recognize,” Whittick says, “then I try to put in some that are lesser known but among my favorites.” That includes the slow-burn 1943 mystery “Shadow of a Doubt,” starring a haunting Joseph Cotton.
While not among the most frequently revived Hitchcock films, it’s not only Whittick who considers “Shadow of a Doubt” one of the best.
“It was Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite,” she says. “It’s very sinister.”
The historical venue, Whittick says, adds to the experience of seeing a classic film. It’s one of two series the club has presented recently to take advantage of a venue older than the films themselves, after a recent lineup of silent films at the Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall.
With that series, “the architecture there was so historic — you just felt the atmosphere of the silent films so beautifully … It’s nice to have a historic venue, in these beautiful libraries.”
The communal experience of discovering and revisiting classics, Whittick believes, is what makes events such as these special.
“Classic films give [moviegoers] a sense of nostalgia, maybe from their childhood … [But] maybe they don’t get the chance to go out and talk about it” under normal circumstances. “I’ve just been finding so many people who love classic film in Pittsburgh.”
While all screenings in the Alfred Hitchcock series are free, the Pittsburgh Classic Movie Club asks that guests bring a non-perishable food item to be donated to the Salvation Army Chartiers Valley Service Center. Screenings start at 7 p.m., and more events — including an outdoor series for the warmer months — will be announced soon.