In the year 1939, Hitchcock arrived on the U.S. soil to continue his career as a director. He immediately became an object of interest for the media due to his British accent, unusually big belly and, of course, enormous talent that he possessed.
It was at this time that, during one of the press interviews commited at the 21 restaurant in New York, he gave away a Hitchcock fan's wet dream - a list of his ten favorite movies of all times.
The director was still only forty at the time and he lived twice that, but there is no need to worry if he would dictate the same list at the age of 60, or 75. He was a silent picture fanatic and it's doubtful that later movies impressed him more than the classics present here.
What he gave away was an extremely precious confession and one that famous directors don't do often enough.
Hitch began his career back when there was no such thing as talkies yet and until the last years of his life he kept repeating that silent movies were near-perfect before sound came in.
Therefore, it is no surprise that his all time favorite picture was a silent movie. Cecil DeMille was idolized by the British director, but even of all his movies Saturday Night had a special place in his heart.
The film deals with two mismarriages and the consequences that they bring. This is put in the context of class differences - a very popular theme in the British cinema at the time.
Just one year later, another silent cinema picture was made that made Hitch turn his head in awe.
Based on the Crittenden Marriott's novel of the same title, The Isle of Lost Ships is a science fiction tale about discovering a lost race living in the Saragasso Sea region, that is highly intelligent and organized.
Six years later, another director Irvin Willat made another adaptation of the book, and bearing the same title too.
Unfortunately, both movies have been lost and even getting the original novel is very hard, with only one reproduction being made.
To make things worse, Marriott's other book Out of Russia is sometimes falsely sold as The Isle of Lost Ships. Even Amazon does this at the moment of writing this article.
Fortunately, it is very easy to get ahold of this movie, as it was a big box office hit and its film rolls have been cared for and restored.
Not surprisingly, it is another inter-class struggle. Just like Britishmen in general, Hitchcock loved these and even tried to incorporate them into his works. Thus, we often see higher class as nonchalant, corrupted buffoons in his pictures (a view he held privately as well).
A young lower-class man André is in the center of the intrigue and is played by an absolute playboy actor of the time Ramon Novarro (who, ironically, was born into a very rich and influential family with dead poor people all around him).
André's loving relationship with higer-class Aline cannot survive the class-difference pressure and he has to give way to an unpleasant character called Marquis de la Tour d'Azyr. The break seems permanent, as André has to run away, but the fate soon crosses their paths again.
Hitchcock's favorite director Cecil B. DeMille has another picture that he found immensely inspiring. It was a Cinderella story called Forbidden Fruit.
Back in 1921, DeMille made a second attempt at a story he has already put on screen in 1915 (The Golden Chance), convinced that he can do it better now.
This time, the lower-class seems to show its uglier face, but the subject is more personal than it is sociological.
The story is about a woman who is trapped inside marriage with an abusive husband, but feeling that she needs to do "the right thing", she sustains and stays by his side, even when a man who could guarantee her a better life falls in love with her.
But one day, the husband goes one step too far and the marriage collapses.
Another 1921 movie on this list is Sentimental Tommy (not to confuse with D.W. Griffith's 1928 movie with the same title).
The director John S. Robertson is mostly known for his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but he made many interesting pictures and Sentimental Tommy is certainly one of those. This one was made just before Robertson's brief spell at Islington Studios.
The story is based on two novels by Sir James M. Barrie titled Sentimental Tommy and Tommy and Grizel.
The title Tommy is played by Gareth Hughes, to whom this picture was particularly important - it made him the first Welsh actor to penetrate American market, which had seemed like a near-impossible task at the time.
The next picture also belongs to John S. Robertson and it was made 3 years later, when the director's Islington adventure came to an end.
The Enchanted Cottage is a faithful adaptation of Arthur Wing Pinero's play that debuted just one year earlier.
Oliver (played by Richard Barthelmess) is the main protagonist who comes back tired and crippled from the war and seeks a quiet place to rest and escape his family life. There, he meets Laura (May McAvoy) who comes with her own baggage, but the two manage to hit it off with each other.
The party responsible for providing the glue for this closure is the titled enchanted cottage, for it served as house for honeymoon couples and love absorbed by it from the freshly-married now seems to come back through Laura and Oliver.
More than two decades later, John Cromwell made another attempt to bring the play to the big screen and while it is a pleasant watch, it stands no chance against Robertson's version.
This 1925's film is a popular favorite among silent era movie buffs. Coming with wonderful choreography, great acting and interesting camerawork, it's hard to find faults here.
Both censors and critics were not happy to see it though. The main character is Boss Hunter, depicted by Emil Jennings, who is far from a good guy, which was a faux pas in the films of the era.
Some scenes were unconventional, the whole thing was very spicy for the times and has a strong ending. All these things combined made many people raise red flags, but they also caused the audience to fall in love with it.
Unfortunately, enthusiastic efforts to cut the film's unwanted parts by the censors stripped it from many quality scenes and the version that survived is without many scenes.
The Last Command was one of the most interesting films in 1928 and to this day remains a priceless classic of early cinema.
The amount of interest and critical appraise this picture received after release is best proven by the fact that in the very first Oscar ceremony Emil Jannings got an Oscar for Best Actor and was also nominated for Writing (Orginal Story).
Interestingly, since the rule that one person can't be awarded in one category more than once, he also won it for Zukor's The Way of All Flesh.
The Oscar was well deserved - Jannings played a very expressive role of Russian Czar's aristocratic cousin that ends up in Hollywood. A nice twist to the cliches (that weren't established at the time yet, but still) was that Hollywood is actually a dead end and a graveyard for his morale. He once used to be nobility that could do as he pleases in a totalitarian country. But no more, now he's just a next nobody working for scraps in the city of dreams.
The worse is yet to come though, as the director of a movie he is about to star in is a Russian revolutionary whose comrades were once tormented by Jannings' character, and he's not about to let go.
It's hard to imagine a list of classic movies without Charlie Chaplin being behind one of them. The iconic actor-slash-director is probably the most recognizable persona of the silent era and not without reason - to this day, many of his pictures are regarded as the most essential in the years they were made in.
Despite the fact that City Lights, Modern Times and almost all the other Chaplin classics have already been made at the time of the Hitchcock interview, he chose a slightly less praised position as an object of worship (also late in Chaplin's career, though).
Charlie Chaplin plays a prospector who goes on a gold-seeking expedition. Little he knows at the time that even though he will find it, something even more precious is going to appear on his radar. And it's a girl named Georgia. Winning her heart becomes the top priority.
Tho Gold Rush was nominated for two Oscars, both in the audio department.
Compared to most of the movies on the list, this particular one is considerably heavier and more depressing.
I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang is a story of a World War I veteran James Allen, for whom bad times didn't end with the Treaty of Versailles. Convicted for a small crime he didn't commit, he was imprisoned and escaped, was then conned back into jain again and escaped again!
While most silent movies dealt with everyday topics (falling in love being the favorite), and if there was a wider meaning behind them, it was communicating through those everyday subjects, this picture is a near-direct commentary on the state of things in the middle of the Great Depression in the American South. This approach made the director Mervyn LeRoy's movie a hit both with critics and the audience.
What makes it even more interesting though is the fact that it is based on a true story. The unfortunate chap being Robert Elliott Burns, who was pardoned soon after the film became popular and continuing his hunting (he was still on the run with a sentence hanging over his head at the time of making the movie) was no longer an option for the law.