John Michael Hayes

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Butterfield 8 Review

What, you wanna see Liz Taylor as a call girl? Ya perv. Taylor's heralded performance as the archetypal hooker ("the slut of all time!") with a heart of gold is a bit overrated, it's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof all over again (which she made just two years prior) -- and that was a better movie, too. Laurence Harvey is more effective as the client she falls in love with -- alas, he's married and he's a cad, to boot. This leaves plenty of time for some Oscar-caliber waterworks, which is pretty much how Butterfield 8 shakes out.

The Man Who Knew Too Much Review

If Hitchcock ever got the chance to make a Bond film, it would have probably turned out something like this (or Topaz). A road trip with James Stewart and Doris Day traipsing from Morocco to London, it's two hours of red herrings and intense scenes, one of the least apologetic adventures he ever made.

The story is a spy tale wherein -- as usual for Hitch -- the bad guys finger the wrong man and end up abducting Stewart and Day's son when Jimmy is tipped off to an impending murder. As the double agent dies in his arms, he whispers the plan into Stewart's ear, and the chase is on. From a taxidermist's place to Albert Hall, The Man Who Knew Too Much never lets up until its climactic finale.

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Rear Window Review

Not only is Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window one of his best pictures, it's one of the best films ever made altogether.

The master craftsmanship on display (placing virtually the entire film within the confines of the apartment of hobbled photographer L.B. Jeffries -- the inimitable James Stewart -- referred to as "J.B. Jeffries" on the back of the DVD case) has few parallels in modern cinema. The story by John Michael Hayes is one of Hitch's simplest yet most gripping: Jeffries spies the cleanup of a supposed murder across the way from his Manhattan apartment -- a sinister Raymond Burr cleaning knives and whatnot. He tells his girlfriend (Grace Kelly) and she laughs. His nurse (the unforgettable Thelma Ritter) mocks him also, urging him to marry instead of peeping out the window at strangers. But slowly, the truth is revealed, and even his most ardent naysayers join in the plot to uncover the reality of what happened in the apartment across the way. By the end of the picture, Kelly is prepared to break into Burr's apartment via fire escape because she's certain of what has happened inside.

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To Catch A Thief Review

Alfred Hitchcock went a little soft in 1955, giving Cary Grant a largely throwaway role as a reformed cat burglar living incognito in the south of France. Hitch would really put Grant through the ringer in 1959's North by Northwest.

Here, though, Grant's enjoying a day in the sun -- and night -- as he tries to track down the villain that's giving him a bad name. You see, John Robie (Grant) is retired. But some young upstart is stealing his M.O. -- and the new cat's eyes are on Robie's new would-be girlfriend, Frances (Grace Kelly), and her mom (Jessie Royce Landis).

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