Alfred Hitchcock may have died in 1980, but the iconic director apparently never goes out of vogue. Along with HBO's new film. "The Girl," there are a couple of other Hitchcock-related projects in the pipeline, including a big-screen biopic starring Anthony Hopkins as the master of suspense, and a TV-series prequel to "Psycho."
In addition, Hitchcock's "Vertigo," recently dethroned "Citizen Kane" as the greatest film of all time in a survey of movie critics.
Why the continued interest? "He was a great showman -- the rare director who put the audience first," says Gwyneth Hughes, screenwriter for "The Girl." "And he was all about emotion. He really knew how to reach through the screen in the dark and grab you."
But with such an expansive body of work, where does a Hitchcock neophyte begin? Here are five essential films:
1. "Vertigo" (1958): Hitchcock's most self-revealing film is pegged to a former San Francisco detective (James Stewart) who becomes obsessed with a mysterious woman (Kim Novak). It's so weird, so unsettling and so complex that we get dizzy just thinking about it.
2. "Psycho" (1960): An undisputed horror classic, this is the movie that made people afraid to shower. Anthony Perkins shines as the shy and charming, yet lethal, motel manager beset with mommy issues.
3. "Rear Window" (1954): Hitchcock turns us into peeping Toms for this creepy exercise in voyeurism. But are our eyes playing tricks on us?
4. "Strangers on a Train" (1951): There's a lesson to be learned here: Be careful whom you sit next to during your commute. Two people meet on a train, one of whom suggests a diabolical murder swap. Do they have the guts to pull it off? It makes for an electrifying ride.
5. "North by Northwest" (1959): Hitchcock mixes a breezy sense of humor with high-octane action, as Cary Grant plays an ad man mistaken for a spy. On the run he goes. Poor Cary gets attacked by a crop duster, only to wind up hanging from Mount Rushmore with Eva Marie Saint.