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Beyond Blonde: Hitchcock’s Most Sensational Leading Ladies

Alfred Hitchcock is one of the most famous directors in film history. Mention his name and it’s instantly recognized, even by those who have never seen his movies. That same name is almost synonymous with two things for which Hitchcock is known. For instance, Hitchcock’s known as the “Master of Suspense”. Hitchcock worked almost exclusively in this genre and is one of its’ foremost directors.

The other association made with his famous name is the concept or stereotype of the “Hitchcock blonde”. He often cast reserved, icy, blonde leading ladies. Their deceptive appearance often masked a smoldering interior life. And while one might assume he only worked with blonde actresses, that is not so. Many of his films feature leading ladies with darker tresses. Therefore, I thought it was high time Hitchcock’s other leading ladies received some attention. It’s not fair (or true) that “blondes have all the fun.”

RELATED: Five Romantic Films – Hitchcock Style

For the purposes of this list, I am not including the leading ladies from  Hitchcock’s early British films. I am only listing actresses from his films starting in 1936.


(In no particular order)

1. Shirley MacLaine – The Trouble with Harry (1955)

List:Hitchcock's Other Leading Ladies
John Forsythe & Shirley MacLaine
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

IMDb Synopsis: The trouble with Harry is that he’s dead, and everyone seems to have a different idea of what should be done with his body.

Additional Info: MacLaine plays single mother Jennifer Rogers. She’s one of many people who stumble across a dead body. Each person then thinks they are guilty of the man’s death and then takes pains to hide the body. Jennifer has a personal connection to the deceased as his estranged wife. As an interesting tidbit, this is MacLaine’s debut film for which she won a Golden Globe. On another note, this is the director’s second comedy, albeit a dark one.

Where to Watch: Rent/Buy on YouTube, GooglePlay, and iTunes

2. Ruth Roman – Strangers On A Train (1951)

List:Hitchcock's Other Leading Ladies
Ruth Roman & Robert Walker
Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

IMDb Synopsis: A psychotic socialite attempts to force a professional tennis star to prove a theory that two complete strangers can get away with murder.

Additional Info: Roman plays the wealthy love interest to Farley Granger’s tennis star. It’s his desire to marry her that leads him into an arrangement to have his wife murdered.

Where to Watch: Rent/Buy on Amazon, YouTube, GooglePlay and iTunes

3. Jane Wyman – Stage Fright (1950)

List:Hitchcock's Other Leading Ladies
Jane Wyman & Marlene Dietrich
Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

IMDb Synopsis: A struggling actress tries to help a friend prove his innocence when he’s accused of murdering the husband of a high society entertainer.

Additional Info: The blonde Marlene Dietrich is also cast in this film as a suspected murderer. But Wyman remains the heroine who goes undercover to clear her friend’s name.

Where to Watch: Rent/Buy on Amazon, YouTube, GooglePlay, iTunes and PlayStation

4. Teresa WrightShadow of a Doubt (1943)

List:Hitchcock's Other Leading Ladies
Joseph Cotten & Teresa Wright
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

IMDb Synopsis: A young woman discovers her visiting uncle may not be the man he seems to be. (Hitchcock was quoted as naming this as his favorite film)

Additional Info: This is only Wright’s fourth film, but she had already been Oscar-nominated twice with one win. Furthermore, both Wright and Hitchcock list this as their favorite film.

Where to Watch: Rent/Buy on Amazon, YouTube, GooglePlay and iTunes

RELATED: The Miniaturist -A Suspenseful Adaptation Sure to Please

5. Maureen O’Hara – Jamaica Inn (1939)

List:Hitchcock's Other Leading Ladies
Maureen O’Hara with Charles Laughton
Photo Credit: Mayflower Productions

IMDb Synopsis: In Cornwall in 1819, a young woman discovers that she’s living near a gang of criminals who arrange shipwrecks for profit.

Additional Info: Adapted from the Daphne de Maurier novel, O’Hara plays the heroine, Mary Yellan. And, she’s one of the few redheads to appear in a Hitchcock film.

Where to Watch: Stream on Roku. Rent/Buy on YouTube, GooglePlay and iTunes

6. Margaret Lockwood – The Lady Vanishes (1938)

List:Hitchcock's Other Leading Ladies
Margaret Lockwood & Michael Redgrave
Photo Credit: United Artists

IMDb Synopsis: While traveling in continental Europe, a rich young playgirl realizes that an elderly lady seems to have disappeared from the train.

Additional Info: Lockwood is Iris Hunter, the playgirl who meets the elderly lady. When the woman vanishes, Iris’ sanity is questioned when she’s the only one who remembers the woman’s existence. Often listed as a favorite among Hitchcock enthusiasts. Lockwood was the number one box office star in Britain during the 1940’s. Moreover, this film was her breakout role and brought her to the attention of Hollywood.

Where to Watch: Stream on Film Struck. Rent/Buy on Amazon

7. Sylvia Sidney – Sabotage (aka The Woman Alone) (1936)

List:Hitchcock's Other Leading Ladies
Oskar Homolka & Sylva Sidney
Photo Credit: General Film Distributors Ltd.

IMDb Synopsis: A Scotland Yard undercover detective is on the trail of a saboteur who is part of a plot to set off a bomb in London. But when the detective’s cover is blown, the plot begins to unravel.

Additional Info: Sydney is the unsuspecting wife of the saboteur who is befriended by the undercover detective.

Where to Watch: Stream on Roku and Film Struck. Rent/Buy on iTunes

8. Laraine Day – Foreign Correspondent (1940)

List:Hitchcock's Other Leading Ladies
Laraine Day & Joel McCrea
Photo Credit: United Artists

IMDb Synopsis: On the eve of World War II, a young American reporter tries to expose enemy agents in London.

Additional Info: Day plays Carol Fisher, a young woman who finds herself embroiled in the reporter’s investigations.

Where to Watch: Stream on Film Struck. Rent/Buy on iTunes

Have you seen any of these films? Do you have a favorite Hitchcock movie? 

Featured Top Image: Strangers on a Train (Warner Brothers)

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By on October 17th, 2018

About Brittaney B.

Brittaney has had her head in the clouds ever since she first fell in love with books and film as a young child. She's a firm believer in the power of story to transport us to new places while also transforming our hearts. She tends to favor historical fiction and classic films since they also allow her to feel like a time traveler. Brittaney is a native resident of Texas and has been honing her own ability to write and tell stories for many years now. You can find more of her wordsmith skills at her website www.storyenthusiast.com.

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