PEORIA — Alfred Hitchcock fans will receive a quadruple treat next week: four hits by the master of suspense shown in four successive days at the Peoria Riverfront Museum's Giant Screen Theater.

"Strangers on a Train" (1951), "North By Northwest" (1959) and "Vertigo" (1958) will be shown at 6 p.m. on March 7-9 respectively while "Psycho" (1960) concludes the series at 2 p.m. March 10.

Films will be introduced by Marc Eliot, a New York film critic and author, explaining an appreciation for Hitchcock came after studying under Andrew Sarris at Columbia University, where an entire semester was spent covering the director's work.

A renown New York critic whose reviews appeared in the Village Voice and Observer, Sarris was one of the first U.S. critics to recognize Hitchcock as a cinematic master, said Eliot.

Watching the Peoria series allow a viewer to see the links between movies, he said. "Some say Hitchcock made the same film 52 times, taking it a step further each time," said Eliot.

The films selected also represent a turning point in Hitchcock's career, he said. "After some critical successes that fell short at the box office, Hitchcock signed with Warner Brothers to make 'Strangers on a Train,' the movie that put him back on track," said Eliot, the author of more than a dozen books on modern culture, including biographies of Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart, two of Hitchcock's favorite leading men.

"Stewart really wanted the lead in 'North By Northwest' but I think Hitchcock was right to go with Grant for the role," he said.

Seen the movies before? Consider what Sarris wrote about "Psycho," the first film he reviewed for the Village Voice in 1960: "'Psycho' should be seen at least three times by any discerning film-goer, the first time for the sheer terror of the experience, the second time for the macabre comedy in the conception of the film … and a third for all the hidden meanings and symbols."

But Hitchcock movies aren't the only classic films to be offered in Downtown Peoria in March. Once again, the Peoria Public Library presents its film noir series at 2 p.m. each Saturday of the month organized by the Journal Star's Steve Tarter.

This year, the theme is elevators. Films include "L.A. Confidential" (1997) this Saturday with "DOA" (1950), "Elevator to the Gallows" (1958), "Big Clock" (1948) and "Maltese Falcon" (1941) to follow on each successive Saturday afternoon.

Helen Burgess, a charter member of the Book ’Em Mystery Readers Discussion Group in Peoria, will introduce "DOA" on March 9. She'll offer a brief profile of her cousin, Neville Brand, the actor who played the role of a henchman in the film.

Steve Tarter covers city and county government for the Journal Star when he's not watching old black-and-white movies. Contact him at 686-3260 or Follow him at Twitter@SteveTarter and