Hitchcock wasn't a surrealist in the usual sense. His trick, I suppose, was to film reality yet present it in a slightly unreal, cinematic way. But that has more to do with his affinity for the technical side of the business, of making use of the camera and other mechanics of filmmaking, to present a stylized image of reality, rather than trying to create some alternate or deliberately bizarre version of reality. This was why he was less concerned with his scripts from a standpoint of logic. He simply wanted his stories to move so he (and, hopefully, the audience) could have fun and enjoy the ride.
Some of us here (myself included) like to deconstruct his films to point out plot issues. But this is part of the fun, and in a way a tribute to Hitchcock's art. That most people like most of his films even when they present some illogical plot developments is an example of how the director still could make an enjoyable movie while not adhering to strict rules of common sense. Besides, Hitchcock is hardly alone in filming scripts that don't hold up logically in many areas.
I have to say the seven Hitch films you've seen are among his best, but I'm glad to see you rank Vertigo next-to-last on your list. A lot of people go wild over that film, which Sight and Sound magazine last year named the best film ever made, in its once-a-decade poll of film critics and historians worldwide. (It upended the choice of the past 50 years, Citizen Kane.) I have never much liked that film, which I find pretentious and excruciatingly slow and dull. I don't require non-stop action as in North by Northwest, but Vertigo is to me a rather vacuous, overrated and ultimately pointless movie. It has its moments, and yes, I know all the great artistic significance it's supposed to convey, but I think that's all empty blather by self-appointed experts who feel the more obscure they sound the more others will be in awe of them.
If I may, I'd like to recommend some others to broaden your Hitchcock experience, including a couple of his pre-Hollywood British classics:
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934: mainly because you've seen this version)
The 39 Steps (1935)
The Lady Vanishes (1938)
Foreign Correspondent (1940)
Shadow of a Doubt (1943) (his personal favorite of his films, and an excellent one)
Lifeboat (1944) (technically brilliant, and a solid plot)
Rope (1948) (debatable quality but interesting for his technical approach, and his first color film)
I Confess (1953)
To Catch a Thief (1955) (Hitchcock light, nothing more)
The Birds (1963)
I've left out some good ones (Blackmail, Rebecca, Saboteur, Spellbound), but since he did 54 movies I think improving on 13% of his output will give you a better idea of his talents. Most of these films generally are considered classics. Best of all, they'll be there if and when you get to them.
Yeah, I saw Vertigo precisely because it did take over that top spot. Super overrated--glad we agree on that one.
Just tonight, I added another Hitch film to the list: Frenzy. Interesting to see him working in the '70s, and there was one brilliant shot (I'm sure you can guess which one), but overall it was pretty "meh".
I've always wanted to check out Lifeboat and The Birds, so I will look for those next. At that point, I will have seen ten of his films, including as you say the ones generally reputed to be his best. So even if it's a small percentage, there are only so many hours in a day and days in a lifetime, and ten is a sizable number.
My top 250: http://www.flickchart.com/Charts.aspx?user=SlackerInc&perpage=250
Frenzy is an interesting one to have seen. It was his next-to-last film (his last, Family Plot from 1976, is a weak comedy-mystery that just kind of withers away, so it's one you can miss), and something of a return to his cinematic roots, as well as to England. I tend to agree with you: "meh". Though I also have to say I like that one a little better each time I see it. Originally, many years back, it didn't appeal to me so much.
Lifeboat is one of five films he had an Oscar nomination for. (The others: Rebecca, Spellbound, Rear Window, Psycho.) It's of necessity very tightly constructed, taking place entirely within the titular craft, and it was very controversial in 1944 for its depiction of -- well, so as not to even remotely give anything away, let's just say, of the male character who becomes the center of attention. Also it's one of the very few screen appearances of Tallulah Bankhead, the brilliant Broadway star who only occasionally made films; this was by far her best and most important. She won the Best Actress award from the New York Film Critics but was the first woman to win that and not even be nominated for an Academy Award. To an extent it's wartime propaganda but in a most unusual way. I think you may like that one.
The Birds is generally considered his last great film and is also quite neatly put together. A little slow on the build-up but the payoff is great and the performances quite good. If you see it now it's a fitting tribute to its late star, Rod Taylor.
I do hope over time you do see some more of his work. As I said, they'll be there if and when you want them. I like Hitchcock but am not one of his blind admirers; in fact the artificiality of many of his films, or their plot weaknesses, have over time eroded, though not eradicated, my pleasure in some of them. But then there are usually so many things to look for (even when they don't work) that he's certainly worth your occasional while. And some (like Lifeboat) have grown in my preferences as I watch and get more out of them. He made a few bad films and some "mehs", and he's far from an unflawed filmmaker even at his best, but he was certainly one of the most innovative and remarkable talents of twentieth-century motion pictures.
And you and I belong to that exclusive club of discerning individuals less than overwhelmed by the elusive charms of Vertigo!