Alfred Hitchcock

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search
/wiki/Alfred Hitchcockcreator

The acknowledged master of cinematic suspense, "Hitch" is one of the most famous directors of all time. Most people have probably seen one of his films at some time. He was "Sir Alfred" for a brief four months before his death in 1980. He also produced and hosted the television anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents from 1955 to 1965, although he only actually directed a handful of the show's episodes. Many of his films are adaptations of novels or short stories.

Made frequent use of the 'MacGuffin' and popularized the term. Has been played by Anthony Hopkins in "Hitchcock", a film by Sacha Gervasi about the making of Psycho. Based on images, Hopkins certainly looked the part.

Some films directed by Hitchcock include:
  • The Lodger - a silent movie, and the first Hitchcock thriller.
  • Blackmail - the first talkie he directed (and in fact, the first talkie ever made in Great Britain). A young woman kills an attempted rapist in self defense, and a petty thief discovers evidence that suggests it was murder. He tries to blackmail her, but unwittingly winds up implicating himself.
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much - A British couple learn about an assassination plot, and the assassins kidnap their daughter to keep them quiet. (Later remade in color by Hitch himself; see below.)
  • The 39 Steps - source of the quote for Anonymous Ringer.
  • Sabotage - An American woman in London suspects her husband is part of a bombing plot. Roiled audiences with its aversion of Infant Immortality.
  • The Lady Vanishes - A young playgirl befriends an old woman on a train who disappears without a trace, and discovers a spy ring conspiracy while searching for her.
  • Rebecca - a naive young woman marries an independently wealthy widower, but is haunted by the legacy of his deceased first wife Rebecca.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Smith - Screwball Comedy about a couple learning their marriage wasn't valid. Not to be confused with the 2005 Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie film.
  • Suspicion - A woman suspects that her husband is planning to murder her. The first of four Hitchcock films starring Cary Grant.
  • Saboteur - A Nazi starts a fire at a plane factory and an innocent man gets framed.
  • Shadow of a Doubt - A small-town teenager comes to suspect her uncle is a serial killer, but nobody believes her.
  • Lifeboat - Survivors of a torpedoed ship during WW 2 bicker while confined to a lifeboat. Bombed in the box office for its characterization being considered Too Soon.
  • Spellbound - A mental hospital gets a new director, but it turns out he has secrets of his own. Has dream sequences designed by Salvador Dali.
  • Notorious - A convicted Nazi's American daughter is recruited by government agents to spy on his old friends who are hiding in Argentina. With Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant.
  • The Paradine Case - An English barrister falls in love with the defendant in a murder trial.
  • Rope - Two young men murder a friend as an intellectual exercise, then put his body in a trunk. Then proceed to host a dinner party off of it. The first of four Hitchcock films to feature James Stewart.
  • Under Capricorn - A Costume Drama with tragic undertones. Set in 1831-1832 Australia.
  • Stage Fright - Charlotte Inwood, a well-known actress and singer, looses her husband to a murder. Suspicion falls on her supposed lover Jonathan Cooper. Eve Gill, an acting student, sets out to prove his innocence and find out whether Charlotte herself performed the murder. But everything is not what it seems.
  • Strangers on a Train ...strike up a conversation about the people in their lives they want dead. One suggests they trade murders so they won't get caught. The other one laughs it off. The first guy was serious.
  • I Confess - A priest hears a confession of murder from one of his church workers- then is accused of the crime himself.
  • Dial M for Murder - A man hires a hitman to bump off his cheating wife (Grace Kelly, in her first of three Hitchcock films). However, the hitman ends up being killed by the wife in self-defence, so the man decides to kill her through the judicial system and frames her for murder... Based on a play, it's one of Hitch's best known and an example of a movie Bottle Episode.
  • Rear Window - James Stewart plays a photographer with a broken leg and nothing better to do but spy on his neighbors... and do some amateur sleuthing (with the help of Grace Kelly) when he suspects one of them of murder.
  • To Catch a Thief - A reformed Gentleman Thief has to clear his name when he's framed for a new spate of burglaries. Stars the French Riviera, with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in supporting roles.
  • The Trouble with Harry - After Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Hitchcock's only real attempt at pure comedy. A man dies in a Vermont forest. We discover just how many times you can bury and dig up the same corpse.
    • He's in a deep, deep, wonderful sleep.
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much - remake of original in which Doris Day and James Stewart get their son kidnapped and "Que Sera, Sera" (the song was written for this film) plays a big part.
  • The Wrong Man - Henry Fonda gets falsely accused of robbery. Based on a true story.
  • Vertigo - a San Francisco policeman (James Stewart) who is afraid of heights is asked by an old college buddy to watch the man's wife, who is just not herself lately... and finds himself falling, in ways other than the one he fears.
  • North by Northwest - Involving a man who doesn't exist, a crop duster and a murder in the UN. And, once again, Cary Grant.
  • Psycho - Janet Leigh tries to steal some money and winds up having a fatal encounter in a shower.
    • While this plot twist has achieved It Was His Sled status by now, it was a massive shock at the time -- films simply did not off their lead a third of the way in. (Usually they still don't, but now we have spoilers on the Internet if they ever do.)
  • The Birds - Impossible to describe without it sounding like a B Horror film, especially since its premise is one of the classic B horror plots, but it's okay, because everyone already knows what it is about.
  • Marnie - A psychological thriller starring Sean Connery married to the titular kleptomaniac.
  • Torn Curtain - Michael Armstrong, an esteemed American rocket scientist, defects to East Germany. Sarah Sherman , his assistant and fiancée, reluctantly follows him. Armstrong is actually a Fake Defector but the Stasi is determined to keep him within the East German borders.
  • Topaz - In Copenhagen, a high-ranking Soviet intelligence officer defects to the West with his wife and daughter. He informs the CIA that the Soviets are positioning missiles in Cuba. André Devereaux, a French agent, is assigned to further investigate the matter. His mission leads him first to New York City, then to Cuba. While events lead up to the Cuban Missile Crisis, Devereaux' personal life takes several turns for the worse.
  • Frenzy - one of the most graphic of Hitch's films, this involves a man being framed for a bunch of sex murders.
  • Family Plot - A dark comedy featuring William Devane (Secretary Heller from 24).

Most people consider either Vertigo or Psycho to be his Magnum Opus, although Hitchcock himself considered Shadow of a Doubt to be his best.

It should be noted that Hitchcock did not direct The Third Man, as is widely believed. He didn't do Charade, either, although the latter was referred to by one reviewer as "The best Hitchcock film that Hitchcock never made".

Alfred Hitchcock provides examples of the following tropes:
  • Author Appeal: Blondes.
  • Black Comedy: Frequently.
  • Claustrophobia
  • Creator Cameo: Entire pages chronicle his appearances.
    • He appears personally in silhouette, speaking, to introduce The Wrong Man, apparently because it was based on a true story.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The man was known to have an absolutely cutting sense of humor, as well as a contempt for anyone who interfered with his own creative process. Combine the two...
    • One of his most famous quotes was "I never said actors are cattle. I said actors should be treated like cattle."
  • Depraved Homosexual: Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca, the Leopold and Loeb stand-ins in Rope, and Martin Landau's character in North By Northwest.
  • Enforced Method Acting:
    • In the attic scene in The Birds, Hitchcock had crew guys hurling real gulls and crows at Tippi Hedren...for five straight days of shooting. As a result, she was plagued by dreams of flapping wings.
    • The story of Rebecca called for Joan Fontaine to be nervous around the other actors, so Hitchcock told her that no one else on set liked her.
  • Freudian Excuse (you have to ask?)
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Examples are too numerous to list.
  • Missing Episode: Hitchcock's first film, a 1923 release called The White Shadow, was thought lost for more than 80 years--until its first three reels were found as part of a private collection in New Zealand.
  • My Beloved Smother
  • Police Are Useless
  • Prima Donna Director: Much beloved for many good reasons, but let's face it, the man was a control freak extraordinaire.
    • He planned his movies in meticulous detail, at least as much as Stanley Kubrick... to the extent that he was often depressed when pre-production was finished, because actually shooting the film was boring and required less effort.
    • However, there are some people who had worked for Hitchcock who would go out of their way to defend him at the drop of a hat. A prime example of this is actor Norman Lloyd, later to play Dr. Daniel Auschlander on the NBC medical drama St. Elsewhere, who worked for Hitchcock as an associate producer and director on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and with good reason. At the time, Hitchcock was the only person willing to give him any type of gainful employment. Other than that, he had been blacklisted in the entertainment industry for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee and identify suspected communists and as a result, had been branded as a communist himself.
    • He was also known for his appalling treatment of his female leads, even beyond his infamous Yandere actions toward Tippi Herden.
  • Scare'Em Straight: When Hitchcock was a child, his father once punished him by sending him down to the local police station with a note explaining his misbehavior and asking the police to lock him in a cell for ten minutes. The incident left him with a lifelong fear of the authorities. The irony of it all was that the young Hitchcock never learned what he had done to deserve that punishment. Neither his father or the police told him anything.
  • Scenery Porn
  • Strangulation
  • Tracking Zoom: the "Vertigo" Shot
  • Wrongly Accused (a lot)
  • Yandere: Towards Tippi Hedren — he made a point of ruining her career, allegedly because she rejected his advances.