The Master

By Year
By Grade
New Reviews
Upcoming Reviews
Tributes New!
TV! Coming Soon
Contact me




A Tribute To Alfred Hitchcock

My Opinion

I know most of his material isn't, strictly speaking, horror, but Alfred Hitchcock is my favorite director. He wasn’t afraid to try and create art, and do it in a viable commercial format. These weren’t Salvador Dali art films, aimed at an audience of none, but they also weren’t spoon fed shallow and forgettable pap aimed at the masses. His were films that could be watched on many levels. From the casual filmgoer who just wanted to see a well-done mystery, to those looking for depth of character development, to those looking for a deep film with many levels of symbolism and interpretation, and that was all in one film. You can watch a Hitch film purely for entertainment or you can analyze it until the cows come home. Either way you won’t be disappointed. Of course my favorite Hitch film is "Psycho", but I think "Rope" is my second favorite simply because it took balls to even try!



Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, KBE (August 13, 1899 - April 29, 1980) was a highly influential film director and producer who pioneered many techniques in the suspense and thriller genres. He directed more than fifty feature films in a career spanning six decades, from the silent film era, through the invention of talkies, to the colour era. Hitchcock was among the most consistently successful and publicly recognizable directors in the world during his lifetime, and remains one of the best known and most popular directors of all time, famous for his expert and largely unrivalled control of pace and suspense throughout his movies. Hitchcock was born and raised in Leytonstone, London, England. He began his directing career in the United Kingdom in 1922, but from 1939 he worked primarily in the United States and applied for U.S. citizenship in 1956. Hitchcock and his family lived in a mountaintop estate high above Scotts Valley, California, from 1940 to 1972. He died of renal failure in 1980.

Hitchcock's films draw heavily on both fear and fantasy, and are known for their droll humour. They often portray innocent people caught up in circumstances beyond their control or understanding.

Rebecca was the only one of his films to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, although four others were nominated. However, Hitchcock never won an Academy Award for Best Director. He was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for lifetime achievement in 1967, but never personally received an Academy Award of Merit.

Until the later part of his career, Hitchcock was far more popular with film audiences than with film critics, especially the elite British and American critics. In the late 1950s the French New Wave critics, especially Éric Rohmer, Claude Chabrol, and François Truffaut, were among the first to see and promote his films as artistic works. Hitchcock was one of the first directors to whom they applied their auteur theory, which stresses the artistic authority of the director in the film-making process.

Hitchcock's innovations and vision have influenced a great number of filmmakers, producers, and actors. His influence helped start a trend for film directors to control artistic aspects of their movies without answering to the movie's producer.


Childhood and Youth

Alfred Hitchcock was born on August 13, 1899, in Leytonstone, Essex (now London), the second son and youngest of the three children of William Hitchcock, a greengrocer, and his wife, Emma Jane Hitchcock (née Whelan). His family was mostly Roman Catholic. Hitchcock was sent to the Catholic school St. Ignatius College in London. He often described his childhood as being very lonely and sheltered, which was undoubtedly compounded by his weight issues.

Hitchcock claimed that on one occasion early in his life, after he had acted childishly, his father sent him to the local police station carrying a note. When he presented the police officer on duty with the note, he was locked in a cell for a few moments, long enough to be petrified. This was a favorite anecdote of his, and the incident is often cited in connection with the theme of distrust of police which runs through many of his films. His mother would often make him address her while standing at the foot of her bed, especially if he behaved badly, forcing him to stand there for hours. This would be recalled by the character Norman Bates in Psycho.

At 14, Hitchcock lost his father and left the Jesuit-run St Ignatius' College in Stamford Hill, his school at the time, to study at the School for Engineering and Navigation. After graduating, he became a draftsman and advertising designer with a cable company.

About that time, Hitchcock became intrigued by photography and started working in film in London. In 1920, he obtained a full-time job at Islington Studios under its American owners, Famous Players-Lasky, and their British successors, Gainsborough Pictures, designing the titles for silent movies.

Pre-war British career

In 1925, Michael Balcon of Gainsborough Pictures gave him a chance to direct his first film, The Pleasure Garden made at Ufa studios in Germany. The commercial failure of this film threatened to derail his promising career. In 1926, however, Hitchcock made his debut in the thriller genre. The resulting film, The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog was a major commercial and critical success. Like many of his earlier works, it was influenced by Expressionist techniques he had witnessed firsthand in Germany. This is the first truly "Hitchcockian" film, incorporating such themes as the "wrong man".

Following the success of The Lodger, Hitchcock began his first efforts to promote himself in the media, and hired a publicist to cement his growing reputation as one of the British film industry's rising stars. In 1926, he was to marry his assistant director Alma Reville. Their daughter Patricia was born in 1928. Alma was Hitchcock's closest collaborator. She wrote some of his screenplays and (though often uncredited) worked with him on every one of his films.

In 1929, he began work on his tenth film Blackmail. While the film was in production, the studio decided to make it one of Britain's first sound pictures. With the climax of the film taking place on the dome of the British Museum, Blackmail began the Hitchcock tradition of using famous landmarks as a backdrop for suspense sequences.

In 1933, Hitchcock was once again working for Michael Balcon at Gaumont-British Picture Corporation. His first film for the company, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), was a success and his second, The 39 Steps (1935), is often considered one of the best films from his early period. It was also one of the first to introduce the concept of the "MacGuffin", a plot device around which a whole story would revolve. In The 39 Steps, the MacGuffin is a stolen set of blueprints.

His next major success was in 1938, The Lady Vanishes, a clever and fast-paced film about the search for a kindly old Englishwoman (Dame May Whitty), who disappears while on board a train in the fictional country of Vandrika (a thinly-veiled version of Nazi Germany).

By the end of the 1930s, Hitchcock was at the top of his game artistically, and in a position to name his own terms when David O. Selznick managed to entice the Hitchcocks to Hollywood.


Hitchcock's gallows humour and the suspense that became his trademark continued in his American work. However, working arrangements with his new producer were less than optimal. Selznick suffered from perennial money problems and Hitchcock was often unhappy with the amount of creative control demanded by Selznick over his films. Consequently, Selznick ended up "loaning" Hitchcock to the larger studios more often than producing Hitchcock's films himself.

With the prestigious Selznick picture Rebecca in 1940, Hitchcock made his first American movie, although it was set in England and based on a novel by English author Dame Daphne du Maurier. This Gothic melodrama explores the fears of a naïve young bride who enters a great English country home and must grapple with the problems of a distant husband, a predatory housekeeper, and the legacy of her husband's late wife, the beautiful, mysterious Rebecca. The film has also subsequently been noted for the lesbian undercurrents in Judith Anderson's performance. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1940. However, the statuette went to Selznick as the film's producer, and the film did not win the Best Director award. There were additional problems between Selznick and Hitchcock; Selznick, as he usually did, imposed very restrictive rules upon Hitchcock, hindering his creative control. Hitchcock was forced to shoot the film as Selznick wanted, immediately creating friction within their relationship. At the same time, Selznick complained about Hitchcock's "goddam jigsaw cutting," which meant that the producer did not have nearly the leeway to create his own film as he liked, but had to follow Hitchcock's vision of the finished product.

Hitchcock's second American film, the European-set thriller Foreign Correspondent, was also nominated for Best Picture that year. It was filmed in the first year of World War II and inspired by the rapidly-changing events in Europe, as covered by an American newspaper reporter portrayed by a wise-cracking Joel McCrea. The film cleverly used actual footage of European scenes and scenes filmed on a Hollywood backlot.

Hitchcock's work during the 1940s was diverse, ranging from the romantic comedy Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941) and the courtroom drama The Paradine Case (1947) to the dark and disturbing Shadow of a Doubt (1943).

Saboteur (1942) was the first of two films that Hitchcock made for Universal, a studio where he would work in his later years. Dealing with the threat of sabotage, without labeling the actual nation for whom the saboteurs worked (probably Nazi Germany), Hitchcock was forced to utilize Universal contract players Robert Cummings and Priscilla Lane, both known for their work in comedies and light dramas; Hitchcock made the most of the situation and actually got remarkably good performances from Cummings and Lane. Breaking with Hollywood conventions of the time, Hitchcock did extensive location filming, especially in New York City, and memorably depicted a confrontation between a suspected saboteur (Cummings) and a real saboteur (Norman Lloyd) atop the Statue of Liberty.

Shadow of a Doubt, his personal favourite of all his films and the second of the early Universal films, was about young Charlotte "Charlie" Newton (Teresa Wright) who suspects her beloved uncle Charlie Spencer (Joseph Cotten) of murder. In its use of overlapping characters, dialogue, and closeups it has provided a generation of film theorists with psychoanalytic potential, including Jacques Lacan and Slavoj 'i'ek. The film also harkens to one of Cotten's better known films, Citizen Kane. Hitchcock again filmed extensively on location, this time in the Northern California town of Santa Rosa.

Spellbound explored the then-fashionable subject of psychoanalysis and featured a dream sequence that was designed by Salvador Dalí. The dream sequence as it actually appears in the film is considerably shorter than was originally envisioned, which was to run for several minutes, because it proved to be too disturbing for the audience.

Notorious (1946) marked Hitchcock's first film as a producer as well as director. As Selznick failed to see the subject's potential, he allowed Hitchcock to make the film for RKO. From this point onwards, Hitchcock would produce his own films, giving him a far greater degree of freedom to pursue the projects that interested him. Notorious starred Hitchcock regulars Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant and features a plot about Nazis, uranium, and South America. It was a huge box office success and has remained one of Hitchcock's most acclaimed films. Its inventive use of suspense and props briefly led to Hitchcock's being under surveillance by the CIA due to his use of uranium as a plot device.

After completing his final film for Selznick, The Paradine Case, Hitchcock filmed his first colour film, Rope, which appeared in 1948. Here Hitchcock experimented with marshalling suspense in a confined environment, as he had done earlier with Lifeboat (1943). He also experimented with exceptionally long takes - up to ten minutes. Featuring James Stewart in the leading role, Rope was the first of an eventual four films Stewart would make for Hitchcock. Based on the Leopold and Loeb case of the 1920s, Rope is also among several films with homosexual subtext to emerge from the Hays Office-controlled Hollywood studio era.

Under Capricorn (1949), set in nineteenth-century Australia, also used the short-lived technique of long takes, but to a more limited extent. He again used Technicolor in this production, then returned to black and white films for several years. For these two films Hitchcock formed a production company with Sidney Bernstein, called Transatlantic Pictures, which folded after these two unsuccessful pictures.

Peak years and decline

With Strangers on a Train (1951), based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith, Hitchcock combined many of the best elements from his preceding British and American films. Two men casually meet and speculate on removing people who are causing them difficulty. One of the men, though, takes this banter entirely seriously. With Farley Granger reprising some elements of his role from Rope, Strangers continued the director's interest in the narrative possibilities of homosexual blackmail and murder. This was Hitchcock's first production for Warner Brothers, which had distributed Rope and Under Capricorn.

MCA head Lew Wasserman, whose client list included James Stewart, Janet Leigh, and other actors who would appear in Hitchcock's films, had a significant impact in packaging and marketing Hitchcock's films beginning in the 1950s. With Wasserman's help, Hitchcock received tremendous creative freedom from the studios, as well as substantive financial rewards as a result of Paramount's profit-sharing contract.

Three very popular films starring Grace Kelly followed. Dial M for Murder (1954) was adapted from the popular stage play by Frederick Knott. This was originally another experimental film, with Hitchcock using the technique of 3D cinematography, although the film was not released in this format at first; it did receive screenings in the early 1980s in 3D form. The film also marked a return to Technicolor productions for Hitchcock. Rear Window starred James Stewart again, as well as Thelma Ritter and Raymond Burr. Here, the wheelchair-bound Stewart observes the movements of his neighbours across the courtyard and becomes convinced one of them has murdered his wife. Like Lifeboat and Rope, the movie was photographed almost entirely within the confines of a small space: Stewart's tiny studio apartment overlooking the massive courtyard set. To Catch a Thief, set in the French Riviera, starred Kelly and Cary Grant.

A remake of his own 1934 film The Man Who Knew Too Much followed, this time with James Stewart and Doris Day, who sang the theme song, "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)" (which became a big hit for Day). The Wrong Man (1957), based on a real-life case of mistaken identity, was the only film of Hitchcock's to star Henry Fonda.

Vertigo (1958) again starred Stewart, this time with Kim Novak and Barbara Bel Geddes. The film was a commercial failure, but has come to be viewed by many as one of Hitchcock's masterpieces; it is now placed highly in the Sight & Sound decade polls.

Hitchcock followed Vertigo with three more successful pictures. All are also recognised as among his very best films: North by Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960), and The Birds (1963). The latter two were particularly notable for their unconventional soundtracks, both by Bernard Herrmann: the screeching strings in the murder scene in Psycho pushed the limits of the time, and The Birds dispensed completely with conventional instruments, using an electronically produced soundtrack. These were his last great films, after which his career slowly wound down (although some critics such as Robin Wood and Donald Spoto contend that Marnie, from 1964, is first-class Hitchcock). Failing health also reduced his output over the last two decades of his life. In 1972, Hitchcock returned to London to film Frenzy, his last major success. For the first time, Hitchcock allowed nudity and profane language, which had before been taboo, in one of his films.

Family Plot (1976) was his last film. It related the escapades of "Madam" Blanche Tyler played by Barbara Harris, a fraudulent spiritualist, and her taxi driver lover Bruce Dern making a living from her phony powers. William Devane, Karen Black and Katherine Helmond co-starred.

Near the end of his life, Hitchcock worked on the script for a project spy thriller, The Short Night, which was never filmed. The script was published in book form after Hitchcock's death.

Hitchcock was created a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in the 1980 New Year's Honours. He died just four months later, on April 29, before he had the opportunity to be formally invested by the Queen. Despite the brief period between his knighthood and death, he was nevertheless entitled to be known as Sir Alfred Hitchcock and to use the postnominal letters "KBE", because he remained a British subject when he adopted American citizenship in 1956.

Alfred Hitchcock died from renal failure in his Bel-Air, Los Angeles home, aged 80, and was survived by his wife Alma Reville, and their daughter, Patricia Hitchcock O'Connell. A funeral service was held at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Beverly Hills. His body was cremated and the ashes scattered.

Themes and devices


Hitchcock preferred the use of suspense over surprise in his films. In surprise, the director assaults the viewer with frightening things. In suspense, the director tells or shows things to the audience which the characters in the film do not know, and then artfully builds tension around what will happen when the characters finally learn the truth.

Audience as Voyeur

Further blurring the moral distinction between the innocent and the guilty, occasionally making this indictment inescapably clear to viewers one and all, Hitchcock also makes voyeurs of his "respectable" audience. In Rear Window (1954), after L. B. Jeffries (played by James Stewart) has been staring across the courtyard at him for most of the film, Lars Thorwald (played by Raymond Burr) confronts Jeffries by saying, "What do you want of me?" Burr might as well have been addressing the audience. In fact, shortly before asking this, Thorwald turns to face the camera directly for the first time - at this point, audiences often gasp.


One of Hitchcock's favourite devices for driving the plots of his stories and creating suspense was what he called the "MacGuffin." The Oxford English Dictionary, however, credits Hitchcock's friend, the Scottish screenwriter Angus McPhail, as being the true inventor of the term. Hitchcock defined this term in an interview to François Truffaut, in 1966. Hitchcock would use this plot device extensively. Many of his suspense films revolve around this device: a detail which, by inciting curiosity and desire, drives the plot and motivates the actions of characters within the story, but whose specific identity and nature is unimportant to the spectator of the film. In Vertigo, for instance, "Carlotta Valdes" is a MacGuffin; she never appears and the details of her death are unimportant to the viewer, but the story about her ghost's haunting of Madeleine Elster is the spur for Scottie's investigation of her, and hence the film's entire plot. In Notorious the uranium that the main characters must recover before it reaches Nazi hands serves as a similarly arbitrary motivation: any dangerous object would suffice. And state secrets of various kinds serve as MacGuffins in several of the spy films, especially his earlier British films The Man Who Knew Too Much, The 39 Steps, and The Lady Vanishes. In Psycho, an obvious MacGuffin at the beginning of the film (a package containing $40,000 in stolen money) is actually a red herring.

Signature Appearances in his Films

Many of Hitchcock's films contain cameo appearances by Hitchcock himself: the director would be seen for a brief moment boarding a bus, crossing in front of a building, standing in an apartment across the courtyard, or appearing in a photograph. This playful gesture became one of Hitchcock's signatures. As a recurring theme he would carry a musical instrument - especially memorable was the large double bass case that he wrestles onto the train at the beginning of Strangers on a Train.

In his earliest appearances he would fill in as an obscure extra, standing in a crowd or walking through a scene in a long camera shot. But he became more prominent in his later appearances, as when he turns to see Jane Wyman's disguise when she passes him on the street in Stage Fright, and in stark silhouette in his final film Family Plot.

Recurring Items and Themes

Hitchcock includes the consumption of brandy in nearly every sound film. "I'll get you some brandy. Drink this down. Just like medicine ..." says James Stewart's character to Kim Novak, in Vertigo. In a real-life incident, Hitchcock dared Montgomery Clift at a dinner party around the filming of I Confess (1953) to swallow a carafe of brandy, which caused the actor to pass out almost immediately. This near obsession with brandy remains unexplained. In Torn Curtain and Topaz, brandy is defined more closely as cognac.

Another almost inexplicable feature of any Hitchcock film is the inclusion of a staircase. Of course, stairways inspire many suspenseful moments, most notably the final sequence in Notorious and the detective's demise in the Bates' mansion in Psycho. However, a completely nonfunctional staircase adorns the apartment of the James Stewart character in Rear Window, as if Hitchcock feels compelled to its inclusion by some unspoken superstition. This, too, could be Hitchcock under the influence of German Expressionism, the films of which often featured heavily stylized and menacing staircases (cf. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari). In fact, early director Leopold Jessner is often credited with creating the first dramatic, filmic staircases in his 1921 film Hintertreppe.

A recurring theme in Hitchcock's movies is mistaken identity. Audiences see this theme in almost all of Hitchcock's movies. A prime example can be found in North By Northwest, when Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is mistaken for George Kaplan, a non-existent government agent made up by the CIA.

Another recurring theme is presence of the main character's mother - or some other character's mother - and the hold she either has or wishes to maintain, as seen in Rope, Strangers on a Train, North by Northwest, Psycho and The Birds.

In many of Hitchcock's movies, an ordinary person is thrust into an extraordinary situation. In The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) Dr. Ben McKenna is an ordinary man from Indianapolis who is on a vacation in Morocco and he winds up with his son getting kidnapped. This entangling of an ordinary protagonist in peril and guilt is also evident in Strangers on a Train, I Confess, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief, The Wrong Man, Vertigo, North By Northwest, Saboteur, Psycho, The Birds and others.

Hitchcock loved the number 7. He often placed numbers that added up to 7 in his movies.

Another recurring theme in Hitchcock's films is that of the bumbling authorities. In almost every single film, the police have little to no impact, often mistaking important clues or letting the villain go. This reportedly stems from an incident when Hitchcock was a young man, he was locked in a cell briefly.

Hitchcock often dealt with matters that he felt were sexually perverse or kinky, and many of his films aimed to subvert the restrictive Hollywood Production Code that prohibited any mention of homosexuality.

Cinematic Experimentation

Hitchcock seemed to delight in the technical challenges of filmmaking. In Lifeboat, Hitchcock sets the entire action of the movie in a small boat, yet manages to keep the cinematography from monotonous repetition. His trademark cameo appearance was a dilemma, given the claustrophobic setting; so Hitchcock appeared on camera in a fictitious newspaper ad for a weight loss product.

In Spellbound two unprecedented point-of-view shots were achieved by constructing a large wooden hand (which would appear to belong to the character whose point of view the camera took) and outsized props for it to hold: a bucket-sized glass of milk and a large wooden gun. For added novelty and impact, the climactic gunshot was hand-coloured red on some copies of the black-and-white print of the film.

Rope (1948) was another technical challenge: a film that appears to have been shot entirely in a single take. The film was actually shot in eight takes of approximately 10 minutes each, which was the amount of film that would fit in a single camera reel; the transitions between reels were hidden by having a dark object fill the entire screen for a moment. Hitchcock used those points to hide the cut, and began the next take with the camera in the same place.

His 1958 film Vertigo contains a camera trick that has been imitated and re-used so many times by filmmakers, it has become known as the Hitchcock zoom.

Although famous for inventive camera angles, Hitchcock generally avoided points of view that were physically impossible from a human perspective. For example, he would never place the camera looking out from inside a refrigerator. This helps to draw audience members into the film's action. (A notable exception is the pacing of the mysterious lodger being viewed through the floor from beneath in The Lodger (1927), giving the audience a visual to what the family is imagining in response to the sound of footsteps - which otherwise wouldn't come across as strongly in a silent film.)

His character and its effects on his films

Hitchcock's films sometimes feature male characters struggling in their relationships with their mothers. In North by Northwest (1959), Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant's character) is an innocent man ridiculed by his mother for insisting that shadowy, murderous men are after him (in this case, they are). In The Birds (1963), the Rod Taylor character, an innocent man, finds his world under attack by vicious birds, and struggles to free himself of a clinging mother (Jessica Tandy). The killer in Frenzy (1972) has a loathing of women but idolizes his mother. The villain Bruno in Strangers on a Train hates his father, but has an incredibly close relationship with his mother (played by Marion Lorne). Sebastian (Claude Rains) in Notorious has a clearly conflictual relationship with his mother, who is (correctly) suspicious of his new bride Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman). And, of course, Norman Bates' troubles with his mother in Psycho are infamous.

Hitchcock heroines tend to be lovely, cool blondes who seem proper at first but, when aroused by passion or danger, respond in a more sensual, animal, or even criminal way. As noted, the famous victims in The Lodger are all blondes. In The 39 Steps, Hitchcock's glamorous blonde star, Madeleine Carroll, is put in handcuffs. In Marnie (1964), the title character (played by Tippi Hedren) is a kleptomaniac. In To Catch a Thief (1955), Francie (Grace Kelly) offers to help a man she believes is a cat burglar. In Rear Window, Lisa (Grace Kelly again) risks her life by breaking into Lars Thorwald's apartment. And, most notoriously, in Psycho, Janet Leigh's unfortunate character steals $40,000 and is murdered by a reclusive lunatic. Hitchcock's last blonde heroine was - years after Dany Robin and her "daughter" Claude Jade in Topaz - Barbara Harris as a phony psychic turned amateur sleuth in his final film, 1976's Family Plot. In the same film, the diamond smuggler played by Karen Black could also fit that role, as she wears a long blonde wig in various scenes and becomes increasingly uncomfortable about her line of work.

Hitchcock saw that reliance on actors and actresses was a holdover from the theater tradition. He was a pioneer in using camera movement, camera set ups and montage to explore the outer reaches of cinematic art.

Most critics and Hitchcock scholars, including Donald Spoto and Roger Ebert, agree that Vertigo represents the director's most personal and revealing film, dealing with the obsessions of a man who crafts a woman into the woman he desires. Vertigo explores more frankly and at greater length his interest in the relation between sex and death than any other film in his filmography.

Hitchcock often said that his personal favourite was Shadow of a Doubt.

His style of working

Hitchcock once commented, "The writer and I plan out the entire script down to the smallest detail, and when we're finished all that's left to do is to shoot the film. Actually, it's only when one enters the studio that one enters the area of compromise. Really, the novelist has the best casting since he doesn't have to cope with the actors and all the rest."

Hitchcock would storyboard each movie down to the finest detail. He was reported to have never even bothered looking through the viewfinder, since he didn't need to do so, though in publicity photos he was shown doing so. He also used this as an excuse to never have to change his films from his initial vision. If a studio asked him to change a film, he would claim that it was already shot in a single way, and that there were no alternate takes to consider. However, respected film critic Bill Krohn in his book Hitchcock At Work has questioned the popular notion of Hitchcock's reliance on storyboards. In his book, Krohn after researching script revisions of Hitchcock's most popular works, concludes that Hitchcock's reliance on storyboards has been over-exaggerated and argues that Hitchcock only storyboarded a few sequences and not each and every scene as most think. He however admits that this myth was largely perpetuated by Hitchcock himself.

Similarly much of Hitchcock's hatred of actors has been exaggerated. Hitchcock simply did not tolerate the method approach as he believed that actors should only concentrate on their performances and leave work on script and character to the directors and screenwriters. In a Sight and Sound interview, he stated that, ' the method actor is OK in the theatre because he has a free space to move about. But when it comes to cutting the face and what he sees and so forth, there must be some discipline'. During the making of Lifeboat, Walter Slezak, who played the German character, stated that Hitchcock knew the mechanics of acting better than anyone he knew. Several critics have observed that despite his reputation as a man who disliked actors, several actors who worked with him gave fine, often brilliant performances and these performances contribute to the film's success.

Regarding Hitchcock's sometimes less than pleasant relationship with actors, there was a persistent rumor that he had said that actors were cattle. Hitchcock later denied this, typically tongue-in-cheek, clarifying that he had only said that actors should be treated like cattle. Carole Lombard, tweaking Hitchcock and drumming up a little publicity, brought some cows along with her when she reported to the set of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. For Hitchcock, the actors, like the props, were part of the film's setting.


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded Hitchcock the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, in 1967. However, despite six earlier nominations, he never won an Oscar in a contested category. His Oscar nominations were: for Best Director: Rebecca (1940), Lifeboat (1944), Spellbound (1945), Rear Window (1954), and Psycho (1960); as producer, for Best Picture: Suspicion (1941). Rebecca, which Hitchcock directed, won the 1940 Best Picture Oscar for its producer David O. Selznick. In addition to Rebecca and Suspicion, two other films Hitchcock directed, Foreign Correspondent and Spellbound, were nominated for Best Picture.

Hitchcock is considered the Best Film Director of all time by The Screen Directory.

Television and books

Along with Walt Disney, Hitchcock was one of the first prominent motion picture producers to fully envision just how popular the medium of television would become. From 1955 to 1965, Hitchcock was the host and producer of a long-running television series entitled Alfred Hitchcock Presents. While his films had made Hitchcock's name strongly associated with suspense, the TV series made Hitchcock a celebrity himself. His irony-tinged voice, image, and mannerisms became instantly recognizable and were often the subject of parody. He directed a few episodes of the TV series himself and he upset a number of movie production companies when he insisted on using his TV production crew to produce his motion picture Psycho. In the late 1980s, a new version of Alfred Hitchcock Presents was produced for television, making use of Hitchcock's original introductions in a colorised form.

Alfred Hitchcock appears as a character in the popular juvenile detective series, Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators. The long-running detective series was created by Robert Arthur, who wrote the first several books, although other authors took over after he left the series. The Three Investigators -- Jupiter Jones, Bob Andrews and Peter Crenshaw -- were amateur detectives, slightly younger than the Hardy Boys. In the introduction to each book, "Alfred Hitchcock" introduces the mystery, and he sometimes refers a case to the boys to solve. At the end of each book, the boys report to Hitchcock, and sometimes give him a memento of their case.

When the real Alfred Hitchcock died, the fictional Hitchcock in the Three Investigators books was replaced by a retired detective named Hector Sebastian. At this time, the series title was changed from Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators to The Three Investigators.

At the height of Hitchcock's success, he was also asked to introduce a set of books with his name attached. The series was a collection of short stories by popular short story writers, primarily focused on suspense and thrillers. These titles included Alfred Hitchcock's Monster Museum, Alfred Hithcock's Supernatural Tales of Terror and Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbinders in Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock's Witch's Brew, Alfred Hitchcock's Ghostly Gallery, Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories to be Read with the Door Locked, Alfred Hitchcock's A Hangman's Dozen and Alfred Hitchcock's Haunted Houseful. Hitchcock himself was not actually involved in the reading, reviewing, editing or selection of the short stories; in fact, even his introductions were ghost-written. The entire extent of his involvement with the project was to lend his name and collect a check.

Some notable writers whose works were used in the collection include Shirley Jackson (Strangers in Town, The Lottery), T.H. White (The Once and Future King), Robert Bloch, H. G. Wells (The War of the Worlds), Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain and the creator of The Three Investigators, Robert Arthur.

From Wikipedia


Silent films

1922 No. 13 Wardour & F.
1923 Always Tell Your Wife
1925 The Pleasure Garden
1926 The Mountain Eagle
1927 The Lodger
1927 Downhill
1927 The Ring
1928 Easy Virtue
1928 The Farmer's Wife
1928 Champagne
1929 The Manxman

British films

1929 Blackmail
1930 Juno and the Paycock
1930 Murder!
1930 Elstree Calling
1931 The Skin Game
1931 Mary Süd-Film
1932 Number Seventeen
1932 Rich and Strange
1933 Waltzes from Vienna
1934 The Man Who Knew Too Much
1935 The 39 Steps
1936 Secret Agent
1936 Sabotage
1937 Young and Innocent
1938 The Lady Vanishes
1939 Jamaica Inn

American films

1940 Rebecca
1940 Foreign Correspondent
1941 Mr. & Mrs. Smith
1941 Suspicion
1942 Saboteur
1943 Shadow of a Doubt
1944 Lifeboat
1944 Aventure Malgache Ministry of Information (French language propaganda short.)
1944 Bon Voyage Ministry of Information (French language propaganda short.)
1945 Spellbound
1946 Notorious
1947 The Paradine Case
1948 Rope
1949 Under Capricorn
1950 Stage Fright
1951 Strangers on a Train
1953 I Confess
1954 Dial M for Murder
1954 Rear Window
1955 To Catch a Thief
1955 The Trouble with Harry
1956 The Man Who Knew Too Much
1956 The Wrong Man
1958 Vertigo
1959 North by Northwest
1960 Psycho
1963 The Birds
1964 Marnie
1966 Torn Curtain
1969 Topaz
1972 Frenzy
1976 Family Plot

My Reviews

Number 17 (1932)- Early Hitch about a group of folks meeting up at an address, some by accident and some by design, after a jewel heist. A train that rides a ferry to mainland Europe runs under the house and the crooks want to be on that train. So who are the crooks and who are the cops? To tell you the truth I’m still not sure! This is old and the sound and lighting prove that and it is a very hard to follow confusing plot, made worse by the old look. There are some set pieces and some use of models (train sequence) that shows Hitch was ahead of his time even this early, but I can only recommend this for folks really interested in all things Hitch. C-.

Man Who Knew Too Much, The (1934)- These early Hitch flicks are harder than hell to follow! This is basically the same plot as his later remake; a vacationing couple witnesses an assassination, receive some information about a possible future assassination, and have their child kidnapped because of this information. Things seem to get quickly out of hand and the main character just isn’t believable as the frightened father willing to do almost anything to save his child. There are flashes of directorial brilliance to be sure, especially as the climax builds, but unless you’re a hardcore Hitch fan, stick with the remake! C-.

39 Steps, The (1935)- Twisty Hitch flick about a man in the wrong place at the wrong time, who can’t trust anyone, especially the cops! Yeah, this is Hitch’s most comfortable theme, and one of his earlier looks at the theme in the 1935 version of ’39 Steps’. Gunshots ring out at a nightclub and in the chaos outside a woman asks a man if she can come up to his apartment as she is scared. He says ‘yes’ and she tells him a story of spies, intrigue, and murder, which he doesn’t really believe, until she winds up with a knife in her back in his apartment, which he is promptly blamed for. He then must prove his innocence, but he isn’t sure who to trust, and might just make the wrong decision. His ability to escape bad situations is at times hilarious, but that was Hitch’s point, inept authorities were one of his favorite targets. A must see for Hitch fans as he develops what he would later explore more thoroughly in ‘Saboteur’ and ‘North by Northwest’. B+

Rebecca (1940)- While obviously not horror in the modern sense this is a classic gothic horror/suspense thriller which many consider Hitchcock’s first real masterpiece. It is dark, moody, unpredictable and well acted and paced (suffice it to say it is well directed but that goes without saying). Mr. DeWinter is filthy rich and spending some time in Monte Carlo, there he meets a snobbish rich lady’s paid companion, falls in love with her, marries her, and takes her back to his English mansion called Manderlay. There the new Mrs. DeWinter (who’s first name we never learn, which is part of the idea of her being a nameless replacement) is haunted by the memory of the first Mrs. DeWinter (the title’s Rebecca) who died in a sailing accident... or did she? Every where she turns there is a memory, or a reminder, but she is too young, too shy, and too naive to really do anything about it. She’s way out of her element and things are only made worse for her by the head house maid, who was a little too fond of Rebecca, and wants to make sure the new Mrs. DeWinter doesn’t supplant the old. I’ll give this one a very strong A, if you like Hitch’s slow paced suspense flicks you’ll like this.

Foreign Correspondent (1940)- I have to admit, I had a hard time getting into the first 45 minutes or so of this flick. Some dated humor, silly ‘tough guy’ reporter bits, stuff that generally makes dated movies well, dated. A reporter is sent off to Europe to cover the gathering clouds of war in the late 30s. He’s a smartass I guess just out for a story and a good time when a Danish treaty negotiator is assassinated right in front of him. From that point on we’re back in Hitch territory, with tense chase scenes, tense scenes of people hiding and almost getting caught, more assassination attempts, and twisty murder/intrigue plot. Several scenes rank up there as classics including the chase just after the assassination in the rain, shot from above all we see are hats and umbrellas, and the scene in the windmill, with the wind blowing the mill turning and someone lurking around every corner are just two among many. Yes, this is an almost shameless propaganda film trying to convince Americans that remaining neutral was not an option as WWII was starting up, but Hitch was able to pull it off by putting together a great film that despite a few unavoidable dated elements remains strong today. A

Suspicion (1941)- Let me start by saying again that I realize this is not horror, but it is Hitch so it does get included by proxy. Here we have Johnny an apparently wealthy eligible bachelor that all the upper crust young ladies gravitate towards. His charm, his light heartedness, and his slightly dangerous ‘devil-may-care’ attitude attract them apparently. Johnnie has met Lina though. She seems to be Johnny’s opposite, with her sensible shoes, hair in a bun, and child psychology books, but the attraction is mutual, especially when she over hears her father remarking about how she will end up an ‘old maid’. So they marry and travel Europe and end up in an expensive house when Lina finds out Johnny may not actually be who he seems to be. Can he be trusted? Is he really a great con artist or just a misunderstood gambling addict? Is he capable of murder? Apparently Hitch had a pretty dark ending set up for this one but RKO and Cary Grant’s manager would have none of it so we end up with a great film with a half baked ending that doesn’t really make sense. Too bad the big wigs can’t leave well enough alone. I’ll give this one a B- for a disappointing ending and a slightly too long build up at the beginning (which would have been OK had the pay off at the end been better).

Saboteur (1942)- It’s WWII and the Nazis are looking into a little sabotage on the American home front. A worker at an airfield tries to help fight a fire, turns out there’s gasoline in that fire extinguisher and his friend has died using it. This guy takes the blame but he knows who the real culprit is, too bad the real culprit doesn’t seem to exist. Cross-country chase ensues. Hitch takes us along for the ride from ranch, to truck driver, to blind pianist, to circus freaks, to the desert, to New York City and the Statue of Liberty. This movie is very similar in theme and feel to "North by Northwest", complete with the ending on an American icon. Although a little too long, it is some great directing and black and white cinematography. B-.

Shadow of Doubt (1943)- Little Charlie is tired of her boring typical life. She needs some excitement, or at least just some change. She sends a letter to her Uncle Charlie, her favorite uncle, asking him to come out for a visit; little does she know he’s already on his way for a visit, possibly because someone is after him. Uncle Charlie is a strange one and oddly uptight. Charlie’s dad and neighbor love detective stories and are always thinking of ways to pull off the perfect murder, could Charlie actually have already pulled some murders of his own? Is he in fact a serial killer? This is a great Hitch flick complete with suspense, tension, unnerving scenes, and awesome subplots and symbolism. A.

Lifeboat (1944)- Hitch loved to put people in tight confines and play out what that would be like and what could be worse than bobbing in a small lifeboat in the Atlantic during WWII? A mixture of crew and passengers makes for an interesting setup, toss in the captain of the German u-boat that sank the ship and you have tension galore along with a debate about humanity, trust, and revenge. There is a little too much obvious propaganda but that aside Hitch makes this one-set flick work on a lot of levels, and not many directors could! Also, props for not making the black character a stereotypical step’n’fetch-it type, an A- for this one.

Paradine Case, The (1947)- Hitch flick (but not horror, sorry) about a lawyer defending a woman accused of poisoning her husband. The lawyer is smitten with the woman and soon falls for her (people fall in love at the drop of a hat in these old flicks). He’s not building a very good case because he doesn’t ever want to hear anything negative about the gal, or her relationships, I’m thinking he should drop the case, he thinks about it but his wife tells him not to. He proceeds until the interesting court room scene when all the beans are spilled. While not really on par with some of Hitch’s great stuff, this is still an interesting character study with some good acting and an interesting plot and twist at the end. If you like court room dramas you’ll probably dig this one. B+

Rope (1948)- Hitch wanted to film a movie in one continuous flow, like a stage play. A camera could only hold 8 minutes of film at a time though so Hitch used 1 camera and did 8 minute ‘takes’, making the camera flow with the movement on the set, and ‘hid’ the edit points. His use of blocking and camera angles, despite this technique is amazing, as is the acting. The story? We have two obnoxious rich kids, one out going and verging on psychopathic, and one slightly more introverted, nervous, and impressionable. They decide some people don’t deserve to live so they kill one of their ‘friends’, hide him in a chest, and then invite friends and family (including the deceased’s father and girlfriend) over for dinner, which is served on the chest containing the body. The whole thing, from the directing to the acting to the story is pulled off brilliantly. Watch the sun set and the clouds move outside the window too as the whole thing was filmed on a stage. A must see for Hitch fans or film enthusiasts in general. A+.

Third Man, The (1949)- Post WWII Vienna, black market, danger, rubble, and ruins; perfect backdrop for a Hitch flick. A writer from the US shows up for a job offered by a friend, who he learns just after arriving, has been killed. He does a little digging and the details just don’t seem to add up, stories don’t mesh, and the local authorities would really like to see the writer leave, but he is insistent and accepts a job as a lecturer in order to stay on. He keeps digging and definitely does not like what he finds, and what he finds is a scary and perfectly played Orson Welles! A must see for Hitch and or suspense flicks this pretty much has it all, check out Welles’ speech in the park, and the chase scene is one of the best ever filmed. A+

Stage Freight (1950)- The reviews I read of this flick seemed unanimous, it was a very underrated Hitchcock film. If almost everyone thought it was underrated... How could it be underrated? Anyway, if it was at anytime rated low, then yes, it was underrated. I think it is a very good flick. Is it a masterpiece? Maybe not, but it is still great. We have a man who is in love with a famous stage actress, who happens to be married. She accidentally kills her husband and turns to the man for help. He helps and then turns to a friend for help... who then turns to her dad for help... And everyone gets deeper and deeper into the events and, of course, things are not at all as they seem. I guess Hitch caught some grief for fooling his audience the way he did in this one (I don’t want to reveal too much) but I think it worked really well and helps raise it above typical 50s murder mystery fair. Plus the cast is excellent, especially Marlene Dietrich as the diva actress and Alastair Sim as the Commodore. Check this one out if you like Hicth murder mysteries. A

Strangers on a Train (1951)- A forgotten Hitch ‘almost masterpiece’. Suspense and black humor permeate this tale of two men who meet on a train. One is a budding semi-pro tennis star, Guy, the other, Bruno, the son of a very wealthy man. Bruno has been reading the society pages and knows Guy wants to divorce his wife and marry the daughter of a powerful congressman. Bruno has an idea. What if he killed Guy’s wife and Guy would kill his father. It could be the perfect crime(s), no motive, no connections, no one would be the wiser and everyone would get what they want. Guy realizes Bruno is slightly off his rocker but after several drinks agrees that the idea might work, hoping Bruno will just leave him alone. Of course Bruno mistakes Guy’s agreement that the ‘idea’ might be a good one and of course implements his plan. We see Bruno edge towards insanity as he tries to get Guy to finish the plan out. Some classic scenes follow like Bruno crashing the high society party, sitting in the audience at the tennis match, and trying to get a particularly important lighter out of a storm drain. Like all Hitch films this movie appeals on many levels (is Bruno gay? Is the merry-go-round a symbol for conformity? Is Guy the ultimate conformist with Hitch actually getting us to root for his demise despite being ‘perfect’? And speaking of Guy being perfect, he obviously has it in him to become physically violent with a woman). Bruno is seen by many to be a prototype for Norman Bates too and I can see that comparison. Although the end may be a little over the top (merry-go-rounds should have governors on them!) this is some great Hitch. A very strong A.

I Confess (1953)- Interesting (non-horror, sorry) Hitchcock flick about a priest who is confessed to by a murderer, and, as Hitchcock film luck would have it, the priest, through a series of coincidences, is accused of the murder. The plot on the surface could seem a little convoluted but Hitch breaks it down step by step as we move through the movie. As is typical of Hitch we know from the start who the murderer is, Hitch rarely did ‘mysteries’, instead suspense is built by the conclusions drawn by the detectives as they piece together the story of the murder and find an apparent motive and by the continued contact the priest has with the murderer and his wife who live and work at the rectory. The film is full of obvious symbolism and plays on the martyrdom of the priest who steadfastly sticks to his vows. Although never as popular as many of his other films, this one holds up pretty well. A.

Dial ‘M’ For Murder (1954)- Classic Hitchcock. Originally filmed in 3D using a prohibitively expensive and complicated process, this film is virtually never seen in that way. A former professional tennis player has become accustomed to the good life, which is now provided by his wife’s money since he no longer plays. He discovers his wife was stepping out on him and worries that he may no longer be able to live that life style, so the best thing to do would be to devise the perfect murder so he can get all of her money. The movie picks right up the night before the murder is to take place, even though we find he has been planning it for quite sometime. In typical Hitchcock fashion, we know the entire plot. There is no real mystery here; the suspense comes from not knowing whether the plan will work, seeing the plan unfold, and then sympathizing with the villain. Genius! Of course the plan goes awry, but the husband improvises a new one that just might get him that money after all. This film brilliantly uses plot devices and character’s skills (the boyfriend is a murder mystery writer) to weave us through the story. I have to give this one an A+.

Rear Window (1954)- Jimmy Stewart is a famous photographer. Not the type that takes pictures of models in a studio, the type that takes pictures of wild animals in Africa, or wars in far off lands. Too bad he’s stuck in a wheel chair with a broken leg looking out the window of his apartment, which just looks out at the back of U shaped apartment building. He watches his neighbors with idle curiosity, and then begins to wonder what happened to one particular neighbor’s wife. Did the neighbor kill her or is he looking for adventure in his boring condition? Another paranoid, trapped, Hitchcock masterpiece, setting adventure and mystery in mundane situations. This is one of my favorite Hitch flicks and that says a lot. A+.

Trouble With Harry, The (1955)- Hitch whips out his notorious sense of black humor in this one. There’s a dead body in the hills near a small town. A hunter accidentally killed the man. Or did he, maybe it was the dead man’s wife, or maybe someone else. Everyone seems to feel responsible so the body is secretly buried, then exhumed, then buried again. This is an interesting little movie looking at people’s relationships, sense of responsibility, and dealings with death, and also dealing with love. It is an interesting story and an interesting little black comedy and shows really well how Hitch could turn something so simple into a really good movie. Yeah, that’s a young Beaver Cleaver toting around the dead rabbit. A-.

Wrong Man, The (1956)- An unusual Hitch flick about a man, Henry Fonda, wrongly accused of doing holdups in a New York neighborhood. He is a professional musician with little money and two kids but he lives the straight life, and is never the less misidentified as a hold up man when he tries to borrow against his wife’s insurance policy. As he is raked over the coals by the cops and the lawyers, toted about in hand cuffs, and put in a cell, his wife slowly loses her sanity, blaming herself for what happened (her need for dental work is why her husband wanted to borrow the money to begin with), and you get the feeling she may even half way believe her husband is guilty despite knowing his alibis are true (in a nasty twist of fate his alibi witnesses are both dead). This is all based on a true story, and from what I’ve read Hitch stayed pretty true to the real thing by filming in the correct locations and even using some of the real people involved rather than actors (this is why you won’t find this review in my regular review section as I don’t generally review films which are supposed to be true, not counting those loosely ‘based on a true story’.) There are many Hitchcock elements here like the cab ride to the precinct when Fonda is initially arrested, which works very well, as does the ending when we find the real culprit, and the contrast of shadows with the black and white that lends an almost expressionistic feel to the film, yet despite these flairs the film itself doesn’t feel ‘Hitchcockian’, which may actually be a tribute to his genius as he went strictly for realism this time out, yet still avoided the cliché docu-drama’ feel. A-.

Man Who Knew Too Much, The (1956)- I know what you’re thinking. A movie with Doris Day is on my horror site. I’ve said it before, I know Hitch isn’t really horror but I’m a fan and it’s my site. Anyway Doris and Jimmy Stewart are on vacation with their young son in Morocco when they fall into a little political intrigue by accident. When a mysterious man whispers a secret to Jimmy their son gets kidnapped for insurance against Jimmy telling the secret. Many of Hitch’s favorite themes then play out, normal man in a bad, almost helpless situation, inept police, and being at the wrong place at the wrong time. And, as usual, it all works really well. Hitch was the master, and although this may not be considered one of his best, fans of his will appreciate it. B+.

North by Northwest (1959)- Artistically this may not rank with Hitch’s best, but from a simple mystery/action/adventure standpoint it is at or near the top. Yes, it is basically just a rehash of Hitch’s older flicks ("Saboteur" etc.) but it simply works. I read somewhere that this movie has all the best elements of the old James Bond films, but this one has something those films didn’t have: Hitchcock! This film never takes itself too seriously, from some outrages plot twists to Carry Grant’s constant smart ass remarks we are reminded to just sit back and enjoy the ride. And what a ride it is. Grant plays an ad executive who, by a complete quirk of fate, is mistaken for a government spy, and through error after error is forced to play out the quirk of fate until the end, being chased by assassins, the police, and eventually the feds from New York to Chicago to Indiana to South Dakota. Along the way we get to see many of Hitch’s trademarks like the ‘everyman’ in the wrong place at the wrong time, inept police work, untrustworthy authorities, and conniving women. And of course several famous scenes like the crop duster chase and the climax on Mt Rushmore. Clocking in at over 2 hours it is a tad long but if you immerse yourself in the plot you won’t notice. A+

Psycho (1960)- What can I say about this flick that hasn't already been said. It is indeed a masterpiece from the master. Hitchcock is that rare example where his popularity and accolades are more than deserved. "Psycho" follows a woman who is in the process of making some bad decisions, these bad decisions lead her to the Bates Motel where she decides to go back and face the music for her decision making, but, as we know, it is too late for that. Hitch kills off his female lead about 1/3 into the movie, so where do we go from here. Well we try and figure out just what happened to her. One of Hitch's devices was to let the audience in on most of what was going on, that way you more or less knew what to expect (or at least you thought you did) and that's one thing that leads to a lot of the suspense, the waiting, and then the twist, and this one delivers a really good twist for those that haven't seen it (if there are any out there). Of course the shower scene is one of the most famous sequences in any genre of movies, from the music to the visuals, it is known more for what it doesn't show, and the influence it would play on future 'slasher' flicks, of which this is really the first. I admit to giving too many As in my grades since I get carried away sometimes but this movie truly deserves an A+.

The Birds (1963)- This is a bizarre flick! A man wants to buy some miner birds for his little sister's birthday (this guy looks like he's about 35 years old and he has a successful law firm in San Francisco and his sister is just turning 11, weird). Anyway a spoiled rich girl pretends to work at the pet store and then later delivers the miner birds to the lawyer's weekend home in Northern Cali as a practical joke. Then weird stuff starts happening. Wild birds seem to be occasionally attacking people for no reason, then they begin flocking together and attacking people, and things get progressively worse. I think the real fear in this movie is the constant feeling that it could actually happen (OK probably not but it seems more likely than an alien invasion, zombies, or other 'monsters'). The material is taken very seriously and there are no cosmic explanations thrown about, all we know is huge flocks of birds are randomly attacking people. But even in material that seems like it would be silly, Hitch is able to develop complex characters and interesting sub plots. It's another example of Hitch's ability to pull you into a movie and keep you there until the end, wasting no shots or sequences in the process, and another favorite from my youth. A.

Marnie (1964)- This film seems too long and a little too ‘talky’ to me but then if it was reedited what part would be cut out? Hitch never wasted a shot so each scene and each conversation leads to a deeper understanding of each character as they develop. And this film has great character development and is of course incredibly well directed. Hitch’s camera angles and blocking and his ability to tell the story through these techniques is nothing short of genius. The plot? Marnie is a thief and a con artist who happens to be deathly afraid of thunderstorms and the color red. She wants nothing more than to impress her frigid mother so she steals in order to buy her things. She is finally caught by her current boss, who gives her a choice, marry him or be turned in to the law. Marnie’s clepto ways and her sordid past can’t easily be erased though and Hitch takes us along for the ride. B+.

Torn Curtain (1966)- Paul Newman is a scientist pretty pissed about the funding for his missile defense shield project being cut. So he takes the drastic measure of defecting to develop the technology with the East German’s, who he knows are very close to completing the same type of project. The problem is his fiancé is suspicious and is secretly tagging along. Political intrigue and suspense ensue. This is Hitchcock at his best (no it’s not horror but...). The backdrop of the Cold War creates a perfect atmosphere for his brand of paranoid suspense. Who can you trust? How can you escape? Two of the greatest sequences are a murder scene of an East German secret police ‘body guard’ and the ‘good bus bad bus’ sequence. Even when you have a pretty good idea of what the outcome will be Hitch somehow pulls you into the action. A+.

Topaz (1969)- Not horror, but another spy espionage flick from Hitch, based on a spy thriller novel about behind the scenes goings on around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Not one of Hitch’s masterpieces but over all not a bad flick, it kept me interested despite its 2+ hour run time. A Russian defector brings news about Cuba to the US and they must depend on a French agent to get inside Cuba to confirm the information but what he finds is a leak at some of the highest levels of his own government. We jump around a lot and are introduced to a lot of characters but personally I thought Hitch pulled it off fairly well. Not great, but not bad either. B-

Frenzy (1972)- A later Hitchcock vehicle about a man wrongly accused of serial rape and murder. The tale is weaved around the man, his running from the law, professed innocence, and his set up by the real killer. Like many Hitchcock films we the audience are pretty much let in on what is happening and who is to blame as the plot develops so the suspense doesn't derive from any mystery but instead from our desire to see the story through and find out just exactly what will happen to the guilty and to the innocent (if in fact there really are any innocent). This movie is full of the typical black comedy and light humor that Hitch so often put in his movies. He somehow always maintained a perfect balance of so many emotions and so many layers in his films and this is a perfect example of that. A.

Family Plot (1976)- A Hitchcock dark comedy about a fake (or is she fake?) spiritualist who is tasked with finding the rightful heir to a huge fortune. He was born out of wedlock 40 years prior to a family that didn’t want to deal with a scandal so he was adopted out. Turns out he isn’t such a great guy now and makes a good living as both a jewel salesman and crook and isn’t above murder either. This is a very well made flick and full of good plot twists and turns but I’m not sure who the intended audience is. Not one of Hitch’s better flicks and the suspense is subdued by the comedy elements, probably really only good for Hitchcock completists. I’ll give it C+.

Black Humor