Alfred Hitchcock

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Producers, directors and media figures

Alfred Hitchcock

Hitchcock in 1956.
Born: August 13, 1899
Leytonstone, London, England
Died: April 29, 1980
Bel Air, Los Angeles, USA
Occupation: Film director and producer
Spouse: Alma Reville

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, KBE ( August 13, 1899 – April 29, 1980) was a highly influential British 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 unrivaled control of pace and suspense throughout his movies. Entertainment Weekly went so far as to give him the title of the greatest film director ever.

Hitchcock was born and raised in London, England. While he began his directing career in London, he worked primarily in the United States beginning in 1939 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. This often involves a transference of guilt in which the "innocent" character's failings are transferred to another character, and magnified. Another common theme is the basic incompatibility of men and women; Hitchcock's films often take a cynical view of traditional romance.

Rebecca was the only one of his films to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, although four others were nominated. Hitchcock never won the 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.


Early life

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 Catholic boarding schools 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 and the one that followed it, The Mountain Eagle, 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.

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, and made the most of the situation. Breaking with Hollywood tradition, 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 and the second of the 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 Žižek. 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 which was designed by Salvador Dalí. The actual dream sequence in the film was considerably cut from the original scene planned to run for some minutes, but proved too disturbing for the finished film.

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 on, Hitchcock would produce his own films, giving him a far greater degree of freedom to pursue the projects that interested him. Starring Hitchcock regulars Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant and featuring a plot about Nazis, uranium, and South America, Notorious 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.

Hitchcock's first colour film, Rope appeared in 1948. Here Hitchcock experimented with marshalling suspense in a confined environment, as he had done earlier with Lifeboat. He also experimented with exceptionally long takes — up to ten minutes (see Themes and devices). 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 this short-lived technique, 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 significent 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.

1956 saw the release of two films by Hitchcock: The Wrong Man, based on a real-life case of mistaken identity, his only film to star Henry Fonda, and a remake of his own 1934 film The Man Who Knew Too Much, this time with James Stewart and Doris Day, who sang the theme song, " Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Qué Será, Será)" (which became a big hit for Day).

1958's Vertigo 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.

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 Marnie, from 1964, is first-class Hitchcock). 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.

Failing health slowed down his output over the last two decades of his life.

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 Years 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.

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.

Most 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. (See a list of Hitchcock cameo appearances.)

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 replaced by 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.

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.)

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.

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.

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 FBI.

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, Psycho, The Birds and others.

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

Another reoccuring 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, when as part of a tour to a police station he was locked in a cell briefly.

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), glamorous blonde Tippi Hedren is a kleptomaniac. In To Catch a Thief (1955), glamorous blonde Grace Kelly offers to help someone she believes is a cat burglar. In Rear Window, Lisa risks her life by breaking into Lars Thorwald's apartment. And, most notoriously, in Psycho, Janet Leigh's character steals $40,000 and gets 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. It is interesting to note that 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 is becoming increasingly uncomfortable about her line of work.

Hitchcock saw that reliance on actors and actresses was a holdover from the theatre 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' (see ). 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.

The first book devoted to the director is simply named Hitchcock. It is a document of a one-week interview by François Truffaut in 1967. ( ISBN 0-671-60429-5)


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); and

as a 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 was knighted in 1980.

Television and books

Along with Walt Disney, Hitchcock was one of the first persons 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.

Alfred Hitchcock is also immortalised in print and appeared as himself in the very popular juvenile detective series, Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators. The long-running detective series was clever and well written, with characters much younger than the Hardy Boys. In ghost-written introductions, "Alfred Hitchcock" formally introduced each case at the beginning of the book, often giving them new cases to solve. At the end of each book, Alfred Hitchcock would discuss the specifics of the case with Jupiter Jones, Bob Andrews and Peter Crenshaw and every so often the three boys would give Alfred Hitchcock mementos of their case.

When Alfred Hitchcock died, his chores as the boys' mentor/friend would be done by a fictional character: a retired detective named Hector Sebastian. Due to the popularity of the series, Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators scored several reprints and out of respect, the latter reprints were changed to just The Three Investigators. Over the years, more than one name has been used to replace Alfred Hitchcock's character, especially for the earlier books when his role was emphasised.

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, 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.



Fear of Eggs (Ovophobia)

Alfred Hitchcock had an extreme fear of eggs (also known as ovophobia), he said: I’m frightened of eggs, worse than frightened, they revolt me. That white round thing without any holes … have you ever seen anything more revolting than an egg yolk breaking and spilling its yellow liquid? Blood is jolly, red. But egg yolk is yellow, revolting. I’ve never tasted it. Fear of eggs

Fear of the police

Hitchcock also had a serious fear of the police, which reportedly was the reason he never learned to drive. His reasoning was that if one never drove, then one would never have an opportunity to be pulled over by the police and issued a ticket.

Frequent collaborators

  • Sara Allgood
  • Saul Bass
  • Charles Bennett
  • Ingrid Bergman
  • Robert Burks
  • Madeleine Carroll
  • Leo G. Carroll
  • Joseph Cotten
  • Hume Cronyn
  • Robert Cummings
  • Joan Fontaine
  • John Forsythe
  • Farley Granger
  • Cary Grant
  • Ben Hecht
  • Tippi Hedren
  • Bernard Herrmann
  • Malcolm Keen
  • Grace Kelly
  • Charles Laughton
  • Peter Lorre
  • Vera Miles
  • Ivor Novello
  • Anny Ondra
  • Gregory Peck
  • Jessie Royce Landis
  • James Stewart
  • John Williams
  • Edith Head
  • Albert Whitlock

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