Friday, October 30, 2009

Alfred Hitchcock: A Tribute

I have a bunch of favorite directors. Most notably, Frank Capra, William Wyler, and Alfred Hitchcock. In the spirit of Halloween, here’s a tribute to the amazing Master of Suspense, Sir Alfred Hitchcock.

Brief Biography

His career spanned six decades, and everyone can name at least one of his incredible films. We know him for many of his ‘trade marks,’ whether it be his use of blondes, often making cameos in his films, his use of dark humor, or his neat camera angles. A lot can be said about the extraordinary man.

Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone, London, England on August 13th, 1899. His parents were strict Catholics and he attended St. Ignatius College, a school for engineering and navigation. When he was around fifteen or sixteen years old in 1915, he has his first job as an estimator for the Henley Telegraph and Cable Company. In 1920, he became a title designer. He designed movie titles for all the ones made as Lasky’s studio. The first film he directed was Number 13 in 1922, but it was unfinished. The director of Always Tell Your Wife (1923) fell ill and Hitchcock took after. After that, the rest is history. He married his wife, Alma Reville, in 1926 and was with her until his death in 1980 [that’s a long time]! He died on April 29th, 1980 of renal failure. He was eighty.

Although is career as a director was extremely successful and spanned over half a century, he never won an Oscar. He was nominated 5 times for Best Director [Psycho, Rear Window, Spellbound, Lifeboat and Rebecca]. He did receive the 1968 Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award and in 1979, the American Film Institute awarded him the Life Achievement Award.

My Top Hitchcock Flicks

Rear Window (1954) - My favorite. Grace Kelly is stunning, and the entire film keeps you on your toes. A professional photographer (James Stewart) is wheelchair-bound after breaking his leg trying to get an ‘action shot’ at an auto race. To pass the time, he stares out the window of his New York apartment, spying on his neighbors and following their lives. However, he begins to suspect that one of the neighbors murdered his wife. He enlists in the help of his fashionista girlfriend (Grace Kelly) and his visiting nurse.

The Birds (1963) - Not the greatest ‘effects,’ as in the bird scenes… but still excellent in my opinion. A sociliate and prankster (Trippi Hedren) meets a man while shopping at a pet store. The man named Mitch (Rod Taylor) is looking to buy a pair of love birds for his sister’s birthday. She decides to buy her own pair and drive up to the lake where Mitch spends his weekends with his mother and sister. After being nipped by a seagull on the way across the lake, bizarre bird attacks begin to happen.

Psycho (1960) - I shouldn’t give too much away. I love the film though. A young woman (Janet Leigh) steals $40,000 from her employer’s client. While on her way to visit her boyfriend Sam, she grows tired and decides to stop at a motel for the night. However, tragedy strikes when the young hotel owner’s mother has pushed him too far.

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) - Because I can’t summarize it as nicely… “A family vacationing in Morocco accidentally stumble on to an assassination plot and the conspirators are determined to prevent them from interfering.”

And of course, I do love Spellbound, North by Northwest, Notorious, and Vertigo a whole lot, also!


  1. I remember both his TV and movie classics. One of the parts of the tv productions I enjoyed very much was his droll commentary. Because of the rule that criminals couldn't be depicted as committing the perfect crime, as in the "Leg of Lamb" episode where the wife killed her husband with a frozen leg of lamb and then cooked it in a timed oven and served it to the investigators. I don't remember Hitchcock's exact comment, but it was witty.

    One of the great injustices in Hollywood was the denial of an oscar for him, but I think in those days there was so much politics involved in the whole process.

  2. Great post! I recently reviewed the early Hitchcock flick "Blackmail" and what a find! I really hadn't heard of this movie up until the point that I found it in the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book and man it is CLASSIC Hitch and a really great film.