I have loved Alfred Hitchcock movies since I was a little girl, seeing many probably before I should have due to having three older brothers who never monitored what I watched when they babysat me while our parents were out.
There is something about so many of Hitchcock’s movies that make them timeless, even in today’s high-tech world. Perhaps that lack of high “techness” is what makes them so charming after all these years.
Hitchcock was born in England in August 1899. Also known as “Hitch,” the “master of suspense” was at first successful making silent movies and then “talkies” in England, before moving to Hollywood in 1939. He became a U.S. citizen in 1955.
Hitchcock was known for his suspenseful, psychological thrillers, with plenty of twists and thrilling plots. He was famous for using lighting and other techniques, as well as unusual camera angles, to give his films a theatrical edge for the times.
Hitchcok’s first American movie was “Rebecca,” which remains one of my all-time favorites. The movie was adapted from the English novelist Daphne du Maurier’s book of the same name.
The movie starred a dashing Laurence Olivier and beautiful Joan Fontaine. “Rebecca” won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1940. While Hitchcock was nominated for best director, he didn’t win.
A few years later, in 1946, “Notorious” came out, starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. This was a huge box office hit and one of his most acclaimed films.
A few more of my favorites from this era include “Strangers on a Train” (1951) and “Dial M For Murder” (1954). And, of course, one of my all-time favorite Hitchcock films has to be “Rear Window” (1954) starring the stunning Grace Kelly and the always entertaining James Stewart.
“Vertigo” (1958) was also an awesome movie, as was “North by Northwest” (1959).
Perhaps Hitchcock’s best known movie is “Psycho” (1960), which starred Anthony Perkins as the deranged and disturbed Norman Bates. It is interesting to note that Psycho was filmed on a small budget, yet still managed to break all box office records and be the most profitable film of Hitchcock’s career.
Hitchcock did have a reputation for not caring for the actors he so supremely directed, although many came out to dispute that and other claims that put Hitchcock in a poor light.
In an interview with Roger Ebert in 1969, Hitchcock tried to explain his creative process by saying:
“Once the screenplay is finished, I’d just as soon not make the film at all ... I have a strongly visual mind. I visualize a picture right down to the final cuts.
“I write all this out in the greatest detail in the script, and then I don’t look at the script while I’m shooting. I know it off by heart, just as an orchestra conductor needs not look at the score.
“When you finish the script, the film is perfect. But in shooting it, you lose perhaps 40 percent of your original conception.”
There can be little doubt Hitchcock was a creative genius and perhaps one of the best directors of all times.
For those who haven’t seen these amazing films, or haven’t watched them in a decade or two, I would encourage making some popcorn and a night of it.
Perhaps best of all, these movies can be viewed with children or grandchildren without the worries of foul language or other “activities” that accompany most films nowadays.
Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.