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Alfred Hitchcock DIRECTOR
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ALFRED HITCHCOCK BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY:

Sir Alfred Hitchcock, born August 13, 1899 in London, is to this day the most recognized and noteworthy director of the cinema, and has been since the 1940's. He is also the father of the thriller genre and the “Master of Suspense”. His creative genius was apparent in his six decade, fifty plus film career, and the techniques he invented are used even today. The way he manipulated the camera’s view to mimic the gaze of a person, forces the viewers to engage in a type of voyeurism and to experience intense feelings of fear, anxiety, even empathy. Several of his pictures also encompass plot twists and suspenseful story lines to evoke these same feelings. The mention of his name conjures up memorable movie nights with a few chills, some striking comedy, aberrant characters, sexual insinuations, and maybe even a cameo appearance by the director himself.

Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born into a devoted Catholic family in England and attended the Jesuit school, St. Ignatius’ College. His religious upbringing – filled with predominant issues of guilt – helped later shape the psychological aspects of his work. He has said before that his childhood was lonely and sheltered, and he was often punished severely for anything he did, an idea that creeps into many of his pictures. When Hitchcock was only fourteen, his father passed away. In that same year, he rebelled against the faith of his parents and dropped out of school to go to the London County Council School of Engineering and Navigation. In 1920, he finally found interest in the film industry, designing titles. Hitchcock quickly moved up the ladder, becoming a scenario writer, an assistant director, and then a director. His first film, “Number 13” (1922), was cancelled during production. However, he had another opportunity in 1925 in “The Pleasure Garden”, which followed through. The next year he worked on his earliest success, “The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog” (1927), which was loosely based on the real life story of Jack the Ripper. It exploited the standard Hitchcock formula: a guiltless character is unfairly accused of a crime and becomes tangled up in a trap of deception. This was also the first picture that Hitchcock discreetly integrated himself into, for he can be seen as just an extra in a newspaper office in one of the scenes.  After this film, he became the highest paid and most popular director in England.

Hitchcock filmed nine silent British films and began working on his tenth by 1929, called “Blackmail”. This movie, however, was England’s first sound picture and helped the director gain more acceptance for thrillers. It also set a precedent for many of his other movies, as the film’s climax takes place on the dome of the British Museum; following, he had peaks at places like the Statue of Liberty (Saboteur) and Mount Rushmore (North by Northwest). Next he made “Thriller” (1930), and it, as well as “Blackmail”, illustrated his deftly done connection of sex and violence. His talent was then made evident internationally with hits such as the memorable gripper “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1934) and the “MacGuffin” filled “The 39 Steps” (1935). The latter fared amazingly in America and almost instantly turned Hitchcock into a Hollywood star.

However, the director also produced some films that were not as successful and well received. Both “Secret Agent” (1936) and “Sabotage” (1936), while not devoid of merit, brought some harm to the innocent, which Hitchcock later recognized as a crucial mistake. Fortunately, they helped Hitchcock truly understand the measures necessary for putting out a great suspense. He made audiences forget his former flaws when he turned out “The Lady Vanishes” (1938) and skillfully combined romance, humor, and suspense into this technically sound, fast paced film. This was also the beginning of his trademark appearance in his films, for he played an inconspicuous man in the London Railway Station. After this picture, all the movies he created included him in at least one scene. Since he didn’t want to divert the attention away from the plot, he embedded himself very discreetly in each film. For example, he played a man leaving an elevator in “Spellbound” (1945), a man staring at a street sign in “Stage Fright” (1950), a man outside a real estate office in “Psycho” (1960), and just a mere silhouette in “Family Plot” (1976).

All this while, Hitchcock was being courted by American producer David O. Selznick, and “The Lady Vanishes” (1938) starring Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas, Dame May Whitty, Cecil Parker, Linden Travers, Naunton Wayne, Basil Radford, Mary Clare, Googie Withers, Catherine Lacey and Sally Stewart, merely gave the producer even more incentive to nab the great director. He delivered one more British film, “Jamaica Inn” (1939) starring Charles Laughton, Maureen O'Hara, Emlyn Williams, Robert Newton and Leslie Banks, before relocating to Hollywood. His pioneering American movie was an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca” (1940) starring Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, Judith Anderson, C. Aubrey Smith, George Sanders, Nigel Bruce, Leo G. Carroll, Gladys Cooper and Reginald Denny, and it made a huge profit for Selznick and helped gain Hitchcock additional recognition. It also won an Academy Award for Best Picture, but failed to bring home the award for Best Director. During Hitchcock’s time with Selznick, tension was ever present; Hitchcock complained that his creative directions were being ignored and denied, and Selznick criticized Hitchcock on his precise visions of what each movie should be. Their problems seemed to slightly dissipate after their first run, for Selznick started loaning the director out to different studios. When he could escape the grips of his controlling producer, he created some magnificent pieces like his second American film, “Foreign Correspondent” (1940) starring Joel McCrea, Laraine Day, Herbert Marshall, George Sanders, Albert Bassermann, Robert Benchley and Edmund Gwenn, which was nominated for Best Picture that year, “Saboteur” (1942) starring Priscilla Lane, Robert Cummings, Otto Kruger, Clem Bevans and Norman Lloyd, a film that played to all types of politics in that time effectively, “Shadow of a Doubt” (1943) starring Teresa Wright, Joseph Cotten, Macdonald Carey, Hume Cronyn, Henry Travers and Wallace Ford, his all time favorite about a serial killer returning to his hometown to find a new target, and “Lifeboat” (1944) starring Hume Cronyn, Mary Anderson, Tallulah Bankhead, William Bendix, Walter Slezak, John Hodiak, Henry Hull, Heather Angel and Canada Lee, where Hitchcock successfully fought the challenge of a single, confined set limited to the boundaries of a boat.

Additionally, the director visited the feminine surrender-of-self theme in many of his films like “Suspicion” (1941) starring Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine, Cedric Hardwicke, Nigel Bruce, Dame May Whitty, Isabel Jeans, Heather Angel and Leo G. Carroll, which was about a woman who was convinced that her husband was going to kill her, and “Notorious” (1946) starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains and Louis Calhern, where an FBI agent must hand the love of his life over the Nazis in order to obtain an espionage ring. Hitchcock’s involvement with Selznick finally ended after the unsuccessful “The Paradine Case” (1947) starring Gregory Peck, Ann Todd, Alida Valli, Charles Laughton, Charles Coburn, Ethel Barrymore and Louis Jourdan was produced. The director’s next project, “The Rope” (1948) starring James Stewart, John Dall, Cedric Hardwicke, Farley Granger, Joan Chandler and Douglas Dick, was his first color film, and took on a new form – one that consisted of a single, continuous, unedited shot.

Hitchcock’s reign of suspense supremacy began in the 1950's, opening with “Stage Fright” (1950) starring Jane Wyman, Marlene Dietrich, Michael Wilding, Richard Todd, Alastair Sim, Sybil Thorndike, Kay Walsh, Hitchcock's daughter Patricia Hitchcock and Joyce Grenfell and “Strangers on a Train” (1951) starring Farley Granger, Ruth Roman, Robert Walker, Leo G. Carroll, Patricia Hitchcock and Laura Elliott. Variety, however, was also his forte, as he turned out a great assortment of features. Following were classics such as “Dial M for Murder” (1954) starring John Williams, Grace Kelly, Robert Cummings and Ray Milland, the super hit “Rear Window” (1954) starring James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter, Wendell Corey and Raymond Burr, the typical faulty blame designed film “To Catch a Thief” (1955) starring Cary Grant, Grace Kelly and John Williams, the dark comedy “The Trouble with Harry” (1955) starring Edmund Gwenn, John Forsythe, Shirley MacLaine, Royal Dano, Mildred Natwick and Jerry Mathers in his first film role, and a remake of “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1956) starring James Stewart and Doris Day. Hollywood got its most haunted movie when “Vertigo” (1958) starring James Stewart, Kim Novak and Barbara Bel Geddes, which used male fetishism as its main feminism reducing tactic, was released. A year later, the suspenseful, often humorous, yet highly engaging “North by Northwest” (1959) starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Leo G. Carroll and Martin Landau, was put into theaters and is still regarded as one of Hitchcock’s best. Into the ‘50's and ‘60's, he also produced numerous popular television shows, including the long running “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” (1955-61), which he introduced and many times directed.

Psycho” (1960) starring Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Janet Leigh, Martin Balsam, John McIntire, Simon Oakland, Frank Albertson, Vaughn Taylor, John Anderson, Mort Mills and Lurene Tuttle, was his subsequent film, and it too proved to be highly successful.  In fact, it is probably his most notable film, although ironically the director had little confidence in it at first. It is remembered for its shocking shower scene, the premature death of the heroine, and the killing of innocent by a perturbed murderer, many aspects of which have been implemented in further Hitchcock films. Following “Psycho”, he moved to Universal, where he would complete the remainder of his pictures. The next craze he constructed was “The Birds” (1963) starring Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette, Veronica Cartwright, Charles McGraw, Doodles Weaver, Richard Deacon, Malcolm Atterbury and Karl Swenson, the record setting evil representation of natural life. “Marnie” (1964) starring Tippi Hedren, Sean Connery, Diane Baker, Mariette Hartley, Bruce Dern and Louise Latham, a psychoanalytical thriller similar to his previous film, “Spellbound” (1945) starring Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Michael Chekhov, Leo G. Carroll, Rhonda Fleming, Art Baker, Steven Geray, Regis Toomey, Paul Harvey, Wallace Ford and Bill Goodwin, was next, and illustrated and uncovered the motives behind the psychological problems of a habitual thief.

Health problems started to put a damper on the director’s vigor during the last two decades of his career, and after “Marnie”, only four films ensued: the spy drama “Torn Curtain” (1964) starring Paul Newman, Julie Andrews, David Opatoshu, Lila Kedrova and Mort Mills, the disappointing “Topaz” (1969) starring Frederick Stafford, Dany Robin, Claude Jade, Michel Subor, Karin Dor, John Vernon, Michel Piccoli, Philippe Noiret, John Forsythe, Roscoe Lee Browne and Per-Axel Arosenius, his last successful feature “Frenzy” (1972) starring Jon Finch, Alec McCowen, and Barry Foster, Billie Whitelaw, Anna Massey, Barbara Leigh-Hunt, Bernard Cribbins and Vivien Merchant, and the good and evil balanced thriller “Family Plot” (1976) starring Barbara Harris, Bruce Dern, William Devane, Ed Lauter and Karen Black, which was the director's fifty-fourth and final film.

In the same year as his final picture, Alfred Hitchcock was also knighted in England and received the American’s Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award. On April 29, 1980, Hitchcock died peacefully in his sleep from a handful of ailments. He is forever engraved in the hearts of all thrill seeking movie goers, though. This “Master of Suspense” can never be forgotten for all of the technical innovations, gripping plots, and dark enthralling themes present in his fifty plus movie résumé. He always stayed true to something he once said; “Always make the audience suffer as much as possible”, which shows his dark nature, as well as his dark humor.


Filmography

1976       Family Plot 

1972       Frenzy 

1969       Topaz 

1966       Torn Curtain 

1964       Marnie 

1963       The Birds 

1962       The Alfred Hitchcock Hour  

1960       Psycho 

1960       Startime 

1959       North by Northwest 

1958       Vertigo 

1957       Suspicion 

1956       The Wrong Man 

1956       The Man Who Knew Too Much 

1955       Alfred Hitchcock Presents 

1955       The Trouble with Harry 

1955       To Catch a Thief 

1954       Rear Window 

1954       Dial M for Murder 

1953       I Confess 

1951       Strangers on a Train 

1950       Stage Fright 

1949       Under Capricorn 

1948       Rope 

1947       The Paradine Case 

1946       Notorious 

1945       Spellbound 

1945       Watchtower Over Tomorrow

1944       The Fighting Generation 

1944       Lifeboat 

1944       Aventure Malgache

1944       Bon Voyage 

1943       Shadow of a Doubt 

1942       Saboteur 

1941       Suspicion 

1941       Mr. & Mrs. Smith 

1940       Foreign Correspondent

1940       Rebecca 

1939       Jamaica Inn

1938       The Lady Vanishes

1937       The Girl Was Young

1936       Sabotage

1936       Secret Agent

1935       The 39 Steps

1934       The Man Who Knew Too Much

1934       Strauss' Great Waltz

1932       Number 17

1931       East of Shanghai

1931       Mary

1931       The Skin Game

1930       Murder!

1930       The Shame of Mary Boyle

1930       An Elastic Affair

1930       Elstree Calling

1929       Blackmail

1929       The Manxman

1929       Sound Test for Blackmail

1928       Champagne

1928       Easy Virtue

1928       The Farmer's Wife

1927       When Boys Leave Home

1927       The Ring 

1927       The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog 

1926       Fear o' God

1925       The Pleasure Garden

1923       The White Shadow

1923       Always Tell Your Wife

1922       Number 13 





Matinee Classics - Alfred Hitchcock
Matinee Classics - Alfred Hitchcock
Matinee Classics - The Alfred Hitchcock Hour
Matinee Classics - Alfred Hitchcock
Matinee Classics - Alfred Hitchcock
Matinee Classics - Alfred Hitchcock
Matinee Classics - Alfred Hitchcock with Doris Day on the set
Matinee Classics - Alfred Hitchcock with his wife and daughter during filming of Strangers on a Train - 1951
Matinee Classics - Alfred Hitchcock with Kim Novak on the set of Vertigo - 1952
Matinee Classics - Alfred Hitchcock Movie Poster


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