Monday, August 13, 2012

Happy 113th, Hitch!

Hitchcock and Friend
I'm pretty sure I posted about Hitch's birthday last year, but I'm too lazy (and too sick with a very nasty Summer cold) to look it up. Director Alfred Hitchcock made the 20th Century's most iconic thrillers and in 1960, changed the movie-going habits of America. Audiences used to show up for movies whenever they felt like it, often entering a movie that was already in-progress and sticking around for the next show to see what they missed. By insisting that no-one be allowed to enter the theatre after the first ten minutes of Psycho (the grandfather of all 'slasher' movies), Hitchcock forced audiences to arrive before the movie started.Psycho also upended audience's expectations by killing it's star in the movie's first act, something unheard of previously.

Of course, Hitch is famous for more than just that. He created the term MacGuffin and knew that the suspense of climbing a rollercoaster's first hill was far worse than the drop. He famously said about building suspense (you should excuse the paraphrasing here): "Place a bomb under a table at a meeting which only the audience knows is there," or something to affect. He also said (directly quoting here):
"The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder."And rather infamously, he is known for saying that "Actors should be treated like cattle." As much as I admire his films, I have to disagree with that particular sentiment.

Among my personal favorite Hitchcock films are:


Strangers on a Train

North by Northwest:


Rear Window:

The Birds:

And of course, his masterpiece (widely derided by critics upon its initial release), Vertigo

Hitch was also famous for making cameo appearances in his own films. Here (via) is a video compilation of all of his cameos: 

Modern filmmakers owe an incredible debt to Hitchcock. He may have been (from many accounts) a bastard, but he created some of the most indelible images and films of all of all time. Personally, I don't know a single member of my generation who doesn't know and love at least one of his films. 

More, anon.

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