It all began with one word; one simple word spoken softly to her baby boy; Alfred: BOO. Putting this into a certain perspective it makes perfect sense. The young startled child becomes the unchallenged “Master of Suspense” and the architect of many scares and thrills tempered with an arcane joy and sly humor. If you had only known; Mother Hitchcock; if you had only known.
The films; the films, the films…were Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest achievements. Many of his offerings being among the best ever…all worth seeing. This cinematic maestro directed and produced wonderfully entertaing and textbook examples of excellence. Dial “M” for Murder, Psycho, North by North West, Rear Window, Rebecca and on and on. His work dates back to the “Silent Era” and well into “The Talkies” "Vistavision" and "Technicolor." His influence is immeasurable and continues to this present day. His editing and visual story-telling skills are original and at best imitated and adapted by the many. To a degree every director to follow him that includes any suspense or mystery pays tribute to Sir Alfred.
As edited into individual scenes many stand out as extravagant and compelling unto themselves. Including a few examples; the crop-dusting plane’s pursuit of Cary Grant in North by North West, the carnival carousel run amok in Strangers on a Train and possible his “Hallmark” achievement the much admired and studied shower scene starring Janet Leigh in Psycho.
Growing up my generation had the pleasure of watching the original airings of the T.V. series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” episodes were written by great story-tellers including the likes of Roald Dahl and Ray Bradbury. A high light of the show was Hitchcock walking his silhouette into his own line drawing caricature. This to the tune of Charles Gounod’s “Funeral March of a Marionette.” He had a brief interesting; abundantly clever intro and closing tailored for each broadcast that were often the best part of the black and white television shorts. After seven television seasons and eighty two feature film Hitchcock is truly the bench mark.
Classic Promo for "The Birds"
Returning briefly to Alfred’s formative years; he was indeed blessed with two loving parents and I dare not leave out his father. He had his own unique contributions and places within the director’s psyche. Alfred Hitchcock related this story on occasion that goes something like this: In response to some “minor” indiscretion young Alfred’s father hands him a folded note and instructed him to take it to the police station a few blocks from his home. Five year old Alfred dutifully walks to the station, enters and hands the desk officer the note.
The officer reads the note, shows no discernable emotional, pauses and then, without words or ceremony takes Alfred into the back to an empty cell, places the child inside and closes the door with the finality and resonate cold, clanging thud that only an iron bared door can make. This followed with the disheartening turning of the key and the walking away of the officer again emotionless and wordless. After a brief period the officer returns to release Alfred sending him on his way, forever changed, forever fearful and full of an imaginative respect of the possibabality of future incarceration.
“The Birds” was the first Hitchcock film I was prividgled to see and it was showing at the local theater. The nation was talking about this amazing film so my friends and I had great anticipation as we walked to the theatre. This was the most recent “Hitchcock” release, the year was 1963. I was 10…just slightly younger than one of the film’s stars; Veronica Cartwright. This gave us a unique window into the happenings onscreen. We all were delightfully and sufficiently scared, thrilled, baffled and compelled to see it at least four more times during this initial release. They say the first love is the greatest and The Birds remains among my favored film treasures and memories.
Man does not live by murder alone. He needs affection, approval, encouragement and, occasionally, a hearty meal.
Always make the audience suffer as much as possible
There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.
The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.
Film your murders like love scenes, and film your love scenes like murders.
Mystery is an intellectual process... But suspense is essentially an emotional process.
Give them pleasure - the same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare.
The silent pictures were the purest form of cinema
Fear isn't so difficult to understand. After all, weren't we all frightened as children? Nothing has changed since Little Red Riding Hood faced the big bad wolf. What frightens us today is exactly the same sort of thing that frightened us yesterday. It's just a different wolf. This fright complex is rooted in every individual.
I have a feeling that inside you; somewhere, there's somebody nobody knows about, feelings, nobody knows