Sir Alfred Hitchcock – Biography, Films, & Facts

Biography

Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born on 13 August 1899 in Leytonstone, a suburb of London.

Her father (William) and mother (Emma) were grocers in bulk. They had rented a modest grocery store in the main street of Leytonstone. Alfred was the youngest of the three children, Alfred kept all his life extremely distant relations with his brother and sister. Little Alfred was an extremely solitary child and very unlikely.

Beginning

After an internship as a technology Assistant, he obtained his first job in London in 1920: designing subtitles in silent films. It was in 1923 that he became assistant and then director. His talent enabled him to rise rapidly in the flourishing film world.

His first important film, the golden hair (The Lodger), was released in 1926. In this film, an attractive blonde is murdered, and heavy suspicion hangs over the new premises of a neighboring apartment, although he is I, innocent of the crime.

Hitchcock’s films often show innocent people drawn into situations that they no longer control, and sometimes no longer even understand; a frequent theme of his films is that these characters are guilty of little mistakes of no importance.

His films emphasize both fear and imagination and are known for their comical humor. Downhill (1927) showed another character wrongly accused : this time it was a young man accused of stealing from his school, and chased away by his parents, following this theft.later, the young man falls in love with an older woman than him, and when she wakes up in the morning, he sees her face mounted, while men take a coffin through their window.

Hitchcock would often make the link between Eros and Thanatos appear in his films.

Murder (1930) is a unique film because it materializes the border between silent and talking cinema.

Speaking was not yet universally recognized as a solution for the future.

The production of the film, which did not wish to take any risks, therefore required that the film be silent. Hitchcock, on the other hand, being convinced of the value of the talking film, secretly shot some scenes with sound. The film is thus first in a silent version, then is reabsorbed then in its partially sound version.

Hollywood

David O. Selznick pushes Hitchcock to make movies in Hollywood.

With Rebecca in 1940, Hitchcock directed his first American film – he remained in the United States for most of his career.

Rebecca evokes the fears of a naive bride who moves into a middle-class English country house and has to attack the legs of her husband’s first wife.

The humor of Hitchcock’s early films is still there, but he will now focus more on suspense since that was what the American public wanted.

The young Hitchcock was a solitary, fat, imaginative boy; coming from a Catholic family, he used to confide in his mother every night.

His films often show male characters in conflict with their mother or a state of inferiority vis-à-vis women, often blonde and seductive.

In North By Northwest, Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) is an innocent man, ridiculed by his mother for his belief that mysterious murderers are pursuing him.

In birds, the character of Rod Taylor finds himself in a place invaded by precious birds, while he tries to escape his mother’s grip.

The character of the killer, in Frenzy, also lives in the same house as his mother.

The problems of Norman Bates, in psychosis (Psycho), are also famous.

In no spring for Marnie (Marnie), The Beautiful Tippie Hedren is a kleptomaniac.

To Catch A Thief, Grace Kelly is a cat thief. After taking an interest in Thorwald’s life, in Window on Courtyard, Lisa breaks into Thorwald’s apartment.

The attractive blonde from France is the young Claude Jade in the vise (Topaz) as the daughter of a secret agent. And in psychosis (Psycho), Janet Leigh stole $ 40,000 before being murdered by a man named Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) who thought he was her mother.

Hitchcock’s most personal films are probably the Chained (notorious) and cold sweats (Vertigo) – both about the obsession and neurosis of men manipulating women.

Cold sweat (Vertigo) explores in detail the relationship between sex and death. In this film, although James Stewart knows that Kim Novak is only an accessory to the crime, they can’t Help Falling in love with each other. The character of Stewart feels a strong need to control his companion, to dress him, to adapt his clothes, his shoes, his hair.

Style

Although Hitchcock often worked with highly gifted writers, such as Raymond Chandler, Hitchcock found it very difficult to capture the screenplays of his films.

One day he commented: “The writer and I are thinking about the script right down to the smallest detail, so when we’re done, all we have to do is shoot the film. But, as soon as we get into the studio, we have to start making concessions. In reality, the scriptwriter has the best part of the job because he doesn’t have to worry about the actors and everything else. »

Hitchcock was often critical of actors and actresses, denigrating, for example, Kim Novak’s game in cold sweat (Vertigo), or claiming that actors should be considered cattle.

Hitchcock considers that making everything based on the play of actors and actresses was only a custom inherited from the theatre.

On the other hand, he was a pioneer in the way he used camera movements, shots, and montages, but also in the way, he explored the confines of cinematic art.

The “Apparitions” of Hitchcock

In most of his films, Hitchcock managed to appear on the screen for a short time. In its early days, it was mainly a question of saving the listed United Nations. Sometimes you could see him getting on a bus, walking past a store, in a magazine ad for a slimming diet!

Finding Hitchcock in each of his films has become a very popular game among his viewers. There are even specialized books and websites on the subject. Most often, Hitchcock appeared in the first five minutes of the film so that the search for his presence did not disturb too much the spectator of the plot.

The Mac Guffin

The Mac Guffin is an original concept from Hitchcock cinema.

The origin of the word comes from the following story, told by Hitchcock: two travelers are on a train in England. One said to the other: “excuse me, sir, but what is this strange-looking package over your head ? – Oh, it’s a Mac Guffin. What is it? – It’s used to sting lions in the mountains of Scotland – but there are no lions in the mountains of Scotland – so there is no MacGuffin” .

Hitchcock often used this anecdote to mock those who demand a rational explanation and perfect consistency for all elements of a film. What interests him is to manipulate the spectator, to walk him through history, and to be as afraid as the hero or heroine of his film. Can import small tricks or approximations on reality.

Hitchcock considers films for what they are, that is, a spectacle and not a true copy of reality.

In Hitchcock’s films, The MacGuffin is often an element of the story that serves to initialize it and justify it, but that proves to be of little importance during the film.

In Psychosis, the MacGuffin is the money stolen by Marion from her boss at the beginning of the film, it goes without saying that the sequel is so exciting that the money is quickly forgotten, but it is he who initiated the story.