Saturday, August 13, 2011

Happy Birthday, Alfred Hitchcock! (1899 - 1980)

Today is the birth date of one of the great film directors. I'm sure there will be celebrations across the blog-o-sphere, many voices joining in the chorus of 'happy birthdays!' - this is mine.

Alfred Hitchcock was born in England and began his early film career there but he later moved to the United States and obtained dual citizenship. He specialized mostly in films of psychological suspense which did their best to manipulate a willing audience. Hitchcock made over fifty films in his long career spanning sixty years and is remembered today not only as a director of classics, but as the oddly engaging (if somewhat cranky) TV presence which helped turn him into a cultural icon.

But primarily, of course, he is remembered most for his intriguing and occasionally shocking film stylings, his innovative use of camera, his clever editing and his often voyeuristic point of view.

While there are many Hitchcock films I enjoy watching - and do so every chance I get - I've listed my absolute favorites in the posters and scenes shown above. If I've left off your own favorites, then you'll just have to make up your own list and add to the general birthday hoopla.

To read a complete overview of Hitchcock and his long career, please go here.

To learn much more and read about Hitchcock's films and theory, please check the alfred hitchcock geek site.


  1. I love 39 steps, infact the first scroll I said to myself 39.
    He made some fantastic films. yvonne

  2. Yvonne: Yes, he did. I have my favorites just like everyone else. But some of the more popular films I'm not that fond of. The ones I show are the ones I never get tired of watching.

  3. Lovely tribute to the Great Man, Yvette. Creative, unique, eccentric -- what a gifted person. My favorites of your favorites are The Lady Vanishes, the 39 Steps, Shadow of a Doubt and Rebecca. Of course I love the rest too! I would personally add Psycho and Vertigo (which I consider his masterpiece). But you know, there is only one Hitchcock film I didn't like, just one -- The Trouble With Harry. It just didn't hit me right - of course I saw it once years ago and should probably give it another chance.

    Your posters are gorgeous. And what a unique and great picture of Hitch walking! I'd ask where you found that, but every blogger is entitled to their special finds! Wonderful article, but then yours always are!

  4. Becky: Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.

    I wasn't crazy about THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY either. I found it a little too fey. But I did like the look of Shirley MacLaine. I always marveled that her first film didn't requite her to dance or sing. Go figure.

    I'm not fond of PSYCHO mainly because it's too melodramatically scary for my tastes. But I know I'm in the minority. I found it hard to sit still and watch the whole thing straight through especially once I'd figured out Tony Perkins' problem.

  5. P.S. I just found those pix on google. But I wish I had a photo credit for that great series of Hitchcock in movement. There are two or three others. But I couldn't find the photographer's name.

  6. My favorite Hitchcock films are (in no particular order)

    Rear Window
    North by Northwest
    Dial M for Murder
    To Catch a Thief
    Thirty-nine Steps

  7. Yvette, just stopped back by to tell you that I did do a little tribute to Hitchcock after all. A little unusual, but I hope you like it. You were my inspiration!

  8. Fred: Good choices, all. At least we shared some of the faves. :)

    Thanks for commenting with your list.

  9. Becky: I'm heading over to your blog right this minute. (Soon as I take a couple of aspirin. Have a killer headache. GAK!)

  10. Oh man, headache! I get migraines sometimes, so I know how you feel. Don't go over until you are better, girl! Part of my post is the best performance of Bernard Herrmann's main theme to Vertigo that I ever heard. Want you to be able to enjoy it!

  11. I love the way he makes appearances in his movies.
    North by Northwest is always at the top of my favorites list, with Rear Window close behind. And I'm fond of one that rarely makes any of his 'good movies' lists - with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, To Catch a Thief. Maybe it's the setting, but I do love that movie. Strangers on a Train and Shadow of a Doubt particularly creep me out (which doesn't mean that I don't adore them)! I also love Notorious and The Man Who Knew Too Much with Doris Day. I think she is great in that movie. I have Dial M in my instant queue. It's been ages since I've seen that one.

  12. Great post!

    I love The Lady Vanishes, and of the later films, Notorious is my favorite, the beautiful Ingrid Bergman, the debonair, suave, handsome Cary Grant and the pseudo-charming Nazi Claude Rains.

    Never liked Psycho. I was a young teenager when it came out and my cousin saw it. She told me about the shower scene and I didn't take a shower for a week -- and I didn't even see it.

    I like Rear Window and I think I liked Rebecca, but it is chilling.

  13. Nan: I do too. In TO CATCH A THIEF he's a passenger on a bus. Cary Grant sits next to him and gives him an odd look.

    But my favorite it when he tries to blend into a crowd. Alfred, you're not the blending type. :)

    I know what you mean about creepiness, especially in SHADOW OF A DOUBT. Haven't seen STRANGERS ON A TRAIN in ages.

    Been meaning to watch DIAL M FOR MURDER. But you have to be in a mood.

  14. Kathy: Hopefully I never have to pick just one favorite.

    But I do love THE LADY VANISHES.

  15. Particularly not blending in a typically pretty film crowd, where even the extras are usually underemployed film actors.

    For me, Hitchcock's greatest, almost offhand gift was authorizing the ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS: anthologies and ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE (though the latter also served to give Patricia Hitchcock a stead job for a decade or so). He'd had ghosted anthologies before, but the AHP series was what really blew my young mind (the adult volumes even more than the similarly good YA volumes of ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S GHOSTLY GALLERY and such...most of both were edited by the fine writer/scriptwriter Robert Arthur till Arthur's death, then Harold Q. Masur continued the adult series, and another fellow got out two more of the YA), and AHMM, happily still with us and still very good, was the first fiction magazine I subscribed to, and happily helped lead me to the then current crop of fiction magazines in late '77-'78, a romance which has not yet faded, even as the commercial realities for most fiction magazines are increasingly pushing them onto the web...

  16. Yvette, I loved your jaunty tribute and fabulous movie posters of Alfred Hitchcock! I've blathered on about my Hitchcock faves in many TALES OF THE EASILY DISTRACTED blog posts, but for the record, my favorites include, more or less in order-ish:








    THE 39 STEPS

    THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY (I like Hitchcock's quirkier films, and I'm not ashamed to say so! :-))






    Maybe I'll blather on about my little Hitchcock list in more detail one of these days, if anyone's interested. Either way, hope Hitch had a happy birthday in Heaven! I bet he spent it with a cool, gorgeous blonde! :-)

  17. Dorian: We share some favorites! Hooray! Well, why wouldn't we? :)

    I'd never posted my favorite Hitchcock films before so this was a first for me. I thought his birthday was the appropriate time.

    FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT is ruined for me by the sappy and forced romance between Laraine Day and Joel McCrea. I tried to re-watch it the other day and just couldn't. (Though I love the brilliant assassination scene.) But that's just my own personal take. There's plenty more we do agree on, kiddo. :)

  18. Todd: I never did read any of the magazines or anthologies so I'm not familiar with them except through comments and posts like yours.

    Except for the occasional New Yorker story,I never got hooked on fiction in magazines at all. Don't know why. I know I missed out on a lot.

    I did read comic books though, so I wasn't completely deprived.

    I admit I am more fond of Hitchcock's earlier work than I am of his later stuff.

    I did occasionally watch the TV show, but I wasn't a constant fan. Too creepy by half.

  19. A very happy birthday to Hitchcock! I have just bought It's Only a Movie : Alfred Hitchcock - A Personal Biography by Charlotte Chandler. What a coincidence!

    I have seen Alfred Hitchcock's Rope, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief, Vertigo, Psycho, The Birds and Frenzy. Among these my favourite movies are Rear Window and Rope. Frenzy has got to be my least favourite. It was yucky!

    My mom is a great fan of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. I have never seen them but I would love to.

  20. Great collection of stills/photos Yvette!

  21. wutheringwillow: Coincidence, yes. Great minds think alike. :) I hope you'll report on the Hitchcock book on your blog. I think I would like to read his bio at some point.

    You can probably catch up on the Hitchcock shows either on Netflix or Hulu or Youtube.

  22. iluvcinema: Thanks! Google is my friend. Ha!

  23. I like the earlier Hitchcock movies, mostly.

    I don't think we watched too much of the Hitchcock Presents. We watched more comedy than thrillers.

    We were terrified enough by The Twilight Zone. Some of those episodes were too much.

  24. Kathy: I didn't watch the Hitchcock TV shows much either. I did watch THE TWILIGHT ZONE much more frequently. Loved that show.

  25. The characters are average people with ordinary intelligence and subdued by ordinary fears. This realism makes the haunting occurrences more shocking.

  26. Djiraj: Yes, I agree. That was Hitchcock's specialty. The ordinary man caught up in extraordinary circumstances.


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