A FINE-FEATHERED FINALE: Hitchcock’s The Birds

“This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a – caw caw!”                                                              (T.S. Eliot, via Woody Woodpecker) All good things must come to an end, and the end of my ten-week course on the best of Alfred Hitchcock has been . . . apocalyptic. In our final class last night the … Continue reading A FINE-FEATHERED FINALE: Hitchcock’s The Birds

A CUT ABOVE: Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho

I can just imagine the Hollywood studios in 1959 watching North by Northwest and heaving a great big sigh of relief! At last - they thought – the Master of Suspense has finally gotten the message!! NO more art films, NO more experiments. Just good old fashioned exciting-but-wholesome entertainment. Certainly they had cause for hope: Alfred Hitchcock had come this close to … Continue reading A CUT ABOVE: Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho

HITCHCOCK TO THE NTH BY NTH DEGREE: North by Northwest

The many varied stories about the inception of North by Northwest are as entertaining as the film itself. Here are the bare facts: Alfred Hitchcock agreed to a first-time two-picture deal with MGM, and for the first film he wanted to adapt Hammond Innes’ best-seller, The Wreck of the Mary Deare. This would give Hitchcock the chance to … Continue reading HITCHCOCK TO THE NTH BY NTH DEGREE: North by Northwest

A KISS BEFORE DYING: Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo

Throughout most of his life, Alfred Hitchcock was both appreciated and dismissed as a maker of entertaining mystery thrillers. After his first American film Rebecca won the Academy Award, Hitchcock’s critics got wise and considered him first and foremost a genre filmmaker; the best of his movies might get nominated for Sound Design or Art Direction and … Continue reading A KISS BEFORE DYING: Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo

“SLAUGHTER AND BE GAY”: Hitchcock and Farley Granger

My opinion of actor Farley Granger changed forever last year when our film noir class watched 1948’s They Live by Night(aka Thieves Like Us).  It was only Granger’s third film, his first with top billing, and he is revelatory here. I wrote previously about that film, about his heartbreaking performance and the disappointing trajectory his career would take … Continue reading “SLAUGHTER AND BE GAY”: Hitchcock and Farley Granger

A DIVINE SYNERGY: Hitchcock’s Notorious

“Of all your pictures, this is the one in which one feels the most perfect correlation between what you are aiming at and what appears on the screen . . . “(Francois Truffaut to Alfred Hitchcock) Notorious is the shining light of Alfred Hitchcock’s output in the 1940’s and his first true masterpiece. Oh, Rebecca won the Oscar, Foreign Correspondent is … Continue reading A DIVINE SYNERGY: Hitchcock’s Notorious

READING BETWEEN THE LINES: Spellbound and Suspicion

Fans of classic crime fiction – and I count these among the majority of my visitors – are unlikely to make a favorite double bill out of today’s two Alfred Hitchcock films. Yes, both are adapted from mystery novels by Golden Age writers: Spellbound from Francis Beeding’s The House of Dr. Edwardes and Suspicion from Before the Fact by Francis Iles, pseudonym for … Continue reading READING BETWEEN THE LINES: Spellbound and Suspicion

MAGUFFIN AT SEA: Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat

During the 1940’s, Alfred Hitchcock did his bit to help the war effort by filming several propaganda films, two of them – Aventure Malgache and Bon Voyage - at the behest of the British War Ministry. In addition, four of the dozen feature films were connected in some way with the war. Of these, only one, Notorious (1946) can be called … Continue reading MAGUFFIN AT SEA: Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat

CLAP HANDS, HERE COMES CHARLIE: Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt

Alfred Hitchcock arrived in Hollywood in 1939 under most auspicious circumstances. Fifteen years of work in his native England had produced over two dozen films, including future classics such as The Lodger (1927), The 39 Steps (1935), and The Lady Vanishes (1938), establishing the 40-year old as Europe’s premiere director. The three films mentioned, along with Blackmail (1929), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) … Continue reading CLAP HANDS, HERE COMES CHARLIE: Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt