Movie experts recognize Alfred Hitchcock as one of the most significant figures in the history of cinema. With his insights into human psychology, he redefined how movies were made, especially thrillers. Even today, most movie goers can identify at least one Hitchcock movie.
His visual style of film compelled the viewer to focus on the feelings experienced just prior to an impending act. His film direction offered the audience a unique perspective they could not get enough of. His movies were predicated on intense feelings, misdirection, and icy characters that kept the audience engaged in ways they’d never experienced before.
Learn more about this celebrated innovator, who he was as a filmmaker, and the legacy of his work in today’s cinema.
Born in 1899 to Catholic parents, the Englishman grew up in a very disciplined home environment. He once recounted how his mother would have him stand at the end of her bed as punishment, something he hinted at in one film. He attended University of London and studied engineering, but quickly discovered his talent for drawing and design. He began his career as a set designer, starting in England before moving to Hollywood.
In all of his work, Hitchcock never billed himself with full writing credit. His first and favorite of his many collaborators was his wife, Alma Reville. It was her opinion of him and his work he considered above all others, because she always told him the truth.
Watch also: Alfred Hitchcock: Master of Suspense
Many classic cinema fans know that the skills he brought to his work altered the way movies were made. He pioneered combining camera angles and motion with his understanding of psychology to place the audience inside the movie, helping them to experience his movies viscerally. At every opportunity, he could be found experimenting and pushing the limits of cinematography.
He also had a unique approach to directing actors. With some, he let them be, as was the case with Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, and most famously, Doris Day in “The Man Who Knew Too Much.” Day felt confused and asked why he hadn’t said a word to her, to which the director told her she had done nothing to elicit a comment from him. At other times, he micromanaged his stars with astounding results, as with Joan Fontaine in “Rebecca”, where his needling approach guided her to the performance of her career.
Imitation, as the saying goes, is the sincerest form of flattery. For Hitchcock, Hollywood’s love of his work stands as proof of the truth of this saying. For decades, directors have done their best to capture the magic of what Hitchcock did on film. His techniques and style cast their influence beyond the silver screen, where even TV shows like “Friends” parodied the classic score from “the shower scene” in one of Hitchcock’s most beloved films.
His contributions to modern cinema will never be forgotten. His unique ability to combine innovation and emotion in a visual medium continue to inspire moviemakers today.
To learn more about the iconic director, check out Alfred Hitchcock: Master of Suspense, available now on PureFlix.com.