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alfred hitchcock
(1899 - 1980)

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hitchcock

a l f r e d   h i t c h c o c k  :   m a s t e r   o f   s u s p e n s e  ]


"Some films are slices of life, mine are slices of cake."
- Alfred Hitchcock


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    hitchcock


    h i t c h c o c k  :   p a r t   i i

    a diplomat, surrounded by umbrella-carrying crowds, was murdered during a downpour. His assassin, posing as a reporter, shot him with a gun hidden in his camera.

    Hitchcock arrived in Hollywood in 1939. He still continued to work primarily in the thriller genre, telling his stories in the same strongly graphic style and taking the same infinite pains to set up particular effects. Indeed, there were many critics who complained in the Forties that he became even more self-conscious in his use of gimmicks in order to disguise a lack on inspiration. However, some of the devices did transcend gimmickry even during this comparatively slack period: the idea of shooting, completely against the Hollywood convention of the time, all the exteriors of Shadow of a Doubt (1943) in the real-life town of Santa Rosa, instead of a studio back-lot, paid handsome dividends in terms of authenticity and vivid local colour. Other devices, like employing Salvador Dali to devise the dream sequence in Spellbound (1945), were at least interesting failures.
    hitchcock
    Hitchcock's most powerful film of this period was Notorious (1946). This had one-shot effects aplenty, such as the alleged longest kiss in screen history, between Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, and the climactic shot in which the camera took in a smart party from the top of the stairs and then gradually swooped down into extreme close-up of a vital key secretly held in Ingrid Bergman's hand as she stood at the door greeting guests; it also had a powerfully constructed screenplay by Ben Hecht from a story by Hitchcock himself. Devlin, played by Cary Grant, is an American agent given the task of discovering Nazi secrets in Rio de Janeiro. He offers Alicia Hubermann (Ingrid Bergman), whose father has earlier been sentenced for treason against the U.S.A., a job as an undercover agent. This she accepts, hoping to expiate her father's crimes. The prime suspect is Alexander Sebastian (Claude Rains), who soon falls under Alicia's spell and desires to marry her. She agrees, despite her feelings for Devlin, in order to find out more informaton. The organization's secrets are discovered, but Sebastian realizes Alicia's identity and plans to poison her. She is almost on the point of death when she is rescued by Devlin, who has grown to trust and love her. Sebastian is left to explain this situation to irate confederates.

    Despite the success of Notorious, Hitchcock's tendency to allow style to dominate content in his films was still criticized, and it wasn't until his second great period, which ran from Strangers on a Train (1951) to Marnie (1964) that he satisfied the most determined doubters.
    hitchcock
    Though these films still had surprising effects, such as the fairground strangling of Strangers on a Train portrayed solely as a series of reflections in the victim's glasses which had fallen on the grass, these were normally integrated into the structure of the film. A film may have been dominated by a single effect, such as Rear Windon (1954) with its studied observation of everything outside from the point of view of the temporarily crippled hero. But most of the later films had a new depth, a new disturbing charge of emotion. The feelings may sometimes have been bizarre, as in Vertigo (1958) in which the hero morbidly tries to remake a girl he picks up into the image of his (as he supposes) dead love, or Marnie, where the hero perversely determines to rape a pathological liar and thief into normality; but there was no doubt about their strength and consistency. North by Northwest (1959) and Psycho (1960) were perhaps the best of these later films. The former was a sort of nostalgic harking-back to the world of the British thrillers, while Psycho was the most beamingly brutal, blackest of black comedies, a technical and dramatic tour de force which Hitchcock never surpassed. Almost every scene was a set piece, until one ended by accepting its baroque texture as some kind of crazy standard. However often the spinechilling murder in the shower is seen, it is impossible to be completely prepared, completely impervious to its terrors.

    Hitchcock began his career with a young man's fascination with innovation. His sheer delight in putting all his goods in the shop window was in itself infectious. But from Strangers on a Train onwards Hitchcock proved himself a master of his medium, able to integrate his effects into the structure and content of the film instead of being carried away by them.

    He wryly observed in Film Review in 1946:

      'In the old days of melodrama they used to bring the sawmill in out of the blue - no excuse for it, it was just there when the heroine's neck needed cutting.

      'We are more realistic now. It is an age of enlightenment and taste. We make the heroine the daughter of the lumberjack.'

    Hitchcock died in Los Angeles, USA in 1980 of renal failure...previous page

    hitchcock






    a l f r e d   h i t c h c o c k   f i l m o g r a p h y   ]
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    All films GB unless stated
  • 1922 Number Thirteen (unfinished)
  • 1923 Always Tell Your Husband (short) (uncredited dir)
  • 1925 The Pleasure Garden
  • 1926 The Mountain Eagle (USA: Fear o' God)
  • 1926 The Lodger (+co-sc) (USA: The Case of Jonathan Drew)
  • 1927 Downhill (USA: When Boys Leave Home)
  • 1927 Easy Virtue
  • 1927 The Ring (+co-sc)
  • 1928 The Farmer's Wife (+co-sc)
  • 1928 Champagne (+co-sc)
  • 1928 The Manxman
  • 1929 Blackmail (silent and sound versions) (+co-sc)
  • 1930 Juno and the Paycock (+co-sc) (USA: The Shame of Mary Boyle)
  • 1930 Elstree Calling (co-dir)
  • 1930 Murder (+co-sc)
  • 1930 An Elastic Affair (short)
  • 1930 Mary/Sir John Grieft Ein! (GB-GER) (German version of Murder)
  • 1931 The Skin Game (+co-sc)
  • 1932 Rich and Strange (+co-sc) (USA: East of Shanghai)
  • 1932 Number Seventeen (+co-sc)
  • 1932 Lord Camber's Ladies (prod. only)
  • 1933 Waltzes from Vienna (USA: Strauss's Great Waltz)
  • 1934 The Man Who Knew Too Much
  • 1935 The Thirty-Nine Steps
  • 1936 The Secret Agent
  • 1936 Sabotage (The Woman Alone/Hidden Power (reissue))
  • 1937 Young and Innocent (USA: The Girl Was Young)
  • 1938 The Lady Vanishes
  • 1939 Jamaica Inn
    All remaining films USA unless stated
  • 1940 Rebecca
  • 1940 Foreign Correspondent
  • 1941 Mr and Mrs Smith
  • 1941 Suspicion
  • 1942 Saboteur
  • 1943 Shadow of a Doubt
  • 1944 Lifeboat
  • 1944 Bon Voyage (GB) (short for war effort)
  • 1944 Aventure Malagache (GB) (short for war effort)
  • 1945 Concentration (doc. unfinished)
  • 1945 Spellbound
  • 1946 Notorious
  • 1947 The Paradine Case
  • 1948 Rope (+ prod)
  • 1949 Under Capricorn (+ prod) (GB)
  • 1949 Stage Fright (+ prod) (GB)
  • 1951 Strangers on a Train (+ prod)
  • 1952 I Confess (+ prod)
  • 1954 Dial M for Murder (+ prod)
  • 1954 Rear Window (+ prod)
  • 1955 To Catch a Thief (+ prod)
  • 1956 The Trouble with Harry (+ prod)
  • 1956 The Man Who Knew Too Much (+ prod)
  • 1957 The Wrong Man (+ prod)
  • 1958 Vertigo (+ prod)
  • 1959 North by Northwest (+ prod)
  • 1960 Psycho (+ prod)
  • 1963 The Birds (+ prod)
  • 1964 Marnie (+ prod)
  • 1966 Torn Curtain (+ prod)
  • 1969 Topaz (+ prod)
  • 1972 Frenzy (+ prod) (GB)
  • 1976 Family Plot (+ prod)





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    biography | dates | filmography | books | dvds | posters | videos
    hitchcockhitchcockhitchcockhitchcockhitchcockhitchcock
    madeleine carroll | marlene dietrich | greta garbo
    audrey hepburn | grace kelly | margaret lockwood
    marilyn monroe

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Changes last made: 2011