Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, (13 August 1899 – 29 April 1980) was an English film director and producer. He pioneered many techniques in the suspense and psychological thriller genres. After a successful career in British cinema in both silent films and early talkies, Hitchcock moved to Hollywood.
During his lifetime, he carefully cultivated an image of bourgeois normality: the dark suit and tie, the expressionless monotone, the dry humor, the calm control; this was the sum of the character he wanted us to accept. But he was, of course, far more complex than that. No one responsible for such a unique body of work could possibly be so common as the persona he marketed.
The circumstances of Alfred Hitchcock's childhood have been portrayed elsewhere as Dickensian, but the truth was closer to a vision of Frank Capra. Hard, hard work was necessary, expected and valued, but work was rewarded. The Hitchcocks were a jolly clan, full of fun.
When Cutts said that he did not want to work with Hitchcock again, Balcon decided it was time to give the younger man a chance to prove himself. In 1925, Hitchcock was assigned to direct another Anglo-German production, 'The Pleasure Garden' ... Hitchcock recalled, "Well, Cutts not wanted me could have ruined my career, but instead, it was the making of it. It gave me the opportunity I didn't even know yet I wanted. I was to be a director."
Truffaut: 'The Lodger', I believe, was your first important film venture.
Hitchcock: That's another story. 'The Lodger' was the first true "Hitchcock movie." I had seen a play called 'Who is He?' based on Mrs. Belloc Lowndes' novel 'The Lodger'. ... I treated it very simply, purely from her point of view. Since then there have been two or three remakes, but they are too elaborate.
Truffaut: Wasn't it in 'The Lodger' that you made your first personal appearance on the screen? . . .
Hitchcock: It was strictly utilitarian; we had to fill the screen. Later on it became a superstition and eventually a gag. But by now it's a rather troublesome gag, and I'm very careful to show up in the first five minutes so as to let the people look at the rest of the movie with no further distraction.
When Hitchcock left for Hollywood, he was England's most famous director, both respected and popular. Bryan Langley, cameraman for five of Hitchcock's earliest English sound films, seventy years later, said to me with great feeling: "He was a very good bloke."
He liked to start a film with an allegro or andante sequence, he said, something in a "leisurely tempo"; then he would give the audience a sudden jolt, followed by a series of jolts building to a "crescendo," or "high spot" - ending the story, perhaps with a gentle, ambiguous coda.
Hitchcock refuses to stylize or aestheticize the act of murder; on the contrary, stabbing, knifing and a long penetration of the blade into flesh allow the victims fully to experience their approaching death and killers to savor their crimes. Hitchcock insists on the horrible nature of the deed, but neither does he dwell unduly on it; there is, in fact a kind of squeamishness not found in later filmmakers.
In 1921 and 1922 he submitted to Famous Players-Lasky several portfolio of designs to accompany the intertitles of silent films... Film crews were small and talent was quickly recognized, and soon there came a directorial assignment - 'Number Thirteen' (1922) with Clare Greet and Ernest Thesiger, but the budget collapsed and the film was never completed.
... Alma Reville Hitchcock, his wife and most frequent collaborator for fifty-three years ... Small and frail, she had always appeared even tinier when placed next to her husband's outsize girth, and her illnesses had indeed sapped her energy. But as she had for decades, she made a remarkable stubbornness serve her physically.