ALFRED HITCHCOCK

He was known to his audiences as the \'Master of Suspense\' and what Hitchcock mastered was not only the art of making films but also the task of taming his own imagination. Director of many works such as Vertigo, Psycho, The Birds and The 39 steps, Hitchcock told his stories through intelligent plots, witty dialogue and tales of mystery and murder. In doing so, he inspired a new generation of film makers and revolutionized the thriller film, making him a legend around the world. His brilliance was sometimes too bright: He was hated as well as loved. Hitchcock was unusual, inventive, impassioned, yet demanding.

Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born on August 13, 1899(Sennet 108). His birthplace is Leytonstone, England(Sennet 108). He went to St. Ignatius College in London England where he learned to excel in many things(Sennet 110). Not only was Alfred Hitchcock a film director but he was also a screen writer and a film producer. He began his film making career in 1919 illustrating title cards for silent films at Paramount\'s Famous Players-Lasky studio in London(Philips 50). There he learned scripting, editing and art direction, and rose to assistant director in 1922. That year he directed an unfinished film, MRS. PEABODY. His first completed film as director was THE PLEASURE GARDEN (1925), an Anglo-German production filmed in Munich(Spoto 41). In 1926, Hitchcock created the film that would set off his career, THE LODGER, his breakthrough film, was a prototypical example of the classic Hitchcock plot: an innocent protagonist is falsely accused of a crime.(Spoto 45).

In 1929, Alfred made his first sound film, BLACKMAIL. In this story of a woman who stabs an artist to death when he tries to seduce her, Hitchcock emphasized the young woman\'s anxiety by gradually
distorting all but one word—knife—of a neighbor\'s dialogue the morning after the killing(Spoto 56). Here and in MURDER! (1930), Hitchcock first made the link between sex and violence. THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1934), a commercial and critical success, established a favorite pattern: an investigation of family relationships within a suspenseful story.(Spoto 70). THE 39 STEPS (1935) showcases a more mature Hitchcock; it is an efficiently told chase film containing exciting incidents and memorable characters. In 1938, Hitchcock created another film, THE LADY VANISHES. This is a sleek, fast-paced, and magnificently entertaining film.

Hitchcock\'s last British film, JAMAICA INN (1939), and his first Hollywood effort, REBECCA (1940), were both handsomely mounted though somewhat uncharacteristic works based on novels by Daphne du Maurier(Spoto 82). Despite its somewhat muddled narrative, FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (1940) was the first Hollywood film in his recognizable style. SUSPICION (1941), the story of a woman who thinks her husband is a murderer about to make her his next victim, was an exploration of family dynamics; its introduction of evil into the domestic arena foreshadowed SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943), Hitchcock\'s early Hollywood masterwork.(Spoto 87).

Hitchcock would return to the feminine sacrifice-of-identity theme several times, most immediately with the masterful NOTORIOUS (1946), a love story about an FBI agent who must send the woman he loves into the arms of a Nazi in order to uncover an espionage ring. Other psychological dramas of the late 1940s were SPELLBOUND (1945), THE PARADINE CASE (1948), and UNDER CAPRICORN (1949). Both LIFEBOAT (1944) and ROPE (1948) were interesting technical exercises. In ROPE, Hitchcock sought to make a film that appeared to be a single, unedited shot. ROPE shared with the more effective STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951), a villain intent on committing the perfect murder(Spoto 121).

During his most inspired period, from 1950 to 1960, Hitchcock produced a cycle of memorable films which included minor works such as I CONFESS (1953), the classy thrillers DIAL M FOR MURDER (1954) and TO CATCH A THIEF (1955), THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1956) and the black comedy THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY (1955). He also directed several top-drawer films like STRANGERS ON A TRAIN and THE WRONG MAN (1956), a critique of the American justice system.

His three masterpieces of the period were investigations into the very nature of watching cinema. In 1954, Hitchcock created REAR WINDOW. This film made viewers voyeurs, then had them pay for their pleasure.(Spoto 160). This story of a photographer who happens to witness a murder was a huge success. VERTIGO (1958), as haunting a