Films, whether wanted or unwanted, are always a reflection of the society, culture and geopolitical situation in which they are created. The bad guy, for example, is the (Nazi) German, the (Communist) Soviet, the (Terrorist) Arab. And if the enemy image does not reveal when a film was made, the hairstyle of the main character usually helps. Of course – just because of the technical circumstances – the films by Alfred Hitchock (1899-1980) can be seen from which era they originate. Nevertheless, the stripes of the master of the suspense seem strangely out of time.
However, many of Hitchcock’s works defy the ravages of time better than some other films, which are commonly referred to as masterpieces or cult classics, but from today’s point of view, they still look very antiquated. But when James Stewart in “Das Fenster zum Hof” (1954) worries about Grace Kelly in tearing tension or the violin staccato in “Psycho” (1960) saws his nerves, this has not failed to have an effect for 66 or 60 years. The standing ovation of the neck hair is the best proof of timeless tension. Here are some extraordinary facts about a truly extraordinary spirit.
Alfred Hitchcock has shaped cinema history in many ways, whether stylistically or in terms of content. He is attributed, for example, to the creation of the term “MacGuffin”, an actually insignificant object that triggers or drives the action. And the twist in “Psycho” (here literally a twist, turning a chair) was unprecedented.
But the filmmaker, who was born in Leytonstone, England in 1899, was also a master at staging himself. At the age of 28 he already knew how important self-marketing is. In the 1930s, he was one of the first filmmakers to found his own company (Hitchcock Baker Productions), which operated publicity for and with him.
“Rebecca” (1941), “The Lifeboat” (1945), “I’m Fighting for You” (1946), “The Window to the Court” (1955) and “Psycho” (1961 ″ – Hitchock was five times for the Oscar nominated for best director. Incredible, but true, he never won him once. How angry he must have been about this fact became clear in 1968.
When the special prize (Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award) was presented to him at the Academy Awards, he honored this with polite but clearly eaten five words. “Thank you”, and after a pause: “Very much indeed.” It was not until shortly before his death in 1980 that Queen Elizabeth II made him Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire – 17 years earlier, he still had this honor declined.
Hitchcock was one of those perfectionist filmmakers who want to see every facet of the film in their own hands, from start to finish. Of course, it did not suit him at all in the stuff that his artistic freedom through the so-called Hays Code (guidelines for US films) was pseudo-moral ankle cuffs from 1930 to the 1960s.
But of course the clever slit-ear found more or less obvious methods to wipe out the censorship-guards. The most famous example is the sex scene between Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint at the end of “The Invisible Third”. Hitchcock cut the couple’s kiss, which was still allowed, onto a train roaring into a tunnel – it doesn’t take Sigmund Freud to know what the train and tunnel symbolized at that moment …
Hitchcock was responsible for more than 50 films from the silent film era until 1976 (his last film: “Family Grave”). To date, he is the director with the most films in the top 250 of the website “imdb.com” (Internet Movie Database). Eight of his films have made it into the prestigious leaderboard, more than any other filmmaker.
Martin Scorsese (77), Steven Spielberg (73), Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) or Christopher Nolan (49) all currently have seven stripes in it. Given his age, the latter could have the best chance of catching up with Hitchcock or, God forbid, even outperforming. That would still be a thorn in the side of the exceptional director 40 years after his death.