of the most famous urban myths surrounding Hitchcock concerns a story
when he was five years old and was sent to the local police station
with a note from his father after some mischief-making. After reading
the note, a sergeant put young Alfred in a cell, and left him there
for a few agonizing moments.The policeman returned and let Alfred
go, only to tell him,
is what we do to naughty boys’
or not, this story and Hitchcock's strict Roman Catholic background,
encompass all the themes Hitchcock would later put in his work - terror
inflicted upon the unknowing, and sometimes innocent victim; guilt
(both real guilt and the appearance of it); fear and redemption.
devout Catholic who attended church regularly throughout his life,
Hitchcock was the son of greengrocers William and Emma Hitchcock and
grew up with his older siblings, William and Ellen Kathleen in Leytonstone,
part of London's East End. Fascinated by numbers and technology, Alfred
was educated at the Jesuits' St. Ignatius College, but left school
at 16 to study engineering and navigation at the University of London.
keen interest in cinema and art happily coincided with a job opening
at Paramount studios in London as a title designer for silent films.
He worked his way up to assistant director and in 1922, at the age
of 22, started work on the film 'No. 13'. A year after he gained the
title of director with The Pleasure Garden (1925). Hitchcock married
film editor Alma Reville; she had become his screenwriting collaborator
and they would remain married until his death.
next film, The Lodger (1926), was a success and launched his career
in England. He soon became the most successful and highest paid director
in England. Blackmail (1929) was described by most critics as the
first successful British sound film, and Murder! (1930), made his
subsequently familiar connection between sex, violence and criminality.
In 1934, The 'Man Who Knew Too Much brought Hitchcock' was his first
major commercial success, followed by The Thirty-nine Steps (1935),
Sabotage (1936) and The Lady Vanishes (1938).
the onset of World War II loomed over Europe, Hitchcock emigrated
to the U.S. to direct Rebecca (1940). While the film won an Oscar,
Hitchcock did not win for Best Director (and never would, although
he would receive honorary Oscars.)
was an amazingly productive decade for Hitchcock. He made several
films that would become minor classics (Dial "M" for Murder,
To Catch a Thief, Strangers on a Train) and four masterpieces: Rear
Window, Vertigo, North by Northwest, and Psycho.
was then an auspicious year for Alfred Hitchcock - he became a U.S.
citizen and launched 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents', the TV show that
catapulted him from lauded director and celebrity to icon. His visibility
was increased by the uproar over Psycho, which upon its initial release
sparked endless debate about the film's onscreen violence.
Psycho (1960) was a film which has entered the collective memory of
film goers everywhere with its brilliant editing and shot selection,
its graphic violence and its powerful score. Not many films have been
able to emulate this film for sheer tension, although 'The Exorcist'
springs to mind. He continued to produce psychologically powerful
works through the 1960s, including The Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964),
but Torn Curtain (1966) and Topaz (1969) were more conventional espionage
returned to England to make Frenzy (1972), a resumption of the familiar
Hitchcock theme of an innocent man suspected of being a killer. His
last film, Family Plot (1976), joins psychism and crime in a typical
mix. In 1979, Hitchcock received the Life Achievement Award of the
American Film Institute, and in 1980 he was knighted, though an American
James Stewart said at the funeral,
was nobody like him, and he'll be hard to replace. I've lost a wonderful
friend. The world has lost a tremendous contribution to the art of
film and to millions and millions of people’