Alfred Hitchcock Essay Research Paper Alfred HitchcockAlfred

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Alfred Hitchcock Essay, Research Paper Alfred HitchcockAlfred’s Cameos | Inside the Master | The Filmography | Clips & Trailers Inside the Master of Suspense by Robert HortonMidway through Vertigo, “Scottie” Ferguson (James Stewart) and Madeleine (Kim Novak) have wandered through the redwoods and come to the edge of the crashing ocean. Despite the fact that he is an out-of-work cop, hired to follow her around by her worried husband, they are growing intimate. There is a problem, aside from the husband: Madeleine is spellbound, haunted by morbid trances. But Scottie is a man of logic. He wants to trace the problem, challenge it, explain it the same approach he’s taken to his own fear of falling. If we could just find the key, he mutters. Madeleine, despite her own

secrets, knows better. She says something ironic about “explaining” away the mystery but Scottie, as usual, isn’t listening to her. Alfred Hitchcock knows better, too. In some of his films, there is an explanation given for the various pathologies on display: Psycho ends with a notoriously insufficient analysis of Norman Bates and his dear old Mum, while Spellbound is rife with psychoanalytic explication (and is one of Hitch’s least satisfying films). But these explanations are almost on a par with Hitchcock’s use of what he called the MacGuffin: that object in the plot which makes the story happen (uranium, a cigarette lighter, government secrets) but which doesn’t really matter at all. The dangers in Hitchcock’s world can’t be explained away. They’re connected

to the deepest kinds of fears, which this director lived with in closer proximity than most people. His favorite anecdote with interviewers was the time he was locked in a police cell as a little kid. The police chief let him out after five minutes and said to the lad, “This is what we do to naughty boys.” Hitchcock never got away from his pervasive sense of guilt and fear, the nervous feeling that someone might start chasing you, at any moment, for no reason at all. It’s no wonder the “wrong man” story turns up again and again in his films. But this doesn’t “explain” Hitchcock, either. In his rancid biography, The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock, writer Donald Spoto tries to cram Hitchcock’s life into the author’s own agenda, and makes a

strong argument that ol’ Fat Al was one messed-up guy. This allows Spoto to use Hitchcock’s biography to explain things from Hitchcock’s movies. Except that it doesn’t, save for the simplest kinds of art-and-life parallels (reading the book is a little like having Simon Oakland’s psychologist from Psycho standing over your shoulder, providing crib notes). And, more importantly, this approach can’t explain why Hitchcock was so good, why he takes us so deeply into fear and longing. Vertigo, in its lusciously-restored version, may be an introduction to Hitchcock for many people. There is a great deal beyond Vertigo, of course. His English period is still preferred by some, and those early films crackle with an appealing, youthful bounce. He perfected a blend of thrills

and humor in The 39 Steps (1935) and The Lady Vanishes (1938), but some of the lesser-known movies are just as good. Blackmail (1929), which exists in intriguingly different silent and sound versions, is the work of an utterly confident young master, a terrific tale of murder and its aftermath. Some of the other “little” ones, such as Rich and Strange (1932) and Young and Innocent (1937), manage to be both splendid entertainments and absolutely distinctive films that could only have been made by one man. Hitchcock came to Hollywood at the behest of producer David O. Selznick, and scored an immediate success with Rebecca in 1940. His films of the following decade are things of beauty, elegantly using the tools of the studio system at its zenith, to say nothing of the glorious