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Intro Rolling up your window at the sight of a passing bird, quickly pulling open your shower curtain when the slightest shadow is seen, and the constant worry of nuclear war with other countries. Birds will most likely never go on a killing rampage, a murder taking place in a shower isn't far fetched, and the threat of war is always present. So, by this we can see the wide range of films directed by the "Giant in Horror", the "Master Of Suspense", and the "Protagonist of Terror", Mr. Alfred Joseph Hitchcock. His early life On August 8, 1899, in Leytonstone, London, William Hitchcock and wife Emma had a son, they named him Alfred J. Hitchcock. His parents, both Irish and Catholic, also had two other children, William Hitchcock and Ellen Kathleen Hitchcock. Young Mr. Hitchcock attended the Jesuits' St. Iganatius College during his early school years. His parents were both very strict. Once when he was young and did something his father didn't approve of, he was forced to stay in a jail cell for ten minutes. Ever since that day he had had a phobia of police officers. At the age of fourteen (1913) a tragedy struck Alfred's life, his father died, this forced him to quit school and search for a job. At age sixteen (1915) Mr. Hitchcock was studying once again at the University of London, however he was studying engineering and navigation, as oppose to what a future director should study. At age nineteen (1918) he took a job at the Henley Telegraph Center as an estimator. Of course as most teens would he managed to go to the cinema regularly, and he fell in love with the silver screen. While working he took night classes in art, and he read as many technical magazines as possible to learn more about filmmaking. From that point on his abilities and talent continued to grow. The middle years At the age of twenty-one (1920) Mr. Hitchcock made one of the wisest career decisions of his life. He heard of a paramount pictures branch called Players-Lasky opening in London. He immediately got an interview for a job, and due to his knowledge of filmmaking he was given a job as an assistant director. A year later (1921) he met his future wife Alma Reville, a co-worker at the office, whom he married five years later at Brompton Oratory. Alma also helped him with the initial script development all the way to the final post-production of most of his films. Two years after working at the office Alfred directed his first film, Mrs. Peabody, however it was never completed. In 1925 Alfred was promoted from assistant director to the position of a full-fledged director. His second film failure occurred in 1925, he directed the film "The Pleasure Garden", although Alfred poured his heart, soul, and even his uncanny wit into this film it was never a success. At the age of twentyeight (1927) Alfred directed his first successful film, "The Lodger". At that time the film was considered pretty out of the ordinary. A boarder was suspected of murdering several woman. Such topics as murder, suspicion, and even sexual attraction were unheard of in the cinemas. This of course spurred Alfred's long and prosperous career as the Titan of terror. A year after his first film (1928) his wife gave birth to a daughter, Patricia, who later appeared in three of Alfred's major movies. Patricia appeared in "Stage Fright", "Strangers on a Train" (which was later remade as throw momma from the train, with Danny Devito), and Psycho. Later Years In his life Alfred made a total of fifty-three major films, however the first nine were silent films. In 1939 after being acclaimed as one of Britain's greatest directors, he moved to America to start fresh. However his movies weren't his only passion, in fact he only once went to see one of his own movies. Alfred loved practical jokes, one of his favorite being his "elevator confession". He would find an elevator with a number of people in it and confess to one of them that he had committed a brutal murder. He always loved to keep an audience entertained. Alfred also liked to be misunderstood, and had many abstract comments to confuse people. One of his most famous quotes was, "Once a man commits himself to murder, he will soon find himself stealing. The next
step will be alcoholism, disrespect for the Sabbath and from there on it will lead to rude behavior. As soon as you set the first steps on the path to destruction you will never know where you will end. Lots of people owe their downfall to a murder they once committed and weren't too pleased with at the time". Many of his films in the 1950's to the 1970's had to do with the wars at the time. "Torn Curtain" was an espionage story set during the cold war. Another such film, "Topaz", was one of his most unwieldy and least witty films, which was set during the Cuban missile crisis. Alfred continued to make movies up until his death at the age of 81 (1980), his last film being "Family Plot" in 1976.
The 3 Greats 1.Psycho Probably the most well known of Alfred's movies and most likely any 35mm black and white film, was Psycho, the top horror movie of the 1960's. The movie was written by Joseph Stephano, was based on the book by Robert Bloch. The tale was that of Marion Crane who had just stolen a large sum of money from the company she worked for. She decides to stay at the Bate's Motel along the way, there she is greeted by the oh-so friendly Norman Bates. Norman Bates, however, lives under the domineering specter of his deceased mother. Marion is feeling a bit grimy from her long trip and decides to take a shower. Of course this is were everything spirals down the drain. The blood was easy to fake in black and white, with a little dab of Hershey's syrup in the water. The house and motel still stand at Universal Studios Hollywood. As in all of his films Mr. Hitchcock had a small appearance as an unknown character. Alfred's cameo appearance occurs four minutes into the movie with him climbing through Janet Leigh's window wearing a cowboy hat. 2.The Birds Another memorable Hitchcock movie was "The Birds", Alfred got the idea from a Santa Cruz newspaper headline reading "Seabird invasion hits coastal homes". "The birds" was written by Evan Hunter, and the story idea was by Daphne Du Morier. This is the story of Melanie Daniels who had just moved to Bodega Bay with her new boyfriend played by Red Taylor. But before she can enjoy her new home marauding birds attack the entire town. The birds attack in very organized and vicious assaults, which some believe to have a deeper meaning behind. One speculation is that the birds represent soldiers raiding towns. Melanie Daniels wasn't an actor at the time, but was actually a model. However that didn't stop Mr. Hitchcock from using her as the lead in his new film. This wouldn't have been such a bad idea had she have known how to act, unfortunately she just wasn't working well with the screaming aspect, so the directors and other workers pelted her with stuffed birds. Alfred appears in this film as a man leaving a pet shop with two white terriers. 3.Vertigo Our little tour of terror stops with the story "Vertigo", based on a book called "D'entre les morts" by Pierre Boileau. Although Alec coppel is given credit for writing the script it was actually written by Samuel Taylor who was forced to sign it over for legal reasons. The entire movie is complicated on the literal level, psychological level, and allegorical level. The story is that of Gavin Elster and his wife Madeleine. Gavin is worried about the strange behavior of his wife and hires Scottie (an old college friend) to tail her. He follows her through forests, graveyards, and museums, only to find out that she believes that she is the reincarnated soul of Carlotta. This is the ancient tale of a man who has lost his wife and wishes to join her in the underworld. Alfred's cameo in this film appears eleven minutes in with him walking down the street in a gray suit.
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