Throughout his extensive career in the film industry, Alfred Hitchcock worked as a writer, producer, actor, editor, and crew member, but most importantly, he was a director. With a terrific eye for filmmaking that he employed while directing over 50 movies, what he truly excelled at was suspense.
His career as a director began in 1925. The silent film, The Pleasure Garden is a romantic drama following two couples on the paths of long distance relationships with some dark, surprising twists. He began steadily making thrillers in 1934 with The Man Who Knew Too Much, on which he established the pattern of deconstructing familial relationships in a story of suspense.
From 1950 to 1960 Hitchcock produced his greatest work. He directed two excellent films in 1954, first with the sophisticated thriller Dial M for Murder about a man plotting to murder his wife, and when things don’t go according to plan, he has an excellent backup strategy. Then he directed one of his greatest hits, Rear Window, which turned viewers into voyeurs by watching a photographer who witnesses a murder.
The following year he presented another brilliant thriller, To Catch a Thief, about a reformed jewel thief blamed for a new crime who must find the real thief to prove his innocence. His 1958 film Vertigo explored the lost feminine identity seen in his films Shadow of a Doubt and Notorious by pointing out the cause as a male proclivity. The 1959 film North by Northwest brought together the elements of a quintessential Hitchcock movie with clever shots, a dramatic score, subtle relationships, and crafted suspense.
Perhaps his best remembered horror film was the 1960 hit Psycho. The iconic shower murder scene put the viewer in the killer’s point of view. The film also stunned viewers when the killer’s identity was revealed. Adding to the skin crawling fear is the shrieking string orchestra score provided by Bernard Herrman. His last big hit was the horror flick The Birds in 1963. The environmental attack takes evil out of human hands and makes animals that aren’t typically frightening into monsters.
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