Maggie Van Ostrand
Can You Spot Him?
the 13th of August 1899, Alfred Hitchcock was born, a fitting birth date for the
man who was to become known as The Master of Suspense. Long before movie casts
learned to perform as they do today, in front of a green screen where images are
later placed by computers, Hitchcock was scaring our pants off by transferring
images from his mind to paper and then to film. Dozens of memorable visuals come
to mind -- |
water swirling down drain, car sinking into lake. NOTORIOUS: passing of
the key, nibbling love scene. VERTIGO: dizzying elasticity of dimensions,
misty reappearance of Madeline to obsessed Scotty. NORTH BY NORTHWEST:
crop duster and Mount Rushmore scenes. Hitchcock himself appears in all of these
films, and many more. Can you spot him?||
(1940) Man passing telephone booth with George Sanders inside. (rare -- cut from
most prints). First American film. Hitch was painstaking, methodical, and tricky.
Hitchcock took advantage of Joan Fontaineís natural insecurities by telling her
that Olivier really wanted Vivien Leigh in the part. This sneaky tactic helped
Fontaine perfect the role of a naÔve young bride, out of her element. |
CORRESPONDENT (1940) Man walking on sidewalk. Joel McCrea recalled Hitchcock's
habit of drinking champagne at lunch. "One day, there was a long scene with me
just standing there, talking. When it was over, I expected to hear 'Cut!' I looked
over and there was Hitchcock snoring .... So I said 'Cut!' He woke up and said
, "Was it any good?" I said, 'The best in the picture,' and he said, 'Print it!'"
AND MRS. SMITH (1941) Man walking past Robert Montgomery on street. Hitchcock's
(1942) Man standing by newsstand.
OF A DOUBT (1943) Man playing cards aboard train. Hitchcock identified with
Hume Cronyn's character, obsessed with committing fantasy murders and living with
an (unseen) sick, demanding mother. Hitch's own mother was later portrayed as
possessive and tyrannical in Notorious.
cameo in Lifeboat |
(1943) Man in before and after newspaper ad for Reducing Weight. Hitchcock said
of Tallulah Bankhead "She stood up to being doused by 5,400 gallons of water,
and got a round of applause from stagehands." However, the reason for applause
was Bankhead's lack of panties climbing up the ladder to get into the water tank.
"The whole point about Tallulah," said Hitchcock, "is that she has no inhibitions."
(1945) Man exiting elevator carrying violin. Gregory Peck's character cries "Unlock
the doors! You can't keep people in cells!" "When I was six years old, I did something
that my father considered worthy of reprimand," recalled Hitch. "He sent me to
the local police station with a note. The officer on duty read it and locked me
in a jail cell for five minutes, saying, 'This is what we do to naughty boys.'
I have since gone to any lengths to avoid arrest and confinement..." |
(1946) Man at party drinking champagne. Hitch: "I wanted to make this film about
a man who forces a woman to go to bed with another man because it's his professional
duty." Grant and Rains externalized Hitchcock's dual nature.
PARADINE CASE (1947) Man carrying cello case.
(1948) Man crossing street.
CAPRICORN (1949) Man listening to speech. Man on stairs of Government House.
FRIGHT (1950) Man turning on street to look at Jane Wyman.
ON A TRAIN (1951) Man boarding train with bass fiddle. Detail-freak Hitchcock
personally selected the wet leaves, orange peel, gum wrapper, and crumpled paper
for sewer debris as Robert Walker bends down to retrieve a cigarette lighter.
CONFESS (1952) Man walking across top of flight of stairs. Hitch: "Working
with Montgomery Clift was difficult because he was a method actor and a neurotic
M FOR MURDER (1954) Man in class reunion photograph. Filmed in 3-D, prints
released flat. Strangulation and stabbing-with-scissors scene caused him so much
anxiety, Hitch lost 20 pounds. "Nicely done," he said after Take One, "but there
wasn't enough gleam to the scissors, and a murder without gleaming scissors is
like asparagus without hollandaise sauce."
cameo in Rear Window |
WINDOW (1954) Man winding clock. Hitch: "... We had to build a set containing
32 other apartments [Stewart] sees from his window ... We never could have gotten
them properly lit in a real location." A foot fetishist, he spent half an hour
directing a close-up of Grace Kelly's shoes -- a shot never used in the film.||
|TO CATCH A
THIEF (1955) Man sitting next to Cary Grant on bus. Calling his scenarist
during filming of final rooftop sequence, Hitch said "Look at them all down there.
They think we're discussing something important ... But I only wanted to find
out whether you're as frightened of heights as I am."|
TROUBLE WITH HARRY (1956) Man walking in front of exhibition.
MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1956) Man watching acrobats from bank. Hitchcock directed
the actor playing an assassin watching his target, "Look lovingly at him, as if
you're glancing at a beautiful woman."
WRONG MAN (1957) Man who narrates prologue. Hitchcock took no salary.
(1958) Man crossing street. Best example of Hitchcock's frequent motif: making
a woman over into his own fantasy. Said Stewart, "I didn't realize ... what an
impact it would have, but it's an extraordinary achievement by Hitch. And I could
tell it was a very personal film for him even while he was making it."
cameo in North by Northwest |
|NORTH BY NORTHWEST
(1959) Man who misses bus. Background shots filmed at Mt. Rushmore, actual chase
filmed at Paramount.|
cameo in The Birds |
(1960) Man in cowboy hat outside an office. "It was very grueling," said Janet
Leigh, "to stand in a shower getting drenched for a week." |
BIRDS (1963) Man leaving pet shop with two white dogs. "I felt that after
Psycho," said Hitchcock, "people would expect something to top it."
(1964) Man walking through hotel corridor.
CURTAIN (1966) Man sitting in hotel lobby with baby on his lap.
Man in wheelchair at airport.|
(1970) Man listening to speech.
PLOT (1976) Man whose silhouette is seen through a window talking to another
Hitchcock loved preparing for a film, he found actual filming boring. However,
he was a perfectionist and his philosophy was: "Nothing matters except the final
Directors are as trendy as the times dictate and few retain
the ability to remain on top, appealing to all generations. Hitchcock is surely
In Cactus" July
27, 2009 column
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