Master of Suspense?

Master of Suspense

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock  (August 13, 1899 – April 29,  1980)

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock aka “Master of Suspense” was a British born director known for his mastery of the suspense and psychological thriller.  He was an innovator using film editing (cuts) as the basis to construct a film. He poked, stabbed and forced us to face our fears, obsessions and compulsions.

Hitch is one of my favorite directors because of his fearlessness. He used a voyeuristic style and cuts to let you see inside the heads of his leading characters. Rear Window (1954) is a classic example of his style as the audience becomes the voyeur along with James Stewart’s character. We go along with Hitch and peer through the windows of Stewart’s neighbors and cross a line we otherwise wouldn’t.

In Psycho (1960) we peer through the peephole with “Norman Bates” (Anthony Perkins) and end up rooting for this very troubled individual. Not allowing patrons to enter the theater after Psycho started was a great gimmick. His most fearless move was what occurred in the first 45 minutes of the film. Now that’s risk and genius!

In 1992, the US Library of Congress deemed the film “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Now, meet Hitchcock as he takes us through the Bates Motel and the events that occurred. This is Sir Alfred in all his shocking glory.

Although Hitchcock is legendary for his film editing genius, Rope (1948 ) proved to be his ultimate experiment. Instead of using film editing, he would shoot the movie in one long sequence. Stopping only to change the camera role. Like filming a play. Each role of camera film holds about 10-12 minutes of film.

The set was insane with flying walls and furniture. Jimmy Stewart once remarked about placing his drink on a table, turning back around and not only was the drink gone but the table it was sitting on. Everyone had to be on their mark and not drop a line because if anything went wrong they had to do everything  all over again. Hitchcock said the film just about killed him!

A Little Hitchcock History:

His first directing assignment, Number 13, began in 1922 but unfortunately wasn’t finished due to financial issues. His big break came in 1927 with the completion of his thriller The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog.  The plot revolved around a search for a Jack the Ripper type of serial killer and mistaken identity. Hitchcock’s first thriller is ripe with mood and the German Expressionist influence. A taste of things to come in Hitch’s repertoire, it was a commercial and critical success.


Hitchcock’s tenth film, Blackmail was released in 1929 and considered Britain’s first talkie. It also starts his usage of landmarks as a tradition and appears in the longest cameo of all his films.


The 39 Steps (1935) is widely considered the best of Hitchcock’s early films and made him a star in the U.S.  It also branded Hitch’s obsession with the cold blonde, sophisticated leading lady which Grace Kelly would come to epitomize. Then there’s the infamous “MacGuffin.”  A reoccurring plot device that actually had no real significance to the story-line. A decoy. Just another Hitch thing.

The 39 Steps

Alfred Hitchcock’s films were produced in Britain until in 1939. When David O. Selznick signed him to a seven year contract, Hitch relocated to the United States with his wife Alma Reville (his closest collaborator) and his daughter Patricia Hitchcock.

Alma Reville was an accomplished director, writer, editor and producer in Britain before she met Hitch while working  at Paramount‘sFamous Players-Lasky studio in London, during the early 1920s. Patricia Hitchcock appeared in several of her dad’s films including: Psycho, Strangers on a Train and Stage Fright.

Rebecca (1940) was Hitchcock’s first American film. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Hitchcock was nominated for Best Director but did not win. In fact, although nominated five times, he would never be afforded that honor.

Alfred Hitchcock  became an American citizen in 1956 and was a multiple nominee and winner of a number of prestigious awards. Hithcock was the recipient of  two Golden Globes, eight Laurel Awards, and five lifetime achievement awards including the first BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award.

Hitchcock received a knighthood in 1980 when he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Queen Elizabeth II.

What’s your quintessential Hitchcock film?

  • Stage Fright (1950)
  • Saboteur (1942)
  • Strangers on a Train (1951)
  • The Birds (1963)
  • Spellbound (1945)
  • Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
  • Rebecca (1940)
  • Foreign Correspondent (1940)
  • The 39 Steps (1935)
  • Rope (1948)
  • Vertigo (1958)

Not here? Voice Your choice in the comments.

Check out Alfred Hitchcock’s substantial catalog.

The quintessential “Master of Suspense.”

Boo! Don’t Turn Off the Lights

halloween boo 1

Happy Halloween!


In anticipation of the big day, I thought I’d share some of my Halloween Day viewing quirks. “Boo, Don’t Turn off the Lights” reveals what films I can watch only while it’s still light outside.

My top 2 are Psycho (1960) and Halloween (1978). If you haven’t experienced them you should and here’s why:


Psycho (1960)


Directed by the “Master of Suspense”, Sir Alfred Hitchcock, it turned the audience perception of a movie plot on its head. There were lines wrapped around the block and absolutely NO ADMISSION after the movie began. Sir Alfred, such a tease. For more on Al, please click here. A previous post tribute.


Starring Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh, the screenplay is by Joseph Stefano and based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. To fully appreciate the creepy effect of the film understand that the character of Norman Bates is loosely inspired by the crimes of Wisconsin murderer and grave robber Ed Gein.

Norman Bates

Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins)

I can’t give anything away, but the shower scene is legendary and a reason to watch with the lights on!

Janet Leigh Marion

Marion Crane (Janet Leigh)


Halloween (1978)


Directed by John Carpenter and the debut of Jamie Lee Curtis (Janet Leigh’s daughter), this film is inspired by and born from the masterwork Psycho (1960) bringing a fresh, 1978 twist on the horror genre. Void of a lot of blood and gore the focus becomes a child’s question: “What’s the “boogeyman?” and the response, “I believe that was.”

OMG, I add extra lighting when watching this definitive Halloween classic!


The unrelenting Michael Myers character is the scariest psycho of all time! 

Michael myers2007

This quote sums up Michael:

Dr. Sam Loomis: (Donald PleasenceI met him, fifteen years ago; I was told there was nothing left; no reason, no conscience, no understanding; and even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes… the devil’s eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply… evil.

Michael Myers young

6-year-old Michael Myers

The cinematic significance of this film is unlike other slasher movies of the day, the heroine is intelligent and continually devising ways to get away from the killer. Jamie Lee as Laurie is sweet, compassionate and determined to save the kids she’s babysitting and herself from death and live through Halloween night.


Shout out to the first horror “Scream Queen! (for you trivia buffs check-out Wes Craven’s Scream (1996) for a movie reference). Halloween (1978) was the film’s inspiration.

Laurie strong

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis)


Halloween’s opening sequence is disturbing and reason for exclaiming:


Boo! Don’t Turn Off the Lights!