Alfred Hitchcock: Ten Things to Know About the Master of Suspense

Here are 10 trivia facts about Alfred Hitchcock. There are hundreds of pieces of behind-the-scenes information about the master director. Please feel free to comment and add more trivia we might have missed.

Alfred Hitchcock" Blackmail 1929 1. The 1929 thriller Blackmail is often considered to be the first British talking feature, thanks to British International Pictures’ decision to shoot the film’s final sequences with sound. Their plans, however, didn’t sit well with director Hitchcock, who opted instead to re-do the entire picture as a “talkie” (save for the opening six and a half minutes). Ironically, the silent version of Blackmail was a bigger box office success, because very few UK theaters were capable of showing sound movies.





Alfred Hitchcock Movie Poll 2. In the MovieFanFare Movie Poll “Who’s your Favorite Horror Master,” Alfred Hitchcock won with 66% of the votes, beating out such fright icons as John Carpenter, Wes Craven and George Romero. Hitchcock’s reputation in the horror genre, of course, comes mostly from just three of his 50-plus movies, Psycho, (1960), The Birds” (1963) and Frenzy. He thought of himself more as a suspense filmmaker.





The 39 Steps: Ten Things To Know About The Master of Suspense 3. The 39 Steps (1935), is one of the first of Hitchcock films to introduce the concept of the “MacGuffin”, a plot device around which a whole story seems to revolve, but ultimately has nothing to do with the true meaning or ending of the story. What was the MacGuffin in The 39 Steps?





4. The 1944 WWII thriller Lifeboat,” based on a story by John Steinbeck, had a minor problem with Hitchcock’s traditional cameo appearance because of the film’s title locale. The issue was solved by having two images of the director–who had recently lost some of his trademark girth–appear in a before-and-after advertisement for “Reduco Obesity Slayer” in the newspaper that William Bendix is reading in the boat.





10 Facts about Alfred Hitchcock: Topaz 1969 5. In the 1969 espionage thriller Topaz, Hitchcock experimented with using the on-screen colors, red, yellow and white to reveal and influence the plot. He later admitted that this did not work out as planned.





Alfred Hitchcock Movie Poll 6. Alfred Hitchcock made three films with Philadelphia-born Grace Kelly: Dial M for Murder (1954), Rear Window (1954), and To Catch a Thief (1955). When asked about their favorite Grace Kelly performance, MovieFanFare readers voted Grace’s turn as socialite Lisa Fremont in Rear Window as their top pick.





Alfred Hitchcock Hitchcock Cameo To Catch A Thief 7. Hitchcock’s habit of making a cameo appearance in each of his films began in his silent days in England and continued through nearly 40 pictures, including all of his Hollywood efforts. As he became more famous, the director found he had to turn up earlier and earlier in the movie, so that audiences could stop looking for him and concentrate on the plot. Some of Hitch’s more notable pop-ups include as a silhouette on a neon sign (1948’s Rope), and on a bus next to a fugitive Cary Grant (To Catch a Thief).





Alfred Hitchcock: 10 Facts 8. Prior to the release of Psycho, Hitchcock clashed with censors over whether one of star Janet Leigh’s breasts was visible during the infamous shower scene. The canny Hitch simply waited for a few days, submitted the same, unchanged print a second time, and found that the censors who were certain they had seen the offending breast now had changed their mind, and vice versa. The film was ultimately okayed for exhibition, although the director did acquiesce and took out a shot of Leigh’s stand-in’s posterior.





10 Facts About Hitchcock: Alfred Hitchcock Presents 9. Along with Walt Disney, Alfred Hitchcock was one of the first film directors to realize the nascent power of television. His anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents aired from 1955 to 1965 with over 360 episodes. The self-drawn caricature of Hitchcock has made him the most recognizable film director of all time.





Alfred Hitchcock Facts about the Master of Horror 10. It is rumored that Hitchcock never looked in the viewfinder of a camera, rather, relying solely on heavily detailed storyboards. Although this idea has been argued by Hitchcock At Work, author Bill Krohn, what cannot be argued is the fact that attention to detail is unsurpassed in Hitchcock films.





  • OZ ROB

    My interest in and love of classic and silent film was solely inspired by Hitchcock and his film Blackmail. A chance viewing some years ago now has developed into one my favorite pastimes…
    * Blackmail was the first British movie to be dubbed as leading lady Anny Ondra spoke no English..
    * The FBI had Hitchcock under surveillance for a few months following the release of Notorious in 1946. All because of his arbitrary choice to use the uncommon uranium ore as the substance hidden in the cellar, It aroused suspicion and alarm as only those in high places knew of its vital importance to the war effort..
    * The smallest set ever used I think is credited to Lifeboat..
    * Rope is one of only a few films with an uninterrupted narrative, shot in eight ten minute takes, all the action takes place in one room in the 80 minute running time..
    * One the most exciting film discoveries of recent times has been, The White Shadow ,1923, Found in a New Zealand shed, it was written, produced and co-directed by Hitchcock and is his first film. Now restored and available for viewing through national archives.. favorite is,The 39 Steps , I think it has all of, what are known as the Hitchcock touches, great entertainment.!!

    • jason fleming

      Couldn’t agree more Hitchcock was the first director whose films I specifically look for. When I was 7 or 8 every Sunday I would look through the tv guide that came with the paper to find movies with Hitchcock’s name in the synopsis or movies from the 40’s or 50’s that sounded like a Hitchcock film this was the early 80’s before TCM. I discovered many great directors that way Fritz Lang , Jacques Tourneur, Robert Siodmak and many more. You could say Hitchcock was my gateway drug for my love of cinema.

    • moo moo

      Here is some trivia to share: Alfred Hitchcock used his television crew to film Psycho and mortgaged his house to finance it. Also Paramount distributed it but had nothing to do with the financial end, Paramount thought this kind of move was beneath Hitchcock and was not happy about,it —boy did he prove them wrong!!! Go Hitch!!!!!

  • Blair Kramer

    A while back, I did an un-credited re-write of a film using LIFEBOAT for inspiration. Most people agree that it turned out quite well.

  • Wayne P.

    Good list and comments…I once saw on one of the special features to my many Hitch discs a comment by a grand-daughter of Hitch’s that he enjoyed playing tricks on his daughter Patricia. One example was that he knew she hated heights so he had her retake the scene from Strangers on a Train where shes up in a ferris wheel at the amusement park, when Robert Walker commits his side of the switched murders, for what mustve felt like an eternity to her! I also love his dry sense of humor shown most especially on his TV show monologues and the fact that he did many of his own movie trailers…the one from The Birds is really a hoot where hes ready to sit down to a big turkey or chicken dinner until he loses his appetite after discussing the plot of the film.

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