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An introduction to the life and work of alfred hitchcock

Why Are You Here? Whatever your reasons, go to the Message Board and meet your instructor and fellow students. Talk about your reasons for taking the course and find out what brought your classmates here! We might bestow it on a Nobel Prize winner in one breath, a versatile bartender in the next.

But when we consider great films by Alfred Hitchcock like Notorious 1946Rear Window 1954Vertigo 1958and Psycho 1960 — films that still make us laugh, gasp, shudder, or think — there is no question that we are in the presence of what we label genius.


This course will examine the films, methods, and themes of Alfred Hitchcock to discover why he is routinely considered one of the greatest film directors of all time — perhaps the greatest.

A figure of such popular and critical success that he continues to influence the world of film — and the world at large — 20 years after his death, Hitchcock is truly worth our time and effort. Future lessons will cover how Hitchcock created his own storytelling method, who influenced his artistic vision, and what philosophies he expressed through his films, among other topics.

Fifty Years of His Motion Pictures, from which you will have reading assignments to clarify and expand upon topics from these lessons.

  • Selznick to sign Hitchcock to a long-term contract;
  • Shot in many of the New York City locales where the case unfolded, the film has verisimilitude to spare with its respectful, quasidocumentary approach;
  • Young and Innocent 1937 was considerably more charming and still offered much in the way of suspense;
  • And then comes this gem;
  • The box-office failure of Under Capricorn ended Transatlantic Pictures.

Take the earliest opportunity to visit the Message Board to meet your fellow students. One is the combination of popularity and critical acclaim Hitchcock attained during his lifetime; another is the mushrooming interest he still attracts 25 years after the release of his final film.

  1. I had nightmares about that movie for years.
  2. This course will examine the films, methods, and themes of Alfred Hitchcock to discover why he is routinely considered one of the greatest film directors of all time — perhaps the greatest. Review of 'It's Only A Movie.
  3. If Thief was lightweight, The Trouble with Harry 1955 was downright irreverent. I was so fortunate to watch the movie without having any idea of what was going to happen.

Yet another is the seriousness and continuity of subjects he considered in his work. Today Steven Spielberg towers over the world film scene and offers perhaps the closest analogue to the blend of success and acclaim that Alfred Hitchcock achieved.

Alfred Hitchcock

Without Alfred Hitchcock, the world of the cinema would be a very different place. The youngest of three children, Alfred attended Saint Ignatius preparatory school as a teenager, but the death of his father ended any thoughts of pursuing college exclusively. He worked both as a technician and a designer of advertisements for the Henley Telegraph Company.

  • Although Jeff and the camera never leave his apartment, the story required the construction of a gigantic courtyard set;
  • Hitchcock received his final Academy Award nomination for best director for Psycho.

Because of his interest in the cinema, Hitchcock submitted some of his designs to the Famous Players-Lasky film studio in London and found himself put to work. After several years spent learning the ropes of the film business in London and Munich, Hitchcock directed his first feature film, The Pleasure Garden, in 1925. Between 1925 and 1976, he directed a total of 53 films. Before assuming the helm as a director, he had also worked as an editor, a scenario and title card writer silent films used written cards to convey dialogue and other information to the audienceand a set designer.

In later years, Hitchcock continued to be actively involved in the writing and production design of his films and eventually added producing to his other duties. Hitchcock also licensed his name and likeness for a series of books and a mystery magazine, none of which he had any artistic involvement with, although he did serve as host and directed two dozen episodes of the classic television show which bore his name, Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

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This body of work represents not only a phenomenal quantity, but also a remarkable quality. Only by seeing the landscape of that world before he arrived can we understand the ways he changed it forever. Terms to Know A shot is a complete run of the camera, from the time it is turned on until it is turned off.

  • Devlin loves Huberman passionately but does not interfere when she is asked to sacrifice herself on the altar of patriotism; she loves him passionately and despairs at his callousness;
  • Brigitte Peucker examines the use of color in his films, especially the ways he blended realism and modernist abstraction in his aesthetics;
  • These traits of Americana are evident throughout the film, from the actors casted, to the girl-next-door character, to the sets and spaces the story occupies;
  • What themes does the movie deal with?
  • One mistake and they had to start all over;
  • Before moving to Hollywood , however, Hitchcock made one last picture in England, the Gothic costumer Jamaica Inn 1939 , from a popular novel by Daphne du Maurier ; Charles Laughton played a country squire who secretly heads a band of pirates.

It may last a fraction of a second or minutes at a time. Types of shots include the establishing shot, which gives us necessary visual information about the scene about to take place; medium shots, often used to show characters in conversation; and close ups, which focus our attention on a specific detail — a coffee cup, a key, a face. Expanding on Silent Films The film industry Alfred Hitchcock joined in 1920 was around 30 years old, but in many ways still in its formative years.

The Lumiere brothers had shown the first projected film in France in 1895, and theaters called nickelodeons had taken the place of hand-cranked personal film viewers, but with few exceptions, silent films were mostly primitive. Like many of the earliest silent films, it is limited to one shot, one camera setup, and one take.

American film director David Wark D. Griffith is credited with transforming film from a faddish amusement to a nascent art form.

Over the course of some 400 short silent films he directed between 1907 and 1913, Griffith evolved a grammar and rhetoric for the cinema, which later directors such as Hitchcock would perfect.

Sir Alfred Hitchcock

Among his innovations were establishing shots, medium shots, close-ups, and cross-cutting, an editing device used to build suspense or establish relationships between characters or places, which revolutionized cinematic storytelling. Griffith later applied these techniques to two of the acknowledged masterworks of silent film, The Birth of a Nation 1915 and Intolerance 1916.

Because of Griffith, film developed forms and structures that gave it the potential for artistry instead of novelty. Moving Forward As we will see in the next lesson, Alfred Hitchcock — following the lead of Griffith, and absorbing further experiments taking place in silent filmmaking in Germany and Soviet Russia — synthesized film technique into an instrument of incredible strength and subtlety. Be here as we learn how Hitchcock found himself at the right place at the right time to put his genius to work.

According to Spoto, how does the film reveal Hitchcock as a technical innovator? What themes does the movie deal with? What similarities in subjects and style that appear in Blackmail might you also find in later Hitchcock works?