Alfred Hitchcock is my favourite director and 2012 is turning out to be the year of Hitchcock in regards to films based upon his life. The made for TV film The Girl debuted in October on HBO, which documents the relationship between Hitchcock and actress Tippi Hendren while they were making The Birds, starring Sienna Miller as Hendren and Toby Jones as Hitchcock. But the film about Hitchcock’s life that is getting the most buzz is Hitchcock, starring Anthony Hopkins as Hitchcock and Helen Mirren as his wife Alma Reville.
The film concerns Hitchcock’s attempt to prove he’s still relevant to cinema by making the slasher film Psycho. The film is already gaining Oscar buzz for Hopkins’ and Mirren’s performances. Both these films are catnip to Hitchcock fans but can they truly capture who Hitchcock actually was or is he too complex of a man to pin down?
This article will focus on 1o things about Hitchcock that, while not decrypting him, will offer some fascinating background information on this master director.
1. He Went to Jail When He Was a Boy
In his speech at the American Film Institute Salute to him in 1979, Hitchcock recounted this traumatic story:
“When I was no more than six years of age, I did something that my father considered worthy of reprimand. I don’t recall what transgression it was – at the age of six, it could have hardly involved a serving girl!… father 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.’”
This event can be viewed as why the “wrong man” motif appears so often in Hitchcock’s films. His protagonists are often framed for a crime they didn’t commit, most notably in The Wrong Man (1956), which starred Henry Fonda and was based on the true story of a musician accused of robbery. And who could forget the intimidating police officer behind those dark sunglasses talking to Janet Leigh on the side of the road in Psycho? Who knows what Hitchcock’s filmography would’ve been like without this event, which reportedly also led to Hitchcock never learning to drive, since if he didn’t drive, he could never be pulled over and given a ticket.
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