Alfred Hitchcock

Hitchcock, Sir Alfred Joseph (1899-1980), British-born American director and producer of many brilliantly contrived films, most of them psychological thrillers. He was born in London and trained there as an engineer at Saint Ignatius College. He entered the British motion-picture industry in 1920 as a title designer, working his way through the ranks as screenwriter, art director, and assistant director.

In 1925 Hitchcock directed his first motion picture, The Pleasure Garden. His early successes in England include The Lodger (1926), Blackmail (1929), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), The 38 Steps (1935), and The Lady Vanishes (1938). In 1939 Hitchcock moved to the United States, where he directed such highly regarded films as Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Spellbound (1945), Notorious (1946), Rope (1948), Strangers on a Train (1951), Rear Window (1954), To Catch a Thief (1955), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956; color remake), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963), and Frenzy (1972). After 1945 he produced as well as directed virtually all his films.

In addition to making films, Hitchcock edited several collections of short stories and produced two television series, "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (1959-1962) and "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour" (1963-1965), on which he served as a portly, sepulchral-voiced host. He was also noted for nonspeaking cameo appearances in his films.

As a director, Hitchcock was praised for his witty urbanity, his impeccable but highly idiosyncratic cinematic technique, and his penchant for the macabre and the suspenseful. His much-imitated technique consisted, in part, of the use of carefully preplanned and masterfully composed and edited sequences that employed an alternating montage of subjective point-of-view shots and objective bird's-eye shots to heighten contrast and tension, thus precisely manipulating the viewer.

Although Hitchcock never won an Academy Award for his direction, he received the Irving Thalberg Award of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1967 and the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award in 1979. During the final year of his life, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, even though he had long been a naturalized citizen of the United States.

Copyright 1997 by Microsoft Encarta

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