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Creator / Alfred Hitchcock

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"People believe that the cinema has to, by necessity, be horizontal in its form. That is, go to a great many places and locales. That is not so. It should be possible to make an interesting film in a closet with the door shut. The idea is to reveal human nature and behavior with your camera moves. This presupposes, of course, an interesting story and characters worth revealing."

The acknowledged master of cinematic suspense, Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock KBE (13 August 1899 – 29 April 1980) is also one of the most famous film directors of all time, if not the most famous. Most people will have at some time or another seen at least one of his classic thriller films, many of which were adaptations of novels or short stories.

Hitchcock also produced and hosted the television anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents from 1955 to 1965, although he only personally directed 17 of its 361 episodes.

Although "Hitch" is now considered to be one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, for much of his life he was dismissed as a mere entertainer rather than a serious artist. The French New Wave critics, led by François Truffaut, played a big role in correcting this by propounding the "auteur theory", which holds up the director (rather than the screenwriter, the actors, etc.) as the primary creative artist on a film. Hitchcock was regarded as the major exemplar of this. It didn't hurt that he started producing his own films beginning in the late 1940s, thereby allowing him complete creative control.

Most people consider either Vertigo or Psycho to be his masterpiece, although Hitchcock himself was partial to Shadow of a Doubt among his own films. Rear Window, North by Northwest, Strangers on a Train, and The Birds are also frequently cited as favorites among fans, with Rear Window in particular often employed as a plot template in other media. Meanwhile, Hitchcock's first Hollywood production, Rebecca, was his sole film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, while the man himself earned five nominations for Best Director without ever taking home the prize.

The Hitchcock style went on to typify a certain kind of screen thriller, one which was copied by others over time. The Stanley Donen-directed Charade, for instance, was referred to by one reviewer as "the best Hitchcock film that Hitchcock never made". Also, the Italian Giallo film movement was essentially derived from the Hitchcockian style. Hitchcock was also known for his frequent use of the "MacGuffin" (a term he popularized) in his films.

Hitchcock was also infamous for being somewhat of a prankster, who would frequently keep his film crews and actors, and even personal friends, on their toes with practical jokes, often very elaborate and well-planned ones. While some of Hitchcock's pranks could be considered pretty funny by most standards (such as one where he gifted his crew with expensive furniture at the wrap party, only for said crew members to come home with their presents and discover that said furniture was just a little too bit to big to fit through their front doors; Hitchcock had, of course, been visiting their residences in secret and carefully written down measurements of their doors to make sure that this would happen), others definitely crossed the line into Dude, Not Funny! and Prank Gone Too Far territory (during the filming of Frenzy, after discovering that actress Elsie Randolph was deathly afraid of fire, Hitchcock "accidentally" locked her in a telephone box one day on set and started pumping smoke into the box), and revealed Hitchcock to be less of a merry prankster than someone with a latent sadistic streak.

Hitchcock was knighted a brief four months prior to his death. He is also somewhat well known for making the shortest-ever acceptance speech at the Academy Awards Ceremonies (on receiving the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1968): "Thank you very much, indeed."

More recently, his complicated record in dealing with women has come under scrutiny. On one hand, he frequently hired women for creative roles in the filmmaking process at a time when that wasn't very common, and his films often featured complex female characters. On the other hand, he still engaged in stereotyping and the Male Gaze, plus his treatment of actresses has been questioned, particularly his troubling relationship with Tippi Hedren.

Important books on Hitchcock's life and working methods include: Hitchcock/Truffaut, the founding work and still the definitive oral history; Bill Krohn's Hitchcock at Work, the best single-volume text on Hitchcock's filmmaking process, based on extensive and thorough archival research; and Patrick McGilligan's Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light, by general academic consensus the best and most reliable biography on Hitchcock himself. Other important books on Hitchcock's films, life and production habits include Stephen Rebello's book on the production of Psycho, Dan Aulier's account of the making of Vertigo, and Tony Lee Moral's book on the making of Marnie.

Films directed by Alfred Hitchcock:

  • The Pleasure Garden (1925) – His feature debut. About two chorus girls whose husbands leave for the colonies and how all of them react to being away from each other.
  • The Mountain Eagle (1926) – Set in Kentucky. A shop keeper tries to marry a schoolteacher, but she marries a hermit and Tragedy ensues. A lost film.
  • The Lodger (1927) – His first thriller. About a Jack the Ripper-esque murder spree in London and how one man is accused of being the murderer. Also has Hitchcock’s first cameo.
  • The Ring (1927) – A love triangle between a boxer, his girlfriend, and another fighter. The only movie where the writing is credited entirely to Hitchcock himself.
  • Downhill (1927) – A schoolboy takes the blame for a friend’s theft, and his life falls apart after he is expelled.
  • The Farmer’s Wife (1928) – An old farmer tries to marry again with the help of his housekeeper, who's secretly in love with him.
  • Easy Virtue (1928) – Loosely adapted from the Noël Coward play of the same name. A divorced woman tries to hide her past from her husband and his family.
  • Champagne (1928) – A comedy about a spoiled young woman trying to find work after her father lies to her and says he has no more money left.
  • The Manxman (1929) – Two childhood friends, a fisherman and a lawyer, fall in love with the same girl.
  • Blackmail (1929) – The first sound feature ever made in the UK. In fact, it was already in production as a silent movie when the producers decided to make it a sound picture. So there are two versions available. A young woman kills an attempted rapist in self-defense, and a petty thief discovers evidence that suggests it was murder. He tries to blackmail her but unwittingly winds up implicating himself.
  • Juno and the Paycock (1929) – An adaptation of Sean O'Casey's classic play. In Civil War-era Ireland, a family finds out that they will earn a huge inheritance and quickly forget their old values.
  • Murder! (1930) – When an actress is convicted for killing her friend, one of the jury members is determined to prove her innocence.
  • Elstree Calling (1930) – Hitchcock was one of the multiple directors working on this. About the television broadcast of a musical revue.
  • The Skin Game (1931) – About the feud between two rival families, one old wealth and one new wealth.
  • Mary (1931) – German-language remake of Murder! .
  • Rich and Strange (1931) – A poor young couple receive a big inheritance and go on a cruise, but the money starts to destroy their relationship.
  • Number Seventeen (1932) – Jewel thieves hide an expensive necklace in an old abandoned house, but a detective is hot on their trails and the neighbors find out about their plot. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Waltzes from Vienna (1934) – A musical about Strauss writing The Blue Danube. Hitchcock only made it for money and called it the low-point of his career.
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) – His first spy thriller. A British couple learns about an assassination plot, and the assassins kidnap their daughter to keep them quiet. Hitchcock's breakthrough movie internationally, it was his first big hit in America. (Later remade in color by Hitch himself; see below.)
  • The 39 Steps (1935) – A Canadian man in London is wrongfully accused of murdering a female spy who was killed in his house, and he is chased across the country by police while he tries to piece together the clues she left him. Eventually, he is apprehended and handcuffed to a woman he met earlier, but he escapes while he is still handcuffed to her. Often called the best of his British movies, and one of his first movies that balances humor and thrills equally.
  • Secret Agent (1936) – A famous British writer fakes his death during World War I and is sent by the British intelligence to kill a German agent.
  • Sabotage (1936) – An American woman in London suspects her husband, a foreigner who runs a local cinema, is part of a bombing plot. Roiled audiences with its aversion of Improbable Infant Survival. Includes a piece of the Silly Symphony short Who Killed Cock Robin?. A clip from this was briefly shown in the scene in Inglourious Basterds where the narrator explains how easy it was for old film to cause fires.
  • Young and Innocent (1937) – A famous movie star is killed by her husband for having several affairs. One of her boyfriends finds the body but gets arrested on suspicions of being the murderer. He escapes with a police constable’s daughter to try to prove his innocence. Has a famous tracking shot.
  • The Lady Vanishes (1938) – A young playgirl befriends an old woman on a train in an unnamed country on the continent. However, she wakes up from a long nap to find the old woman missing, and all of the other passengers all swear that the woman was never there. She is determined to prove they are lying, and eventually uncovers a massive conspiracy plot. Two supporting characters, the Cricket-obsessed Heterosexual Life-Partners Charters and Caldicott, became so popular they appeared several other British films over the next few years.
  • Jamaica Inn (1939) – His final British film before heading off to America was a Pirate yarn, of all things, about a country squire (Charles Laughton) who's secretly the Big Bad in charge of a ring of ship-plunderers in Cornwall. Also features a big early role for Maureen O'Hara. The first of Hitchcock's three adaptations of Daphne du Maurier stories (followed by Rebecca and The Birds). Basically a star vehicle for Laughton, Hitch himself confided to François Truffaut that he considered the film one of his lesser works.
  • Rebecca (1940) – Big-name producer David O. Selznick (of Gone with the Wind fame) convinced Hitchcock to move to America, where he could make more money and work with better production values, and Hitchcock kicked off the Hollywood phase of his career with this version of the popular novel. A naïve young woman (Joan Fontaine) marries a wealthy widower (Laurence Olivier), but the legacy of his former wife, Rebecca, haunts everyone, including her. The only Hitchcock movie to win Best Picture at the Oscars. Best Director nomination.
  • Foreign Correspondent (1940) – A journalist is sent to Europe on the eve of World War II and becomes involved in international espionage. A very funny thriller that has some great set pieces, including an assassination in the rain. Nominated for Best Picture, but lost to Rebecca.
  • Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941) – A Screwball Comedy (his first American attempt at a pure comedy) about a couple learning their marriage wasn't valid. Earlier that day, the husband confessed that, if given the chance again, he wouldn't have married her. After finding out, he changed his mind...but so has she. Not to be confused with the 2005 Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie film.
  • Suspicion (1941) – A woman (Joan Fontaine) suspects that her new husband is planning to murder her. The first of four Hitchcock films starring Cary Grant. Nominated for Best Picture, and Joan Fontaine won Best Actress.
  • Saboteur (1942) – A Nazi starts a fire at a plane factory and an innocent man gets framed. Imagine a World War II-era combination of The 39 Steps and North by Northwest, and you have a good fuzzy concept of what this is like. It ends with a set piece on the Statue of Liberty.
  • Shadow of a Doubt (1943) – The first time Hitchcock really indulged in his love of psychologically examining criminals. An intelligent murderer (Joseph Cotten) flees from the police and hides with his family in a small California town. He charms everyone, but his teenaged niece begins to suspect that something is up. This was Hitchcock’s favorite out of all of his movies.
  • Lifeboat (1944) – Hitchcock's first experiment with what is known as a "limited set." After a battle between an Allied ship and a German U-Boat, the nine survivors (including one German) cling to a small lifeboat and tensions start to develop between all of them. Based on a novella by John Steinbeck. Has one of his most creative cameos. Bombed at the box office because the positive portrayal of the German was considered insensitive in the current situation. Nominated for Best Director.
  • The Fighting Generation (1944) – A public service announcement short film produced for the U.S. Treasury Department to encourage war bond sales, featuring Jennifer Jones as a nurse's aide. Hitchcock was uncredited.
  • Spellbound (1945) – Ingrid Bergman plays a psychiatrist who falls in love with her hospital’s new director, Gregory Peck, but it turns out that he has a few secrets of his own. Has a famous dream sequence designed by Salvador Dalí. Nominated for Best Picture and Best Director.
  • Notorious (1946) – A convicted Nazi's American daughter is recruited by government agents to spy on his old friends who are hiding in Brazil. Noted for having what is called “the longest kiss scene in movie history.” One scene where the camera swoops through a crowded party to a close-up of a key is one of his most famous shots. With Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant.
  • The Paradine Case (1947) – An English barrister (Gregory Peck) falls in love with the defendant in a murder trial (Alida Valli). Considered one of Hitchcock's lesser films, it was the last movie he did under his contract to Selznick.
  • Rope (1948) – Another one of his "limited set" movies, and his first movie in color. This one is set almost entirely in a small apartment and is shot to look like it was filmed in one continuous take. Two young men murder a friend, hide his body in a trunk, and have a party in their apartment while the body is there the entire time. Based on the infamous real-life Leopold and Loeb murder. Has grown in esteem over the years. The first of four movies he made with Jimmy Stewart.
  • Under Capricorn (1949) – A Costume Drama with tragic undertones. Set in 1831-1832 Australia. Stars Ingrid Bergman.
  • Stage Fright (1950) – Charlotte Inwood (Marlene Dietrich), a well-known actress and singer, loses her husband to murder. Suspicion falls on her supposed lover Jonathan Cooper. Eve Gill (Jane Wyman), an acting student, sets out to prove his innocence and find out whether Charlotte herself performed the murder. But everything is not what it seems. His first British movie since he moved to America.
  • Strangers on a Train (1951) – Two strangers on a train strike up a conversation about the people in their lives they want dead. One suggests that they trade murders so they won't get caught. The other one laughs it off. The first guy was serious. Stars his own daughter, Patricia Hitchcock, in a supporting role.
  • I Confess (1953) – A priest (Montgomery Clift) hears a confession of murder from one of his church workers and is then accused of the crime himself. He refuses to say what he knows because of his religious convictions, but can he prove his innocence by other means?
  • Dial M for Murder (1954) – A man hires a hitman to bump off his cheating wife (Grace Kelly, in her first of three Hitchcock films). However, the hitman ends up being killed by the wife in self-defense, so the man decides to kill her through the judicial system and frames her for murder. Based on a play, it's one of Hitch's best known and an example of a movie Bottle Episode.
  • Rear Window (1954) – His last "limited set" movie. Jimmy Stewart plays a photographer with a broken leg and nothing better to do but spy on his neighbors... and do some amateur sleuthing (with the help of Grace Kelly) when he suspects one of them of murder. All of it is shot either in his apartment or from his point of view when he looks out his window. Nominated for Best Director.
  • To Catch a Thief (1955) – A reformed Gentleman Thief has to clear his name when he's framed for a new spate of burglaries. Stars the French Riviera, with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in supporting roles.
  • The Trouble with Harry (1955) – His second attempt at a pure comedy after he moved to America. A man dies in a Vermont forest. We discover just how many times you can bury and dig up the same corpse when all of the villagers each have different plans for his body.
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) – A remake of the original. This time stars Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day, who sings the hit song "Que Sera, Sera." Hitchcock ultimately gave seemingly conflicting answers as to which version he prefered; he said of the films that "the first was the work of a talented amateur, and the second was made by a professional", but he also said that he liked the earlier version, exactly because it largely wasn't so polished.
  • The Wrong Man (1956) – A musician (Henry Fonda) gets falsely accused of robbery, and the stress of the case affects him and his family very badly as they try to prove his innocence. Based on a true story. Critic-turned-director Jean-Luc Godard wrote his longest piece of criticism about this movie.
  • Vertigo (1958) – A San Francisco policeman (Jimmy Stewart) who is afraid of heights is asked by an old college buddy to watch the man's wife, who is just not herself lately... and finds himself falling, in ways other than the one he fears. Widely panned when it came out, it is now considered one of the greatest movies ever made and maybe even Hitchcock’s masterpiece.
  • North by Northwest (1959) – A spy thriller involving a man who doesn't exist, a crop duster, a murder in the UN, and a climax on top of Mount Rushmore. And, once again, Cary Grant, playing, once again, an innocent man wrongfully accused. Was a huge influence on the James Bond movies, which started production a few years later.
  • Psycho (1960) – Janet Leigh tries to steal some money and winds up having a fatal encounter in a shower. Anthony Perkins steals the show as a troubled mama’s boy. Famous for having two very, VERY shocking plot twists that audiences did not see coming, but have today fallen to spoilers. Or at least one of them has. Nominated for Best Director. Regarded by most as the first slasher film.
  • The Birds (1963) – Impossible to describe without making it sound like a B-horror film, especially since its premise is one of the classic B horror plots, but it's okay, because everyone already knows what it is about. Basically, it starts off pretending to be a romantic comedy before it turns out to be about killer birds attacking a village on the California coast. MUCH better than it sounds. It also introduced Tippi Hedren as the last of the iconic "Hitchcock blondes".
  • Marnie (1964) – Margaret "Marnie" Edgar (Tippi Hedren) is a serial kleptomaniac who gets a job at a publishing house owned by wealthy widower Mark Rutland (Sean Connery, who filmed this the same time he was filming Goldfinger). After she steals thousands of dollars from the company safe, he catches her and blackmails her into marriage, then tries to figure out the psychological roots of her criminality. After a string of huge hits, this was Hitchcock's first outright bomb at the box office in a while. Has been re-evaluated by modern critics and is now considered by many to be one of his most complex movies.
  • Torn Curtain (1966) – An esteemed American rocket scientist (Paul Newman) defects to East Germany, reluctantly followed by his fiancée/assistant (Julie Andrews). He turns out to be a Fake Defector, but the Stasi is determined to keep him within the East German borders. Has a scene that realistically proves how difficult it actually is to murder someone. Did well at the box office, but neither Hitchcock, Newman or Andrews really liked the film.
  • Topaz (1969) – Hitchcock's second consecutive attempt at "a realistic James Bond film," based on a best-selling, Ripped from the Headlines novel by Leon Uris. A high-ranking Soviet official's defection to the West sets off a series of events that lead to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the discovery of a secret ring of Double Agents. Three different endings were filmed, and several different cuts have been released over the years.
  • Frenzy (1972) – London is terrorized by a sexually-deviant Serial Killer. The Faux Affably Evil killer successfully frames an acquaintance for the crimes, forcing him to go on the run and attempt to clear his name. Hitch's first British movie since Stage Fright saw him take advantage of the freedom of modern cinema, with graphic depictions of violence and nudity, as well as profanity. A Win Back the Crowd effort that proved to be successful with critics and audiences.
  • Family Plot (1976) – His final film was a dark comedy about a phony medium and her boyfriend getting hired to find an elderly woman’s long-lost nephew, who was given up for adoption. It turns out he's a diamond smuggler now. Features a strong Ensemble Cast: Barbara Harris, Bruce Dern, Karen Black and William Devane. Contains loads of references to many of his previous movies.

Works featuring fictional portrayals of Alfred Hitchcock:

Tropes in the films of Alfred Hitchcock:

  • Action Survivor: There is a Hitchcockian pattern of an ordinary man or woman, through one bad turn, falling into extraordinary circumstances and fighting his or her way out: Shadow of a Doubt, Strangers on a Train, The Wrong Man, Vertigo, North by Northwest, The Man Who Knew Too Much.
  • All There in the Manual: The book-length interviews François Truffaut did with Hitchcock, generally known as Hitchcock/Truffaut, was the first in-depth study on a filmmaker pertaining to craft and technique and style. Several critics and other filmmakers like Steven Soderbergh consider it among the greatest books on films. It remains the starting point for all kinds of Hitchcock information, though later generations have tried to correct some of Hitchcock's tendencies for obfuscation.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Numerous villains, henchmen, thugs, goons and mooks in his films fall into this category, bearing in mind that these films were made in a different era of Hollywood and American culture. Cases in point: Rope, North by Northwest, Strangers on a Train.
  • Anyone Can Die: Before perfecting the concept of the Decoy Protagonist in Psycho, his films had a long-established reputation for featuring key characters who get killed long before the climax, though generally the leads were safe.
  • Auteur License: Hitchcock was one of the few who achieved this in The Golden Age of Hollywood, although he had to struggle for it in his early years. Even in England, The Lodger had its ending changed because of its dark story. In America, Suspicion—in which he hoped to cast Cary Grant in an unconventional role—resulted in Executive Meddling. But from Notorious onwards, Hitchcock served as his own producer even if he never actually took credit as such, always favoring Directed by Alfred Hitchcock as his mantle.
  • Author Appeal: Particularly in his late '50s and early '60s films, Hitchcock liked to cast an "icy blonde" for his female lead (his brand of blonde female lead even becoming known as a "Hitchcock blonde"). Examples include Grace Kelly, Kim Novak, Eva Marie Saint, and Tippi Hedren. According to Hedren, Hitchcock's obsession wasn't wholesome, and Hitchcock's insistence that blondes made for better unexpected Femme Fatales was all an excuse covering for someone who was a sexual predator, a man with a "very weird attitude towards women," whose fantasy eventually made way into his real life. She considered his behavior towards his leading ladies emotionally devastating and textbook harassment.
  • Bait-and-Switch: It's reasonable to say that Hitchcock pulled off this trope on a meta-level that would impact cinema forever; prior to 1960, audiences were used to Hitch's style of building mystery and suspense with films like Rear Window, Strangers on a Train, Vertigo and North By Northwest, as well as his TV series. Then Psycho came out, and the first act of that movie was true to his usual style. Then Janet Leigh takes her shower...and a whole new genre of horror is born - the slasher film. A portion of the audience who had read the book might have seen it coming but the vast majority of the audience, both in America and the world was totally shocked and unprepared for it.
  • Big Eater: He certainly was not "big boned." He was actually turned down for military service in World War I due to his obesity.
    • Mel Brooks frequently relates a story about having dinner with him after a screening of Brooks's Affectionate Parody film, High Anxiety, where Hitch consumed a 2" steak, a baked potato, a plate of asparagus and two bowls of ice cream. Twice.
    • James Stewart said in interviews that during film-making, Hitchcock would actually shoot the breeze with actors about restaurants, wines, recipes, and other stuff to try out, and almost never discuss the film or the scene they were working on.
    • Hitch did work out and exercise when he wasn't working, causing his weight to fluctuate between projects. His Creator Cameo in Lifeboat used photos of himself when slimmer and at his normal, heavier weight as a Before/After photo in a newspaper as a way to prove that he could slim down when he felt like it.
  • Black Comedy: Lots of darkly comic moments among the blood. Hitchcock himself considered Psycho a comedy.
  • Briefer Than They Think: invoked
  • Claustrophobia: Lifeboat, Rope.
  • Clear My Name: Many of his films revolve around a man trying to clear his name after being Wrongly Accused, ranging from lighthearted takes on the theme (The Thirty-Nine Steps, North By Northwest) to the serious real-life miscarriage of justice in The Wrong Man.
  • Creator Cameo: Except for a few of his early British films, he appears in every film in a nonspeaking role. This habit became so famous that he confined his appearances to the first fifteen minutes of his films so that audiences would not be distracted watching for him among the extras. In The Wrong Man, he appears personally in silhouette and introduces the film, to emphasize its being a Ripped from the Headlines true story (he also filmed an in-story cameo, but didn't use it). In Lifeboat, since it's set entirely within the titular lifeboat, he appears in a weight-loss advert in a newspaper - he had recently lost a substantial amount of weight and was the model for both the before and after shots. In Family Plot, his last film, he isn't (technically) on screen at all - only his silhouette appears, cast on frosted glass, in a fashion reminiscent of the opening of Presents. This started with his second film as director, The Lodger, in which he simply found himself short of extras one day so he and a few other crew members filled in. After seeing how popular spotting him became, he kept it up. This became a Trope Maker for film directors, with other directors (like Martin Scorsese) giving themselves brief cameos in their films.
  • Creator Couple: invoked His wife Alma Reville is a credited writer on several of his films, and did uncredited work on many others.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca, the Leopold and Loeb stand-ins in Rope, Bruno in Strangers on a Train, and Martin Landau's character in North by Northwest. Of course, Hitchcock added this to make his villains more complex and interesting rather than out of homophobia.
  • Disney Villain Death: Especially in The Hays Code years when things couldn't get too gruesome, having a character fall to their death from a great height was his favorite way to depict a spectacular death. And of course, he directed an entire film based around fear of heights.
  • Doppelgänger: He was very fond of having lookalikes for his characters.
  • Dramatic Irony: He was the master of "suspense", this was his chief weapon in capturing and keeping the attention of the audience. Almost all of his films contain a situation where the viewer knows more than (some of) the characters or can see something or someone coming that a character is unaware of. He also stated in interviews that he generally did not like "plot twists" (Psycho being one of the exceptions) and he regretted some of the gimmicks like the "lying flashback" in Stage Fright which he felt rested on fooling and deceiving the audience, and as such tended to get dated very fast
    • Rope for example is a real-time evening of an entire dinner party, held in the same room where there is a dead body in a cupboard. The guests are completely oblivious. Only the viewers and the two men who murdered him (their hosts) know it, which makes the seemingly normal conversation that takes place meaningful for us and them.
    • Hitchcock explained this trope during a filmed interview by describing a situation where he and the interviewer are talking about baseball while the audience can see that there is a bomb hidden beneath the table.
  • Driving a Desk: Almost a Once an Episode occurrence. He loved setting scenes in cars, and always used this method for them.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Early in his career he worked in a wider variety of genres. Hitchcock made romances (Rich and Strange, Easy Virtue), comedies (Champagne), and sports stories (The Ring). Although he did make thrillers as early as The Lodger, he wouldn't really settle into the crime/thriller genre for good until 1934 and The Man Who Knew Too Much. Additionally, while he made his first Creator Cameo in The Lodger, fewer than half of the movies he made in England feature creator cameos. He made cameos in every single movie he made in Hollywood, starting with Rebecca in 1940.
  • Freudian Excuse: Hitchcock was heavily influenced by Freud and probably defined a lot of popular conceptions about it. His films abound in visual gags and cues that are incredible, vulgar, Freudian jokes. That said, his genuine interest in psychoanalysis was sparked by his conversations with Joseph Stefano, the screenwriter of Psycho, who had undergone analysis and who later collaborated on Marnie one of the most sophisticated and interesting explorations of psychoanalysis in film history and truer to the source than most movies.
  • Has a Type:
  • Info Dump: Some of his American films, since it still labored under The Hays Code, were filled with heavy exposition scenes. Most famously, the psychologist's monologue at the end of Psycho.
  • Internal Reveal: Hand-in-hand with his fondness for Dramatic Irony, he mastered different ways of portraying how characters finally learn an important thing that the audience already knows. In some cases (like Vertigo) it induces the film's climax. In other cases (like North by Northwest) it's almost casually tossed out in the middle of the story, since the protagonist is usually in quite a mess anyway at that point.
  • Luxurious Liquor: If there's a refined or sophisticated character in a Hitchcock film, he/she will break out a bottle and offer a drink to another character. While it's a nice quick way to signify a character, a drinking scene was also a good method for Hitchcock to stick a dialogue-heavy sequence into a film without it seeming forced.
  • MacGuffin: He was the Trope Namer and Trope Codifier. According to him, the screenwriter Angus MacPhail coined the term. He said in interviews that a MacGuffin was any object of interest all parties wanted but are actually not all that important to the characters. Some examples are The 39 Steps, Psycho (the money stolen from the office which becomes a non-issue midway into the film) and The Man Who Knew Too Much.
    • North by Northwest was regarded by Hitchcock as the ultimate MacGuffin. The hero is accused to be a spy by the villains but it turns out that not only is the hero not the spy but the spy does not exist but is, in fact, the product of a government disinformation campaign, and that the entire plot is fought for a pile of nothing.note 
  • My Beloved Smother: A common theme among his bad guys (and sometimes his heroes as well) is highly domineering mothers. Taken up to eleven in Psycho, which defined this trope for all time.
  • One-Word Title: Something of a trademark, used for 17 of his films (out of 54 total).
  • The Oner:
    • Notorious is famous for a sequence that starts with a wide shot of a party, before the camera zooms in until ending in a close-up shot of Ingrid Bergman's hand holding a key, all in one continuous shot.
    • Rope is famous for giving the impression that it's filmed in one long, continuous take. Hitchcock did in fact want to shoot the film that way, but this wasn't feasible with the technology of the time (film would run out after about ten minutes), so he resorted to using Body Wipes all over the place, meaning that the camera would zoom in on some person or something, and zoom out when it cuts. However, even this wasn't enough; there are still five "hard cuts" in the film (because film reels in the cinema would also run out after twenty minutes and need to be changed over, so some cuts are straightforward and normal), but that's pretty impressive when most movies even nowadays have hundreds of hard cuts.
  • The Peeping Tom: The Lodger, Notorious, Rear Window, Vertigo, Psycho all feature someone who secretly spies on somebody else while they're in an explicit situation.
  • Pigeonholed Director: Perhaps the most famous one; even today he is associated with the suspense thriller genre and all its tropes. This was a problem on some of the few films which departed on the formula. Under Capricorn was a 19th Century romance set in Australia (albeit filled with dark passion and emotional trauma), starring Ingrid Bergman, The Wrong Man was a Ripped from the Headlines story about a real case and was more a working-class drama, while The Trouble With Harry was a genuine comedy (with some macabre and grotesque touches). It should be noted that all these films mentioned were box-office failures.
    "I'm a typed director. If I made Cinderella, the audience would immediately be looking for a body in the coach."
  • Plot-Based Voice Cancellation: Generally he inverted this. When it was time for an Internal Reveal of something important that the audience already found out from Dramatic Irony, he delighted in finding clever ways to mute the dialogue for these scenes, to spare us having to listen to an explanation of something we're already aware of. Memorable examples include having the audio drowned out by music at a concert (The Man Who Knew Too Much), or an airplane engine (North by Northwest), or having the characters walk into a cooler at a flower shop (Topaz).
  • Police Are Useless: A traumatic childhood incident when his father used the local police to teach him a lesson worthy of J. Walter Wetherman caused him to enact revenge in all his films. Though Dial M for Murder and Frenzy are notable exceptions as are Psycho and Marnie where the protagonists who run away from the police are guilty. More or less, he liked making police useless to ratchet the suspense for his leads, since if they are innocent men wrongly accused, then that makes them vulnerable and makes their fears more believable and relatable to the audience.
  • Rail Enthusiast: Hitchcock was one, so would typically insert train sequences into his movies when they made logical sense.
  • Scenery Porn:
  • Serial Killer: His first thriller, The Lodger, was about one, as were three of his later films—Shadow of a Doubt, Psycho and Frenzy. They all helped codify cinema portrayals of murderers and depictions of murders.
  • Signature Style: No film director has a more recognizable and identifiable style than Hitchcock. His films were so unique that it was said you could tell it even if you missed the credits and promos.
  • Silence Is Golden: Even movies Hitchcock directed after the silent era occasionally manage to create drama without dialogue. The concert scene in both versions of The Man Who Knew Too Much is without dialog, and the remade version is even longer than the original, with only music, up until the heroine screams. Long stretches of Vertigo and Psycho involve observing characters go about their work and behaviour, such as when Scottie is tailing Madeline in the early part of Vertigo or the sequence where Janet Leigh absconds with the money and makes her way down the highway to the Bates Motel, and especially the scenes where she is alone in her rooms, and silently debating on going through with her desperate plan or trying to go back and set right. This ends of course, drastically.
  • Similarly Named Works: invoked
    • Sabotage and Saboteur.
    • To make things just a little more confusing, Sabotage was based on Joseph Conrad's novel The Secret Agent, and was Hitchcock's follow-up to Secret Agent, which was based on an entirely different novel.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: One thing Hitchcock is fond of is having his villains be smooth and charming to their heroes and then turn out to have a dark side to him. Also his villains almost never raise their voices.
  • That's What She Said: Yes, even Hitch wasn't above them. Possibly has the first FILMED instance of a "That's What She Said" joke.
  • Trope Namers: MacGuffin (via one of his screenwriters) and helped popularize "Fridge Logic" when describing a scene in Vertigo. note 
  • Vertigo Effect: He basically invented the Tracking Zoom technique.
  • Viewers Are Morons: When he moved to Hollywood, the Psychological Thriller was still a fairly new genre for film, and with the The Hays Code and nervous bottom-line minded studio execs as ongoing concerns, Mr. Exposition and the Info Dump became recurring elements in his American films, lest the audience get confused, which sometimes comes across as this trope. Compare the UK and US versions of The Man Who Knew Too Much to get a good example of how his British and American films differed in this regard. Even after the Hays Code waned he often devoted scenes to explaining everything for the audience, most infamously having a psychiatrist in Psycho whose only reason to exist is to give a long monologue explaining the various problems of Norman Bates. On the other hand, Vertigo is notable for leaving the characters' motivations vague and ambiguous.
  • Villain Protagonist: Not as often as you might think, but Jamaica Inn, Rope, Dial M for Murder and Marnie all count, in varying degrees.
  • Wrongly Accused: The Wrong Man. Also The Lodger, The 39 Steps, Strangers on a Train, I Confess, Dial M for Murder, To Catch a Thief, North by Northwest, and Frenzy. Subverted in Stage Fright (1950) and averted in Shadow of a Doubt.