Dissecting “The Master of Suspense”

October 17, 2012 – Plenty has been written / speculated about Alfred Hitchcock, one of the greatest directors of all time, and his obsessions with his leading ladies – often referred to Hitchcock’s blondes. Soon those behind the scenes tales will play out on television and on the big screen.

HBO’s “The Girl”, which focuses on Hitchcock’s obsession with Tippi Hedren while making “The Birds” premiers Saturday night. Like many HBO productions, it’s already generating plenty of award buzz for actors Toby Jones, who plays Hitch and Sienna Miller, who takes on Hedren.

Toby Jones as Alfred Hitchcock

You might call “The Girl” a horror movie within a horror movie, as it tells the story about how Hedren coped with Hitchcock’s obsession and erratic behavior, and why it was tolerated by Hitch’s wife, Alma who was always on the set. Hedren has publicly stated that she walked away from her contract with Hitchcock after just two movies, which caused her to lose her acting career in general, just to get away from him. Legally, he had the right to stop her from working with other directors and studios because she was under contract, and he did just that.

Anthony Hopkins as The Master of Suspense

A second film, “Hitchcock” is set to hit theaters in November. Starring Anthony Hopkins as the master of suspense, and Helen Mirren as his wife, the story focuses on their relationship during the filming of the 1959 classic “Psycho”. View the trailer.

As a fan of Hitchcock’s films, I’m anxious to see how these dramas play out, but after seeing both trailers, I’m a little disappointed that the actors do not share more of a resemblance to the director with the famous profile who was known for making cameo appearances in all of his movies. It is a point that should quickly disappear if the actors live up to the roles and the magic of the movies takes over.

Last year, I’d seen a screening of the Hitchcock classic “North by Northwest” in Philadelphia, and before the movie began, the female lead, Eva Marie Saint fielded questions from the audience. She talked about her experience working with Cary Grant, but focused more on Hitchcock, although she wouldn’t answer questions about whether or not she shared similar experiences as other actresses have claimed. She spoke only of him as a director, and how he didn’t direct like others who told actors what to do. He simply laid out the scene on storyboards and let the actors take over. Then he’d watch the dailies (film clips) without sound at the end of each day, as if he were watching a silent movie, and only then could he determine if they were good enough to go to print. According to Saint, Hitchcock did very little editing, and that formula obviously worked very well for him.

Regardless of his reputation, Hitchcock continues to thrill fans worldwide. With 53 films under his director’s belt from 1924 through 1975, you’d think he accomplished it all. But here’s a look at 13 films Hitchcock never made.


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A girl trying to live the dream.

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