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|Also Known As:||Alfred Joseph Hitchcock,Sir Alfred Hitchcock||Died:||April 29, 1980|
|Born:||August 13, 1899||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Leytonstone, England, GB||Profession:||Director ... director screenwriter producer assistant director production designer title designer layout assistant technical estimator sketch artist|
after stumbling upon an assassination plot. After directing Henry Fonda in "The Wrong Man" (1956), a searing indictment of the American justice system, he directed his second great masterpiece of the decade, "Vertigo" (1958), a deeply personal film that was largely dismissed by critics at the time. The film starred James Stewart â¿¿ in his last collaboration with the director â¿¿ as Scottie Ferguson, a cop who turns private investigator after his fear of heights leads to the death of a fellow officer; he is tasked by a college friend to follow his enigmatic wife (Kim Novak), only to witness her apparent death after falling in love with her. The complex thriller was also a miss with audiences, but later grew in stature to be considered one of the best films Hitchcock ever made. Hitting upon familiar themes of lost identity and sexual obsession while echoing his finest earlier works like "Shadow of a Doubt" and "Notorious," "Vertigo" was as haunting and atmospheric a film as Hitchcock ever produced.
Immediately following "Vertigo," Hitchcock made what many would call his greatest film, "North by Northwest" (1959), certainly one of his most fully realized films. From a script by Ernest Lehman and possessing a chilling score from Bernard Herrmann, "North by Northwest" starred Cary Grant â¿¿ in his last Hitchcock film â¿¿ as a carefree advertising executive pulled into a web of deceit and intrigue after a case of mistaken identity leads him in a cross-country chase to shake an espionage syndicate thatâ¿¿s after a lost microfilm â¿¿ Hitchcockâ¿¿s most classic MacGuffin. Along the way, he engages in a romance with a seemingly innocent train passenger (Eva Marie Saint), only to learn that sheâ¿¿s a plant meant to set him up for a fall. Full of exciting action sequences, particularly when Grant is chased down in an open field by a crop duster, "North by Northwest" was a masterfully orchestrated thriller that featured ingenious cinematography, subtle male-female give-and-take, a tense dramatic score, bright Technicolor, inside jokes, witty symbolism and a famous climatic sequence atop of Mount Rushmore..
Hitchcock went from one of his greatest artistic achievements to his most commercially successful movie with "Psycho" (1960), a groundbreaking thriller that caused a great deal of controversy for its then-explicit depiction of sexuality and violence. Both were most vividly expressed in the filmâ¿¿s famed shower scene, where a Phoenix secretary, Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), finds herself the victim of a knife-wielding psychopath who repeatedly and graphically stabs her nude frame in the shower. The shock of the violence â¿¿ as well as the murder of the alleged protagonist during the first act of the film â¿¿ both disturbed and delighted audiences, who remained increasingly on edge as the movie progressed, revealing that the true star was disturbed taxidermist, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), who runs the isolated Bates Motel while adopting the personality of his long-dead mother in killing hapless victims. Hitchcockâ¿¿s use of shock instead of suspense in the shower scene helped create one of the most famous sequences in all of cinema history, paving the way for numerous slasher flicks throughout the decades.
While "Psycho" could be seen as the last great film of his most vibrant period, Hitchcock did have one last brush with greatness in "The Birds" (1963), a horror thriller about a socialite (Tippi Hedren â¿¿ yet another "Hitchcock Blonde") who finds herself trapped in a seacoast town beset by a massive flock of birds intent on attacking and killing the townsfolk. "The Birds" was the final Hitchcock film to earn both critical and financial success, as the director entered into his most disappointing phase plagued by mediocre films and increasingly poor health. He next directed "Marnie" (1964), a psychoanalytical thriller along the lines of "Spellbound" that showed how a violent, sexually tinged childhood episode turns a woman (Hedren) into a thief. After "Torn Curtain" (1966), an espionage story played against a cold war backdrop and starring Paul Newman, Hitchcock made the disappointing "Topaz" (1969), an unfocused thriller set during the Cuban missile crisis.
Hitchcock returned to England to produce "Frenzy" (1972) with his reputation as a box office success in tatters following three straight flops. The thriller was much more in the Hitchcock vein, with its plot about an innocent man (Jon Finch) suspected of being a serial killer, and became an international hit that rebuilt his Hollywood stature. But he would only make one more film, the mild comedic thriller "Family Plot" (1976), before ill health and concern for his wife, Alma, after she suffered a stroke, took center stage. Though he planned to make an espionage thriller "The Short Night," it never made it past the development stage and Universal Pictures pulled it from their slate in 1979. Hitchcock died on April 29, 1980 from kidney failure in his Bel Air home. He was 80 years old and left behind a body of work that served as inspiration for countless Hollywood artists, while maintaining a high-level of public interest even decades after his death.
By Shawn Dwyer film was a big hit with audiences and marked the start of Hitchcockâ¿¿s greatest stretch.
Following a number of memorable films that included minor works such as "I Confess" (1953) and the sophisticated "Dial M for Murder" (1954), starring the most alluring of his leading ladies, Grace Kelly, Hitchcock directed the first of three unassailable masterpieces, "Rear Window" (1954). The film starred James Stewart as an adventurous photojournalist taken to spying on his neighbors while on the mend from a badly broken leg. His new perch takes a startling turn when he suspects one of his tenement neighbors, Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr), of killing his nagging bedridden wife, leading to a tense sequence where he hopelessly watches his fashion model girlfriend (Grace Kelly) break into the apartment to find clues. A taut and highly entertaining mediation on the theme of voyeurism, "Rear Window" was an instant classic and ranked high as one of Hitchcockâ¿¿s best movies. He next directed the more lighthearted romp, "To Catch a Thief" (1955), which starred Cary Grant as a retired jewel thief suspected of returning to his old tricks after a series of copycat burglaries crop up on the French Riviera. This light, breezy and deceptively simple romantic thriller featured great sexual interplay between Grant and Kelly, both of whom remained Hitchcockâ¿¿s most attractive leads.
Having staked his claim as the Master of Suspense, Hitchcock turned in his second comedy with "The Trouble with Harry" (1955), which starred Shirley MacLaine as a mother whose son (Jerry Mathers) discovers the body of her ex-husband in the woods, leading to a madcap effort between her and a retired sea captain (Edmund Gwenn) to hide the body since both think they are responsible. Certainly not the most notable Hitchcock effort, it remained one of the directorâ¿¿s personal favorites. Also that year, Hitchcock stepped into the television world with the popular anthology series "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (CBS/NBC, 1955-1965), which started as a half-hour series before being expanded to a full hour and retitled "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour" in 1962. The showâ¿¿s title sequence was almost as famous as the show itself, which featured a simple caricature of Hitchcockâ¿¿s profile â¿¿ drawn by the man himself â¿¿ which would dissolve when his silhouette would step into it while Charles Gounodâ¿¿s "The Funeral March of a Marionette" played over it. Hitchcock would then wish the audience a "Good Evening," before introducing the episode. Already famous for his movies, Hitchcock was vaulted into celebrity status thanks to the popular series.
Back in features, Hitchcock remade his 1934 classic, "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (1956), this time casing James Stewart and Doris Day as the parents trying to protect their son
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