Christian Science Monitor (1980) - Behind the brilliant Hitchcock effects: Complex insight
- newspaper article: Behind the brilliant Hitchcock effects: Complex insight
- author(s): David Sterritt
- journal: Christian Science Monitor (02/May/1980)
- journal ISSN: 0882-7729
- publisher: The Christian Science Monitor
- keywords: Motion pictures
Behind the brilliant Hitchcock effects: Complex insight
Alfred Hitchcock was a master showman as well as a master moviemaker. No other director had such a familiar name or such a famous face -- introducing a popular TV series, festooned across a pulp magazine, and popping up in his won films as an "in joke" that all the world was privy to.
His image was cheerfully and meticulously self-created. Yet to describe Hitchcock glibly as "the master of suspense" is to oversimplify his talent. For one thing, he also created comedies and period dramas during his long career. For another, "suspense" is to vague a word to pigeonhole his endlessly spiraling combinations of images and emotions. In many of his greatest films, he commingled comedy and romance with mystery and the macabre, emphasizing the whimsical undercurrents of even the darkest situations. He made us laugh even as he made us shudder.
Hichcock began his career in England, building his reputation with such sharp and sophisticated thrillers as "The Thirty-nine Steps," "The Lady Vanishes," and the 1935 version of "The Man Who Knew Too Much." Even the almost-forgotten films of his earliest years show flashes of great brilliance -- one thinks of the personality tensions in "The Manxman" and the behavioral subtleties of "The Skin Game."
Some of today's critics maintain that Hitchcock made his greatest films during his British years, and he was prone to agree that his work was less "commercial" and somehow more "pure" in...