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"Hitchcock and the Classical Paradigm" - by John Belton





Alfred Hitchcock’s interest in the cinema has always had a theoretical bent. His notions about the cinema were shaped, in part, by the theoretical agendas of British film culture in the 1920s. His apprenticeship as a filmmaker included screenings of German, Soviet, and other modernist films at the London Film Society. The Film Society drew its membership from a broad spectrum of the film community, ranging from critics such as Iris Barry, Ivor Montagu, and Walter Mycroft, to directors and writers such as Anthony Asquith, Adrian Brunel, George Bernard Shaw, and H.G. Wells, to producers such as Sidney Bernstein, with whom Hitchcock would form a partnership in 1946.

Starting with The Lodger (1926), Hitchcock’s own filmmaking began to reveal the influence of German Expressionism and Soviet Constructivism. In fact, it was at this point in his career that Hitchcock began to collaborate with Ivor Montagu, a founding member of the Film Society who was quite wellversed in Soviet film theory, having translated theoretical essays by Pudovkin and Eisenstein into English. Montagu was assigned to edit The Lodger (1926) and continued to work as Hitchcock’s editor on Downhill (1927) and Easy Virtue (1927). After his sojourn with Eisenstein in Hollywood, Montagu returned to England where he served as associate producer on Hitch’s major projects of the mid-1930s: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), The 39 Steps (1935), The Secret Agent (1936), and Sabotage (1936).