Alfred Hitchcock: The Master of Terror and Suspense

Is there any one in the world who has not seen and shivered at the shower scene in the classic film, Psycho? What made the films of Alfred Hitchock so very special? Read on for some thoughts and perhaps a few shivers as well.

To this very day, I never get into the shower without a momentary flash of that famous scene. I even keep the edges of the curtain open a little bit; almost as if to be able to see Norman Bates coming. I was a child when Psycho hit the screen in 1960, but the impact of that movie has never left my waking thought.

The short, pudgy, dour-faced Englishman who always looked as if he had just swallowed a lemon, was a genius like no other. In an interview shortly before his death in 1980, he was asked why the shower scene was not filmed in color. He replied without a moment’s hesitation, “that it would have been in bad taste and black and white was much more connected to the symbolism of Janet Leigh’s life slipping down the drain.”

That is the response of an artist. So many tried to imitate his style and none could even come close. All they gleaned from Psycho was a knife in the hands of a lunatic and it was so much more than that.

His earlier fims were fascinating too. Tales of espionage and mistaken identities and ladies vanishing all across the English countryside. He said his own personal favorite was Shadow of a Doubt, which was made in the 1940s and starred Joseph Cotton, Theresa Wright and Patricia Collinge. The story of a prodigal uncle with a homicidal past is fascinating fare for lovers of the genre and Joseph Cotton is superb as woman-hating psycopath.

His television show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, which aired in the 1950s, was extraordinary for its time and many an old-time, famous star can be seen in these stories of terror and suspense. The music for the show, his theme song so to speak, was part of an old English funeral march, and he cleverly began each show by stepping into the caricature of his own profile (which he himself drew, by the way). His wit always came to the surface in his announcements both before and after each presentation.

What is YOUR favorite Hitchcock film?

This entry was posted in Movies by Marjorie Dorfman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Marjorie Dorfman

Marjorie Dorfman is a freelance writer and former teacher originally from Brooklyn, New York. A graduate of New York University School of Education, she now lives in Doylestown, PA, with quite a few cats that keep her on her toes at all times. Originally a writer of ghostly and horror fiction, she has branched out into the world of humorous non-fiction writing in the last decade. Many of her stories have been published in various small presses throughout the country during the last twenty years. Her book of stories, "Tales For A Dark And Rainy Night", reflects her love and respect for the horror and ghost genre.