Discovering Hitchcock

I studied film at university. I say I studied film, the course was Cultural and Media Studies, with a couple of film modules. And largely I spent the screenings in those modules sitting at the back drinking hot chocolate and chatting.

So it’s with much regret that my cinema knowledge and landscape isn’t as varied as it should be, however in my later years I have aimed to change that.

With that in mind, a couple of years ago I caught the excellent The Girl on BBC2 about Alfred Hitchcock and realised this great and illustrious director had completely passed me by. We were shown Psycho during my studies, but aside from this I had never truly watched a Hitchcock film. That was about to change.

Catching up with older films – in this case, many of which are rightly called classics – was never going to be easy. Some have aged badly; much dialogue is terribly delivered and hammy, and the effects are often quite basic and limited (particularly the use of green screen and similar isn’t the prettiest). But, unbelievably, in most cases it hasn’t mattered one bit.

Sometimes it’s the twists, other times it’s the sheer atmosphere, largely it’s the fantastic scores, but every Hitchcock film I have watched so far has been brilliant. Not just brilliant, but better than many modern movies.

Of course, as I continue there’s bound to be some duds along the way, but I’ve yet to find one. Indeed, most of my viewing has been compelling and revolutionary. Rope and Rear Window particularly stick in the mind, both for such incredible direction and storytelling in a very small space, bringing a world to life in virtually a single room. Similarly, the horror and tension of Psycho and The Birds have left impressions on my mind that won’t ever be forgotten.

If like me, you are a Hitchcock novice I would strongly urge you to give him a try. His films are always on television – my TiVo is just set to record anything he directed, which usually gets at least a couple of films per month.

If that wasn’t enough I’ll be summarising each Hitchcock film I watch with brief reviews and modern analysis in this separate post.