Of course there are chases, illegal activities done by the “bad guys”, and complications with the romantic pair that keep the first type of film moving at a quick pace, and in the psychological thrillers there is generally a simplistic background given towards the beginning of the film while there is a monumental action that takes place that is followed by a slow but steady plot that builds up to it’s climax at the end of the film.
From Rope to Family Plot the Hitchcockian directory style persists throughout the duration of the film grasping the attention ever so tightly of the audience and keeping them uncertain of what is to come until it actually arrives. After becoming a well renown director in the United Kingdom starting in 1921 with silent films and later moving up to “early talkies”, Alfred Hitchcock moved to Hollywood and became a United States citizen in 1956 in order to further his career. Even after becoming an American citizen, Hitchcock kept a “British subject” in his work whether or not it was intentional.
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With an active career that lasted over half of a century, Hitchcock wrote twenty-two titles, stared in thirty-six films, and directed sixty-six films. Because of all of his unique techniques and styles that allowed him to manipulate his audiences into feeling anything from anxiety, fear, empathy, and so on, Hitchcock made quite the name for himself and thus gained the nickname “The Master of Suspense” while his unique directorial style became known as “Hitchcockian”. Hitchcock is now considered one of Britain’s greatest directors of all time and came in first in a 2007 poll of film critics in
Britain’s Daily Telegraph which referred to him as “Unquestionably the greatest filmmaker to emerge from these island, Hitchcock did more than any director to shape modern cinema, which would be utterly different without him. His flair was for narrative, cruelly withholding crucial information (from his characters and us) and engaging the emotions of the audience like no one else. ” Despite how well his work is thought of and remembered, Hitchcock’s career actually came to a painstakingly slow halt after the release of Family Plot.
After over six decades of directing Hitchcock became unmotivated to direct due to how poorly people received his film Family Plot. Despite his despair, towards the end of his life, Hitchcock had been working on a script for another movie, The Short Night, a projected spy thriller, however it was never filmed due to his lack of motivation, his failing health, and his concern involving his wife’s health. Much after his death, the script was published in a book concerning the final years of Alfred Hitchcock.
When thinking back to any one of Hitchcock’s films, many seem to light up and immediately begin discussing which one of them was their favorites, why, and once they find out that someone that they’re talking to hasn’t seen it, they begin to ever so anxiously describe it’s plot and just what makes it as good as it is. Whether or not Hitchcock’s films were as amazing as many consider them, there are undoubtedly many similarities between all of them. However, just because there may be some similarities, this doesn’t make any one of the films bad, it simply makes them similar.
Many viewers seemed to like the consistency of being able to go out to the movie theater and watch whatever Hitchcock’s new film may have been without any concern of it being bad; without even being told about the plot, and simply knowing that it will be a quality film undoubtedly worked in Hitch’s favor. Going out and seeing any one of Hitchcock’s movies became like a game in a sense; everyone went in with certain expectations and things that they were both looking for and hoping for.
Many found joy in trying to spot Alfred himself somewhere in the film towards the beginning of it whether it be amongst a crowd, walking away from the camera, or whatever it may be. In many ways being a fan of Alfred Hitchcock and seeing his films became more so of a social thing than anything; it gave people something to do and then later talk about with their friends and family. Whether or not this was Hitchcock’s intention, it worked and earned him the respect that he has to this day.
As previously stated, one of the reasons that many liked the Hitchcockian films was because of their consistency, however from a critic’s standpoint decades after the hype of Hitchcock, this gives some room for negative assessments of his career and films as a whole. Just because some may have liked the consistency from film to film, certainly doesn’t mean that everyone does, others may consider it repetitive or even predictable if they’ve seen some of his other work.
For example, although many of Hitchcock’s films are considered to be quality films, when compared to his others, those same films may be less appreciated because their uniqueness is taken away due to their numerous similarities. North By Northwest is undoubtedly an amazing film that is filled with suspense, love, action, and hope for our hero, many would consider The Man Who Knew Too Much to be predictably similar. In both cases an innocent middle aged white U. S. itizen finds himself in the middle of a dangerous, complex, and legally taboo situation through no fault of his own. Both films are very similar in the roller-coaster of emotions that they put the audience through and leave them with the same feelings and emotions by the end of the film. The same is true for Rope and Rear Window however instead of an action packed romantic feature film, the audience is brought through the more dark and scary course of events that follow one or two main characters.
With the psychological thrillers there is much more of a realistic and closer to home feeling rather than with the action films. The same is true for Psycho, so much so that most of those who watched it were left terrified, disturbed, and with an erie feeling about hotels for some time after. Just like Rope and Rear Window, Psycho takes place primarily in one location and is paced slowly but with a deep and dark plot that strikes fear and concern into the hearts of most who watch it.
Despite the fact that most of his films fall into one of the two previously mentioned categories, there is of course the shade of grey in Hitchcock’s other films; they are the ones that have more of a mix of action and romance but also consist of psychological torment and suspense. There will always be comparisons between certain things, especially so if there is something as similar as the same director to begin with, however there are always exceptions and middle grounds that end up surprising those who think that they know exactly what to expect.
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