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30 Unknown Facts About Alfred Hitchcock – The Master of Suspense

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Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone, Essex, England, in 1899, to Emma Jane and William Hitchcock. Hitchcock began his career in the film industry as an artist drafting movie sets and rose to become a director of a British/German production, “The Pleasure Garden” (1925). Here are 30 interesting facts about the director:

  1. Hitchcock attended the Jesuit School St. Ignatius College, London; School of Engineering and Navigation (acoustics, electricity, mechanics, navigation) and University of London (art).
  2. According to Hitchcock he had had a very sheltered and lonely childhood, obesity being a part reason. He said that his mother (as in a scene in his film “Psycho”) would make him stand, for hours, at the foot of her bed and narrate his daily events.
  3. Due to his height and weight, he was condoned from serving the British military services with a “C3 classification” during the First World War.
  4. His first job was as an advertising designer and draftsman for Henley's, a cable company. Hitchcock’s creative writing career begun with, “The Henley Telegraph”, their in-house publication of the company.
  5. He considers the suspense thriller “The Lodger” (1927) as his first film because of its commercial and critical success in UK.
  6. In 1927, Hitchcock married Alma Reville, his then assistant director, whom he had known since 1920 and became a father to his only daughter, Patricia Hitchcock on 7th July, 1928.
  7. Alma Reville, his wife, was only a day younger to him. Their daughter, Patricia Hitchcock, had also appeared in three of his films.
  8. Majority of the motion picture studios virtually rejected Hitchcock citing that he could not make a Hollywood-style picture.
  9. Quashing all the criticism Hitchcock went on to carve a niche for him, became the Master of Suspense and even became an inspiration to coin an adjective for suspense thrillers as "Hitchcockian" movies.
  10. In his movies, Hitchcock preferred casting major established actors with whom the audiences were familiar. He said it enabled him shift his focus and concentrate more on the plot.
  11. Alfred Hitchcock was a brilliant director cum technician who dexterously melded suspense and humor fused it with sex to contrive a new suspense and thriller genre in movies.
  12. He likes to keep his audiences at the edges of their seats and to prolong the thrill and suspense as long as possible. To maintain the hype, he would switch between the shots to draw out their cinematic experience (e.g., the shower scene in “Psycho” (1960), the climax of “Saboteur” (1942) etc.).
  13. His use of shadows (walls, curtains etc.) to create suspicion and tension to keep up the suspense in his screenplay narration was unique and kept the audience hooked to the characters.
  14. When he was a kid, as a way to punish him, his father sent him to the local police station with a letter. He was locked in the cell for ten minutes and sent off with a warning that, "This is what happens to people who do bad things." He states this as a reason for his morbid fear for police which has refrained him from learn how to drive.
  15. His portrayals of cops have always been as baddies or if is required to die will meet with a slow, uncompromisingly grisly or gruesome death.
  16. He has appeared in a cameo role in almost all (except for 18) of the movies he has directed. A photograph of his was used in “Dial M for Murder” (1954).
  17. However when he could not accommodate himself in a film about a small group of people trying to survive on a small boat, “Lifeboat” (1944), he devised a plan to use his picture for weight loss newspaper advertisement that floated near the boat along with some debris. Both the "Before" and the "After" were his pictures.
  18. Hitchcock disliked on location shoots as he had no control over the lighting or any other crucial factors. Hence, he preferred a studio shoot for his films. This is the reason his films comprise of rear screen shots and special effects composite.
  19. He said he prefers blonde actresses because “Blondes make the best victims. They're like virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints.” He also frequently uses close-up shots of a woman's hairstyle.
  20. For the sake of his audiences he preferred clean, uncluttered, easily remember-able one-word movie titles like “Rope” (1948), “Vertigo” (1958), “Psycho” (1960), “Marnie” (1964), “Topaz” (1969) and “Frenzy” (1972).
  21. He was dressed formally always in suits on the film sets. He did not socialize much when he was not filming. He had a strange habit of often tossing over his shoulder, his tea cup and saucer, after drinking, letting it to fall (or break).
  22. During 1955–1965 he became a household name with his TV series “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.” With 18 episodes under his direction in 1962 it became ‘The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.”
  23. His famous profile sketch caricature, a compilation of only nine strokes, often affiliated with the TV series, “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” (1955) and “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour” (1962), was actually designed and drawn by Hitchcock himself, from a Christmas card, while still living in England.
  24. He was infamous for playing practical jokes on his cast and crew. Sometimes it was harmless funny, such as showing up in a dress, or some were a bit scary like, finding out someone's phobia, like spiders or mice, and then send them a box full of them.
  25. Hitchcock was barred entry to the Disneyland in the early 1960s and was also refused permission to shoot his film by Walt Disney stating the reason he had made "that disgusting movie “Psycho” (1960)".
  26. The Hollywood Walk of Fame awarded 2 Stars to him, one for Television at 7013 Hollywood Boulevard and one for Motion Pictures at 6506 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
  27. He was nominated five times for Oscars, three nominations from Cannes and six times by DGA as best director, but to the fact that surprises fans and film critics, he had never won in any.
  28. He appears in the "Legends of Hollywood" series, 32-cent U.S. postage stamp, released 3rd August 1998 in Los Angeles, California and in “Early TV Memories” issue honoring “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” (1955), 44¢ USA commemorative postage stamp, issued 11th August 2009.
  29. For one of his parties, he dressed up in drag. It was reported that a footage of this was kept in his office. However after his death, when his office was cleaned out there was no sign of the footage. It is not yet clear if the footage still exists.
  30. He was named as an Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1980 Queen's New Year's Honours list.

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