Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Dial M for MacGuffin

Today (August 13th) sees the birthday of Alfred Hitchcock, the twentieth century’s Master of Suspense. He was, however, born in the nineteenth century, and this makes him fair fodder for this blog.

From Biography.comBorn in London on August 13, 1899, Alfred Hitchcock worked for a short time in engineering before entering the film industry in 1920. He left for Hollywood in 1939, where his first American film, Rebecca, won an Academy Award for best picture. Hitchcock created more than 50 films, including the classics Rear Window, The 39 Steps and Psycho. Nicknamed the "Master of Suspense," Hitchcock received the AFI's Life Achievement Award in 1979. He died in 1980. 

Speaking of that award, the master of suspense proved that he was also the master of speeches when picking it up:

It’s worth a blog post just to commemorate the life and works of this great man, largely because he’s responsible for so many of the things that have shaped my love of mystery and suspense over the years. As a young child I read Robert Arthur’s TheThree Investigators series over and over, and when I was old enough to watch the real deal I started with The Birds. This film probably, more than any other, instilled in me a love of film-making beyond the popcorn summer blockbusters that most kids my age preferred. I was even a fan of the rather odd 80s revival of ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents on TV. I was probably too young to watch a horror anthology series at that time, but that show (along with Tales of the Unexpected and Hammer House of Horror) kindled my life-long love of horror and suspense.

Today, I’d place Vertigo in my top three movies of all time, with The Birds, Rear Window and Psycho all taking a place in the top ten. Hitchcock was a master of the art of storytelling through cinema, and his suspenseful plots and artful direction put him right up there with Wilkie Collins, Raymond Chandler and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in my eyes.

So, without further ado, I raise my glass to Alfred Hitchcock; 114 years old today, and still the master of suspense. Happy birthday, old chap.