About Alfred Joseph Hitchcock
Nicknamed "Master of Suspense," Alfred Hitchcock was one of the best known directors never to have received an Oscar for directing. Suspicion (1941), Rear Window (1954), North By Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960), and The Birds (1963), are just a few of his films that have chilled fans over the decades. In 1980, Queen Elizabeth II knighted the London native. He died later that year. For his contributions to the motion picture and television industries, Hitchcock received two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6506 Hollywood Blvd. and 7013 Hollywood Blvd.
Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born on 13 August 1899 in Leytonstone, London, the second son and youngest of three children of William Hitchcock, a greengrocer and poulterer, and Emma Jane Hitchcock (née Whelan). He was named after his father's brother, Alfred. His family was mostly Roman Catholic, with his mother and paternal grandmother being of Irish extraction.
To prepare for the ministry, Hitchcock was sent to the Jesuit Classic school St Ignatius' College in Stamford Hill, London. However, rebelling against his Catholic upbringing, he fled to the Bohemian seacoast in 1921. He soon involved himself in motion picture production, receiving valuable training with the British division of Famous Players Lasky. In 1923 he began writing scenarios for the Gainsborough Film Studios.
Hitchcock's first film, The Lodger (1925), an exciting treatment of the Jack the Ripper story, was followed by Blackmail (1930), the first British talking picture. Some think that Hitchcock's next films, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), and The Thirty-Nine Steps (1935), were responsible for the renaissance in British movie making during the early 1930s.
In 1939 Hitchcock left England with his wife and daughter to settle in Hollywood. For the most part, his American films of the 1940s were expensively produced and stylishly entertaining. These included Rebecca (1940), based on a best-selling suspense novel; Suspicion (1941), about a woman who believes her husband is a murderer; Shadow of a Doubt (1943), the tale of a small-town psychopath diabolically masquerading as a Good Samaritan; Lifeboat (1944), a heavy-handed study of survival on the open seas; and Spellbound (1945), a murder mystery about psychoanalysts. Less ambitious but more accomplished was Notorious (1946), praised for its rendering of place and atmosphere. Hitchcock's first decade in Hollywood ended with two interesting failures: The Paradine Case (1947) and Rope (1948).
Beginning with the bizarre Strangers on a Train (1951), Hitchcock directed a series of films that placed him among the great artists of modern cinema. His productions of the 1950s were stylistically freer than his earlier films and thematically more complex. His most significant films during that time were I Confess (1953), Rear Window (1954), To Catch a Thief (1955), The Trouble with Harry (1956), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), Vertigo (1958), and North by Northwest (1959).
Psycho (1960) was Hitchcock's most terrifying and controversial film, and made an entire generation of moviegoers nervous about taking a shower. The Birds (1963), Marnie (1964), and Family Plot (1976) were Hitchcock's final and less brilliant films. Hitchcock also expanded his directing career into American television, with a series that featured mini-thrillers (1955-1965). Because of failing health, he retired from directing after Family Plot. He was knighted in 1979 and died soon afterward in Los Angeles on April 29, 1980.
Hitchcock's films enjoyed newfound popularity in the 1990s. After a restored print of Vertigo was released in 1996 and became surprisingly successful, plans were made to re-release other films, such as Strangers on a Train. According to Entertainment Weekly, as of 1997 plans were underway to remake as many as half a dozen Hitchcock films with new casts, an idea that met with mixed responses from Hitchcock fans.