Toth Database - Cinema

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock

London, 13 August 1899 – Los Angeles, 29 April 1980



Alfred Hitchcock was born on August 13, 1899 in Leytonstone, a district of the East End of London, eight kilometres from the centre. Parents William and Emma Jane Whelan, were holders and owners of a fruit and vegetable shop. The father traded as a wholesaler of foodstuffs subsequently bought a fishmonger. Opposite the store was the home of the family. Alfred is the youngest of the three brothers. The father, an observant Catholic, provides a Catholic education. Often Alfred accompanied his father on the cart with the horses in the delivery of goods to customers and shops in the area. 

As A filmmaker Hitchcock has often included in his films these memories and environments of London of his childhood; In particular in the boarder and in FrenzyThe father was very strict. A traumatic episode lived in childhood is thus narrated to François Truffaut:


I was maybe four or five years old... My father sent me to the police station with a letter. The commissioner read it and locked me in a cell for five or ten minutes, saying:


That'S what you do to bad kids!,-And She what she had done to deserve this punishment?,-I Don't have a clue. My father called me a spotless lamb. I Really can't imagine what he could do.


Alfred's family sends him a great love for the theatre.


They all went together on Sundays in theaters in the area and Alfred soon knew through comedies and dramas, many stories with which to nourish his imagination; Appreciates the interpretations of famous actors and actresses; Watch admired the stage shows. During The free time he often stands alone and draws the games, prefers to observe. He has a strong passion for geography: He collects topographical maps, he studies railway timetables. At The age of eight he has already traveled all the London tramway lines and reached by boat to the mouth of the Thames. Regularly Consult the Navigants Bulletin and on a map marks the routes of the English merchant fleet. In 1910 he enrolled at Saint Ingatius College, ruled by the Jesuits.

He experiences the rigid discipline. In July of 1913 to 13 years, it leaves the Institute. Throughout the 1914 he attends evening classes at the School of Engineering and Navigation at the University of London. 

In 1915 he found a place at the Henley Telegraph & Cable Company, a factory of electric cablature, telegraph wires and war material. For 15 shillings per week, the measurement and voltage of the electrical cables that the company installs must be calculated. In 1917 is subjected to the medical examination for military service, but is reformed. He enlisted in the Volunteer corps of genius anyway. Alfred loves to read much: Gilbert Keith Chesterton, John Buchan, Edgar Allan Poe, Gustave Flaubert, writes tales for the Company magazine. Henley, thanks to his drawing skills, is transferred to the advertising office. 

He Continues to attend the theatre and is passionate about cinema. In 1920 he entered the world of cinema: he was hired at the London office of Famous Players – Lasky – Studios, an Anglo-American film Company (the Future Paramount Pictures). His job is to draw the titles and captions of silent films produced by the Studio. From 1923 to 1925 Alfred working for Gainsborough Pictures, dealing with several secondary tasks, like the most classic of Handyman: writer, set designer, Assistant Director, even fitter in five films. Joins as Assistant Director Graham Cutts in the making of the film Woman to Woman produced by Michael Balcon. 

The last experience as an Assistant set designer – scriptwriter for the film The Blackguard by Graham Cutts, co-production between Gainsborough and the UFA in Berlin, takes him to the German capital where he worked alongside Murnau that was turning The last laugh and Fritz Lang who had just finished filming the NibelungsAmong the editors arrived at the Balcon Saville Freedam know Alma Reville, his age, already with a brilliant career that leads her to work with David Wark Griffith in the machining of Hearts of the World, hearts of the world. Hitchcok as Assistant Director to Woman to Woman proposes to mount the shots.

From that collaboration was born a long engagement and a marriage, celebrated in 1926 and lasted until his death. Their relationship is a sentimental and professional partnership: his wife will collaborate as a screenwriter in many of his films and the director is always very much in his judgement and suggestions. Alma and Alfred will have one daughter, Patricia, Pat, who will collaborate as an actress in some of her father's work. In 1925 Michael Balcon entrusted him with the direction of an Anglogerman film: the labyrinth of PassionsIt's her first movie. It Makes to travel to Alfred and Alma thousands of kilometers because it was filmed between Monaco, Lake Como, Ligurian Riviera, Paris and Cherbourg. With the economic difficulties, the contingencies, the hitches and the whims of the American Divas, it represented a kind of baptism of fire for the young director debutant. Hitchcock will turn from 1925 to 1929 nine silent films. He Turns in 1926 his second film, the Eagle of the mountain, lost. 

The first real successful movie is the boarderThanks to its success, Hitchcock is contacted by John Maxwell, director of the British International Picture production company, which offers him a very advantageous contract of 13,000 pounds a year. Hitchcock signs, but still spins two films due to the Gainsborough Picture, the Decline, easy VirtueThen Directs with the new production company win for me! The wife of the farmer, luxury Tabarin, The Island of sin.


In 1929, Hitchcock directs blackmail, his first film is and the first sound Film in Europe.


«Blackmail is a fundamental film in the personal history of Hitchcock and Cinema: the great technical and linguistic innovations, the spectacular suggestions were combined with the recognition of critics and the enormous success of the public. With Blackmail Hitchcock became a star of first magnitude


(Giorgio Simonelli, Invitation to the Cinema of Hitchcock, p. 27)


Until 1933 alternates suspense films to stories of various kinds, often reduction of novels or transcriptions of famous comedies: Juno and the Peacock, murder!, flame of Love, rich and Strange, number Seventeen, Vienna Of Strasuss 

In 1934 Hitchcock signed a contract for five films with the production company Gaumont British Picture Corporation, of which he was responsible Michael Balcon, with whom he had already collaborated in the first films. The island of sin and rich and strange in which had put with sincerity and boldness much of himself, were not including British critics of the time. Commercial and this prevented him from continuing flasks were on a road that also knew fruitful, dimmed the enthusiasm and persuaded the Director to give up. Hitchcock wants to find a recipe, there is no doubt, however, that leaves a large part to the artistic talents, to his style, and the man who knew too much, filmed in 1934, was a perfect strategic success: the criticism and the public by finding now a Hitchcock like what he imagined applauded the film unreservedly. The following year, taking up the same principle "... I raised a point of perfection" ( Rohmer-Chabrol ) with the Club of 39Follow love and mystery, sabotage, young and innocent and the Lady Vanishes, what Raymond Durgnat has defined The classic Thriller sextetThe international fame that comes from these works attracted the attention of American manufacturers that start to make proposals for contracts; at the same time the Gaumont-British melts, dispersing the Group of collaborators capable and trusted with whom Hitchock was used to work; Michael Balcon goes to Metro, Charles Bennett at Universal, Ivor Montagu leaves the cinema. 

Hitchcock's contract is immediately detected by Gainsborough. Begin contacts with David o. Selznick. With her daughter Pat and his wife Alma in August 1937 takes a trip in the United States of America. The last film shot in England, before leaving for America is the tavern of Jamaica with whom it honors its commitments with Erich Pommer and Charles Laughton. Ends the so-called English period during which Hitchcock turned twenty-three films. In the summer since 1939, forty years of age the family moved to Los Angeles.


"In America he brings to perfection his style: he passes, as he says himself, by the

"Sensation of cinema" to the formation of ideas "»


(Fernaldo Di Gianmatteo)



In Hollywood He works for David O. Selznick, the producer of Via with windThe contract, which included commitment to five films, was signed on July 14, 1938. Hitchcock Initially had to direct a film about the Titanic tragedy, but preferred another subject from Daphne du Maurier's bestseller, Rebecca – the first wife, who won the Oscar. Follow Suspect Starring Joan Fontaine, Mr and Mrs Smith, a comedy starring Carole Lombard. After the outbreak of the second world war, a series of anti-Nazi and patriotic commitment: foreign correspondent, saboteurs, lifeboat, and documentaries Bon Voyage and Aventure malgache, Shadow of a doubt, spellbound and Notorious, The Lost LoverIn 1945, starting with footage recorded by English soldiers and the Red Army in the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen realizes a documentary about the Holocaust entitled "Memory of the campsthat however was not widespread in as allied forces believed that the horror aroused by its contents would have hampered postwar reconciliation. The later films have alternate and critical results, for the most part, commercial failure the Paradine case, a courtroom drama, lump in throat, highly experimental and with whom he began working with James Stewart. In 1950 the Director goes to Warner Bros, with running the other man who turns out to be a great success; cashes still a disappointment with a movie that was really I'll confess but takes the revenge to the next murder which is also the first movie with Grace Kelly. The actress Grace Kelly an ideal interpreter of his favorite kind of woman with whom runs a series of films: rear window, to catch a thiefThe Conspiracy of the InnocentsIn 1955 starts spinning some episodes of the popular series Alfred Hitchcock presents, from 1955 to 1962 revolves around twenty films.


"The insertion into the television world was a decisive element in Hitchcock's career for two different reasons, but closely related. The first is an economic motive, the wealth came with the television production that allowed him to become shareholder by the MCA managing to control the television production company Universal. The Second is an artistic reason: his new economic strength allowed him to realize all those projects, even the most ambitious and extravagant that had not been able to define before.»


(Giorgio Simonelli, Invito al cinema di Hitchcock, p. 35)



The Eye of Hitchcock :



The inaugural gesture of Hitchcock's work is the addition of an eye, a theatrical event that transforms it into a spectacle observed from a particular point of view, assigning the spectator of the film the best place.


His films abound in references to "seeing" and devices that intensify their power, such as lenses, telescopes, cameras: from the first sequences of his films, The maze of passions, Easy virtue, Luxury Tabarin, Young and innocent , The window on the courtyard, The birds

Hitchcock gladly mixes comedy and suspense and his screenplays are full of brilliant jokes. Its ironic and visible veins on the characters that are described with the eye of an amused and mercileful observer.


"There is No normality in the Hitchcocktail world: the diaphragm separating normality and madness and abnormality and very thin and it is not possible to separate sleeves sistically the good from the bad, the innocent from the guilty, because the ones are the masks and double the others. '


(Gian Piero Bunetta Universal Dictionary of Directors, pp. 166 – 167)



"Exchange, reversal and duplication: mechanisms that operate constantly in the dynamics of the hitchcocktail intrigue and are chosen and used precisely for the power to disrupt any reality harmonically composed."


(Fabio Carlini, Hitchcock)







1922/ Number 13 

1925/ The maze of passions 

1926/ The eagle of touring 

1927/ The boarder 

1927/ Win for me! 

1927/ The decline 

1928/ The wife of the factor 

1928/ Easy Virtue 

1928/ Luxury Tabarin

1929/ The island of Sin 

1929/ Blackmail 

1930/ Juno and the Peacock 

1930/ Murder 

1930/ Speak Elstree 

1931/ Flame of Love 

1931/ Mary 

1932/ Rich and Bizarre 

1932/ Number Seventeen

1934/ Vienna Of Strauss 

1934/ The man who Knew Too Much 

1935/ The club of 39 

1936Love and Mystery 


1937/ Young and Innocent 

1938The lady disappears 

1939/ The Tavern Of Jamaica 

1940Rebecca-the first wife 

1940The prisoner Of Amsterdam

1941/ The Lord and Mrs Smith 

1941The Suspicion 

1942/ Saboteurs 

1943/ The shadow of Doubt 

1944/ Ocean Prisoners 

1945/ I will save you 

1946/ Notorious – The Lost lover 

1947/ The Paradine Case 

1948/ Knot in the throat 


1949/ The sin Of Lady Considine 

1950/ Stage Fright

1951/ The other man 

1953/ I confess 

1954/ The Perfect Crime 

1954/  The window on the Courtyard 

1955/ Thief Hunting 

1955/ The Conspiracy of the Innocents 

1956/ The man who Knew Too much 

1956/ The Thief 

1958/ The woman who lived twice 

1959/ International Intrigue 

1960/ Psyco 

1963/ The Birds 


1966/ The torn curtain 

1969/ Topaz 

1972/ Frenzy 

1976Family Plot 



Television Drama



1955/ Revenge 

1955/ Nervous Breakdown 

1955/ The case of Mr. Pelhalm 

1956/ We will meet again At Christmas 

1956/ A rainy Saturday 

1956/ The secret of Mr. Blanchard

1957/ One more Mile 

1957/ Perfect Crime 

1958/ How to serve a corner 

1958/ A dip in the void

1958/ A weight in the void 

1958/ The guest of Honor 

1959/ Athur 

1959/ The ice Coffin 

1959/ Mrs. Bixby and the fur of the Colonel

1961/ Winning Horse 

1962Hands Up 





Carlo Romano in Alfred Hitchock Presents, the time of Hitchcock

Paul Lombardi in Alfred Hitchcock