Alfred Hitchcock was a British filmmaker. He was nicknamed the “Master of Suspense” for his unrivalled ability to arouse fear and tension in the audience. Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone, England, on August 13, 1899. When he was 21 he started working for the film industry, designing titles for silent movies. He later began directing, screenwriting and designing sets. In 1925 he directed his first movie, a sentimental drama entitled The Pleasure Garden. It was followed by a sequel, The Lodger,which was Hitchcock’s first noteworthy thriller. He made his first cameo in this film, a brief onscreen appearance that would become his trademark in all of his films.
Over the years Hitchcock produced a significant body of work. One of his greatest successes was The Man Who Knew Too Much, remade in 1956. The movie told the story of a normal family that got mistakenly involved in an international conspiracy. An innocent man became caught up in circumstances beyond his control. This would become a recurring theme for the British director. Hitchcock was adept at suspense, creating tension in his audience by showing them facts and details that the movie’s endangered protagonists are unaware of. His style was also characterized by an acutely dark sense of humor.
In 1939, Hitchcock moved to the US. His first Hollywood production was Rebecca, a psychological thriller that won an Academy Award for Best Film. In 1946 he released Notorious, an espionage plot revolving around a passionate love story. Rope was an experimental film. The action took place in one room and was shot with roughly a dozen camera movements that were blended together to make it seem like it was filmed in a single take in one long, slow sequence. Rear Window told the story of a man who discovers a homicide by observing neighbors through his window. The film is a refined metaphor on cinema. Its protagonist watches the world through his own rear window, just as the audience is watching the film on screen. In 1955, the director started a popular TV series called Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The series made him more popular than ever.
He went on to direct other significant movies including Vertigo, an intricate thriller with deep psychological twists, and the spy story North by Northwest. But Hitchcock’s most famous film was undoubtedly Psycho, which showcased a terrifying motel owner. Psycho contains one of the most famous scenes in the history of cinema, in which the film’s female protagonist is murdered in the shower. In 1963, Hitchcock had yet another success with The Birds, a film telling the story of a small town that is terrorized by an all-out attack by wild crows and seagulls. The Master of Suspense retired in 1976. Alfred Hitchcock died in Los Angeles on April 29, 1980. He was 80.