Who Is Alfred Hitchcock? Life & Movies

Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) was an English filmmaker, one of the most important personalities in the cinema of mystery and intrigue, being called the “Master of Suspense”.

Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone, North East London, England, on August 13, 1899. He was the son of William Hitchcock and Emma Jane Wehlan, owners of a fruit and vegetable trade.

Hitchcock received from his father a rigid and repressive upbringing that profoundly marked the formation of his character and personality.

Childhood and youth

In 1906 Hitchcock and his family moved to Poplar, at which time he joined Howrah Convent. In 1908 the family moved to Stepney where Hitchcock studied at St. Ignatius College, founded by the Jesuits in 1894 and especially known for the rigor in his discipline.

In his first year, he stood out for his application and received an honorable mention, achieving an excellent average in Latin, French, English and religious training. In recent years, he behaved with irony and played mischief in the company of colleagues.

While still at school, Hitchcock would visit Scotland Yard’s Black Museum to view the collections of criminal relics and the London Court of Crime, where he would attend murder trials and take notes.

Later, he spoke of that time with bitterness, saying: “I felt terrified of the police, the punishments, but these are the roots of my work”.

At the age of 14 he left college and began studying engineering at the School of Engineering and Navigation and then studied drawing at the School of Fine Arts at the University of London.

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At the same time, he helped his parents in commerce. At that time, he discovered a new hobby, cinema, which was establishing itself as one of the most important recreational activities in London.

In 1914, with his father’s death and the outbreak of World War I, he returned to Leytonstone, where he began working in the workshops of the Henley Telegraph and Cable Company.

He was released from conscription thanks to his work at the company that collaborated with the war and also because of his obesity. Dissatisfied with the service, he was soon transferred to the advertising department.

His interest in cinema grew and at the age of 16 he avidly read film magazines and did not miss films by Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford.

In 1920, at the age of 21, when he learned of the installation of an American film company in London, Famous Players-Lasky, he gathered some decorative sketches he had designed for silent films, introduced himself to the company and got the job.

He worked as a creator of movie signs and later in the preparation of sets and short dialogues for new films, under the direction of Georges Fitz, who also taught him filming techniques.

Alfred Hitchcock Movies

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In 1923, Hitchcock co-directed the film “Always Tell Your Wife” and collaborated on the film “Mrs. Peabody”, which were his first cinematographic experiences. In the studios, he met Alma Reville and they were soon working together at production company Gainsbouroug Pictures.

In 1925 he had his first opportunities as a director with “The Pleasure Garden”, “The Mountain Eagle” and “The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog” which was his entrance into suspense. The films were both public and critical successes. In them, Hitchcock appeared among the extras without being included in the script, which later became the filmmaker’s routine.

In 1926 he married Alma and took up residence in Cromwell Road, London. In 1927 he directed “The Ring” and soon gained international fame. In 1928, Hitchcock made his last silent films “The Farmer’s Wiffe, Champagne” and “The Maxman”. 

In the United States

In 1929, Hitchcock debuted with his first sound film “Blackmail”. The success of his films caught the attention of Hollywood producers and in 1939 he moved to the United States.

Alfred Hitchcock’s Hollywood debut was with the film “Rebekah, the Unforgettable Woman” (1940), which received the Oscar for Best Picture and Best Black and White Photography (1941).

In the 1950s, he perfected his suspense techniques to the maximum in films such as “Sinister Pact” (1951), “Rear Window” (1954) and “Um Corpo que Cai” (1959), the latter considered his masterpiece.

“Psycho” and “The Birds”

Later, Hitchcock experimented with new dramatic and expressive features, as in “Psycho (1960), with the spectacular murder of the protagonist that takes place early in the film.

In “The Birds”, the climate of terror is caused by birds that, inexplicably, suddenly start attacking people.

Directing one film a year, Hitchcock has become one of the premier filmmakers in suspense, mystery and intrigue, with an exceptional mastery of cinematic techniques. In 1980, he received the Order of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II.

Alfred Hitchcock died in Los Angeles, United States, on April 29, 1980.

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Alfred Hitchcock’s Top Films

  • Rebeca, The Unforgettable Woman (1940)
  • Foreign Correspondent (1940)
  • The Saboteur (1942)
  • Sinister Pact (1951)
  • Rear Window (1954)
  • Robber in Cloak (1955)
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
  • A Falling Body (1958)
  • Psychosis (1960)
  • The Birds (1963)
  • Torn Curtain (1966)
  • Topaz (1969)
  • Macabre Plot (1976)