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Alfred Hitchcock. I INTRODUCTION Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980), British-born American motion-picture director and producer, noted for his technically innovative and psychologically complex thrillers. Hitchcock's film career spanned more than 50 years, from the silent era of motion pictures to the mid-1970s. II LIFE AND WORK Born in London, the son of a grocer, Alfred Joseph Hitchcock attended Saint Ignatius College and briefly studied engineering, art history, and drawing at the University of London. He entered the movies in 1920 as a designer of silent-film title cards and worked as an art director, scriptwriter, and assistant director before directing his first picture, The Pleasure Garden, in 1925. However, it was not until his third picture, The Lodger (1926), about a man suspected of being Jack the Ripper, that Hitchcock became identified with thrillers. In 1929 he made his first talking film, Blackmail, which was acclaimed for its innovative and imaginative use of sound. He used, for example, a continually clanging shop bell to convey the heroine's feelings of guilt. During the 1930s he gained international fame with a series of immensely popular suspense dramas, including The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), The 39 Steps (1935), and The Lady Vanishes (1938). Dissatisfied with the low budgets and technical limitations of British studios, Hitchcock was lured to Hollywood, California, in 1939 by American producer David O. Selznick. Hitchcock's first American film, Rebecca (1940), a psychological drama adapted from a novel by British writer Daphne du Maurier, won the Academy Award for best picture. Hitchcock found his greatest success with suspenseful thrillers, however. These included Suspicion (1941), about a woman who imagines that her husband is a murderer, and two widely praised efforts, Shadow of a Doubt (1943) and Notorious (1946). In the murder drama Rope (1948) Hitchcock attempted to shoot an entire feature film in what appears to be one continuous shot. Hitchcock entered the most creative period of his career in the 1950s. In quick succession he produced and directed a series of inventive films, beginning with Strangers on a Train (1951) and continuing with Rear Window (1954), Dial M for Murder (1954), The Man Who Knew Too Much (a remake of his own earlier movie, 1956), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960), and The Birds (1963). Revolving around the wildest improbabilities, the plots of these pictures have been likened to dreams or nightmares that take place in daylight: a small town appears placid on the surface but reveals dark tensions underneath, an innocent man finds himself suddenly the object of guilt and suspicion, a wholesome-looking motel clerk is actually a crazed killer who impersonates his dead mother, and chases culminate at such familiar landmarks as the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore. III TECHNIQUE AND RECOGNITION The pictures are also notable for their technique, which was influenced by the experiments of Soviet director Sergey Eisenstein with montage editing--arranging a series of quick shots to evoke strong emotions in the viewer. Hitchcock used a full array of cinematic techniques in addition to montage to manipulate his audience, including unusual camera angles and carefully placed sound effects. He meticulously planned each shot in his films and treated the actor as just another object on the set, leaving the impression that nothing on the screen was there by chance. Hitchcock also produced and hosted two mystery series on television, Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1962) and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1962-1965). He won the admiration of French new wave directors, such as Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut, who embraced his policy of maintaining total creative control of a film. He also won favor with the younger directors, such as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Spielberg, who took over Hollywood in the 1970s. His later films included Marnie (1964) and Frenzy (1972). Although Hitchcock never won an Academy Award for film direction, in 1967 he received the prestigious Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his contributions to cinema and in 1979 he received the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1980 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, though he had long been a naturalized citizen of the United States. Contributed By: Tino Balio Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
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