Happy Birthday, Alfred Hitchcock! What's Your Favorite From The Master Of Suspense?
Alfred Hitchcock may have been, as the folks behind HBO's upcoming Tippi Hedren telefilm The Girl allege, "a monster," but he was also a cinematic genius, a visionary storyteller, an indelible presence on the pop culture landscape, and, perhaps, a ham. (His words — see below.) So today, on what would've been his 113th birthday, how do you best remember Hitch?
My first Hitchcock was the newly-anointed Sight & Sound greatest film of all time, 1958's Vertigo, and to this day it's the one that's endured most vividly for me through the years. Childhood trips to Muir Woods always seemed haunted by Scottie and Madeleine's forested exchange (Big Basin subbed in for the actual location); visits to Fort Point, where Madeleine jumps into the icy San Francisco Bay right below the Golden Gate Bridge, made the film come alive during a formative time in my life.
Watching Vertigo as a child decades after Hitchcock had made it, I had my first inkling of the magnitude of time — of the past, the present, and how connected a person can be to people, stories, ideas from long ago.
I faintly recall my subsequent Hitchcocks being Rope, and then North by Northwest, the byproduct of living in a household in which AMC was on all the time, back when AMC was more like TCM. Cameo-spotting became a fun watch-along game, as it is for any Hitch enthusiast (my favorite is still Hitchcock walking two little dogs in The Birds), highlighting his humor and hubris in equal measure.
While it's been kicking around the internet for a while, this classic episode of the popular 1950s celebrity spectacle What's My Line? reminds me of that very spirit — cheeky, intelligent, and hilariously game for playing along on his own terms. Watch it and join in with your own celebration of The Master of Suspense below.
Above: Hitchcock in Cannes, May 1972 [Getty Images]