The Unsolicted Endorsement: Alfred Hitchcock

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by Kelly Fahey

With the stage adaptation of The 39 Steps at Triad Stage and the Critic’s Choice Cinema series at the Crown at the Carolina Theatre showing Alfred Hitchcock classics every Monday for the past few months, my love for the self-proclaimed “master of suspense” has been refueled.

As a film student, I didn’t really have a choice but love Hitchcock. I’ll admit, at first I didn’t see what all the hype was about. I thought The Birds looked fake and that Vertigo’s running time was twice as long as it should be. It wasn’t until I took a class on the master of cinema that I realized that Hitchcock was arguably the greatest filmmaker of all time.

I think it’s great that Greensboro is making his work available to the public through events at the Triad Stage and the Crown. Although Hitch has received a pretty bad rep for his manipulative and misogynistic personality traits, his films have stood the test of time. His career, spanning more than 50 films and six decades, is unprecedented.

What’s often overlooked is how many rules Hitchcock broke and the things he got away with. By today’s standards, Hitchcock’s films are gruesome and suspenseful but relatively tame compared to the modern slasher flick. Still, during the ultra-conservative ’50s and ’60s, the production code for filmmakers was particularly strict.

That’s one of the things that make a film like Psycho brilliant. How on earth could someone make a film about a man that murdered his mom, slept with her corpse every night and dressed in her clothes to go on murderous rampages? One word: innuendo. Thrillers and suspense films are too blatant nowadays, maybe because audiences are totally desensitized. Sure, there are brilliant filmmakers still making movies today, but there will never be another Hitchcock.