“We all go a little mad sometimes.”

Image from www.esquire.com

Image from www.esquire.com

With a successful career spanning over half a century, we’d be truly ungrateful movie fans if we didn’t acknowledge the birthday of: Alfred Hitchcock (August 13th, 1899 – April 29th 1980).  With a combined degree in Film Studies and Art History, I’ve studied everything from Hitchcock’s voyeuristic camera angles right down to the psychoanalytical theory surrounding his films.  Hitchcock is an inspiration to all film students and we rarely grow tired of talking about him.

For many, Hitchcock is known as the creator of psychological thrillers, the ever popular genre that spawned Fatal Attraction, The Usual Suspects, Se7en, and Silence of the Lambs.  Hitchcock directed more than 50 feature films and greatly shaped the filmatic world that we see today.  His lonely childhood, and his interest in the wrongfully accused (when he was only 5 years old, his father sent him to a police station to be imprisoned for 10 minutes due to bad behaviour), inspired the themes used most often in his films.  He even started out with a career as a writer – his first published story “Gas” (1919) tells his readers about a woman who thinks she is assaulted one night only to reveal at the denouement that she was really hallucinating from the anaesthesia given to her at the dentist.

While it may be possible that you’re unfamiliar with “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour” and you’ve never seen The Birds, North by Northwest or Strangers on a Train, there is no way you could have escaped Psycho or Rear Window. Even if you’re a scaredy cat like I am, unable to sit through any sort of horror film without breaking into a sweat, you will still be familiar with at least some aspects of the infamous shower scene from Psycho (1960).  Psycho was remade in 1998 under the same title, starring Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates.  Director Gus Van Sant did not veer far from the original masterpiece when filming the updated version. When Van Sant was asked “Why in the hell would you want to do a shot-by-shot remake of Psycho in color?” He calmy replied “So no one else would have to.”

Rear Window (1954) was also remade in 2007 with the modern, updated title - Disturbia.  Although this film was clearly an updated version of the Hitchcock classic, and I was mildly entertained by the adorable Shia Labeouf, there is nothing “classic” about it.  If you didn’t see Disturbia, there is still a huge chance that you’ve seen The Simpson’s episode “Bart of Darkness” that is also based on the original.  Remember when Bart breaks his leg and is stuck in his room for the summer, becoming increasingly obsessed with the comings and goings of his neighbours?  100% Hitchcock.  While Bart is looking through his telescope, he even comes across the cartoon version of Cary Grant who was the star of the first Rear Window.

As a tribute I have written this short poem as a way of expressing my awe and fear of the great Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock:

If we were to meet as “Strangers on a Train
heading North by Northwest, I would not abstain
From saying “I’m Rebecca and I really must know
why you sit near the Torn Curtain of the Rear Window?
As a fan, there is No Shadow of a Doubt
Murder! and Blackmail your films are about.
I confess your Rich and Strange nature is Notorious
but your Champagne and Vertigo are really quite glorious.
You are The Man Who Knew too Much
irrationally afraid of The Birds, Lifeboats and such
You gave us Suspicion about the Easy Virtue of The Farmer’s Wife
and left us completely Spellbound by Norman the Psycho’s knife.”
When finished my Young and Innocent rant, he would turn and reply
“Hand me that Rope, for it’s your turn to die.”

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