Alfred Hitchcock: 40 years without the timeless movie star
Like that snoopy James Stewart who watched his neighbors through his telephoto lens in "Rear window", confinement has become the 2.0 version of this Alfred Hitchcock classic to which, with this particular coincidence, a tribute is paid on the 40th anniversary of his death.
Plastered and immobilized in a wheelchair as a result of an accident at work, the gaze of that curious photographer who James Stewart brought to life in "Rear window" (1954) now takes on a hint of reality in view of the particular situation of quarantine we are facing these days.
Alfred Hitchcock (London 1899-Los Angeles 1980) was the genius of suspense, yes, but who says he was not also a visionary? Stewart's blue eyes, set in the skin of an adventurous photojournalist, move wildly behind the lens of his camera to capture everything that goes on outside his home window. Isn't that what we all do, at times and in a disguised (or not so disguised) way, now that we are forced to stay in our homes?
"Rear Window" was one of the filmmaker's great titles, one of those films that brought together (and brings together) all the ingredients of Hitchcockian cinema: voyeurism, the role of women, the particular male-female relationship, plot twists, suspense and, of course, the dashes of humor to close a story in which the viewer, like Stewart, wanted not to blink so as not to lose detail.
The detail is, without a doubt, one of the terms that define the neat and careful cinematography of the genius Hitchcock, who approached the world of cinema thanks to his early love of painting, achieving his first job as a label maker for silent films within the London branch of the American production and distribution company Famous Players-Lasky.
He was a screenwriter, artistic director, and assistant director before taking the reins of his first film, which would come in 1925 with "The pleasure garden". Instead, success would begin two years later with "The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog" (1927) - with a suggestive translation in its Spanish title, "El enemigo de las rubias" (The Enemy of the Blondes), which curiously gives rise to his obsession with light-haired women. However, it was "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (1934) that attracted the attention of Hollywood, who, through the producer David O. Selznick, saw a rough diamond in the Londoner.
So successful was the original version of this title that Hitchcock directed it again, under the American label, in 1956, with two stars of the Hollywood scene as James Stewart and Doris Day. It was, however, "Rebecca" (1940), his first American film, which really opened the doors of Hollywood to the London filmmaker, with whom, after winning the Oscar for best film, all the actors wanted to work.
But Hitchcock, showing his introversion and his fussy and certainly obsessive character was very selective in choosing the cast of his films and saw in the cold beauty of blond women his main object of desire. Grace Kelly, Tippi Hedren, Ingrid Bergman, Joane Fontaine, Doris Day, Vera Miles, Kim Novak, or Janet Leigh were some of his muses, those who shone in front of the cameras but did not have the best shooting experience behind them. Much has been said about Hitchcock's treatment of his, perhaps misnamed, muses.
His twisted mind, the one that allowed him to create that universe of suspense that began to take flight in the '50s with "Strangers on a Train" (1951), "Dial M for Murder" (1954) "Vertigo" (1985) or "North by Northwest" (1959) and that was consolidated in the '60s with "Psycho" (1960), The birds" (1963) or "Marnie" (1964), was excellent for creating unique and original scripts but he played bad tricks in dealing with his actresses. It is true, on the other hand, that it is impossible to dissociate the term 'suspense' from Hitchcock's films, it would be absurd to try to do so. However, it is around his figure that a unique identity is created.
His magnificent technique for creating suspense is part of his success, but it is his own image, always present in all his works, that turned the London genius into a movie star. That is why the tributes, as has happened throughout this month on the TCM channel with the wonderful "Hitchcosis" marathon, both of the anniversaries of his birth and his death, do not cease to follow one another and become days of worship for fans all over the world.
Few directors can, unfortunately, boast of being physically recognized by the audience. Hitchcock, in large part thanks to his television series "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (1955-1961), achieved what had never been seen before: the simple profile or shadow of a director was a sign of identity. With this, Hitchcock achieved what other filmmakers could never have imagined, that both the most purist film lovers and the average viewer looking for entertainment would come to his films to enjoy the seventh art. That was, is and will be Alfred Hitchcock, a timeless film star.