Critics, bloggers, and cultural talking heads are all prone to hyperbolic statements. Everyday, new people, products, and works of art are deemed the "best" and "the greatest." The following proclamation, however, although it sounds like hyperbole, is unquestionably true, if not also common knowledge for learned film buffs: Alfred Hitchcock is the most influential filmmaker of all time.
Born on August 13, 1899, and raised in London, Hitchcock made movies for over 50 years before his death in April 1980, from kidney failure. Over that half-century span, Hitch (as he's so often affectionately called) redefined cinema in multiple ways. Coined the "Master of Suspense," he routinely explored the themes of voyeurism (through distinct camera movements that provided viewers with first-person POV), mistaken identity, and cold-blooded murder, always concealing information from both his films' characters and the audience in order to raise the tension levels. Hitchcock was also responsible for what he called the "Macguffin," the word used to describe important plot elements that are crucial to the story but aren't entirely tangible to the audience (think the briefcase in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction).
Both on and off his movies' sets, Hitchcock also progressed the notion of directors as celebrities, frequently making wordless cameos in his films, releasing elaborate trailers in which he spoke directly to viewers, and regularly taking center stage for his freaky TV anthology series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents. For as much as he put himself out there, though, Hitchcock's private life was also quite enigmatic, leading historians to endlessly speculate about his obsessions over blonde women (his films mostly star beautiful, fair-haired actresses) and the psychological motivations behind his preferred brand of dark, scandalous storytelling.
Some of that is playfully addressed in Hitchcock, a new biopic of sorts starring an unrecognizable Anthony Hopkins as the director dealing with domestic headaches (involving his wife and most trusted collaborator, Alma Reville (Helen Mirren). The film, which opens in limited release Friday, takes place during the making of Hitch's 1960 horror classic Psycho, one of his many masterful works and the catalyst for the following list of The 25 Best Alfred Hitchcock Movies. You've no doubt heard of his nameâ€”now, it's time see why it's arguably the most important one in the history of film.
Written by Matt Barone (@MBarone)