Hitchcock Historic Background

Hitchcock Historic Background


After distinguishing himself as one of the premiere directors in England, Hitchcock made the move to Hollywood. The first project he was to start on was meant to be based on the sinking of the Titanic and the second was on Daphne DuMaurier’s Novel, Rebecca. The Titanic project fell through and the DuMaurier novel became the basis of his first American Film.


Rebecca has become one of Hitchcock’s most recognizable works, and not simply because it was his most successful film come Oscar time. From start to finish, it represented his most polished, suspenseful and darkly foreboding film to date, far eclipsing anything he had ever done in Britain for sheer suspense and entertainment value. There were several key scenes stood, most especially the last view of Mrs Danvers, engulfed by flames in the home which she cherished very deeply. It is the secondary characters that drive the film; both Judith Anderson (Danvers) and George Sanders (Jack Favell) steal almost every scene they are in. It should be noted by Laurence Olivier (de Winter) puts in a great performance, as well as Joan Fontaine (New Mrs. de Winter). The primary character in the film is Manderley itself, represented with just the right mixture of romance, mystery, and darkness.

In Hitch’s first film set in America, called “Shadow of a Doubt”, featured a setting that was as important as any character, in that the small town itself served to contrast the character and the distasteful past of Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten) to a magnificent degree.

Hitchcock chose Santa Rosa, California as the location of the movie because it embodied the notion of a small, sleepy and old-fashioned town. The film is rich in motifs, mainly centred on contrasting Uncle Charlie from the innocence inherent in his surroundings, i.e. his train arriving bringing dark shadows that literally black out the train station. It also highlights the ties between him and his niece Charlie by their similar body positioning in each person’s first scene. Additionally, the film is full of small-town family humour, especially a subplot dealing with planning the perfect murder between Joseph Newton (Henry Travers) and his friend Herbie Hawkins (Hume Cronyn). These situations, which are contrasting elements, help the movie stand out as one of Hitchcock’s best films of the 1940s.

Another one of Hitchcock’s very distinguishable movies is “Notorious”. A dark, moody movie with intense emotional undertones, “Notorious” was shot in exquisite black and white, and features several scenes which have truly achieved notoriety in the director’s body of work.

Hitchcock’s ability to provide exposition without bogging down the audience with useless dialogue is characterized in the first two minutes of the movie. Early in the film, we see the cameramen anticipating the end of the trail. John Huberman is sentenced to 20 years for treason against the United States, while he implies that his work will still continue. Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman) leaves the courtroom, and reporters rapidly throw many questions at her while they set the context of the situation.

The camera settles on two detectives, one tells the other to watch her and report to him if Alicia tries to leave town. The camera fades to a house, and the detective strolls by watching the house. Then the camera fades back to the house at night, and to the inside of the house where Bergman is hosting a party where she tells them the important drinking hasn’t started. As the camera pans through the whole room, the audience is provided almost all background information needed to allow it to focus freely on the developing story.


The second to last scene of the film is introduced by another sweeping camera shot from far and away to the most important detail of a party; a small key held tightly in Bergman’s palm. The party scene finished with an extremely suspenseful scene in the wine cellar, as Huberman and Devlin (Cary Grant) discover an important element amongst the rows of ageing wine, just as a bartender needs more champagne, it leads the enemy down to the basement to discover them. With a gut-wrenchingly suspenseful ending, Hitchcock closes a true masterpiece with a great ending; the bad guy gets what he deserves and the good guys live happily ever after.




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