So, there is a running joke in The Thirty-Nine Steps of references to Alfred Hitchcock films. Well, I call it a running joke, but that may be a misnomer—at any rate, there are a handful of verbal and visual references to Alfred Hitchcock and his films. And I briefly discussed Hitchcock films with one of my castmates, and it occurred to me that he and I have very different ideas of what constitutes a “Hitchcock film”. And I think he’s right, and I’m wrong, despite my being right.
Let me explain: if a random person were to say “Hitchcock film”, that person would be talking about Psycho, The Birds, Rear Window and maybe Vertigo. Possibly North by Northwest, maybe Notorious, conceivably Rope. That’s it, right? That’s what we are talking about when we are talking about a “Hitchcock film”.
And, well, that’s not actually what I’m talking about when I talk about a Hitchcock film. I’ve never actually seen The Birds, and I haven’t seen Psycho all the way through from beginning to the end, either. My favorite Hitchcock film is probably Jamaica Inn, and that isn’t a “Hitchcock film” at all. Rebecca might be a “Hitchcock film” or might not be, but it’s a terrific movie. I like The Lady Vanishes a lot, although it’s not really as good as The 39 Steps. It’s not just that I prefer his earlier, funnier work (which I do), as I like both North by Northwest and Dial M for Murder quite a bit. But then, I like Blackmail and The Lodger, and I prefer the original Man Who Knew Too Much to the remake, which I didn’t actually finish watching. So, yeah, probably the earlier, funnier work. Or at least the funnier—I don’t actually like horror movies, as a genre, but do really enjoy the comic caper-thriller. Alfred Hitchcock is talked about as a master of suspense, as of course he is, and that’s what makes a Hitchcock film a “Hitchcock film”, but he was also a master of the comic caper-thriller.
Anyway, I suppose it’s not a surprise that when a fellow directs half-a-hundred movies, they will differ somewhat, one to another. And if a person becomes an adjective, as you might say, it will describe only a small portion of what that person actually is. I think of Alfred Hitchcock as making movies about spies, wrongly accused men on the run from police, and meet-cute flirtations where the couple have secrets from each other. That’s not what people mean by “Hitchcock film”, though, and I should keep that in mind.
That was the last time I spoke with President Trump,