Hitchcock And the Methods of Suspense
Alfred Hitchcock had a gift for turning the familiar into the unfamiliar, the mundane into the unexpected. A director known for planning the entire movie before the first day of filming began by using the storyboard approach, Hitchcock was renowned for his relaxed directing style, resulting in an excellent rapport with his actors. Decades later, Hitchcock’s films stand as sterling examples of innovative technique, infused with meaning that only repeated viewing can reveal. This work examines themes, techniques, and the filmmaking process in 15 of Hitchcock’s best known films: The 39 Steps, Rebecca, Shadow of a Doubt, Spellbound, Notorious, Rope, Strangers on a Train, Rear Window, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho, The Birds, Frenzy and Family Plot. It explores the auteur’s treatments of psychoanalysis, voyeurism, and collective fears during the Cold War. Also presented are key stories behind several Hitchcock classics, such as the director’s stormy relationships with Raymond Chandler and David O. Selznick that resulted in synergetic success for some of his most successful films. The book includes numerous photographs and an extensive bibliography.
About the Author
William Hare was born in Los Angeles and launched his writing career in high school, rising to the positions of Editor and Executive Editor at the Scholastic Sports Association, the prep sports department of the Los Angeles Examiner. While at the Examiner he became the youngest writer ever to cover a World Series game for a major metropolitan newspaper. After graduating with a degree in political science with minors in history and English he then became the youngest sports editor at a Los Angeles area daily at the Inglewood Daily News chain. In addition to covering the busy Los Angeles sports scene he began contributing movie features,visiting the local studio scene with interviews of Kim Novak and Ernest Borgnine and reporting on films in the making starring Fred Astaire, Rock Hudson and Elvis Presley. Hare ultimately became a freelance author of eclectic tastes. His first major work was in the narrative historical realm, ¨Struggle for the Holy Land¨, which encompassed 3,500 years of history in the region where civilization began. It showcased larger than life figures such as Muhammad, David Ben-Gurion, T.E. Lawrence, Chaim Weizmann, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Hare’s next work invoked cinema history, ¨Early Film Noir¨. This work concentrated on the roots of the popular genre with special emphasis on ¨The Maltese Falcon¨ and how the film’s immense success catapulted its leading man Humphrey Bogart and director John Huston to Hollywood’s top ranks. Hare next wrote ¨L.A. Noir¨ , which focused on how the City of Angels afforded the perfect backdrop for some of the genre’s finest films. His work ¨Hitchcock and the Methods of Suspense¨ closely analyzed the creative methodology of the great London director by focusing on such major works as ¨Vertigo¨ , ¨Shadow of a Doubt¨ and ¨Strangers on a Train¨ . ¨Pulp Fiction to Film Noir¨ examined the effect of Great Depression pulp magazine fiction and how the genre’s two leading authors, Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, converted their popularity into bestselling novels that were then adapted to the screen and became film noir classic dramas.
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By Tom Reynolds on April 3, 2007
To dedicated film buffs and even the most casual movie-goer alike, the name “Hitchcock” alone is enough to trigger images in the mind’s eye associated with mystery and suspense, even terror, that are instantly and automatically recalled: Thornhill (Cary Grant) in “North by Northwest,” running through an open field while an airplane swoops down on him; the vulnerable Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly) in “Rear Window,” searching Thorwald’s (Raymond Burr) apartment, unaware of his imminent return, while wheelchair bound L.B. Jefferies (James Stewart) can do nothing but watch helplessly from his apartment across the way; Jo McKenna (Doris Day) in “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” screaming at a pivotal point, just as a would-be assassin levels his gun at his intended target in a box at London’s Albert Hall; and, of course, one of the most famous single scenes in film history, Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) in “Psycho,” screaming in terror as the knife-wielding Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) invades her ill-fated shower. But what is it that makes these scenes and films so memorable, even if it was a movie you saw only once, as a kid, in a dark theater on a Saturday afternoon? The answer to that question, and much, much more, can be found in “Hitchcock and the Methods of Suspense,” the new book by writer and film historian William Hare.
When it comes to cinema, Hare is a bona fide expert; simply put, he knows his stuff and it shows every page of this book. Most importantly, by fully utilizing the knowledge and expertise he’s acquired through a lifetime of study and love of films, Hare presents here an engrossing examination of the methods, devices and themes repeatedly employed by Hitchcock, and which ultimately have made his films so memorable.
By Folantin on April 1, 2007
As a film lover fascinated by auteur theory, I decided that I’d overlooked film director Alfred Hitchcock for far too long, and so I approached William Hare’s book, “Hitchcock and the Methods of Suspense” with eagerness. Obviously a labour of love for the author, the book traces Hitchcock’s phenomenal career with an emphasis on the films and Hitchcock’s techniques. This book is not a biography of Hitchcock–although there are plenty of details about Hitchcock’s life–but these details are secondary to the in-depth analysis of many of Hitchcock’s greatest films.
The book begins with identifying the director’s “breakthrough” film–“The 39 Steps”–and it was this film, the author argues that ensured Hitchcock would remain “emerge and remain a major film talent.” Hitchcock was a man who was “ahead of [his] time and place” and this, Hare argues, caused creative difficulties for Hitchcock. Already by 1925, Hitchcock managed to ruffle the feathers of C.M. Woolf, an influential financier, and Woolf’s early displeasure at Hitchcock’s film, “The Pleasure Garden” led to Woolf becoming an “obstacle” to Hitchcock’s career. This is later echoed in the troubled relationship between Hitchcock and David O. Selznick.
The book explores Hitchcock’s British and American phases–along with his favourite themes–“the innocent thrown into a sea of international political conflict” the use of voyeurism, the MacGuffin, and the individual against the forces of nature (influenced by Hitchcock’s own paranoia of open places).
If you are a Hitchcock aficionado or if you just want to learn more about the film career of this phenomenal director, then “Hitchcock and the Methods of Suspense” is a feast.Read more ›
By Toby Martin II (aka R. Howe) on August 31, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition