“Suspense is like a woman. The more left to the imagination, the more the excitement….”
- Alfred Hitchcock
We are back and with a bang.
July is the month of suspense and what better way to get it started then with one of the most influential filmmakers in cinema history. The “Master of Suspense” himself- Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock.
On August 13, 1899, in Leytonstone, London, Hitchcock, the youngest of three, was born to Emma Jane Whelan, the daughter of an Irish born police constable, and William Edgar Hitchcock, a greengrocer. Raised in the Catholic faith, he and his siblings had a normal upbringing.
Initially, Hitchcock wanted to be an engineer. So, on July 25, 1913, at the age of thirteen, he began attending night classes at the London County Council School of Engineering and Navigation in Poplar. However, on December 12, 1914, his father, who was suffering from emphysema and kidney disease, passed away at the age of 52. Hitchcock soon took on a job as a technical clerk at the Henley Telegraph and Cable Company to support he and his mother.
In 1919, after reading in a trade paper that Famous Players-Lasky was opening a studio in London, Hitchcock created some drawings and sent his work to the studio. He was hired as a title card designer for Islington Studios, a subsidiary of the company. Here, he would meet his future wife, Alma, while working on the film “Woman to Woman”.
In good time, Hitchcock gained experience as a co-writer, art director, and production manager on several silent films. He made his directorial debut with “The Pleasure Garden” , starring Virginia Valli in 1925, but it wasn’t until 1927 that he achieved
true triumph with the thriller “The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog”. The film was a commercial and critical success. It also began his trademark cameo appearances in his films.
Hitchcock would go on to direct over 50 films in a span of six decades, including classics like “The Lady Vanishes” (1938), “Rebecca” (1940), “North By Northwest” (1959), and “Psycho” (1960).
In 1956, Hitchcock hosted and produced the tv show “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”, which showcased weekly 30 minutes story’s of horror and suspense. It would run for seven seasons.
On April 29, 1980, at the age of 80, Hitchcock died peacefully in his sleep of kidney failure. He was cremated and his remains were scattered over the Pacific Ocean on May 10, 1980.
“The Lodger: The Story of the London Fog” is the featured movie for this month. It’s a story about a hunt for a serial killer murdering young blonde women in London, only on Tuesdays, and a landlady who suspects her new lodger is the killer. Based on the 1913’s novel “The Lodger”, this 90 minute silent film was released in London on February 14, 1927 and New York City on June 10, 1928. Though this was Hitchcock’s third film, he felt as though it was his first film. With this piece of cinema, Hitchcock help to shape the modern thriller genre.
Before I let you dive into what many believed Hitchcock’s greatest silent film, I’d like to suggest a themed beverage for the occasion – The London Fog Latte. It’s an easy and tasty drink to make. Steep a bag of your favorite earl grey tea with 4 packets of sugar in the raw in ¼ cup of hot water in a mug for 5 minutes. While your tea is steeping, heat ¾ cup of warm vanilla soy milk until it’s steaming. Remove tea bag, add the milk, stir, and drink.
Now that you have your special beverage in tow, sit back and enjoy trying to locate Hitchcock’s two cameo appearances in “The Lodger”, which can be seen on YouTube for free.