Alfred Hitchcock: Master Of Suspense

  • 1973
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Documentary

ALFRED HITCHCOCK: MASTER OF SUSPENSE (originally produced for PBS-TV in 1973 as part of the MEN WHO MADE THE MOVIES series) is an entertaining survey of Hitchcock's career that's most valuable for the fascinating, in-depth interviews it contains with the Master himself. As excerpts from a number of Hitchcock films unspool--including PSYCHO (1960), NORTH...read more

Where to Watch

Available to Stream

Rating:

ALFRED HITCHCOCK: MASTER OF SUSPENSE (originally produced for PBS-TV in 1973 as part of the MEN WHO MADE THE MOVIES series) is an entertaining survey of Hitchcock's career that's most valuable for the fascinating, in-depth interviews it contains with the Master himself.

As excerpts from a number of Hitchcock films unspool--including PSYCHO (1960), NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959), FRENZY (1972), THE LODGER (1926), SABOTEUR (1942), SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943), NOTORIOUS (1946), THE BIRDS (1963), and TORN CURTAIN (1966)--Hitchcock comments on his cinematic style and his

films' themes.

The MEN WHO MADE THE MOVIES series, which was written, produced, and directed by Time magazine critic Richard Schickel, was one of the first mainstream television attempts to offer the general American public an auteurist view of movies, analyzing films not just as entertainment, but also as art

and largely as the vision of the director. The great thing about the series was that since it was made in the early 1970s, all of the great directors being profiled were still alive (the other episodes covered Frank Capra, George Cukor, Howard Hawks, Vincente Minnelli, Raoul Walsh, William

Wellman, and King Vidor), enabling them to record for posterity their thoughts about their own work. In ALFRED HITCHCOCK: MASTER OF SUSPENSE, Schickel's spare commentary (spoken by Cliff Robertson) touches upon all the usual topics (Catholic guilt, fear of police, psychological anxiety, the

"McGuffin," etc.) with intelligence, if not much depth, but thankfully lets Hitchcock and the films clips speak for themselves. Though there are only clips from nine of Hitchcock's films, the excerpts are well chosen and run fairly long, allowing Hitchcock to elucidate on his philosophy of

creating "pure cinema" through strictly visual means and how he manipulates audiences.

Many of Hitchcock's comments are basically reiterations of his famous stories in the Francois Truffaut book and other interviews, but it's fascinating to watch the great director, dressed like an undertaker in his immaculate Universal Studio office, reveal his various fears and phobias. The film

is also invaluable as one of the few examples of Hitchcock speaking about his art in serious terms, eschewing his usual jocular evasion and self-deprecation. Though he claims that content is secondary to the style of his films, his observations contradict this, as he calls his early English films

"more instinctive and less calculated for audiences" than his American films, talks about his use of such locations as the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore as "symbols of order thrown into disorder," and discusses the changing nature of evil, from the picturesque apple-pie small town setting

of SHADOW OF A DOUBT to the modern-day brutality of serial killers and rapists as depicted in FRENZY. Most interesting is hearing Hitchcock explain his cinematic techniques and his belief that "the whole art of cinema is its ability to appeal to all audiences in any language." Detailing his

theories about the importance of montage and the use of his patented subjective POV shot (with a clip from PSYCHO showing alternating close-ups of Vera Miles's face and tracking shots of what she's looking at), he states that this is an essential component of creating emotion and transferring the

menace from the mind of the character on the screen into the mind of the audience. The documentary may be somewhat old-fashioned and simplistic in its approach, but it stands as an important testimonial by one of the greatest of all filmmakers. (Violence.)

Watch This Now!

Your new favorite show is right here. Trust us.

Cast & Details See all »

  • Released: 1973
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: ALFRED HITCHCOCK: MASTER OF SUSPENSE (originally produced for PBS-TV in 1973 as part of the MEN WHO MADE THE MOVIES series) is an entertaining survey of Hitchcock's career that's most valuable for the fascinating, in-depth interviews it contains with the M… (more)

Show More »