"I don’t want to film a ‘slice of life’ because people can get that at home, in the street, or even in front of the movie theater. They don’t have to pay money to see a slice of life. And I avoid out-and-out fantasy because people should be able to identify with the characters. Making a film means, first of all, to tell a story. That story can be an improbable one, but it should never be banal. It must be dramatic and human. What is drama, after all, but life with the dull bits cut out. The next factor is the technique of film-making, and in this connection I am against virtuosity for its own sake. Technique should enrich the action. One doesn’t set the camera at a certain angle just because the cameraman happens to be enthusiastic about that spot. The only thing that matters is whether the installation of the camera at a given angle is going to give the scene its maximum impact. The beauty of the image and movement, the rhythm and the effects—everything must be subordinate to the purpose."
Alfred HitchcockAugust 13, 1899 — April 29, 1980

"I don’t want to film a ‘slice of life’ because people can get that at home, in the street, or even in front of the movie theater. They don’t have to pay money to see a slice of life. And I avoid out-and-out fantasy because people should be able to identify with the characters. Making a film means, first of all, to tell a story. That story can be an improbable one, but it should never be banal. It must be dramatic and human. What is drama, after all, but life with the dull bits cut out. The next factor is the technique of film-making, and in this connection I am against virtuosity for its own sake. Technique should enrich the action. One doesn’t set the camera at a certain angle just because the cameraman happens to be enthusiastic about that spot. The only thing that matters is whether the installation of the camera at a given angle is going to give the scene its maximum impact. The beauty of the image and movement, the rhythm and the effects—everything must be subordinate to the purpose."

Alfred Hitchcock
August 13, 1899 — April 29, 1980

Storyboards for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.


"I always say Fellini inspired me. I love being in Fellini’s worlds. And Billy Wilder and Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock. To revisit those certain films and go in that world is just—It’s a world that didn’t exist and now it exists. There are some people that are—I always say that they don’t like so much abstraction. They don’t like to feel lost. They like to know always, always, always what’s going on. And when they don’t feel that, they feel a little crazy. And they don’t like that. Other people—and I’m one of them—I love to go into a world, be taken into a world and get lost in there and feel-think my way and have these experiences that I know… I know that feeling, but I don’t know how to put it into words. I know that feeling and it’s magical that this cinema brought it out. This is what I love." — David Lynch

"I always say Fellini inspired me. I love being in Fellini’s worlds. And Billy Wilder and Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock. To revisit those certain films and go in that world is just—It’s a world that didn’t exist and now it exists. There are some people that are—I always say that they don’t like so much abstraction. They don’t like to feel lost. They like to know always, always, always what’s going on. And when they don’t feel that, they feel a little crazy. And they don’t like that. Other people—and I’m one of them—I love to go into a world, be taken into a world and get lost in there and feel-think my way and have these experiences that I know… I know that feeling, but I don’t know how to put it into words. I know that feeling and it’s magical that this cinema brought it out. This is what I love." — David Lynch

François TruffautI’d like to have your definition of the difference between “suspense” and “surprise.”Alfred HitchcockThere is a distinct difference between “suspense” and “surprise,” and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. I’ll explain what I mean.    We are now having a little chat. Let us suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, “Boom!” There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there. The public is aware that the bomb is going to explode at one o’clock and there is a clock in the decor. The public can see that it is a quarter to one. In these conditions this same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene. The audience is longing to warn the characters on screen: “You shouldn’t be talking about such trivial matters. There’s a bomb beneath you and it’s about to explode!”    In the first case we have given the public fifteen seconds of surprise at the moment of the explosion. In the second we have provided them with fifteen minutes of suspense. The conclusion is that whenever possible the public must be informed. Except when the surprise is a twist, that is, when the unexpected ending is, in itself, the highlight of the story.

François Truffaut
I’d like to have your definition of the difference between “suspense” and “surprise.”

Alfred Hitchcock
There is a distinct difference between “suspense” and “surprise,” and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. I’ll explain what I mean.
    We are now having a little chat. Let us suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, “Boom!” There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there. The public is aware that the bomb is going to explode at one o’clock and there is a clock in the decor. The public can see that it is a quarter to one. In these conditions this same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene. The audience is longing to warn the characters on screen: “You shouldn’t be talking about such trivial matters. There’s a bomb beneath you and it’s about to explode!”
    In the first case we have given the public fifteen seconds of surprise at the moment of the explosion. In the second we have provided them with fifteen minutes of suspense. The conclusion is that whenever possible the public must be informed. Except when the surprise is a twist, that is, when the unexpected ending is, in itself, the highlight of the story.

"Some films are slices of life. Mine are slices of cake." — Alfred Hitchcock

Sight & Sound Critics’ Poll 2012

  1. Vertigo (dir. Alfred Hitchcock)
  2. Citizen Kane (dir. Orson Welles)
  3. Tokyo Story (dir. Yasujiro Ozu)
  4. The Rules of the Game (dir. Jean Renoir)
  5. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (dir. F.W. Murnau)
  6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (dir. Stanley Kubrick)
  7. The Searchers (dir. John Ford)
  8. Man with a Movie Camera (dir. Dziga Vertov)
  9. The Passion of Joan of Arc (dir. Carl Th. Dreyer)
  10. 8½ (dir. Federico Fellini)

And the loser is – Citizen Kane. After 50 years at the top of the Sight & Sound poll, Orson Welles’s debut film has been convincingly ousted by Alfred Hitchcock’s 45th feature Vertigo – and by a whopping 34 votes, compared with the mere five that separated them a decade ago. So what does it mean? Given that Kane actually clocked over three times as many votes this year as it did last time, it hasn’t exactly been snubbed by the vastly larger number of voters taking part in this new poll, which has spread its net far wider than any of its six predecessors. [More…, x]

Steve McQueen visits Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh on the set of Psycho.

Steve McQueen visits Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh on the set of Psycho.

Alfred Hitchcock by Jack Mitchell. 1972.

Alfred Hitchcock by Jack Mitchell. 1972.

On November 20th, 1972, George Cukor hosted a lunch in honor of Luis Buñuel. Attendees included Robert Mulligan, William Wyler, Robert Wise, Jean-Claude Carriere, Serge Silberman, Billy Wilder, George Stevens, Alfred Hitchcock, Rouben Mamoulian, John Ford, and Rafael Buñuel.