Master of Suspense director Sir Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) once remarked that people were fond of his thrillers because, "they like to put their toe in the cold water of fear."
With Hitchcock films, there was always a sinister sense that something else was going on beneath the surface. He blended fear with sex, suspense, and humor.
"Drama is life with the dull bits cut out," he once remarked.
Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, born on this day in East London and raised as a strict Catholic, was fascinated at an early age by Edgar Allen Poe and American films. At 20, he worked behind the scenes at London's Paramount studios, then directed his first film, The Pleasure Garden (1925). His TV series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents ran from 1955 to 1965 and featured 266 episodes.
"Seeing a murder on television can help work off one's antagonisms. And if you haven't any antagonisms, the commercials will give you some," the famed director said.
Critics have said that watching a Hitchcock film more than once is an education in film making. Using storyboards, he planned out the script very carefully and had the film complete in his head before beginning.
"This working on the script is the real making of the film for me," he confessed, "When I've done it, the film is finished already in my mind."
A 1999 survey of international top film directors chose Psycho (1960), with its classic shower scene, the filmmaker's "masterpiece." According to the Internet Movie Database, the film cost about $800,000 to make and has earned over $40 million.
The method to his movie madness was to gradually build up the psychological situation, piece by piece, and use the camera to emphasize one detail at a time so that the audience is sucked right inside, not watching outside, from a distance. He once confessed that his mission in life was "to simply scare the hell out of people." Or at least create the anticipation of it.