Alfred Hitchcock was born in 1899 and started making films in 1920. However, it wasn’t until 1940 that he became an important presence in Hollywood. While his films have always been more thriller than anything else, Psycho was seen as his entrance into the horror genre. His 1940s films in particular were thought of as horror films, even though some of them were only loosely horror. This was because the distinction between these genres was relatively unestablished at this point in film history.
He is known for his “paranoid women films.” Many of his films starred women in the leading roles or in roles of great importance to the film. For example, Psycho placed a good deal of focus on two sisters who were very active throughout the film, The Birds had an independent female protagonist, and Rear Window featured a woman who was more of a go getter than the man was. These films were some of his most popular, but after a while viewers grew tired of the idea of films focusing on female protagonists. Interestingly, when he made more films with male protagonists, the popularity of his films suffered.
In this blog, I will explore the role these women had in his films and how they differed from the typical female role in horror films both in general and at the time. This analysis will also dip into Hitchcock’s personal relationships with the actresses he worked with given the mixed opinions people have on his treatment of women. I will also discuss the distinction between his horror films and his thrillers.
The following posts will touch upon some of his films in chronological order, including: Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963), and tbd. Each post will discuss the film’s plot, its genre, the role women have in the film, and the relationships the actresses had with Hitchcock.
“Alfred Hitchcock.” Biography.com. A&E Networks Television, 13 Aug. 2015. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.
Jancovich, Mark. “‘The English Master Of Movie Melodrama’: Hitchcock, Horror And The Woman’s Film.” Film International (16516826) 9.3 (2011): 51-67. Film & Television Literature Index. Web. 16 Feb. 2017.