Why Hitchcock Remains A Classic

It seems my last post about Alfred Hitchcock brought out some fans! Well, grab a bowl of popcorn, cause now I’ve done my homework! And I thought I’d share some fun facts about Hitch for Guilty Pleasure Friday.

Alfred Hitchcock (wiki images)

Over the span of 60 years, Alfred Hitchcock made movies that stuck with his audience. That’s pretty impressive considering he lived to be 80 years old, 3/4 of his life was spent in the film business.

And you know what? Alfred Hitchcock never won an Oscar! I was shocked to learn that, and had to do a little digging to see who could have beat out one of the greatest, most classic directors of all time!

Alfred Hitchcock’s Oscar Nominations for Best Director

1941 – Nominated for Rebecca, lost to How Green Was My Valley, director John Ford

His first nomination was for Rebecca, one of my all time FAVORITE flicks EVER! Hitch waited years to do this film until he had the money to buy the film rights. The movie went on to receive 10 Oscar nominations, and did win Best Picture! It is the only Hitchcock film to win that award.

Rebecca stars Lawrence Olivier (hubba-hubba) and Joan Fontaine. Rumor has it Olivier was vying for his then girlfriend, Vivien Leigh, to get the lead roll of the film. When Fontaine got it instead, he was reportedly very cruel towards her and Hitchcock played on that! He was a director who would go to great lengths to get what he wanted the camera to see. He told Ms. Fontaine that the entire cast and crew hated her, thus making her shy and uneasy on set, exactly like the character of Rebecca.

The real noteworthy character is the evil Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson). I’ve said it before, if my inner editor had a voice, it would be this woman’s! She’s EVIL!

If you’re feeling depressed, don’t watch this video clip. Go outside, make some water balloons, then throw them at those hellion kids that keep riding their bikes across your lawn! That always cheers me up.

If you’re not depressed, check out this clip! It’s the eerie “Why-don’t-you-jump-to-your-death?” speech Mrs. Danvers gives to Rebecca!

1945 – Nominated for Lifeboat, lost to The Lost Weekend, director Billy Wilder

During the making of Lifeboat, almost every single cast member became violently ill. Several of them caught pneumonia, and Hume Cronyn almost drowned during a storm scene in which he was caught underneath a metal wave activator. Actress Tallulah Bankhead overcame pneumonia twice, and supposedly Hitch gave her a puppy after filming. He had already named the dog Hitchcock. Charming.

Scene from Lifeboat

Demanding realism in all his films, the cast was surrounded by dry ice fog, storm waves, and a rocking ship, even though the boat never left the tank it was filmed in.

1946 – Nominated for Spellbound, lost to The Best Years of Our Lives, director William Wyler

Will he kiss me or kill me? That’s the question asked in Hitchcock’s Spellbound. The film won 1 Oscar, for best music. And it had 4 other nominations including Best Picture, but it lost both Directing and Best Picture to William Wyler.

Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck in Spellbound

Spellbound is noted as one of the first films to show psychoanalysis on screen. And had ‘Director’s Cut’ been available in Hitchcock’s days, the audience would have heard the phrases “sex menace”, “libido”, and “tomcat” in theaters. However, the censorship association had those terms cut.

1955 – Nominated for Rear Window, lost to On the Waterfront, director Elia Kazan

In 1954, when Hitch directed Rear Window, it was on the biggest constructed set of its time. Each apartment had running water and electricity. Actress Georgine Darcy lived in hers while filming.

Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window

Though it was nominated for 4 technical Oscars, it didn’t win a one. Now it is ranked number #48 in the American Film Institute’s Greatest Films of All Time, and #3 in its Mystery Genre.

1961 – Nominated for Psycho, lost to West Side Story, directors Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise

The film he wasn’t supposed to make. Psycho was nominated for 4 Oscars, including Best Supporting Actress for Janet Leigh. She lost to Rita Moreno who played Anita in West Side Story, a film that swept the Academy Awards that year with 10 Oscar wins – including Best Directing and Best Picture.

Alfred Hitchcock bought the rights to Psycho from author Robert Bloch for $9,000. He spent $800,000 to make the film (considered low budget even in 1960), and the film earned more than $40 million.

Janet Leigh in Psycho

Psycho was the first movie to ever show a flushing toilet on screen. 😀

This was made mandatory as the script writer states Marion flushes evidence down the toilet, evidence that is later found by her sister.

The shower scene? Janet Leigh and costume designer, Rita Riggs, perused several strip tease magazines in search of something that would cover Janet, while still alluding to nudity. However, the final wardrobe for the shower scene was made of glued together pieces of moleskin, a fleshlike fabric commonly used as a bandage.

After “that disgusting movie, Psycho” was released, Walt Disney banned Hitchcock from filming in Disneyland.

Psycho is now ranked #14 in the AFI’s Greatest Films of All Time, and it’s #1 in their list of Top 100 Thrills.

Alfred Hitchcock and wife, Alma Reville

Alfred Hitchcock may not have had all the fame he wanted. He did, however, marry the love of his life, the talented Alma Reville. Together, they raised their only daughter, Patricia.

He received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, the AFI’s Lifetime Achievement Award, a Golden Globe for his “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” TV series, and 2 Hollywood Stars on the Boardwalk of Fame! His work won and was nominated for many other awards and tributes.

Today, over 30 years after his death, his work is still setting the bar for what makes a good story. He was true to his ideas, he collaborated with people he wanted to work with, and he pushed everyone and everything to their limits.

And that is why Hitchcock remains a Classic.

Curious where North by Northwest falls in all this?

So many of you named North by Northwest as a favorite film, so I was shocked to learn he was never nominated for this movie! It did get 3 technical Oscar nominations, including best writing and best film editing, but it lost all to the film that won Best Picture, William Wyler’s Ben-Hur.

Your turn! Are you shocked to see how Alfred Hitchcock’s career pushed boundaries? What do you think makes his work classic? Who’s your favorite Hitchcock character?

For more Hitchcock fun, check out my post about the recently released film, Hitchcock – the story of his life while making Psycho.

Or, for more inspiration and fun, read Julie Glover’s post If Hitchcock Tweeted.

*All research from IMDB.com, a movieholic’s dream database!

12 responses

  1. Well, you definitely followed up on the promise to find out what beat him all those times he was nominated. Well done! Fabulously researched and reported post.

    When I listed my faves in your previous post, I actually completely forgot about Rear Window. How is that possible? Although a flawed premise, I love that movie so much!! The did he or didn’t he, and the psychological suspense (which Hitchcock was a master at!), is just perfection.

    1. Did you see the remake of Rear Window with Christopher Reeve? I remember watching it with my mom on TV.

      I need to see Lifeboat yet. I haven’t seen that one.

  2. Okay, The Best Years of Our Lives should have beaten Spellbound (sorry, y’all), but there is no way that On the Waterfront should have gotten the Oscar ahead of Rear Window. It’s melodrama vs. drama. (In my humble–and correct–opinion. 😉 )

    The list of fab Hitchcock films goes on for me with Vertigo, Marnie, Frenzy, Rope (what’s with the one-word titles?), The Man Who Knew Too Much, To Catch a Thief, and The Trouble with Harry. I also thoroughly enjoyed the comedy–yes, comedy–directed by Hitchcock in 1941–Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

    Wonderful post, Jess! Seriously, I’ve got to go back and watch some of these.

    1. Yah, I think Joe and I are planning a marathon. It’ll be fun to rewatch a lot of these!

  3. His films just had the misfortune of going up against other classics. On The Waterfront and West Side Story? That’s just poor timing. I’m surprised nobody mentioned The Birds, though. That’s like the quintessential early horror movie.

    1. Came out after Psycho actually. As much as I love the Birds, I do think the beginning is a little slow. I wouldn’t been sad to see that one not nominated. But North by Northwest??? I am shocked about that!

  4. I think this is just another testament to live fearlessly! And Mark’s right…what crappy luck to be up against other classics.

    1. OR…what an honor to be commended amongst such other great works? 😀

  5. I love many of Hitchcock’s films. My favorites are North by Northwest, Rear Window, and The Man Who Knew Too Much.

    1. I want to watch Rear Window again. It’s been so long since I’ve seen it.

  6. No Oscar? Wow, I’m shocked Jess! And still shocked. I can’t believe it. Still shocked. And still shocked. lol.

    1. I was that way too, Karen! That’s why I had to do the research and see what he was up against. In a lot of cases, his films were only nominated for directing and a few technical awards, it doesn’t surprise me that without a Best Picture nomination that he didn’t win.

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