Alfred Hitchcock's Ghostly Gallery

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Random House, Aug 12, 1984 - Fiction - 261 pages
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A collection of eleven ghost stories written by such authors as Wells, Stevenson, and Arthur

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Miss Emmeline Takes Off
The Valley of the Beasts
The Haunted Trailer

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About the author (1984)

The London-born son of a grocer, Hitchcock attended the London School of Engineering and Navigation. His first job was as a technical estimator of electric cables, but he enrolled in art classes and soon found himself in the British film industry. His directorial debut was not until 1925, when The Pleasure Garden was filmed in Munich. It was there that he developed an appreciation of German expressionist cinema. Hitchcock himself, however, considered his third film, The Lodger (1926) (U.S. title, The Case of Jonathan Drew) to be his first real film. The story of a man who is falsely suspected of being Jack the Ripper, the film utilizes expressionist techniques and themes, and Soviet montage (his famous point-of-view shot-reverse shot structures that generate suspense). This film was the first of many successful thrillers that earned him the title, "the Master of Suspense." It was also the first in which Hitchcock himself made a cameo appearance, a trademark gesture initially motivated by superstition but continued as a joke. Blackmail (1929), his--and Britain's--first talking film, was a critical success that further revealed Hitchcock's technical virtuosity as well as his obsessions. The story of a woman who stabs an artist to death when he tries to rape her, the film features an early use of subjective sound. In one scene, Hitchcock emphasizes the woman's anxiety by gradually distorting all but a single word of a neighbor's conversation the morning after the killing--the word "knife". Blackmail also includes brilliant montage editing that builds up the suspense. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) was the first of a series of 1930s thrillers, which include The 39 Steps (1935) and The Lady Vanishes (1938), that were to make Alfred Hitchcock England's foremost director. Hitchcock was approached by producer David O. Selznick about directing in the United States, and he accepted so he could take advantage of the better-equipped American studios. His first American film, Rebecca (1940), won the Academy Award for best picture and earned a nomination for best director. It also won him the enthusiastic support of the American public, which continues to be fascinated by the technically brilliant suspense films he directed in the United States, including Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Spellbound (1945), Rope (1940), Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), Psycho (1960), and The Birds (1963). Hitchcock has been of major importance in the history of film studies as well as the history of films. His famous "obsessions"---recurring narrative or visual themes and motifs---as well as his technical virtuosity, made him a favorite of auteurist critics like Francois Truffaut. His thematization of the gaze, particularly evident in Rear Window and Vertigo, has been of great interest in film studies, because Hitchcock seems to address film spectatorship itself as part of his exploration of the medium. More recently, his representation of women has been the focus of feminist debates about whether he participates in misogyny or critiques it in his many movies about women who are violently punished for resisting male authority or for acting on their own desires. A film like Vertigo, for example, appears to be about masculine voyeurism and fetishism as much as it is about investigating the guilty woman, which undermines any certainty about who is really criminal and perverse. Although some of Hitchcock's later films were rather dull, his final two, Frenzy (1972) and Family Plot (1976), exhibit the familiar Hitchcock obsessions. In 1979 Hitchcock was awarded the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award and in 1980, just before he died, he was knighted.

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