Known as the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock is a pioneering film director who brought us some of our favorite classic horror films. From The 39 Steps to Psycho, Hitchcock developed innovative filmmaking techniques that influenced generations of future filmmakers and changed the way we view horror and mystery.
Hitchcock directed over 50 films throughout his career and introduced the world to iconic characters, film shots, and directorial conventions. Drawing on his austere childhood and exacting parents as well as the work of German Expressionist artists, Hitchcock became an expert at nerve-wracking suspense, twist endings, and psychologically complex characters.
History of Alfred Hitchcock Day
Born in London at the dawn of the 20th century, Alfred Hitchcock grew up in an austere Catholic family, with a childhood he later described as lonely and sheltered. Throughout his later life, elements of his childhood, such as being forced by his mother to stand at the foot of her bed as punishment, made their way into his films.
Hitchcock first got into the British film industry as a title card designer for silent films, later becoming an assistant director. He directed his first feature in 1925, and never looked back. By 1939, he relocated to Hollywood and worked on one of his best-loved movies, “Rebecca.” He continued to churn out hits like “The Birds” and “Psycho”, scandalizing and tantalizing audiences worldwide.
Over his 60-plus-year career, Hitchcock directed more than 50 films, some of which no longer exist. From “Rebecca” onward, the director also made brief cameos in all 39 of his remaining films. Between 1955 and 1965, he hosted and produced “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”, a mystery anthology series. The show’s credits open with an illustration of his famously rotund silhouette, drawn by the director himself, and presents a new thriller or mystery story each episode.
Hitchcock remained active throughout his life. In 1960, he was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame with two stars, for TV and film. He’s widely recognized as the most influential director of all time. He was knighted in 1979, shortly before his death in his sleep in his Los Angeles home.
Since Hitchcock was born in August, the origins of March 12 as National Alfred Hitchcock Day remain a mystery — a fitting tribute for the Master of Suspense himself.
Alfred Hitchcock Day timeline
Hitchcock's most famous film, “Psycho”, debuts in theaters, with a pitch-perfect Anthony Perkins introducing us to cinema's most famous psychopath, Norman Bates.
Hitchcock's “Rebecca”, based on Daphne DuMaurier's gothic novel of the same name, wins the Academy Award for Best Picture. Hitchcock himself never won an Oscar for Best Director.
Hitchcock directs his first silent film, “The Pleasure Garden.”
Alfred Hitchcock was born in London, England, to strict Catholic parents. His austere childhood lent material to his later films.
Alfred Hitchcock Day FAQs
What did Hitchcock say at the end of his show?
The very famous title sequence with Hitchcock’s silhouette is spoofed with Homer who greets the audience in an English accent, saying “Good evening.”
How did Alfred Hitchcock die?
The cause of death was kidney failure.
What is Hitchcock most famous for?
The filmmaker was nicknamed the “Master of Suspense” for employing a kind of psychological suspense in his films, producing a distinct viewer experience.
How to Celebrate Alfred Hitchcock Day
Watch your favorite Hitchcock film
There’s no better way to honor the illustrious director than to watch one(or more) of his excellent films. Which one is your favorite?
Try to spot Hitch in his own films
The director was famous for giving himself small cameos in his films — he appeared in 39 of 54 surviving movies. The next time you watch one, keep an eye out for him!
Read a novel that inspired one of his movies
Several of Hitchcock’s films are based on novels or short stories, including “The Birds” and “Rebecca”, both written by Daphne DuMaurier. Try reading the book and see how they compare!
Interesting Facts About Alfred Hitchhock
More is more
Hitchcock believed that giving the viewer more information could actually build suspense by showing the audience dangers that the character is unaware of, keeping them on the edge of their seats while the hero stumbles into trouble.
Ready for my close-up
Hitchcock pioneered the use of close-ups cut together to tell a story. This technique gives the director more control over what they show the audience and when.
Hitchcock often told two contrasting stories in parallel in order to build suspense and distract the audience and serve as a foil for the real dramatic action.
Natural camera work
With his background in silent film, Hitchcock understood the importance of visual storytelling by including close-ups, zooms and panning meant to evoke a sense of a person actually looking around the room.
Hitchcock popularized the term "the MacGuffin," a name for an item in a film that serves as a driving factor in the plot and the motivation of the characters, but isn't actually significant in itself.
Why We Love Alfred Hitchcock
He’s the Master of Suspense
Hitchcock perfected the use of psychological suspense in film, creating a distinctly unsettling experience for the viewer and pioneering the modern psychological thriller.
A master innovator
Hitchcock created many new filming techniques, including the "Jaws shot." Commonly known as the reverse tracking shot, Hitchcock pioneered this now-ubiquitous zoom technique that uses a dolly to simulate a character's point of view.
He worked his way up
Alfred Hitchcock started his career designing title cards for silent films. He quickly worked his way up in the industry, becoming an assistant director within a few years.
Alfred Hitchcock Day dates