Did you see… 1968 

15 April 2023 tbs.pm/78455

Did you see…

Monday 15 April 1968

Radio Times



Psycho’s director


VERONICA HITCHCOCK writes about her namesake – the man who made the shocker that shocked the critics

Alfred Hitchcock

UNLIKE the Burtons, Taylors and the Bardots of screenland whose names are household words the world over, a director is seldom known far outside his own country. Not so with Alfred Hitchcock who, even before television brought his name before a wider public, was known from Fiji to Gravesend.

This genial, rotund man with the mortician’s voice has for the past forty-three years been engaged in marketing sophisticated night mares to an eager public. The son of a London poulterer, he made his first major film in 1926. It starred Ivor Novello and characteristically was about Jack the Ripper.

Until 1939 when he left Britain for America he made a series of films which alone would have assured him a place among the cinema’s greats. Blackmail, the first British talkie, made intelligent and imaginative use of sound at a time when Hollywood was still fumbling with the new medium. It was followed by The Man Who Knew Too Much, The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes and Jamaica Inn.

He won an Oscar with his first Hollywood film, Rebecca, and continued with a further series of box office successes which kept audiences sweating with suspense. Then in 1947 his career seemed to take a nose-dive with such films as Under Capricorn and The Paradine Case.

The master was experimenting with new, and not always successful techniques – the ‘ten-minute take’ in Rope, for instance – but with Strangers on a Train he returned from these tedious excursions to his old form. And has remained there.

Hitchcock’s success has largely lain in his ability to imbue seemingly everyday situations with an implied menace. He puts his characters into ordinary situations in which the extraordinary happens. A dear old lady on a train turns out to be a secret agent; a nun’s habit doesn’t quite cover her high-heeled shoes; a dreary little spinster whips a gun out of her oilcloth bag in church; a press photographer’s camera shoots bullets.

Hitchcock has always felt the need to shock audiences, and with Psycho, his Gothick masterpiece, many critics felt he had gone too far. (Note for the squeamish: there are two very nasty murders.)

At a luncheon recently to celebrate his latest film, Torn Curtain, Hitchcock paid what could be his greatest tribute to television – ‘It has put murder back where it be- longs – in the home.’ Watch Psycho on Monday and see if you agree.


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