He also spent an early part of his career writing pieces that followed along the same wave as his films to come. His background writing no doubt helped to cultivate his ability to tell suspense stories masterfully. Hitchcock films are most often thrillers, pegged as such because of their suspense, psychologically complex characters, and twist endings. In the same wave, Rear Window is all about neighbours and neighbourhoods.
In his films, the protagonists are always under investigation. Take his silent film Easy Virtue for example.
Alfred Hitchcock - The Auteur
The main character Larita is on trial for committing adultery. Or better yet, look at Vertigo. Ex-detective Johnny is blamed for the demise of his former partner and a wife he was assigned to follow because his fear of heights prevented him from saving them. As previously mentioned, this idea of being wrongfully accused is not one unfamiliar to him.
This is not the only link to his childhood present in his films. The tumultuous mother and son relationship is frequently exploited in his work. Although this is a disturbing representation of the relationship, it is hardly the only time we get to see or hear about Mother.
The Origins of Auteur Theory
This is also the case in The Birds. When Mitch introduced his mother to Melanie Daniels, she does not approve of her and refuses to loosen her hold over her son.
At the start of North by Northwest , Mother is the first person Roger calls when he is arrested, but do not assume that is because they are on the best of terms. As we later discover, Mother is anything but affectionate to her son. His female characters frequently have a femme fatale-esque quality about them that hints slightly at the film noir genre.
Auteur: Alfred Hitchcock - So The Theory Goes
The woman as a whole is usually characterised villainously, even if they end up surviving until the end of the film and marrying the male protagonist. Hitchcock was influenced by the German Expressionists, and admired their ability "to express ideas in purely visual terms" Spoto It is this visual expression of thought and psychology that Hitchcock achieves throughout his films. Hitchcock's films are marked by his mastery of cinematic technique which is exemplified in his use of camera viewpoints, elaborate editing and soundtrack to build suspense.
Notorious includes an incredible zoom-in from a high shot to an extreme close-up of a significant plot detail and suspense building inter-cutting of the final scene. In a scene in Blackmail, Hitchcock uses a complex pattern of sound and dialogue based around the word knife to reflect feelings of guilt and in the The Thirty-Nine Steps there is a cut from a woman's scream to the similar sound of a train whistle.
Auteur: Alfred Hitchcock
His personal stamp is typified by the use of a lightbulb to produce the effect of an ominous, glowing glass of milk in Suspicion. This attribution of symbolic power to inanimate objects is another hallmark of Hitchcock : a bread knife Blackmail , a key Notorious. He also places great focus on the creation of set pieces where he is able to exercise his talent for detail and suspense.
Hitchcock's vision of the world is reflected in the themes that predominate in his films. The specific psychology that is presented in the films, such as the fascination with wrongful accusation and imprisonment, is a significant part of the Hitchcock signature. One of the basic themes is that of: the mistaken identity, the wrong man accused who must find the real perpetrator in order to prove his innocence The Lodger, The Thirty-Nine Steps, North By Northwest, etc. Notorious includes prime examples of trademark Hitchcock themes: a woman complicitous in her forced transformation to a different person, later brought to its fruition in Vertigo ; the figure of the mother both adoring and deadly, who appears in various forms in Strangers on a Train , Psycho , and Marnie and the MacGuffin, the narrative device Hitchcock once defined as the thing that motivates the actions of the characters but which is of minor interest to audiences.
Mankiewicz and Vincente Minnelli, and those who worked on genre films on low budgets, such as Samuel Fuller and Edgar G. Whether Hawks made a Western or a screwball comedy, whether Hitchcock made a glossily romantic thriller or a gritty true-crime drama, whether Minnelli made a backstage musical or a melodrama involving a mental institution, the critics recognized something more important than patterns of images or habits of performance; they recognized a detailed, complex, and original worldview, along with the integrated style of images, acting, dialogue, and tone that embodied it.
The filmed images were of the visible world, but they conveyed, as if through secret codes, the fullness of inner worlds. That polemical side of auteurism is what fell away as the idea spread widely. Yet politics and sociology have come to the fore again in the discussion of movies, for the very reason that auteurism has run rampant: the empiricism of critical discourse.
Social trends and ideological casts are easy to talk about, as are the diverse traits of habit or style that render a formerly overlooked filmmaker distinguishable.