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Monday, June 7, 2010

Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Good Evening!

Those chilling words still send shivers racing down my spine from the old television show “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”

Ever since I was a little girl, I loved being scared to death. Nothing could come close to the images the master story teller conjured in my head. Just the sound of those words in barely more than a whisper made my skin crawl. The anticipation of the story he was about to show had my heart racing. I remember glancing around the room to make sure all the curtains were drawn, all the doors locked. My family and I would gather around the television on a Friday evening, lights out with a big bowl of buttered popcorn. And the second the master of suspense’s face would appear on screen, my brother, sister and I would scream loud enough to wake the dead.

Alfred Hitchcock packed it all in his books and movies—chance meetings on a train, murder and mayhem, voyeurism, ice-blondes, debonair actors with a touch of quirky humor and rakish charm, espionage, romance and lost love. And who better befitting to portray the femme fatale of that era than Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman, Kim Novak and Janet Leigh? They were a perfect fit with Hollywood legends as Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart, two of Hitchcock’s favorites.

Few books or movies since the Master’s time have stayed with me or left such jarring images. Although not his best film, I think we all agree that Psycho is his most chilling. The Bates Hotel is such a simple name, who would suspect that such a twisted psychopath lived inside. With a fetish for peeking on guests as they shower, Janet Leigh is about to find out just how twisted Norman Bates is. (Voyeurism at its peak) Just the sound of that screeching violin gets my blood pumping!

The Birds is the movie that truly frightened me. To this day, I have a bird phobia. The image of those eerie birds gathering in the playground still make me shudder. When I hear the flapping of wings overhead, I hitch in my breath, petrified for a fleeting second that I will be the victim of a ghoulish attack.

Vertigo is another favorite of many Hitchcock fans. Set in the almost dream-like haze of the empty San Francisco streets, Vertigo portrays obsession and lost romance in a surreal manner, a true hallmark of his movies. In this story, Jimmy Stewart pursues Kim Novak as she slips in and out of her dead great grandmother’s persona. So even back then, there was a touch of paranormal in the books Alfred Hitchcock wrote

Thinking of some of these old plots that linger in my mind, I write stories of romance and suspense to hopefully give readers just a hint of that old Hitchcock magic. What’s your favorite Alfred Hitchcock movie of all times? Which actress in today’s Hollywood do you picture playing the role of the ice blonde? The perfect femme fatale?

29 comments:

Sharon Donovan said...

I can't wait to hear your responses! Oliver has just popped a big tub of hot buttered popcorn and the drinks are on the house. Sit around and join in!

Hywela Lyn said...

Great post, Sharon

I used to love watching Alfred Hitchcock on TV too - and I've seen nearly all his films, also on TV.

I did enjoy 'The Birds' and have heard several people say the film gave them a fear of birds. Didn't work like that with me. I loved birds then and still do - I feed the little feathered critters in my garden several times a day and they cost me a fortune, but reward me with their singing and antics on the feeder! It was a creepy film though and I have to admit being attacked by a huge flock of birds would be terrifying.

Another film of his that stays in my memory is 'Marnie' although I hated the part where her horse had to be shot - and Vertigo is one of my all time favourties!

Alfred Hitchcock truly was a 'Master Of Suspense' thanks for the reminder, Shraron.

Sharon Donovan said...

Good morning, Lyn. I'm not familiar with Marnie? My phobia of birds has filtered over the years and I love to hear them singing outside my window each morning. But having a bird as a pet is not something that I could do. My aunt used to raise myna birds in her upstairs studio, and it was right about the time the movie was on television. The boy cousins used to threaten to let them out and "sick" them on the girl cousins and I was so terrified I never wanted to go near her house. So that movie has a double whamie on me. LOL Thanks for the comment and the visit.

liana laverentz said...

I'd forgotten about The Birds. That was one creepy movie.

Sharon Donovan said...

It certainly was, Liana. But Psycho got to me more. Something about the chilling music just before the attack. And who could forget the rocking chair scene? Yikes!

Miss Mae said...

I've seen quite a few of Hitchcock's films, but when I was younger, and some of them I couldn't understand to my rather logical mind. For instance, The Birds never really scared me, and I hated the ending because you didn't know why the rascals attacked.

And I've always loved birds, and they make delightful pets. To this day I still mourn the loss of the feathered friends I was fortunate enough to enjoy.

Psycho was a bit creepy, I guess, and to my young mind I couldn't comprehend that Norman was playing his mother. Again, I came away confused.

At the ending of Vertigo, I was disgusted that she died too.

LOL, maybe I should've viewed them as an adult to where I could truly appreciate his building of suspense and tension. Today I enjoy watching his old series on the retro channels. He had a dry wit about him too, and he was definitely one of a kind. :)

Sharon Donovan said...

Hey MM. Great to hear from the suspense writers! I know what you mean. These movies were originally shown on television when I was quite young, and a lot of the plots were lost on me as well. But what lingered was the chilling music, the screeching, and the creepieness that lingered for a long while after the movie ended. Watching scary movies as an adult generally makes a huge difference, but not with his. The only difference is that now I get the story and it makes it all the more chilling. Something else back then that added to the suspense was the black and white film, enhancing the spooky aura, and of course, the all star cast of Hollywood legends. Those old stars were the true movie stars, and I can't really think of any today who could do some of those roles justice.

Caroline Clemmons said...

I agree with you, Sharon. I could never have a bird as a pet after that movie. Think of all the Hitchcock movie terms that have entered our vocabulary. For instance, we can say a motel looked like Bates Motel and everyone knows exactly what we mean. When we see a flock of grackles, we say it looks like the birds and we don't have to explain.

My husband and I watched "To Catch a Thief" over the weekend and "North By Northwest" last week. We love those Hitchcock movies. Marnie was my least favorite because I kept hoping she would go free. I don't remember if she did in the movie but I know she was caught in the book. Hitchcock was a master of movies, wasn't he?

Viviane Brentanos said...

Mr Hitchcock was truly the master of suspense. The only modern thriller I believe comes close to matching him is Silence of the Lambs. Oh if only the master were alive to direct Antony Hopkins. As for a modern day Hitcock blone? I would have to say Scarlett Johansson. I adore Dakota Fanning but I beleive she would be more suited as a psycotic

P.L. Parker said...

I loved all of those Hitchcock movies. What a great post, Sharon. Gave me chillies just remembering them. And "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" was on TV at our house every week.

Sharon Donovan said...

Caroline, I was beginning to feel that I was the only one who couldn't have a bird for a pet. Just the flap of wings gets my heart racing. Isn't that something? I guess that's why he was the master of suspense. He drew macabre images in our minds forevermore!

Sharon Donovan said...

Viviane, those are all great points you tossed on the table! We need a master of suspense in today's world to pick up the pace again. And I really think background music adds a lot of drama. I keep getting flashes of a frozen leg of lamb in one that was used as a murder weapon? Does anyone remember which one it was? When the ice melted away, so did the fingerprints. LOL

Anne Patrick said...

Oliver. Buttered popcorn and drinks on the house. It doesn't get better than this.

Awesome post, Sharon!

Hitchcock was in deed the master. I have a boxed set of some of his movies and I’ve watched them over and over. Arsenic and Old Lace, Psycho and Rear Window are my all time favs.

I agree with Viviane. Silence of the Lambs and of course Hannibal are the only recent movies that come close to Hitchcock. Well, besides some of Stephen King’s movies. I think John Carpenter and Debra Hill came very close with their Original Halloween and a couple of their others too. But Hitchcock is and will always be the greatest in my opinion.

Sharon Donovan said...

Patsy, it was a weekly favorite in our house. Probably the black and white television played a part in the ghostly images. But when I smell hot buttered popcorn, I still get a flashback of him turning around in the beginning. We used to try and find him during his "Cameo" appearances. There were only so many, and for the life of me, I don't recall which ones.

Sharon Donovan said...

Oliver rushes to Anne with a wink and a smile. What's that my pet? You're scared? Sit here with me.
Anne, how right you are. There has to be a reason after all these decades his movies still linger in our minds. No one can hold a candle to the master. Rear Window was my favorite after Psycho. Something about the rocking chair when we all found out he was Mom still makes me shudder. Eeeek! Oliver, come hold my hand. Is that bar open yet!

Debra St. John said...

Howdy Oliver and Sharon,

I could go for some of that popcorn...and a buttered Oliver...

At any rate, I HATE birds, so you definitely won't catch me watching that movie!

EA said...

Love, love, love "The Birds". "Psycho" was pretty chilling, but something about those harmless pigeons relentlessly pecking your eyes is frightening.

Mary Ricksen said...

Hi Sharon, I posted a long note on your previous blog about the Jester. I just finished your book and I wonder if you want to take a loot at my comment!
By the way Alfred Hitchcock and his scary movies began a lifelong obsession with finding something i think is really scary.

Sharon Donovan said...

Debra, you and me both! I don't mind them singing outside, but even at the beach when the seagulls sweep down, I get the wee willies! A hot buttered Oliver has him grinning from ear to ear. LOL

Sharon Donovan said...

EA, I think we all share the same chilling memories of the Birds and Psycho. They have a way of sketching a picture in the mind and lingering.

Sharon Donovan said...

Mary, I just read and commented back. Thank you! Now about Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense. How true. He set the stage, didn't he just? I can't believe you're done with the book already. Smile! And like I said in the other post, you just got it, the entire message I wanted to convey. Thank you! So happy you liked Mask!

Linda Swift said...

Ah, Hitchcock. You have brought it all back. I did watch those TV horror shows. When did I become such a shrinking violet that I can't abide horror? The Birds was most memorable for me. And I was thinking of that leg of lamb murder just this week. But I'm not sure that was a Hitchcock story? I keep thinking someone else. Anyway, thanks for the (gruesome)memories, Sharon.

Author Promotions & Marketing said...

I love Alfred Hitchcock! He was definitely the King of suspense. My favorite book/movie was Vertigo. On my Myspace page I have him as someone I would have liked to meet. Sharon, I very much enjoyed your piece about him. Thank you!

Mariposa Cruz said...

Psycho still gives me chills, but Rear Window is my favorite. Great post!

Sharon Donovan said...

Linda, quite an impression The Birds left on young minds back then. I wish someone could remember about the leg of lamb? Inquiry minds want to know? It seemed one of those old Saturday afternoon rainy day kind of movies.

Sharon Donovan said...

Vertigo was a good one. I think another thing about Alfred Hitchcock was the simple titles he used to his advantage. ?He made them work in our minds by evoking lasting images. . Think about it. Vertigo. I think of someone staggering from side to side off balance, trying to figure out if they're coming or going. He was and always will be the Master of Suspense and I salute him.

Sharon Donovan said...

Mariposa
Rear Window is a favorite of many. And Hitchcock at his best demonstrating the ever watchful eye. I wish movies like that would make a come back. I just love the old thrillers of his and his kind.
Sharon

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