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The Men Who Made the Movies: Alfred Hitchcock (1973)

A look at Alfred Hitchcock's films. The Master of Suspense himself, who is interviewed extensively here, shares stories including his deep-seated fear of policemen, elaborates on the ... See full summary »


Richard Schickel




Credited cast:
Alfred Hitchcock ... Himself
Cliff Robertson ... Narrator


A look at Alfred Hitchcock's films. The Master of Suspense himself, who is interviewed extensively here, shares stories including his deep-seated fear of policemen, elaborates on the difference between shock and suspense, defines the meaning of "MacGuffin," and discusses his use of storyboarding in designing a film. Clips from many of his greatest films (including "North by Northwest", "Shadow of a Doubt", "The Birds", and the legendary shower scene from "Psycho") illustrate his points, often to Hitchcock's own voice-over observations, with narrator Cliff Robertson offering other critical insights. Written by filmfactsman

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Context is everything
24 October 2010 | by tostinatiSee all my reviews

I count myself lucky to have been one of those young cinephiles glued to the television for all 8 weeks of this series the first time it was on. Being a hardcore auteurist, thanks to my then burgeoning Andrew Sarris library, I understood clearly what this series was: Richard Schickel's personal vision, if you will, of the careers of a handful of the greatest American directors of the period covered by fellow critic Sarris's American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929-1968.

At this time, it would have been very hard for any avid reader-about-film to miss the parallel between directors and critics. Sarris, Canby, Crist, McDonald, Schickel, Wood, Durgnat, Kael were something like auteurs themselves. Each had a highly personal point of view of what a film was and, be they the Ed Wood of film criticism or the Orson Welles, each staked their territory admirably the old fashioned way, with hundreds of highly literate, finely articulated essays on the topic. We remember the rivalries and the sniping these days when we remember the era at all. But that's the Enquirer view, the Entertainment Tonight view. I wish people understood that it was as exciting a time to be reading film criticism as it was to be a movie-goer in the 60s and 70s.

If you take it in the context of today, when every show is a saturating, thick barrage of clips and chock full of two second sound bytes from multiple interviews, individual episodes of The Men Who Made The Movies may seem to fail to deliver. But judging such shows by the intelligence of the foundation, the script, and not just interview and clip counts, this series comes up champ. Schickel's insights into the style and vision of Hawks and Hitchcock and Capra, et al. are as cogent as anything written on them before or since. He put his finger right on what the smartest auteurists of the era thought made these directors' work worth a second thought. And Cliff Robertson's reading of Schickel's words was understated, steady and insightful. -- One of the best jobs of voice-over narration I have heard, almost 40 years later.

Ten of ten. I wish someone would issue this series on DVD.

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