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Alfred Hitchcock: A Ticking Bomb

MUBI Special

“There is a distinct difference between “suspense” and “surprise,” and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. I’ll explain what I mean. Let us suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, “Boom!” There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it […] In these conditions this same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene. The audience is longing to warn the characters on the screen: “You shouldn’t be talking about such trivial matters. There is a bomb beneath you and it is about to explode!" ––Alfred Hitchcock

Foreign Correspondent

Alfred Hitchcock United States, 1940

In his second Hollywood film, Hitch delivered a wartime thriller sparkling with wit and intrigue—and featuring one of the Master of Suspense’s most memorable murders. The Academy nominated it for Best Picture, the same year his Rebecca won. Hitchcock had arrived!

Frenzy

Alfred Hitchcock United Kingdom, 1972

We move to the Master of Suspense’s natal London for the season’s finale! Wickedly violent and perversely funny, Frenzy is a self-referential, serial killer thriller variation on the wrongly accused man theme. Hitch does it again: he has us at the edge of our seats, and fully aware of his genius.

Marnie

Alfred Hitchcock United States, 1964

The relevance of this psychosexual masterwork (and its troubled production) in the current climate is uncanny. With a quintessential Hitchcockian heroine at its centre—a confluence of trauma and repressed desire— Marnie is the pinnacle of the relentless exploration of sex that is Hitchcock’s cinema.

The Man Who Knew Too Much

Alfred Hitchcock United States, 1956

A rare example of an auteur remaking his own movie, Hitchcock’s Hollywood version is pure 1950s: Technicolor, widescreen, and about marriage: a rocky relationship between Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day. When their son is kidnapped, the couple beautifully unites to get him back in this classic thriller.

The Trouble with Harry

Alfred Hitchcock United States, 1955

Besides mastering suspense, Hitchcock had a wonderful sense of humour. The unjustly misunderstood The Trouble With Harry sees Hitch at his most absurdist—close to Beckett and Ionesco—and displays a bizarre, surrealist, radical approach to black comedy. Also, it’s Shirley MacLaine’s first movie role!

Rope

Alfred Hitchcock United States, 1948

One of cinema’s foremost innovators in film style, Hitchcock was never more adventurous than with Rope: Using unbroken long takes to give a heightened sense of real-time passing, the unease creeping, suspense tightening—fate, unavoidable. A sinister chamber drama transformed into pure cinema.

Shadow of a Doubt

Alfred Hitchcock United States, 1943

The subject of our new retro needs no introduction: the genius of the Master of Suspense takes over! We kick things off with Hitch’s favourite of his own movies, with the great Joseph Cotten as the unforgettably perverse uncle Charlie––who knew the threat could live within the great American family.

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