“The Master of Suspense” Sir Alfred Hitchcock was the king of psychological thriller and mystery genre. He was a celebrated Hollywood producer, scriptwriter .
Movies directed by Alfred Hitchcock, the filmmaker who was born on this day, Aug. 13, in 1899, are known for making audiences scream. In real life, however, he often made people scream for a different reason: laughter.
When Hitchcock died in 1980, TIME’s Richard Schickel summarized his persona as that of “the solemn-faced fat man with a stately pace and a sepulchral voice improbably making outrageous puns and ghoulish observations about the tales he told.” Here are just a few examples of the Hitchcock wisdom and wit, whether he was discussing his films or his favorite foods, as his words appeared in the pages of TIME during his life:
“Such ice cream I would not trade for a steak & kidney pudding, a boiled silversmith with carrots & dumplings, or a Kentish chicken pudding. In fact, I like it.”
In 1937, Hitchcock—described by TIME back then as “famed, fat, English”—came to the U.S. expecting not to like the food, but the ice cream convinced him it would all work out. The gourmand did later cut back a bit, dropping his weight from 292 lb. to 250 per TIME’s 1940 assessment, but joked that his foolproof weight loss method involved not just eating less, but also expending extra mental energy by spending all day thinking about the food one would not get to eat.
“Suspense can be introduced in a simple love story as well as the mystery or ‘whodunit’ picture. Make the audience suffer as much as possible.”
Hitchcock lectured Yale drama students in 1939, while he was on his way to California to make his first American movie, and shared that bit of wisdom.
“Nothing more revolts my sense of decency than an underground character being able to murder people to whom he has not been properly introduced.”
When the Film Society of Lincoln Center honored Hitchcock with a gala in 1974, he explained that one of his story-telling creeds was that even murderers had to follow certain rules. And that wasn’t the only notable quoting that went on that night: Monaco’s Princess Grace—a.k.a Grace Kelly, star of Rear Window—recalled that when she wore a tight gold dress as a costume in To Catch a Thief, the director joked that “there’s hills in them thar gold.”
“Man does not live by murder alone. He needs affection, approval, encouragement and, occasionally, a hearty meal.”
In 1979, when Hitchcock was honored by the American Film Institute, the festivities offered plenty of opportunity to talk about the master movie-maker, and to quote him too.
“It has been said that I called actors cattle. I would never say such a rude, insulting thing. What I probably said was that all actors should be treated like cattle.”
In 1972, when his film Frenzy was released, Hitchcock complained to TIME that he was always being misquoted by journalists. (A particular crime because his quotes were just so darned good.) At the time he was 72 years old but still as involved in filmmaking as ever, though he did notice that some things had changed since he got his start: In the same interview, he complained to TIME that “nobody has a sense of humor anymore.”
Luckily for the rest of us, he proved himself wrong.
On Alfred Hitchcock Day, take a moment to check out these quotes about life, passion, and dedication by the famed director and producer.
“Ideas come from everything.”
“If I won't be myself, who will?”
“I'm a writer and, therefore, automatically a suspicious character.”
“A good film is when the price of the dinner, the theatre admission and the babysitter were worth it.”
“I have a perfect cure for a sore throat: cut it.”
“In feature films the director is God; in documentary films God is the director.”
“For me, the cinema is not a slice of life, but a piece of cake.”
“Self-plagiarism is style.”
“The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them.”
“There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.”
“Give them pleasure. The same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare.”
“The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.”
“The paperback is very interesting but I find it will never replace the hardcover book - it makes a very poor doorstop.”
“There is nothing to winning, really. That is, if you happen to be blessed with a keen eye, an agile mind, and no scruples whatsoever.”
“The ideal husband understands every word his wife doesn't say.”
“Television has brought back murder into the home - where it belongs.”
“Television is like the American toaster, you push the button and the same thing pops up every time.”
“What is drama but life with the dull bits cut out.”
“Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.”
“Blondes make the best victims. They're like virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints.”
“Revenge is sweet and not fattening.”
“I never said all actors are cattle; what I said was all actors should be treated like cattle.”
“In a good marriage each is the others better half.”
“A glimpse into the world proves that horror is nothing other than reality.”
“Suspense is like a woman. The more left to the imagination, the more the excitement.”
“Conversation is the enemy of good wine and food.”
“One must never set up a murder. They must happen unexpectedly, as in life.”
“Television is like the invention of indoor plumbing. It didn't change people's habits. It just kept them inside the house.”
“It seems to me that television is exactly like a gun. Your enjoyment of it is determined by which end of it you're on.”
“Television has done much for psychiatry by spreading information about it, as well as contributing to the need for it.”
6. “Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.”
Alfred Hitchcock enjoyed playing his audiences like a piano. Making them laugh one minute and scream the next.
You know what he also did? He made his viewers suffer. In a great way, not a bad way. In the way that compelling drama is made of, in the way that makes you want to keep watching because you have no idea where the story is headed next.
What he means by this quote is that the more your viewer, or reader, is suffering inside, from the anguish of what might happen to the main character he or she loves, from the constant suspense that never lets up, the story itself will only get better and better.
When you can’t put down a book? When it’s so captivating, and you’re so worried about what’s going to happen next?
That’s the magic of storytelling. You’re suffering for those characters you adore, but in a good way.
Don’t let you readers off the hook so easily. Don’t have long scenes where everything is fine. No drama. No conflict.
Instead, make the reader fall in love with your protagonist and then put him or her through the ringer. Make that character suffer greatly.
Hitchcock did this with Joan Fontaine in Suspicion, and Farley Granger in Strangers on a Train, and James Stewart in Vertigo, and Tippi Hedren in The Birds.
The list goes on and on. When you have a connection to the main character, you want everything to go his or her way. And when it doesn’t, when the horror comes, when the unthinkable happens, the story grabs you and never lets go.
Make the audience suffer, just like Alfred Hitchcock did, and there’s no telling the kind of amazing work you’ll be able to achieve!
Brian Rowe is an author, teacher, book devotee, and film fanatic. He received his MFA in Creative Writing and MA in English from the University of Nevada, Reno, and his BA in Film Production from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He writes young adult and middle grade suspense novels, and is represented by Kortney Price of the Corvisiero Agency.
Great memorable quotes and script exchanges from the Alfred Hitchcock Presents movie on Quotes.net.
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Alfred Hitchcock, an English producer and director, was known for his suspenseful movies that portray a dark side to reality. The man was a genius when it came to gluing his viewers' eyes to the screen.
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Hitchcock was a man who used fears to create art. He had his own qualms and worries but didn’t allow that to stop him from making some of the best films in history.
Below are 25 of the best Alfred Hitchcock quotes about life, how to always keep yourself on your toes, and embracing your fears.
“Luck is everything... My good luck in life was to be a really frightened person. I'm fortunate to be a coward, to have a low threshold of fear, because a hero couldn't make a good suspense film.” — Alfred Hitchcock
“A good film is when the price of the dinner, the theater admission and the babysitter were worth it.”— Alfred Hitchcock
“Give them pleasure — the same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare.”— Alfred Hitchcock
“Revenge is sweet and not fattening.”— Alfred Hitchcock
“The more successful the villain, the more successful the picture.” — Alfred Hitchcock
“There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” — Alfred Hitchcock
“The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.”— Alfred Hitchcock
“Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.” — Alfred Hitchcock
“If it's a good movie, the sound could go off and the audience would still have a perfectly clear idea of what was going on.”— Alfred Hitchcock
“I am a typed director. If I made Cinderella, the audience would immediately be looking for a body in the coach.”— Alfred Hitchcock
“The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them.”— Alfred Hitchcock
“Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.”— Alfred Hitchcock
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“When an actor comes to me and wants to discuss his character, I say, 'It's in the script.' If he says, 'But what's my motivation?, ' I say, 'Your salary.'”— Alfred Hitchcock
“I'm not against the police; I'm just afraid of them.” — Alfred Hitchcock
“In films murders are always very clean. I show how difficult it is and what a messy thing it is to kill a man.”— Alfred Hitchcock
“Some of our most exquisite murders have been domestic, performed with tenderness in simple, homey places like the kitchen table.”— Alfred Hitchcock
“This paperback is very interesting, but I find it will never replace a hardcover book — it makes a very poor doorstop.” — Alfred Hitchcock
“I am scared easily, here is a list of my adrenaline production: 1: small children, 2: policemen, 3: high places, 4: that my next movie will not be as good as the last one. ”— Alfred Hitchcock
“Fear isn't so difficult to understand. After all, weren't we all frightened as children? Nothing has changed since Little Red Riding Hood faced the big bad wolf. What frightens us today is exactly the same sort of thing that frightened us yesterday. It's just a different wolf. This fright complex is rooted in every individual.”— Alfred Hitchcock
“If I won't be myself, who will?”— Alfred Hitchcock
“When we think we have been hurt by someone in the past, we build up defenses to protect ourselves from being hurt in the future. So the fearful past causes a fearful future and the past and future become one.”— Alfred Hitchcock
“Love those wrongdoers, they need it more than you.”— Alfred Hitchcock
“Some films are slices of life, mine are slices of cake.” — Alfred Hitchcock
“I don't want to appear disloyal to television, but I think reading will be good for you.” — Alfred Hitchcock
“I have a feeling that inside you somewhere there's somebody nobody knows about.”― Alfred Hitchcock
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Isabella Ong is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture and relationship topics.
Alfred Hitchcock. Blondes make the best victims. They're like virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints. Alfred Hitchcock. Always make the audience suffer.