Friday, August 29, 2008

Norman (Rod MacDonald)

I'm a long-time fan of anything Alfred Hitchcock-ian, both the movies and the forever-ago TV show - loved the way he walked into the profile drawing of himself at the beginning of each week's episode.

His movies were masters of understatement, suspense but not gore - I remember reading once that, in the Psycho shower scene, the knife never touched Janet Leigh's body, but, with the combination of shrieking music, rapid-fire motions and the sheer terror of the situation, it's still one of the most chilling and infamous horror scenes ever. Who could forget the final shot of blood swirling down the drain (the film was in black and white, but you'd swear you saw red)... coupled with a close-up of her glazed, unseeing eye? - many of us took baths only for quite a while!

August 26, 2008
By Tim Briscoe

Maggie Van Ostrand of Film School Rejects recently posted a great article to commemorate what would have been filmmaker
Alfred Hitchcock's 109th birthday. Her article on the movie blog chronicles all 37 of Hitch's cameos in his own movies.

I always knew that this was one of the Master of Suspense's trademarks. He would feature himself in a brief walk-on role in each movie, often times carrying a musical instrument. I had no idea he did it in 37 of his 52 major movies.

Here, from FSR and similar listings on the site and the Wikipedia entry, are all of his brief appearances. How many do you remember?

The Lodger (1926) - :03 at a desk in newsroom and(unconfirmed) part of the crowd at 1:32
Easy Virtue (1927) - :15 walking past tennis court
Blackmail (1929) - :11 reading a book in subway
Murder! (1930) - 1:00 walking past house
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) - :31 walking across screen in trench coat (also unconfirmed)
The 39 Steps (1935) - :06 tossing some litter
Young and Innocent (1938) - :15 holding a camera outside courhouse
The Lady Vanishes (1938) - 1:30 wearing a black coat and smoking a cigarette
Foreign Correspondent (1940) - :13 wearing a coat and hat, reading a newspaper
Rebecca (1940) - 2:03 walking near the phone booth
Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941) - :43 passing by Robert Montgomery
Suspicion (1941) - :46 mailing a letter
Saboteur (1942) - 1:04 in front of drug store
Shadow of a Doubt (1943) - :17 playing cards on the train
Lifeboat (1944) - :25 in a newspaper ad for Reduco Obesity Slayer
Spellbound (1945) - :35 carrying violin and smoking a cigar
Notorious (1946) - 1:00 drinking champagne
The Paradine Case (1947) - :36 leaving the train carrying a cello
Rope (1948) - :02 holding a newspaper during opening credits and at :55 his silhouette is shown on a neon sign
Under Capricorn (1949) - :04 in the town square during parade and at :14 on the steps of Government House
Stage Fright (1950) - :39 turning back to look at Jane Wyman
Strangers on a Train (1951) - :10 boarding the train with a double bass
I Confess (1953) - :01 walking across top of stairs
Dial M for Murder (1954) - in class reunion photo
Rear Window (1954) - :25 winding clock in the songwriter's apartment
To Catch a Thief (1955) - :10 sitting next to Cary Grant on bus
The Trouble with Harry (1955) - :22 walking past the parked limousine
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) - :25 watching acrobats with his back to the camera
Vertigo (1958) - :11 walking in the street
North by Northwest (1959) - :02 missing a bus
Psycho (1960) - :06 through Janet Leigh's window, wearing a cowboy hat
The Birds (1963) - :02 leaving the pet shop with two white dogs
Marnie (1964) - :05 entering into the hotel corridor
Torn Curtain (1966) - :08 sitting in the lobby with baby on his knee
Topaz (1969) - :33 pushed a wheelchair at the airport
Frenzy (1972) - :03 wearing a bowler hat, not applauding
Family Plot (1976) - :40 shown in silhouette through the door

Looking at the time in the film where Hitch makes his appearance, it seems clear that he started putting it in early. I believe this was so movie-goers who knew of his signature appearances could get it out of the way and focus on the thrills to come.

Here is a video featuring many of the cameos. It even highlights them for you so won't miss them in your next viewing of the Hitchcock movie. Enjoy!

There is a corpse in my cupboard
With withered lips
And a ring in its frozen finger.
The now useless ring on its stiff fingers
is still a puzzle.
I can see a gloomy staircase
leading to a bell tower.
Whatever be the number of the steps
to the top,
the fear of fall is a truth.
Don’t fall in love.
* * * * * *
His presence is obvious.
His unexpected cameos startle me.
I feel the threat of a deadly rope
In my neckscape.
Sure, I am one who knew too much.
He desires my silence.
Ghouls of my sabotaged dreams
Frightens me to death.
The vision from my rear window
opens to the horror of violent birds
That kept circling in the psyche.
The sound of their wings steals my sleep.
* * * * * *
An ominous day opened my ears
To a fatal dial tone
That pursued me ad infinitum.
I must flee.
Any moment He will dial the number I dreaded.
I am afraid of trains.
There will be strangers on trains
On your trail, He tells me
* * * * *
The frenzy of my flight is sure to ungrave
My stage fright, despite all rehearsals, I know.
Que Sera Sera.
Future’s not ours to see.
Sure, God is the bulky guy
Who carries a bird on the tip of his cigar,
The eternal saboteur.

QUOTE: "There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it." ~ Alfred Hitchcock


  1. Hey -- thanks for the plug!
    I only listed Hitch's cameos from the time Selznick brought him to America, and not the English ones.

    You've listed them all.

    Way to go!


  2. Hey, Maggie ~

    I appreciate you stopping in to comment - wow!

    I've edited my post to make it clearer that it was reprinted from the following site - thanks for your work on the subject as well... :-)

    Such an amazing man - well-deserving of all the accolades he's received... and continues to, even posthumously!