Alfred Hitchcock Anecdotes and Fun Facts
Hitch relished scaring me. When we were making Psycho, he experimented with the mother's corpse, using me as his gauge. I would return from lunch, open the door to the dressing room and propped in my chair would be this hideous monstrosity. The horror in my scream, registered on his Richter scale, decided which dummy he'd use as the Madame.
-- Janet Leigh
"I don't think I can do that naturally," the then young actress Ingrid Bergman once informed Alfred Hitchcock about a particular scene. In what Bergman would later admit was the best acting advice she ever received, Hitchcock suggested, "If you can't do it naturally, then fake it."
In Film Flubs: Memorable Movie Mistakes (A Citadel Press Book, 1990), Bill Givens pointed to a minor problem in Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window. Jimmy Stewart spends his time in a wheelchair with his left leg in a cast but, as Mr. Givens points out: "He must have had some problems with his right leg, too. If you watch very closely during the scene where he argues with Grace Kelly, you'll see a brief moment when the cast switches from the left leg to the right!"
Alfred Hitchcock was once stopped at the French border by a suspicious customs official. Eyeing the space where Hitchcock listed his profession as "producer," the official demanded, "And what do you produce?" "Gooseflesh," Hitchcock cooly replied.
In his childhood days, Alfred Hitchcock was sent by his father with a letter to the local police station. The officer read the letter and, without further ado, locked young Alfred up for ten minutes. Then he let him go, explaining that this is what happenes to people who do bad things. Hitchcock was frightened of the police from that day on.
Hitchcock never sat among the audience to watch his films. "Don't you miss hearing them scream?" he was once asked. "No," replied Hitchcock. "I can hear them when I'm making the picture."
When the shooting of The Thirty-nine Steps began, Hitchcock amused himself by handcuffing the star, Madeleine Carroll, to her co-star Robert Donat and pretended to lose the key until the end of the day. He was particularly interested in seeing how the unfortunate couple would cope with the inevitable demands of nature.
Making movies was a family affair for Alfred Hitchcock. In 1926 he married Alma Reville, an assistant director and screenwriter. The couple worked together from then on-- she was a screenwriter on his own favorite of his films, Shadow of a Doubt (1943). The two had one daughter, Patricia Hitchcock, who also appeared in several of his movies: Stage Fright (1950), Strangers on a Train (1951) and Psycho (1960).
Amazingly enough, Hitchcock never won a best director Oscar in competition, although he was awarded the Irving Thalberg Memorial Award at the 1967 Oscars. He did receive the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award in 1979 and his homeland made sure he was properly acknowledged: In the New Year's Honors list of 1980, he was named a Knight Commander of the British Empire.
Between 1977 and his death, Hitchcock worked with a succession of writers on a film to be known as The Short Night. The majority of the writing was done by David Freeman, who published the final screenplay after Hitchcock's death in 1980.