What’s the first thing you think of when you hear Alfred Hitchock’s name? Most likely, you immediately reflect on his contribution to the film industry.
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From Psycho to The Birds to Rear Window to Vertigo to North by Northwest to The Man Who Knew Too Much, Hitchcock had a way of scaring individuals greatly, all while making them think. He certainly knew how to create both horror and mystery.
There’s no denying he had a talent — and one that is still recognized today. But there may be some things you don’t know about the late filmmaker. Basically, Hitchcock was an odd man to say the least and someone who came under scrutiny for his treatment of women. It should be noted that in her 2016 memoir, Tippi, Tippi Hedren accused Hitchcock of sexual assault and other inappropriate behavior during the filming of The Birds.
If you really take a dive into the internet and research him, you’ll soon learn all kinds of facts about Hitchcock — and ones that just might make you do a double take. With that, allow yourself to become acquainted with the real Alfred Hitchcock.
1. He had a lot of fears
According to Newsweek, Hitchcock feared a lot in his life and was said to be an “artist of anxiety,” per director François Truffaut. As listed by Newsweek, “He suffered from vertigo, he was scared of sex, he had been morbidly afraid of the police ever since his father, to punish him for a childhood misdemeanor, had him locked up for three minutes in a police cell.”
2. He enjoyed scaring his stars
Also reported by Newsweek, he wasn’t shy about scaring those who starred in his films, because, apparently, it was his way of “keeping them on edge during the shoot in order to catch their tension on celluloid.” So much so, the outlet reports he even hid the body of Norman Bate’s mother in Janet Leigh’s Psycho dressing room to measure her scream. Leigh even once said (via Newsweek), “He relished scaring me.”
3. His pranks sometimes went too far
The Telegraph reports that Hitchcock loved pranks, but they weren’t your typical ones. Truffaut once said that Hitchcock admitted to him, “I do have a weakness for practical jokes and have played quite a few in my time.”
As for these so-called practical jokes, one time the director held a dinner party and added food coloring to the food resulting in blue soup, blue trout and blue peaches and ice cream. Hitchcock was reportedly interested in seeing how his guests would react to this kind of situation. Furthermore, he once played on actor Elsie Randolph’s fear of fire by having a technician pump smoke into a telephone booth she was in after locking the door.
He reportedly defended himself in a 1972 interview regarding his pranks and said he had never meant to “harm or denigrate” anybody.
4. His own movies frightened him
Believe it or not, Hitchcock’s fans weren’t the only ones afraid of his movies. According to The Independent, he said in 1963, “I’m frightened of my own movies. I never go to see them. I don’t know how people can bear to watch my movies.”
5. Eggs also scared him
His films weren’t the only thing that frightened him. So did eggs. Yes, the eggs you eat. Per The Independent, “I’m frightened of eggs, worse than frightened, they revolt me,” he admitted. “That white round thing without any holes… Have you ever seen anything more revolting than an egg yolk breaking and spilling its yellow liquid? Blood is jolly, red. But egg yolk is yellow, revolting. I’ve never tasted it.”
6. He refused to meet Steven Spielberg
As the late Bruce Dern detailed in his autobiography (via Biography.com), he tried to get Hitchcock to meet Steven Spielberg. “I said, ‘You’re his idol. He just [wants] to sit at your feet for five minutes and chat with you.'” However, Hitchcock wouldn’t do it because as Dern explained, “He said, ‘Isn’t that the boy who made the fish movie?… I could never sit down and talk to him… because I look at him and feel like such a whore.'” After Dern asked him why he made him feel that way, he said Hitchcock revealed, “Because I’m the voice of the Jaws ride [at Universal Studios]. They paid me $1 million dollars. And I took it and I did it. I’m such a whore. I can’t sit down and talk to the boy who did the fish movie… I couldn’t even touch his hand.”
7. What he thought about blondes
Hitchcock cast many blond female actors (Leigh, Hedren, Doris Day, Eva Marie Saint) in his movies, and apparently, there was a reason for it. Via The Guardian, he once said, “Blondes make the best victims. They’re like virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints.”
8. This unsuspected Psycho fact
In a fact that you probably didn’t see coming, Psycho was the first American film to show a toilet on screen according to NPR. And here everyone thought the shower was the most famous thing from the movie.
9. He once gave Melanie Griffith this bonkers gift
In The Telegraph‘s feature about Hitchcock’s pranks, it was also revealed he once gave Melanie Griffith (Hedren’s daughter) an extremely strange present. “He gave the little girl the gift of a painfully accurate wax doll figure of her mother in a miniature coffin, dressed in the same costume she wore in The Birds,” per the outlet. “Years later, a grown-up Griffith said of Hitchcock: ‘He was a motherfucker, and you can quote me.”
10. He built an entire apartment complex for Rear Window
When it came to the set of Rear Window, Hitchcock didn’t spare any expense. So much so, he had the apartment complex showcased in the movie built. As revealed by Steven Jacobs in The Wrong House: The Architecture of Alfred Hitchcock (via the New York Post), this set “…became the largest indoor set ever built at Paramount. Hitchcock himself superintended the huge and complex construction that took six weeks to set up.” Jacobs also added, “The entire set was fit with a sophisticated drainage system for the rain scene and with an ingenious wiring mechanism for the highly complex lighting of day and night scenes in both the exterior of the courtyard and the interior of the apartments.”
11. He also “planted” 100 Ponderosa pines for North by Northwest
That wasn’t the only set Hitchcock went above and beyond for. According to the Turner Classic Movie network, MGM wanted to ax the famous scene in the woods with Cary Grant and Saint due to expenses. However, Hitchcock wouldn’t listen and ended up building the woods set on a soundstage using 100 Ponderosa pines.