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Alfred Hitchcock, a True Legend

By Jarrod Sarafin     May 20, 2007


Alfred Hitchcock
© Universal Pictures
April 29th marked the 27th year of the passing of one of cinema’s greatest directors ever. A man who re-invented a style on the thriller and suspense genres all his own and created new inspiration for directors of today to build off. This genius behind the camera is one of my all time personal favorites in the industry. Never mind the fact that his last directed movie occurred 2 years before I was born (Family Plot-1976) and he died two years after I was born. It doesn’t matter if I was still learning to walk and say something even resembling modern English out of that toddler mouth of mine. His movies transcend beyond the movement of time and his style behind the camera, a movie created 50 years ago, still resonate passionately within audiences even today.
 
I’m speaking of Alfred Hitchcock.
 
Hitchcock may have died on April 29, 1980 but his influence in cinema will continue to live on so let’s talk about his life. Let’s talk about some of his classics and even his personal hang-ups which motivated some of his movies. His life, his love (cinema) and his legacy.
 
Alfred Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone, London on August 13, 1899. He was the youngest child of a catholic family whose father ran a poulterer's and green-grocer's business and whose mother came of Ireland. Hitchcock loved his mother dearly from all reports and the reason I state as much here for all of your reading enjoyment because if you’re the least bit familiar with Hitchcock’s work, the motherly role in nearly all of his films played darker characters. There’s irony in saying that there was an emotional gap between his love for his mother and the emotion he put towards motherly characters in his movies and shows of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents…” Most directors draw their acting and directing quirks from their own inner demons. Think of all those comedians out there which have graced the world with laughter yet had tormented childhoods. It’s a gauge of fueling ones past into that imaginative canvas they have in their own selves and in this case, nobody to this day knows where the “motherly” quirks from his movies comes from. For that matter, the constant battle of the sex themes from his movies.
  
Alfred was largely an independent in his young days in England and he had a love for attending films and plays on his own. This is where he would draw some inspiration for his future career but not all of it. In the literacy world, he would also read works by Dickens, Poe, Chesterton, Buchan, Flaubert and Wilde. For his first career, a job which would jumpstart him into the industry, he had training in electrical engineering and draughtsman ship acquired at night school. While working for a cable company at the age of 20, he joined the London studios of Famous Players-Lasky which was affiliated with Paramount Pictures. He was hired on as a title designer, something he would do with passion regarding all their movies for his first two years attached to the studio. In 1923, he had a chance to direct his first film, Always Tell Your Wife (1923) when the original director for the film fell sick. If you caught my Star Spotlight dedicated to the legendary Robert Wise, you’ll see a similarity here. Mr. Wise got started early on and impressed studios early by filling in on unfinished projects. It seems Hitchcock had the same beginning. The studio was so impressed with Alfred’s work on the above movie; they gave him his own first movie to work from scratch, Number 13. Due to bad luck though, it was never finished because the studio shut down. For a year after the studio shut down, Hitchcock was employed there as part of a deal by producer Michael Balcon of Gainsborough Pictures as an assistant director. It was here where Hitchcock would find other sources of inspiration. He had a chance to observe F.W. Murnau on the set of The Last Laugh (1924), a film which Hitchcock would later describe as a perfect example of pure cinema. (1924), a film which Hitchcock would later describe as a perfect example of .
 
In these early years he worked under two top directors, George Fitzmaurice, a director noted for the artistic way he conceived a film including its sets and costumes. The other director was Graham Cutts. Cutts' vision was reflected in both the subject matter of his films often emphasizing theatrical spectacle. Hitchcock's first feature, The Pleasure Garden(1925), set in and around a London music hall had quite a bit of style from his mentor Cutts involved in it. This is the early beginnings of his career, before moving to America, where Hitchcock would go on to learn influences which would inspire him to become the legend he would later become. (1925), set in and around a London music hall had quite a bit of style from his mentor Cutts involved in it. This is the early beginnings of his career, before moving to America, where Hitchcock would go on to learn influences which would inspire him to become the legend he would later become. 
 
It was around this time, 1926, where Hitchcock would marry his long time partner, Alma Reville and it wouldn’t be long before the couple had their first and only child, Patricia in 1928. It should be said that in a cinematic world where couples don’t last long at all, Alfred and Alma were against the grain here. They were married for 54 years until Alfred’s death in Bel Air, California. It should also be noted that while this is an achievement, a lot of reports have indicated that Hitchcock was only truly married to his work first and foremost. The marriage, though affectionate, was hardly a passionate one. By Hitchcock's admission, he led a celibate lifestyle full of sublimations, foremost among which was his work but which included travel, eating at exclusive restaurants, attending symphony concerts at the Albert Hall, and collecting first editions and original works of art. A persistent theme of his films is the battle of the sexes. It's tempting to speculate how much he drew on his own marriage. One hears that the diminutive Alma more than stood up to the often grossly overweight Alfred – being described as “peppery” and given to “bossing” her husband. I guess he reached an understand with his wife on this or they were just old school enough not to care much about their own marriage issues in relation to this. Perhaps, this is where some of his movie themes came from? Perhaps he liked Alma for always keeping him on his toes. 
 
When he first visited Hollywood in 1940, he was turned down by virtually all major motion picture studios because they didn’t think he could not make a "Hollywood" picture. He was finally offered a seven-year directing contract by producer David Selznick. His first project was supposed to be a film about the Titanic, but Selznick scrapped the project because he "couldn't find a boat to sink." Selznick assigned Hitchcock to direct Rebecca (1940) instead. A first film in Hollywood which garnered him an Oscar nomination. Ironically enough, this would be his only film to win the Best Picture award at the Academy Awards though he wouldn’t be getting the trophy for it. That always goes to the producer for a Best Picture award, in this case, it was producer Selznick. He was still nominated for best Director for Lifeboat (1944), Spellbound (1945), Rear Window (1954), and Psycho (1960).
 
His Best Picture nominations were Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941), Foreign Correspondent (1940) and Spellbound (1945)Needless to say, getting nominated and winning Best Picture for Rebecca helped convince those skeptical other studio executives that this new man in town Alfred Hitchcock had a future in cinema.
 
Selznick gave him his first break in the Hollywood scene, there were hang-ups here. Selznick had a very restrictive mentality in regards to projects and creative control. He also always had money problems so he ended up loaning out Hitchcock to other studios (after they were convinced of his marketability) in later years. I have a feeling it this was restrictive beginning which contributed him to being such a driven director in terms of creative control. Let’s also say here he didn’t approve of the “Method Approach” that was popularized in the 1960s when his own career was reaching its climax.
 
I covered Ridley Scott for the site a few weeks back and it can be said quite readily that he is an “actor’s director”. Hitchcock is quite the opposite. He’s always been known for his belief that the director is the one truly in charge of making a movie what it is and the essence of power behind the camera is what makes a movie good or bad. In fact, he turned quite a few heads early into his career in Hollywood when he would refer to actors as “cattle” just like any other part of a director’s overview, i.e. settings, storyboarding, etc.
Here’s what Alfred had to say about that one:
 
"There is a dreadful story that I hate actors. Imagine anyone hating Jimmy Stewart... or Jack Warner. I can't imagine how such a rumor began. Of course it may possibly be because I was once quoted as saying that actors are cattle. My actor friends know I would never be capable of such a thoughtless, rude and unfeeling remark, that I would never call them cattle... What I probably said was that actors should be treated like cattle."
 
Here’s another funny little jab at actors from Hitchcock:
"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.'"
"To make a great film you need three things - the script, the script and the script."
 
Hah. Obviously a lot of actors didn’t much like this kind of approach but it never stopped Alfred from working frequently with some big stars in the industry. He worked closely with Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant (whom he publicly professed to love), James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Malcolm Keen, Leo G. Carroll, Hume Cronyn, Clare Greet and John Williams.
 
Some of Hitchcock’s “quirks” which made its way into his films.
 
Cameos by Hitchcock
 
Hitchcock loved to insert little cameos of himself in his films. In fact later on, audiences would go out of their way to find him and it was around this fact that Hitchcock figured he would insert himself early on so the audiences attention wouldn’t divert from the story itself. the director would be seen for a brief moment boarding a bus, crossing in front of a building, standing in an apartment across the courtyard, or appearing in a photograph. This playful gesture became one of Hitchcock's signatures. As a recurring theme he would carry a musical instrument.
 
Brandy and Staircases
 
He loved Brandy and would have it appear in just about every one of his films. He even had James Stewart reference the beverage as “medicine” in Vertigo. Another quirk is staircases, a setting which the director loved to put in just about all his films one way or the other. He would use staircases as suspenseful moments and story plot devices in a lot of his films as well.
 
Motherly Issues
 
As I wrote earlier, it’s been said that Alfred Hitchcock and his mother were close but that didn’t stop the references from appearing in quite a bit of his onscreen characters and motivations. In fact, Hitchcock stated that when he was a boy he used to have to stand at attention at the foot of his mothers bed when being addressed by her. Psycho (1960), anyone?
 
Psycho wasn’t the only reference though. In North By Northwest, Cary Grant’s character is ridiculed by his mother for insisting he’s being stalked by men. In the Birds (1963), the character is struggling to free himself from a clinging mother. The killer in Frenzy (1972) loves his mother but absolutely hates women. In Strangers on a Train, the character has loves his mother but hates his father. There’s also motherly issues between characters in his Notorious film.
 
 
Eggs and Police
 
Hitchcock had a fear or phobia of both. The fear of police can be explained. When he was a kid in London, Hitchcock misbehaved as kids usually tend to do once or twice. Well, his father wrote in detail what happened on a piece of paper and told Alfred to walk down to the jail and give the paper to the officer in charge. Hitchcock (doing something most kids wouldn’t do these days) obliged and walked to the jail and gave the slip of paper to them. The on duty officer read the paper and locked him up…for 10 minutes.
 
Obviously, this doesn’t seem like a lot but it appears to have traumatized young Alfred here as it would do with most children. From that point onward, he would always try to stay out of the law’s reach and he would frequently incorporate some of that fear into characters on screen. The law hardly ever solved the problem and they were frequently shown to be bumbling fools or naïve to say the least. Hitchcock would never even attempt to get a drivers license as a result of this scarring incident.
 
Over the eggs, he was just damn scared of them but I can’t find any reason specifically as to why except this quote:
 
“I’m frightened of eggs, worse than frightened, they revolt me. 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.”
 
 
 
Alfred Hitchcock’s Filmography
 
Hitchcock’s first directed movie was in 1923 and he last directed movie was in 1976. That’s right, the man directed 59 different feature films in 53 years.
 
He directed 11 silent films from 1922-1929.
 
He directed 16 British films from 1929-1939.
 
He directed 32 American films from 1940-1976.
 
He directed 20 episodes of “Alfred Hitchcocks Presents…” from 1955-1962.
 
There’s a reason he has been listed as an influence for Steven Spielberg along with countless others today in cinema. He was an influential man whom impacted the history of Hollywood in more ways then one. He was ahead of his time in regards to a lot of his storylines and controversial topics and he was a revolutionary in a lot of behind the camera techniques which would later directors would utilize in future years. There’s even a technique called “the Hitchcock Zoom” method named after him not to mention the story/character device known as the “MacGuffin” method that would became a trademark of his.
 
Films like Psycho pushed the boundaries of “acceptable” in terms of ratings boards and cinema along with a number of his earlier and later films in terms of society standards. He would sometimes approach very taboo subject matter in his films which would make studio executives and some audiences at that time cringe. He was never afraid on what his storylines may offend and he was most definitely a driving influence behind the pop culture in the middle part of our last century in terms of Cinematic Achievement.
As far as why he will always be a personal favorite of mine. I loved his works for what the suspense and thrills they provided me in my viewing pleasures. He had a certain dry sense of humor which appeals to me at times late at night when his “Alfred Hitchcock Presents…” sometimes appears on the Chiller networks on my satellite and his thrillers would later help shape a genre in which I love very much, Horror.
 
I remember when it was announced back in 1996-97 that they were remaking Psycho, I wrote up a 30 page rant (seems more like a damn thesis document) on why Hollywood should leave Hitchcock’s classics alone. Hell, I remember posting that 30 page rant here at Cinescape back in the 90s but alas, that was 5 different Forum software ago so its long lost and a few computers back so it’s gone for good. Still, it amounted to nothing because they did go ahead and remake the movie and now, they’re remaking The Birds much to my dissatisfaction.
 
Oh well, they can continue to remake my two personal favorite directors, Hitchcock and Carpenter but I will always have a special place in my heart for their classics. I may even view their remakes but they will never mean as much to me as the original directorial visions behind the original projects.
 
Enough of my love on Hitchcock though…Tell me, Maniacs, what you think of Alfred Hitchcock and what are some of your personal favorites from the man whom helped shape the world of cinema.
 
What are your favorite Hitchcock Ian moments?

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 10 of 12
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almostunbiased 5/20/2007 8:27:23 AM
I love North By Northwest, Rear Window, Notorious. Like Birds, Psycho, and many others. I think he had a great style. Saboteur (not to be confused with Sabotage) is also another great film that is not as well known. I highly recommend it.
michaelxaviermaelstrom 5/20/2007 8:04:07 PM
I love Hitchcock. I think that not only did Hitchcock consider the actors to be cattle (some of which impressive cattle he'd like to snog -Ed) but imo he also considered _The Audience_ cattle. (certain impressive voluptuous segments of which he'd no doubt also like to snog - Ed) Point being, imo, the only thing Hitchcock loved directing more than movies, was the audience. For the way his various audience-manipulative filming technique(s).. (ie. foreshadowing/mirror imaging/scene framing/audience-reaction-cultivating scenes/*reaction-to-audience-reaction edited scenes., et cetera) *note: rumour has it that Hitchcock tried to edit Psycho AFTER its release to respond to the audience's-reaction to certain scenes., because they were so busy screaming them were missing important bits. where was I..right ..for the way the scenes were meticulously/fortuitously/selectively painstakingly structured so that it culminated into what I'd easily classify as "avant-garde art" or "nouveau cinema" in its film-making, I'd have to name PSYCHO as my fave Hitchcock film. I can watch it a thousand times over and spot something new Hitch was trying to do, each time. For dialogue, gimme Rope. I don't think it gets enough lovin. but for all his films, it's the women that I find most fascinating. or at least the view of women that you (ostensibly -Ed) may ascribe to him after you've seen enough of his films to notice a consistent pattern. I know (from film class) that Theodore Price calls Hitchcock's depiction of women "SuperBitch Prostitutes" but then he also conjectures Hitchcock might have been a closet homosexual. /BEGIN Aside/ I dismiss the "closet homosexual" observation for 2 reasons. 1. admiration for alpha males/lead actors is not a strictly homosexual trait, it's a universal trait. 2. EVERYONE is bi-sexual in terms of their capacity to be turned on/impressed by someone who is in fact..impressive. Whether they're of the opposite sex or the same sex, it matters little. When you're impressed, you're impressed. It does not make you gay. If you walk up to them, drop your shorts and ask them to put their pee pee up your bum bum.THEN you're gay, otherwise I really wish they'd frag off with that politically motived grade-school pseudo-psychoanalytical-fooltrop. /END Aside/ (not that anyone can resist, the bloke's name is HitchCock after-all - Ed) Anyway, I do like "SuperBitch Prostitute" as a somewhat applicable term, but I don't see it as *entirely* accurate if we're trying to apply it to his _internal_ view of women in general. As someone who was brought up Catholic, I can say that it is my introspective-observation (of both myself when I was an altar boy and of other Catholics that I have observed from behind the altar, as it were, some not so little) that _many_ Catholics can and/or do wind up seeing women as "Superbitch Prostitutes". Or at least 1/2 of a woman as a superbitch prostitute. I think a lot of it has to do with the mental-frag-up that Xtianity creates in having both major women associated with Jesus - one a holy virgin, the other a prostitute, BOTH named Mary. Consequently Xtian males often have a fucked up dichotomous 1/2 Prostitute - 1/2 Virgin Saint view of women. I find. Ditch religion later on, and the virgin saint part may be likewise ditched with it, leaving one with a prostitute view of women only. But that's largely when we/they're young, presumably people grow out of that view of women at some point when they begin to mature or at least introspect and/or gain some experience with the fairer sex. And Hitchcock was a perfectionist who loved to analyze things, so I seriously doubt that he remained as "dwarfed" in his view of women as the "SuperBitch Prostitute" label seems to imply. I think Hitchcock's view was probably less dogmatic and more pragmatic. He depicted femmes most often as "Ice-Blondes" imo, not because he saw them as superbitch prostitutes so much as because he looked at himself then looked at Cary Grant, and thought, "I'm fuckin screwed, or am so not going to get screwed, the alpha babes are going to go for the alphas males". Whatever the intricate minute psychological dynamics of Hitchcock's view of women, I do think that there is *1* over-riding reason for the portrayal of "ice-blondes" (eg. beautiful yet slightly porcelain, distant, cold, uncaring, may love you one day, leave you the next, without notice) imo, women are depicted that way, as difficult to pin down, ulterior-motivated nebulous beings with shifting loyalties ..and emotions, for ))one(( key reason that has LESS to do with psychoanalyzing Hitchcock, and maybe has MORE to do with *gaze left* *gaze right* ...Hitchcock psychoanalyzing _the audience_. In my view, Hitchcock depicted women that way _mainly_ Because.. *wait for it* ..it is the single most TERRIFYING view most men have of women. And Hitchcock knew that. Perhaps that's why he is the master. And That's my view. Good article DJ. Touches a lot of bases. I don't *usually* come down here with interweb material (owing to his attention span being that of a gnat on a caffeine overdose - Ed) Piss off Ed., but this is one of those times I wish there had been more of it. Was enjoyable. mXm
westend 5/21/2007 1:39:00 AM
I'm sure to get slammed for this, but I find Hitchcock way overrated. The movies are uninteresting, the characters 2-D, the acting fake, and the FX horrible.
michaelxaviermaelstrom 5/21/2007 2:57:55 AM
If anyone slams you for stating your opinion as your opinion Westend, then they're kiddies, and not worth paying attention to anyway. I think Hitchcock probably does lose something in the generational-translation. (Unless of course you take film theory - which I have as part of my film-directing courses - in which case you're more likely to come off with an appreciation for his films, largely because the profs - if mine are any indication - have such a hard-on for Hitchcock and what he did for "cinema" that their enthusiasm is infectious; and of course the analysis of what's going on in his films - much more than meets the eye - gives you, if you're a film-making-fan, quite an enthusiasm and respect for his craftsmanship and genius as a film-maker, imo) Personally I think what Hitchcock did best was 1. -analyze- _his audience's fears_ and reactions. (which is why I think psychoanalyzing Hitchcock based on his films is nigh on impossible to do to any level of accuracy because he was psychoanalyzing the audience and feeding his analysis into his film structure and characters - HA) and 2. developed cinematic techniques from story/character structure-based to image-framing-based to music-based to subliminal imagery and camera tricks., all in order to _manipulate the audience_. A pure genius approach to making film imo. Point being imo Hitchcock paced and structured his films specifically to manipulate _his audience_. A 1950's/60's/70's society audience primarily. That's why I think his films may get lost in generational-translation, today we are frightened by different things, we move at a different pace, and we have a different cinematic circadian rhythm. We've also been exposed to more and more unsettling imagery than his audiences were, so his films probably don't have the same effect on newer audiences as they did on those audiences he was tweaking his films to. but ask me, imo, if you know what he was doing cinematically (beyond the viewing-experience) and what to look for, then, I think more might catch the Hitchcock bug too. But if not, so what, either way, to each their own view. mXm
lister 5/21/2007 11:17:34 AM
Not everyone can like every filmmaker. But I will never see why someone cannot enjoy Sabotage or Rebecca or To Catch a Thief or North by Northwest or Shadow of a Doubt or Strangers on a Train (either cut) no matter what generation they are from. I say just allow it to happen instead of trying to force the great expectations.
bjjdenver 5/21/2007 3:41:23 PM
I grew up watching alot of Hitchcock flicks, and most are very good. I have to say my favorite is North by Northwest. Hitchcock's direction and the ultimate in smooth, Cary Grant, great movie.
westend 5/21/2007 4:04:07 PM
I think it's part generational. I was a film student and part of me was sick of having Hitchcock shoved down my throat. There's just something about the acting in old movies that I hate. Almost like they are overacting , which is why I also hate stage plays.
nmason 5/21/2007 4:29:24 PM
I have to say I totally disagree with Westend. If you watch ANY of Hitch's Silent films such as the Ring or the Lodger, the ACTING IS AMAZING. Anything by Lon Chaney SR! (The greatest actor whoever lived)! True PURE CINEMA is silent cinema. For those who can't understand the art of Hitchcock or Silent Cinema, I don't know what to day. Perhaps it is part Generational, but I think one is mistaken by calling it overacting, just a different style I think. I am currently teaching a class on Hitchcock's British period to senior citizens I am struck by how good the EARLY BRITISH films are! Hitchcock is probably the only director who did NOT make a movie that sucked! Even his worst movies are actually pretty good! Including the musical Waltz's which is very funny and just a fun movie to watch. My favorite Hitch film is Jamacia INN and North by Northwest, and his silent The Farmer's Wife and the Ring. Excellent Films! just my two cents. There is a good REASON Hitch is shoved down the throat of film students because he was the Greatest filmaker who ever lived.
lister 5/21/2007 6:57:26 PM
If you are in school and feel something is being shoved down your throat, you need to tell the instructor. Their inability to make a connection with you could sour you on an entire body of work! But it is up to you to give them feedback. If they don't listen, drop the class... life is too short and, in this case, Hitch is too good.
jorson28 5/21/2007 11:28:49 PM
The following is an opinion, but one that I firmly believed can be backed up to the point at which it almost becomes verifiable fact. OPINION: Hitchcock mastered filmmaking and was a perpetual audience-pleaser because he balanced the art with the craft, unafraid to take artistic risks but always with the audience's overall entertainment and understanding of the story in mind. That seems obvious, but considering how easily we tend to fall for mediocre movies because the films can't catch up with marketing departments; ability to churn out slick promotions, I doubt we're always aware of how important and relevant that achievement is. Nowadays, too many films are either really great pieces of art, but not very fun to watch, or are fun to watch on a spectacle level but resonate very little on emotional and intellectual levels and ultimately wind up forgotten by most that see them. While not all of Hitchcock's movies struck that successful balance, the longevity of so much of his work seems to owe a great deal to that very difficult balancing act, one that wasn't always appreciated in Hitchcock, either. "Vertigo," arguably his intellectual best alongside "Rear Window," was slammed by critics, and in the seventies there was a real resistance to Hitchcock (even while he was alive) because he was seen as having invented and then as representing the status quo of filmmaking, cow-towing to the un-discerning audience, which many filmmakers avoided like the plague once the censorship of the Hays Act was no more and studios were suddenly run by executives that gave younger filmmakers a fighting chance. As it may have already been pointed out here, this balancing act may have come more naturally to Hitchcock than it would to most in his position, in part because unlike many filmmakers, Hitch never actually set out to be one. His original interest was in engineering, and while he supposedly loved theater, he was known to sleep through most of the plays he attended. When asked later in life why he was a filmmaker, he responded by saying that it was the only thing he knew how to do, and in other interviews extolled the virtues of his regimented directing and administrative style. He was more an administrator, perhaps, than an artist, particularly since he relied heavily on his crew knowing how to do its work rather than succombing to the avid filmmaker's natural tendency to micromanage and have a hand in everyone's pot and every facet of the production -- even though Hitch knew from having worked in almost every facet during his training in England. On "Psycho," he so implicitly trusted screenwriter Joseph Stefano that the two never talked about motivation, and his trust in those he employed very famously irritated his actors because he just expected that interpretation of "the character" on any level not relating directly to his camera was the actor's job, and unless the actor was really having trouble and doing poorly, Hitch would barely communicate at all. Lastly, while this article rather awkwardly commemorates the 27th anniversary of Hitchcock's death, his lifespan is perhaps another indicator of why he was so successful at his work. While it seems crude and disrespectful to point out, anyone of Hitchcock's weight and stature is likely to suffer from heart disease, hypertension and diabetes, just to name a few ailments associated with obesity. While Hitchcock did definitely struggle with this and had health problems because of it, his 81 years of life unfolded in a time long before the diagnostic and surgical technology of modern medicine as we know it. What I believe accounts for Hitchcock's unusually long lifespan -- for his time, anyway -- is what I believe also accounts for his success in film and, in coming full circle, the balancing act to which I originally attributed such success. His cool temperament and objectivity, which people rarely achieve by anything other than genetics, made him saavy in his work and likely warded off or offset such weight-related ailments such as hypertension, high blood pressure and even heart disease, all of which is now known to be affected almost as much by someone's temperament and attitude as by their physical lifestyle.
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