Alfred Hitchcock

Filmmakers Whose Work Stands the Test of Time

There are occasionally filmmakers who break all barriers, whose work stands the test of time and continues to captivate audiences and critics even decades later. If you’re looking for a master class in original, timeless filmmaking, check out these filmmakers whose originality stands the test of time and offers experiences that are still relevant, riveting, and righteously entertaining.

Alfred Hitchcock

It’s impossible to have a list of enduring filmmakers without including Hitchcock. His silent film roots allowed him to innovate in the area of visual storytelling by mastering mise-en-scène, captivating use of music, and wise editing.

Hitchcock is perhaps best known for his innovative camera movement, and his knack for persuading audiences to feel as if they are a part of the story through the clever manipulation of perspective through close-ups, long takes, and more.

Click here to read more about why we think Hitchcock’s work will be enjoyed for years to come.

Timeless Hitchcock films to watch asap:

  • Notorious (1946)
  • Rear Window (1954)
  • Vertigo (1958)
  • North by Northwest (1959)
  • Psycho (1960)

Akira Kurosawa

Posthumously named “Asian of the Century” in in 1990 by AsianWeek, Kurosawa’s work did more than just put the Japanese film industry on the international map. His superb screenwriting abilities, dynamic style, and innovative techniques went on to influence all of Western cinema, including The Magnificent Seven, a reimagining of Kurosawa’s masterpiece Seven Samurai. From Americans like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas to fellow Asian filmmakers like Hayao Miyazaki and John Woo, countless notable filmmakers have expressed their admiration for Kurosawa’s cinematographic achievements.

Timeless Films

  • Rashomon (1950)
  • Ikiru (1952)
  • Seven Samurai (1954)
  • Kagemusha (1980)
  • Ran (1985)

Steven Spielberg

If there’s one reason Spielberg will be esteemed for ages to come, it’s for his versatility. From intense war stories and terrifying thrillers to adventure movies fun for the whole family, this man has probably done it all — and done it marvellously. While most directors find their niche and stay put, Spielberg’s storytelling prowess has been proven across an amazing range of genres while somehow still expressing his signature style. It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t love at least one film from this iconic director who, at the ripe age of 71 in of 2018, is still behind the camera.

Timeless Films

  • Jaws (1975)
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
  • Schindler’s List (1993)
  • Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Spike Lee

This African-American filmmaker began impressing critics and viewers alike with his first feature film “She’s Gotta Have It,” a comedy drama shot in two weeks with a budget of $175,000. When it grossed over $7 million in America, people knew Lee was something special. He has since then delivered several classics that have earned him numerous accolades over the years. Many of his projects are renowned for examining important issues such as race relations, urban poverty, and discrimination even among black communities.

Timeless Films

  • Do the Right Thing (1989)
  • Malcolm X (1992)
  • The Original Kings of Comedy (2000)
  • 25th Hour (2002)
  • Inside Man (2006)

Stanley Kubrick

The late, great Kubrick made an impact on the film industry in a way few other directors have. His constant striving for perfection and mastery of the technical side of filmmaking allowed him to craft cinematic experiences that transcended genre and changed everything that followed. Along with working closely and intensely with his writers and performers, Kubrick was also known for requiring as many takes as it took in order to find what he called “the magic.”

Timeless Films

  • Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  • A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  • The Shining (1980)
  • Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Francis Ford Coppola


This American filmmaker is responsible for one of the most overwhelmingly praised trilogy of films ever to hit the big screen: The Godfather alone won nearly a dozen Oscars and is #2 in American Film Institute’s list of best American films. The trilogy’s influence inspired the creation of other notable gangster films such as Goodfellas and TV shows like The Sopranos.

Timeless Films

  • The Godfather (1972)
  • American Graffiti (1973)
  • The Godfather: Part II (1974)
  • Apocalypse Now (1979)
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Sofia Coppola

The daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, Sofia has emerged as one of the most talented female directors of all time. She was the first American woman to win Venice Film Festival’s top prize and receive a Best Director nomination at the 2003 Academy Awards, while also serving as the second woman to win best director at Cannes Film Festival. Her Oscar-winning Lost in Translation a great starting point for film fans to witness Coppola’s impressive ability to balance humor and drama.

Timeless Films

  • The Virgin Suicides (1999)
  • Lost in Translation (2003)
  • Marie Antoinette (2006)
  • The Bling Ring (2013)
  • The Beguiled (2017)

Orson Welles

What’s there to say about Welles that hasn’t been said before? The legendary director changed the game with Citizen Kane, a film ranked by many as the best of all time. The 1941 drama went on to influence even the most prominent directors with its nonlinear storytelling, powerful use of themes and motifs, and phenomenal cinematography. Welles would go on to direct several more films, many of which are also worthy of viewing almost a century later.

Timeless Films

  • Citizen Kane (1941)
  • The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
  • The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
  • Touch Of Evil (1958)
  • Chimes at Midnight (1965)

Up-and-Coming Timeless Filmmakers

Christopher Nolan

Still arguably near the beginning of his illustrious career, Nolan came into prominence at the turn of the millenium with Following, a neo-noir crime thriller he funded personally. Since then, the English filmmaker has made a name for himself by producing hit after hit, making him one of the highest-grossing directors of all time. His use of nonlinear storytelling and enticing themes surrounding human morality and identity have allowed him to create films that will likely be watched in film classes for a long time.

Timeless Films

  • Memento (2000)
  • The Dark Knight (2008)
  • Inception (2010)
  • Interstellar (2014)
  • Dunkirk (2017)

Catherine Hardwicke

Hardwicke got her start in the business as a production designer, where she was able to study the techniques of skilled directors like Cameron Crowe. She first proved her own directing talents with 2003’s Thirteen, which won six awards and nearly a dozen nominations. Highly successful films like Twilight and The Nativity Story have only helped cement Hardwicke’s legacy as one of the best female directors of all time.

Timeless Films

  • Thirteen (2003)
  • Lords of Dogtown (2005)
  • The Nativity Story (2006)
  • Twilight (2008)
  • Red Riding Hood (2011)

Ava DuVernay

Leading the new generation of great African American filmmakers is DuVernay, who in less than two decades has already made a name for herself behind the camera. This includes being the first black woman to win the Sundance Film Festival’s directing award. She is also the first African-American woman to be nominated for a Golden Golden Globe award and Academy Award for Best Picture. With so many accomplishments at the ripe age of 45, we’re confident that DuVernay’s best work is yet to come.

Timeless Films

  • Saturday Night Life (2006)
  • I Will Follow (2010)
  • Middle of Nowhere (2012)
  • Selma (2014)
  • 13th (2016)

What other directors would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below, and learn more about Filmmaking at the New York Film Academy.

 

10 Reasons Why Hitchcock Will Always Be One of the Great Directors

Alfred Hitchcock is arguably one of the most well-known directors in the last century. Born Aug. 13, 1899, the English film director created more than 50 movies before he passed away in 1980. There is no denying that he changed the way audiences watched films — for example, Hitchcock demanded specific start times for “Psycho,” and audiences were asked to not give away the end of the movie.

Hitchcock may have never won an Oscar for best director, but in honor of his birthday, we’ve outlined 10 reasons as to why Hitchcock will always be one of the best directors.

alfred-hitchcock-393745_1920

Visual Storytelling

Hitchcock started out as a silent film director, so he was always finding ways to add information to his films. The practice led to constant innovation of storytelling, which is something that Hitchcock maintained throughout his film career.

Mise-en-scène

A mise-en-scène is a term for a group of elements that composes a shot. While the audience may not pay attention to all the elements in a particular shot, the combination of elements helps the audience dive into the film’s story. Hitchcock used mise-en-scène to build suspense, climax, curiosity and the likeness of his characters.

Themes

Hitchcock liked to focus on themes that revolved around obsession and morale. Among other elements, sub-themes in Hitchcock’s movies included voyeurism, authority, death, sexuality, guilt, and family. He used these sub-themes to add depth to his storytelling and build strong relationships with the audience.

Scriptwriting

Through innovative scriptwriting, Hitchcock was able to exercise control over the audience. He would often put an emphasis on psychological characterization of his main and secondary characters. In his films “Rebecca” and “Shadow of a Doubt,” he uses voice over for the opening sequences to cast a gloomy and mysterious shadow over the entire film.

Use of Music

Hitchcock was very specific about how he used music in his movies, whether it was to create excitement, heighten tension, or build toward a climax. Even his characters are fascinated by music, and, as the New York Times’ Edward Rothstein points out, it can be argued that music itself functions at the level of a character in Hitchcock films.

Film Editing

Alfred Hitchcock's Under Capricorn 1949

Hitchcock believed that film editing could only do so much for a film. But if you cut the scene correctly, used the right music, and the mood was set correctly through storytelling. Some of the best film editing done by Hitchcock can be seen in “Rope,” “Under Capricorn,” and “Sabotage.”

Actors’ Performances

Hitchcock held the actors’ performances in high regard, yet is known to have been a very controlling and visionary director on set, allowing little time or room for input from his actors. A very particular director, Hitchcock famously did not set much stock in method acting or improvisation and kept a tight reign on the action on set. He was also known to frequently collaborate with the same actors.

Keep the Story Simple

Simple, linear stories allow the audience to easily follow along. Removing excess material and keeping each scene crisp was essential for Hitchcock. He knew that a confusing or abstract story would bore the audience, and streamlined his films to maximize suspense.

Contrasting Situations

Hitchcock loved to build tension into a scene by using contrasting situations — two unrelated things happening at once. When an audience focuses on one event that is building momentum, another interrupts. The second event is usually a meaningless distraction, meant to throw the audience off. One example is in Hitchcock’s 1956 film, “The Man Who Knew Too Much.” Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day are in the middle of a tense phone call when guests, who are laughing and joking, start to arrive. The arrival of the joyful guests serves as a foil and complication for the real momentum of the scene.

Camera Movement

Camera movement is one component that supports visual storytelling, but it’s important to note why Hitchcock valued it so much. He believed that the camera should take on human qualities: it should roam and playfully look around the room for anything important.

By panning a room and showing close-ups of objects, the camera allows the audience to see certain plot elements and feel like they’re involved in uncovering the story. The importance of camera movement stemmed from Hitchcock’s days of working in silent film. Without sound, directors relied heavily on ways of telling the story to the audience visually.

Happy birthday Alfred Hitchcock! Do you have a favorite movie directed by Hitchcock? What are some reasons for watching his films? Let us know below!

 

How Horror Movies Have Changed Since Their Beginning

Dracula with blood on his mouth

Terrifying people through stories? It’s been a pastime of we humans since antiquity, with a large swathe of folklore centered around things that go bump in the night (particularly supernatural goings-on, or anything related to—and exploiting—our innate fear of death.)

With such a strong precedent in literature and oral history, it’s no surprise that the horror genre was very quick to get its feet under the table soon after the advent of cinema.

Over the course of a century, film horror as it appears in film has gone through many peaks and troughs, leading us into the somewhat contentious period we find ourselves in today.

Where the genre will go over the next hundred years is anyone’s guess, but sometimes it’s good to look back on the long road we’ve traveled to get to this point.

The First Ever Horror Movie?

The origins of horror as a film genre begin with—as with many things in cinema history—the works of George Mellies.

Just a few years after the first filmmakers emerged in the mid-1890s, Mellies created what is widely believed to be the first ever ‘horror’ movie in 1898, complete with cauldrons, animated skeletons, ghosts, transforming bats and, ultimately, an incarnation of the Devil.

While not intended to be scary—more wondrous, as was Mellies’ MO—it was the first example of a film (only just rediscovered in 1977) to include the supernatural and set a precedent for what was to come.

The Literary Years

Between 1900 and 1920, an influx of supernatural-themed films followed with many filmmakers—most of whom still trying to find their feet with the new genre—turned to literature classics as source material. The first adaptation of Frankenstein was released by Edison Studios in these early days, as well as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Werewolf (now both lost to the fog of time.)

Things were starting to roll at this point as we move into…

Title card from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

The Golden Age of Horror

Widely considered to be the finest era of the genre, the two decades between the 1920s and 30s saw many classics being produced, and can be neatly divided down the middle to create a separation between the silent classics and the talkies.

One the silent side of the line, you’ve got monumental titles such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) and Nosferatu (1922), the first movies to really make an attempt to unsettle their audience (with the latter title being Rotten Tomatoes’ second best-reviewed movie in the horror genre of all time and cementing just about every surviving vampire cliché in the book.)

Once the silent era had given way to technological process, we had a glut of incredible movies that paved the way for generations to come, particularly in the field of monster movies – think the second iteration of Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932) and the first color adaptation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931).

The 30s also marked the first time in the industry that the word “horror” was used to describe the genre—previously, it was really just romance melodrama with a dark element—and it also saw the first horror “stars” being born. Bella Lugosi (of Dracula fame) was arguably the first to specialize solely in the genre.

And as well as unnerving its viewers, the genre was starting to worry the general public at this point with heavy censoring and public outcry becoming common with each release. Freaks (1932) is a good example of a movie that was so shocking at the time it got cut extensively, with the original version now nowhere to be found. Director Tod Browning—who had previously created the aforementioned and wildly successful Dracula—saw his career flounder at the hands of the controversy.

The shock value of Freaks is one of the few that has aged well up until present day, and is still a highly disturbing watch.

The Atomic Years

Somewhat ironically, Freaks was banned for thirty years in the country that really came into its own during this period: Great Britain.

The Hammer horror company, while founded in 1934, only started to turn prolific during the fifties but when it did, it was near global dominance (thanks to a lucrative distribution deal with Warner and a few other U.S. studios). Once again, it was adaptations like FrankensteinDracula, and The Mummy that put the company squarely on the map, followed up with a slew of psychological thrillers and TV shows.

And, of course, you can’t mention British horror without paying respects to Alfred Hitchcock, singlehandedly responsible for establishing the slasher genre, which we’ll see a lot of as we travel further forward in time.

Another hallmark of the 40s-50s era of horror came as a product of the times. With war ravaging Europe and fears of nuclear fallout running rampant, it’s of little surprise that horror began to feature antagonists that were less supernatural in nature—radioactive mutation became a common theme (The Incredible Shrinking Man, Godzilla), as did the fear of invasion with The War of the Worlds and When Worlds Collide, both big hits in 1953.

The latter marked the earliest rumblings of the “disaster” movie genre, but it would be a couple more decades before that would get into full swing.

Freaks movie poster

The Gimmicky Years

3D glasses? Electric buzzers installed into theatre seats? Paid stooges in the audience screaming and pretending to faint? Everything and anything was tried during the 50s and 60s in an attempt to further scare cinema audiences.

This penchant for interactivity spilled over into other genres during the period, but quickly died down in part due to the massive amounts of expense involved.

For horror in particular, this gave way to the opposite end of the spectrum: incredibly low budget productions.

From the late 60s onwards, so insatiable was the American appetite for gore that slasher films produced for well under $1 million took hold and were churned out by volume. That’s not to say that there weren’t some masterpieces produced during this time, though; George A. Romero emerged triumphant and kickstarted zombie movies in this period, having produced Night of the Living Dead in 1968 with just over $100k.

It went on to gross $30 million, and the living dead rose in its wake.

The Exorcist

All Hell Breaks Loose

Literally.

Occult was the flavor of the day beween the 70s and 80s, particularly when it came to houses and kids being possessed by the Devil.

The reason for this cultural obsession with religious evil during this period could fill an entire article on its own, but bringing it back into the cinema realm we can boil the trend down to two horror milestones: The Exorcist (1973) and The Omen (1976).

Supernatural horror was now very much back in vogue, and harking back to its cinematic origins, literature once again became the source material.

This time, however, it wasn’t a Victorian author whose work had fallen out of copyright, but a gentleman named Stephen King.

Carrie (1976) stormed the gates, and The Shining (1980) finished the siege (with 1982’s supernatural frightfest Poltergeist following soon afterward).

With these hallmarks of horror now firmly established, the foundations were laid for…

Leatherface running in Texas Chain Saw Massacre

The Slasher Years

If there’s one trope that typifies the 80s, it’s the slasher format – a relentless antagonist hunting down and killing a bunch of kids in ever-increasing inventive ways, one by one.

Arguably kicked off by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in 1974, the output became prolific over the next decade. For every ten generic slashers, however, there was one flick that would end up becoming a cult classic even if critical success was mixed at the time—HalloweenFriday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street are the most prominent examples, which became so successful that they spawned their own long-running franchises (the first time in the history of the genre that multiple sequels became commonplace.)

Plenty of imitators and rip-offs followed too, particularly in the Holiday-themed department. Some were a lot better than others as the genre descended to its most kitschy.

The Doldrums

Suffering from exhaustion in the wake of a thousand formulaic slasher movies and their sequels, the genre lost steam as it moved into the 90s.

The advent of computer generated special effects brought with it a number of lackluster CGI monster titles that did little to revive the genre such as Anaconda (1997) and Deep Rising (1998).

But it was comedy that ended up saving the day. Peter Jackson’s early foray into filmmaking saw him taking the splatter subgenre to ridiculous extremes with Braindead (1992), and Wes Craven’s slasher parody Scream (1996) was met globally with overwhelming success.

The genre as a whole limped on without much fanfare into the 2000s save for a few box office successes.

The zombie subgenre, however, sprang back into un-life during this decade, arguably spurred on by the unprescedented success of Max Brook’s novel World War Z (later becoming a film in its own right.) The video game adaptaion of Resident Evil (2002) was among the first of the new wave, followed swiftly by 28 Days Later a few months later, Dawn of the Dead (2004), Land of the Dead (2005), I Am Legend (2007) and Zombieland (2009.)

Cabin in the Woods

The Present Day

The state of the horror industry is hotly contested. With the genre seemingly relying on churning out remakes, reboots and endless sequels, many argue that it’s languishing in the doldrums once again with little originality to offer a modern audience.

The resurgence of ‘torture porn’ is also derided as a subgenre, having come back into the fore in the wake of the 2000s Saw and Hostel franchises with no signs of slowing down.

On the other hand, glimmers of hope shine through with examples of extreme originality and artistry. Cabin in the Woods (2012) has been heralded as this decade’s Scream, and the recent releases of The Babadook and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (both 2014) have breathed new life into the genre.

The Future

With perhaps more subgenres than any other branch of fictional filmmaking, it’s difficult to see how anyone can expand or advance on anything that has come before in cinematic horror…

… but no doubt somebody will, and it’s highly likely that the film school students of today will become the Alfred Hitchcocks of tomorrow.

Want to prove your knowledge of Horror Movie history? Take NYFA’s Horror Movie Death Quiz now!

Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred HitchcockName: Alfred Joseph Hitchcock

Essential DVDs: The 39 Steps (1935), The Lady Vanishes (1938), Rebecca (1940), Shadow Of A Doubt (1943), Notorious (1946), Strangers On A Train (1951), Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), North By Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963)

Oscars: The Irving Thalberg Award (1968)

In His Own Words: “I am a typed director. If I made Cinderella, the audience would immediately be looking for a body in the coach.”

Take a flight of fancy and imagine if Alfred Hitchcock was plying his trade in Hollywood today. Back at his old Universal stomping ground, he’d probably knock off a Collateral or two, play himself on The Simpsons, exec produce episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents CSI Leytonstone (the place of his birth) and still find time for the odd curio designed to rub everyone up the wrong way –perhaps a shot for shot remake of Good Will Hunting.

Yet the thing is you don’t have to imagine Hitchcock in modern movies, the seeds of his brilliance are scattered around the current crop of Hollywood helmers. The powers of audience manipulation of Spielberg. The controlled precision of Mann. The detached glee of the Coens. The twisted sexual subtext of Lynch. The shameless self-promotion of Tarantino. The waistline of Michael Moore. It is all present in Hitchcock. Every filmmaker working over the past thirty years has been touched by Hitchcock’s greatness, some lightly (The Wachowski’s Vertigo-inspired rooftop chase in The Matrix), others wholesale (Mel Brooks High Anxiety, Brian De Palma’s career). However many times he has been deigned a Vaunted Auteur –Tarantino once dubbed the study of his work “Film Buff 101” –Hitchcock’s influence, 25 years after his death is still without parallel.

Hitchcock’s is a career spanning 54 years, traversing 65 films, two continents and practically every technical revolution (silents, sound, colour, even, as in Dial M For Murder, 3D). There were some bizarre experiments: remaking his own 1934 film, The Man Who Knew Too Much, some 22 years later, passing off ten long takes as one seamless shot (Rope) and creating a whole drama within the confines of a lifeboat (erm Lifeboat). There were some departures from house style; the romantic frippery of Mr And Mrs Smith, the courtroom drama of The Paradine Case and, in musical parody Elstree Calling, the bizarre spectacle of an Alfred Hitchcock directed custard pie fight. En route, there have also been some misfires; Stage Fright, Torn Curtain, Topaz. But even the clunkers bore great bits –witness the fistfight in Torn Curtain that demonstrates how hard it is to actually kill a man –and a Hitchcock film always sang with the possibilities of cinema.

From his early UK work –Number 13 to Jamaica Inn –to the slicker stylish US output –Rebecca to Family Plot –cinema’s greatest heavyweight filmmaker (at his lardiest in the late ’30s, Hitchcock weighed in at 300lbs) delivered that rare thing: crowdpleasing bravura cinema that can be lapped up by the masses yet still complex enough to be pored over by speccy four-eyed academics. No filmmaker can count as many great fllms on a CV; (deep breath) The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes, Rebecca, Shadow Of A Doubt (reputedly Hitchcock’s own personal fave), Notorious, Strangers On A Train, Rear Window, Vertigo, North By Northwest, Psycho, The Birds. And these are just the can’t-argue-with masterpieces. In the process, he also invented the Filmmaker As Public Figure, cameoing in his own films (starting with The Lodger), extending his persona to books and TV and offering colourful, usually completely false, soundbite in interviews.

Renowned for a mastery of must see- must-talk-about set-pieces –shower stabbings, crop duster dust-ups, avian attic attacks –Hitchcock’s real skill was making silly, often implausible stories engaging and compulsive. Poke around the narrative foundations of The 39 Steps or Vertigo or North By Northwest and you’ll discover that they are built on a bedrock of coincidence and absurdity. Yet the cinematic sleight of hand is so deft, the atmospheres are so intoxicating that you never once question it. What partly makes the films so rich is the dynamic between Hitchcock’s cold, calculated approach and the human passions (and perversions) of the characters trapped in his murky world. Late in life, Hitchcock admitted that two of his then current guilty pleasures were Burt Reynolds redneck-pleaser Smokey And The Bandit and Disney’s pooch parable Benji. Both share an uncomplicated lightness that rarely permeated his own work. While there is playfulness (especially in the Brit flicks and To Catch A Thief), Hitchcock’s movies boasts a pessimism rare in American cinema.

Influenced by Russian horror merchant Val Lewton, Spanish surrealist Luis Bunuel and German Expressionist Fritz Lang –Hitchcock cited Lang’s Der Mude Tod (1922) as his favourite film –Hitchcock forged a consistent universe that sprung almost fully formed from his Catholic psyche, a world dominated by emotional dysfunction, voyeurism, sexual guilt, innocent men accused, icy blondes, overpowering mothers and psycho killers all played out against purposefully dodgy rear screen projections and often ending with a chase over a famous landmark. Marked by consistent collaborations with genius artisans –composer Bernard Herrmann, cinematographer Robert Burks, editor George Tomasini and graphic guru Saul Bass –it remains among the most coherent visions in movie history: take his name off the credits and you could still identify the director in a heartbeat.

Hitchcock’s oft-misquoted pronouncement that actors are “like cattle” –he actually said actors should be treated like cattle –belies the fact that many of Hollywood’s finest did their best work under his direction. Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Anthony Perkins, Sean Connery (in Marnie, Hitchcock makes manifest the darkness implied in James Bond) and, in particular, James Stewart found depths and tones that they never found anywhere else. Allied to his underrated skill with actors is the thrill of technical assurance, the sense that the camera and the cut are always exactly in the right place at the right time. The style is distant, elegant and succinct –when Hitchcock received the Irving Thalberg Award at the 1968 Oscars, he made the shortest acceptance speech of all time: “thank you” –assembled with a precision that makes Swiss clockmakers look slapdash by comparison. Yet in all the buttoned-down formalism, there are moments of wild expressionism –the Dali designed dream sequence in Spellbound, the flashes of red to indicate Marnie’s psychological scarring –that surprise and overwhelm you.

Before he died in 1980, he’d joked that he wanted the motto “This Is What Happens To Little Boys When They Are Naughty” chiselled on his tombstone. It is a fitting epitaph for someone who spent a career revelling in life beyond niceness and convention. Yet perhaps what he ended up with is equally apt, an ode to complicity and his love of bad jokes: “I’m in on a plot”. And, thankfully, he let the rest of the world in too.