Monday, August 06, 2012

Stamp of a Director: Alfred Hitchcock

On Films and Filmmaking
"The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder."

"To me Psycho (1960) was a big comedy. Had to be."

"A good film is when the price of the dinner, the theatre admission and the babysitter were worth it."

"Our original title, you know, was 'The Man in Lincoln`s Nose'. Couldn't use it, though. They also wouldn't let us shoot people on Mount Rushmore. Can`t deface a national monument. And it`s a pity, too, because I had a wonderful shot in mind of Cary Grant hiding in Lincon`s nose and having a sneezing fit." — On 'North by Northwest', 1959

"For me, the cinema is not a slice of life, but a piece of cake."

"To make a great film you need three things—the script, the script and the script."

"Always make the audience suffer as much as possible."

"Blondes make the best victims. They're like virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints."

"Give them pleasure—the same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare."

"I am a typed director. If I made Cinderella, the audience would immediately be looking for a body in the coach."

"Self-plagiarism is style."

"Cary Grant is the only actor I ever loved in my whole life."

"There is nothing quite so good as burial at sea. It is simple, tidy, and not very incriminating."

On Murder
"Some of our most exquisite murders have been domestic, performed with tenderness in simple, homely places like the kitchen table."

"Man does not live by murder alone. He needs affection, approval, encouragement and, occasionally, a hearty meal."

"In films murders are always very clean. I show how difficult it is and what a messy thing it is to kill a man."

"One must never set up a murder. They must happen unexpectedly, as in life."

On Fear
"The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them."

"I am scared easily, here is a list of my adrenaline-production: 1: small children, 2: policemen, 3: high places, 4: that my next movie will not be as good as the last one."

"There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it."

"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."
— On his lifelong fear of eggs.

"Luck is everything... My good luck in life was to be a really frightened person. I'm fortunate to be a coward, to have a low threshold of fear, because a hero couldn't make a good suspense film."

On Television
"Television is like the American toaster, you push the button and the same thing pops up every time."

"Seeing a murder on television can help work off one's antagonisms. And if you haven't any antagonisms, the commercials will give you some."

"Television has brought back murder into the home—where it belongs."

On Books
"The paperback is very interesting but I find it will never replace the hardcover book—it makes a very poor doorstop."

Note: You'll find 18 other Celebrity Stamps under Labels. On October 31, 2011, I wrote a short piece on Hitchcockian humour that includes some of the quotes reproduced above. You can read it here.


  1. Very enjoyable. Often the best part of his TV show. Did he do his own writing? I understand what he meant about PSYCHO being a comedy, but only when you've already seen it for the first time. The double meaning of Norman Bates' lines becomes apparent and they get you giggling.

    1. Thanks, Ron. I don't know whether he said these lines or something made them out for him. I'm curious about the PSYCHO quote too and would have to see the film again to see what's so comic about it.

  2. Great stuff Prashant - Hitchcock was a lways good for a quote or three (he'd hired a PR company as far back as the early 30s) and he was a great filmmaker.

    1. Thanks very much, Sergio. You have a point about the great filmmaker hiring a PR agency to do all the self-publicity for him and that would include quotable quotes too. I never really thought of it.

  3. Love this, Prashant! (Well, it's like a list and you know how I love lists.) My favorite is 'Television has brought back murder into the home - where it belongs.' HA!!

    Hitchcock was probably not a fun man to be around, but he sure made some terrific movies.

    1. Yvette, I'm glad you enjoyed the quotes. It's one of the easiest things to post! Hitchcock's quotes are all over the internet and like everyone else, I merely repackaged them, albeit a little differently. He did make some great movies, no doubt, and I'm always up for a Hitchcock festival.

  4. Great quotes from the Master himself. Following your blog now.

    1. Neer, you're welcome! Hitchcock was, indeed, the Master of suspense films.