Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, KBE, (13 August 1899 – 29 April 1980) is regarded as one of the finest movie directors of all time. He pioneered many elements of the suspense and psychological thriller genres and is hence known as the ‘Master of Suspense‘. With more than 50 films throughout his 60-year career, Hitchcock’s signature style of direction is regarded as one of the best in history, setting the standards for films that followed.
Isn’t it surprising that he never won an Oscar for Best Director? He was awarded the living G. Thalberg Memorial Award for lifetime achievement and his film Rebecca won the Oscar for Best Picture. His acceptance speech is the shortest in award history – "Thank you". Sixteen films directed by Hitchcock received an Oscar nomination, but none won. Sounds like a mystery, alright.
As one would not expect, he was afraid of his own movies. He once said in an interview: "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”. While you might think that sounds illogical, Hitchcock has a response for that: "But, what is logic? There’s nothing more stupid than logic”.
He is also afraid of eggs. Yes, eggs. He said: "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”. Okay, that wasn’t eggspected.
Hitchcock was also a master of horrors. He would play practical jokes on his peers. He would often find out their phobias (like spiders) and then proceed to send them a box full of them. Showing his funny side, he once sent Peter Lorre a suit made by a very prestigious tailor, but it was sized for a child. He also once sent an actor 400 smoked herrings. He gave Tippi Hedren’s 6-year-old daughter Melanie Griffith an eerily accurate doll of her mother wearing a dress from his film The Birds and lying in a miniature coffin. Sometimes funny, sometimes cruel.
He was refused permission by Walt Disney to shoot at Disneyland. The reason was because he had made "that disgusting movie Psycho". He is popular at the Universal Studios theme park though – he was paid a hefty sum to be the voice of the Jaws ride at the park.
Hitchcock tried to buy every copy of the book based on his film Psycho so that very few people would know how it ended. He also filmed on a closed set and forced the cast and crew to sign an agreement promising not to mention the ending to anyone. There were no advance screenings either. Even today, it is said to be one of the greatest twists of all times!