The Hitchcock Cameo
"If I made Cinderella, the audience would immediately be looking for a body in the coach."
Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone, England in 1899. At the age of 20 he was illustrating title cards for silent films. He also started learning editing and art direction and by 1922 he became an assistant director. That same year he directed Number Thirteen which remained unfinished because of financial problems . His first completed film as director was The Pleasure Garden (1925), an Anglo-German production filmed in Munich.
Hitchcock’s first thriller was The Lodger (1925) and in 1929 he directed the first British “talkie” Blackmail. By the end of the thirties Hitchcock had directed a series of critically acclaimed thrillers including The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), The 39 Steps (1935), Sabotage (1936) and The Lady Vanishes (1938).
In 1939 Hitch signed a seven year contract with American producer David Selznick and moved to Hollywood. His first American film was Rebecca (1940) starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine, the film won an Oscar for Best Picture a spectacular start to Hitchcock’s Hollywood career.
Over the next 30 years Hitchcock would direct an astonishing run of memorable thrillers with some regarded as masterpieces – Foreign Correspondent – Shadow of a Doubt – Spellbound – Notorious – Strangers on a Train – Dial M for Murder – Rear Window – To Catch a Thief -- The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) – Vertigo – North by Northwest – Psycho – The Birds – Marnie - Frenzy.
Nominated 5 times for Best Director and never winning he received a special Oscar, the Irving G. Thalberg award, in 1968. His last film was Family Plot (1976). The Master of Suspense was knighted by the Queen in 1980 and died peacefully in his sleep a few months later at the age of 80.
Alfred Hitchcock made cameo appearances in most of his 52 films and moviegoers enjoyed trying to spot him in each film. Here is a complete list of Hitchcock’s cameo appearances –
THE LODGER (1926): At a desk in a newsroom and later in the crowd watching an arrest.
EASY VIRTUE (1927): Walking past a tennis court, carrying a walking stick.
MURDER (1930): Walking past the house where the murder was committed
BLACKMAIL (1929): Bothered by a small boy as he reads a book in the subway.
THE 39 STEPS (1935): Tossing litter while Robert Donat and Lucie Mannheim run from the theater.
YOUNG AND INNOCENT (1938): Holding a camera outside the courthouse.
THE LADY VANISHES (1938): Smoking a cigarette in Victoria Station.
REBECCA (1940): Near a phone booth.
FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (1940): Wearing a coat and hat and reading a newspaper near the beginning of the film.
MR. AND MRS. SMITH (1941): Passes by Robert Montgomery.
SABOTEUR (1942): In front of Cut Rate Drugs in New York one hour in.
SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943): Playing cards on the train.
LIFEBOAT (1944): In the "before" and "after" pictures in a newspaper ad for obesity drugs.
SPELLBOUND (1945): Stepping out of an elevator carrying a violin case, midway through.
NOTORIOUS (1946): Drinking champagne at a party in Claude Rains's mansion.
THE PARADINE CASE (1947): Seen carrying a cello after leaving a train station.
ROPE (1948): Seen walking down the street in opening scene.
UNDER CAPRICORN (1949): Two cameos, first as part of a milling crowd by the harbour and later standing on the steps of Government House
STAGE FRIGHT (1950): Looks at Jane Wyman in disguise as Marlene Dietrich's maid.
STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951): Boards a train with a double bass fiddle as Farley Granger gets off early in the film.
I CONFESS (1953): Crossing the top of a staircase after the opening credits.
DIAL M FOR MURDER (1954): On the left side of the class-reunion photo, thirteen minutes into the film.
REAR WINDOW (1954): Winding a clock in the songwriter's apartment.
TO CATCH A THIEF (1955): On a bus sitting to the left of Cary Grant in the opening scene.
THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY (1955): Walking past the car of an old man who is looking at paintings.
THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1956): In the Morrocan marketplace with his back to the camera watching acrobats.
THE WRONG MAN (1956): Talking to camera before the credits.
VERTIGO (1958): Walking in the street about 11 minutes in.
NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959): Seen at the end of the opening credits missing a bus.
PSYCHO (1960): Seen standing outside Janet Leigh's office window wearing a cowboy hat.
THE BIRDS (1963): Walking out of pet shop with two dogs as Tippi Hedren enters in the opening minutes of the film.
MARNIE (1964): Enters hotel corridor after Tippi Hedren passes by about five minutes in.
TORN CURTAIN (1966): Sitting in a hotel lobby holding a baby.
TOPAZ (1969): At an airport being pushed in a wheelchair, Hitchcock gets up from the chair, shakes hands with a man and walks off.
FRENZY (1972): Wearing a bowler hat in the center of a crowd at the start of the film.
FAMILY PLOT (1976): Seen in silhouette through a door about 40 minutes in.
A video compilation of Hitchcock cameos
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