North by Northwest Message Board

Zeke Steiner posts a message on 11/7/2005 6:12:42 PM The world of Alfred Hitchcock is never safe. The calm, familiar, reassuring details of ordinary life merely form a thin shell over the darker forces of fear, destruction, madness and death. It is no accident that in Psycho Janet Leigh is brutally murdered in the antiseptic shower of a common place motel. That the insane murderer in Shadow of a Doubt brings out the paranoiac terror of a peaceful Midwestern town and shatters the complacent world of a perfectly ordinary young girl. That the birds in The Birds attack children at a picnic. Or that Cary Grant almost dies in a cornfield. Bruno Anthony in Strangers on a Train is a most engaging young man. Norman Bates in Psycho is a sad, sympathetic, sensitive individual. Uncle Charlie in Shadow of a Doubt is a considerate, pleasant, attractive figure. But this discrepancy between appearance and reality does not apply only to the criminally insane. It exits in everyone in Hitchcock's sane, sensible characters and his sane, sensible audience. The major theme in his films is that none of us are what we think ourselves to be. His films illustrate this by completely involving us in terror and violence, and by evoking in us conflicting reactions to his characters. Zeke Steiner

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