The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

August 13, 1899

Alfred Hitchcock, who rendered unto cinema some of its enduring works while managing, in the process, to remain one of its most enigmatic figures, was born on this day in the year of Our Lord, baby, 1899.

Here are seven images from that life:

The firebrand young director in action; a publicity photo (1926)

Father of the Year; a publicity photo with his daughter (1947)

Another day, another waste-of-time, avuncular publicity photo (1957)

Artist in recession; at a press conference (1965)

The firebrand extinguished; directing on his way out (1969)

Amuse the actors; the last film (1976)

Another day, another . . . ; near the end (1979)


swac said...

Hmmm...I wonder if I'd save the firebrand extinguished label for a couple more least until after Frenzy (1972) (although I agree that this photo was taken around the time of Topaz, which was a misfire for him). I certainly think Frenzy is a better career bookend than Family Plot...a Lodger-like serial killer on the loose, London locations. Hmmm...maybe I'll dig that one out this afternoon...

Tom Sutpen said...

To me there was a crucial measure of creative energy that went out of Hitchcock's work after Marnie and was never regained. Frenzy certainly had more life in it than Topaz . . . and I think he was always trying to find a way to reignite his filmmaking after that time . . . but compare either film to something like Strangers on a Train and you can almost feel how much steam has been lost in the later works.

Brent McKee said...

I suppose you could have even pushed "firebrand extinguished" a few years earlier, to the time after The Birds or even to the time whenhe signed the contract with Universal, which in my mind was the greatest mistake of his life. Universal stifled some of his best ideas (Kaleidescope Frenzy anyone) and forced him into disaters like Topaz. Family Plot is at times a fun little confection but as unworthy and ending for him as The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu was for Sellers.

Richard Gibson said...

Great pictures, all of which I hadn't seen. You know 'Frenzy' is under-rated in my opinion. I love location movies and that really shows London as a great location. Up until say 10 years ago you could still go into both of those pubs 'The Globe' and 'The Nell of London' and it felt like you were stepping back to early 70's. Sadly today for location hunters like me the pubs have all but become chains and the insides have changed beyond recognition.

Anonymous said...

Strange, I picked up a couple of Hitch-related books at Powell's yesterday on my travels. One of 'em is an old paperback from his mystery, suspense, and horror imprints, that went a long way to keeping his name in the public mind.

I wish a lot more of the filmakers today were as creative, technically, as Hitchcock, one of his underrated strokes of genius. How many other great directors were as on-tine and on-budget as Hitch, with such a phenominal track record? There isn't one film of his I WOULDN'T watch, while there are many other "great" directors whose work is limited to a precious few, IMHO. Strangely enough, there isn't another director, ever, as recognisable as Hitchcock as person - a lot of the public know his face, that's for sure.


MichaelRyerson said...

No, either the date on the 'Father of the Year' pic is wrong or that's not Pat Hitchcock looking over his shoulder. In 1947 she would have been 19 and headed for a nice little featured role in Strangers on a Train. The girl in the picture appears to be a preteen, perhaps 11 or 12.