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The Genius of Hitchcock at London’s BFI centre

August 3, 2012

Film + Entertainment | by Francesco Cerniglia

Alfred Hitchcock, Britain’s most influential film director and creator of some of the most celebrated movies ever made, it’s only right the BFI on London’s Southbank is holding a three month celebration of his work. Best known for his classic movie thrillers, Hitchcock started out working on silent films before amounting to director status with his first directorial success in 1926 with ‘The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog’. His most celebrated films came later on in his career after a move to Hollywood with Psycho, Vertigo and North by Northwest being some of his most celebrated.

‘The Genius of Hitchcock’ season continues on from August until October with a complete retrospective of his films, from silent to talkies, everything is included. Some of these films haven’t been seen on the big screen for several years, rarer for some of his older creations and watching a Hitchcock masterpiece on the silver screen is an opportunity that should not be passed up.

Included in the season is a comprehensive step by step guide to Hitchcock on the BFI website – ‘The 39 Steps to Hitchcock’, featuring film extracts and interviews with numerous collaborators. Frankly it’s one of the best resources I’ve seen for film geeks and also newbies to the magic of Hitchcock’s cinematic presence. Aside from the obvious Hitchcock aspect, award winning actors went on to star in numerous films, Grace Kelly and Ingrid Bergman both stared in three films, while James Stewart appeared in four, including the new Sight & Sound ‘Greatest Film Ever’ Vertigo. Not too shabby.

A rarity seen from the old classics and as a special treat for lovers of the film making process, the BFI have released a sound test for his 1929 film ‘Blackmail’. While sound tests aren’t that exciting, this is one of the first tests done for a talking picture. The clip shows Hitchcock with his Polish-Czech leading lady Anny Ondra testing out an English accent that is more than a bit questionable. This year has become the year to celebrate all things British, so it’s apt that the British Film Institute celebrates the most successful director to come out of the British Isles. Its more than likely that you’ve seen part of a Hitchcock film, possibly scream Queen Janet Leigh in Psycho, admired Grace Kelly’s elegance in Rear Window or have a deep seeded fear of birds that you can’t quite figure out. So why not dive head first in film history, as now is a better time than any to become a Hitchcock fan.

The BFI is located on London’s Southbank, north of the London Eye. The season will close with a newly restored version of The Manxman at the London Film Festival in October.

Steff Hitch.


Find out more at: http://explore.bfi.org.uk/4ce2b9ee3449d

Blackmail Sound test:  http://youtu.be/7Z8mSwzSQQk

Micro-site for 39 steps: bfi.org.uk/39steps