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The Religious Affiliation of Director
Alfred Hitchcock


From: Philip Kemp, "Alfred Hitchcock" in World Film Directors, Volume One: 1890-1945, ed. by John Wakeman, H. W. Wilson Company: New York (1987), page 456:
Both his [Hitchcock's] parents were Catholics, and he grew up in what he later depicted as a somewhat stifling atmosphere of working-class respectability and strict Catholic morality. "I was what is known as a well-behaved child..."

...Hitchcock's preoccupation with guilt may have been further developed by his education, from 1908 onwards, at St. Ignatius College, Stamford Hill, where the Jesuit fathers dispensed corporal punishment with pious rigor. "It wasn't done casually, you know. It was rather like the execution of a sentence . . . You spent the whole day waiting for the sentence to be carried out." Not that he was often in trouble...

From: William Park. "The Fifty Best Catholic Movies of All Time", Crisis 15, no. 10 (March 1997): 82-91 (URL: http://www.catholic.net/rcc/Periodicals/Crisis/1997-11/f8.html).
It is interesting to note that the three best directors who ever worked in Hollywood, Frank Capra, John Ford, and Alfred Hitchcock, were all practicing Catholics. So much for the detrimental effects in these times of the Church upon art.
Kemp, page 458:
In December 1926, Hitchcock and Alma Reville (who had converted to Catholicism) were married. (Hitchcock, who loved to present himself as a straitlaced sexual innocent, always claimed that they had preserved strict premarital chastity.) Alma continued to work closely with Hitchcock on his films, often collaborating on the scripts, and the marriage lasted, apparently without major strain, until his death fifty three years later.

From: Sean Smith, "Fr. Blake Explores Lives, Work of Six Catholic Filmmakers" in The Boston College Chronicle, 13 April 2000, Vol. 8, No. 15 (http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/rvp/pubaf/chronicle/v8/a13/blake.html):

Capra is one of six prominent American directors whose use of Catholic symbolism and imagery Fr. Blake explores in his new book AfterImage. Sub-titled The Indelible Catholic Imagination of Six American Filmmakers, the book also examines the films of Martin Scorsese, John Ford, Francis Ford Coppola, Brian De Palma and Alfred Hitchcock...

Fr. Blake selected the six not only for their stature in film history but because they represent different kinds of Catholics, from Scorsese and De Palma's contrasting experiences as Italian-Americans to Ford's upbringing in a Maine Irish-Catholic setting, as well as the English-born Hitchcock's eventual metamorphosis as an American Catholic.

"For all these differences, their films show an unmistakable and identifiable spiritual kinship," Fr. Blake said. "Almost without exception, they display a Catholic sense of sin, guilt, atonement and redemption. Their most virtuous heroes struggle with grace as members of a communion of sinners. They seek redemption within a community rather than as individuals, and often salvation is mediated by a loving, self-sacrificing savior."

...Fr. Blake... devotes a chapter to each filmmaker, offering a brief biographical sketch with particular attention to the director's Catholic background.

Patrick McGilligan, Robert Altman: Jumping Off the Cliff, St. Martin's Press: New York (1989), page 128:
[1955] ...Altman, by prearrangement, met director Alfred Hitchcock.

Hitchcock, in his mid-fifties, as halfway through one of the cinema's greatest careers, a career that managed to combine box-office appeal and production values with the highest aesthetic standards. Besides Catholicism (Hitchcock was more of a practitioner than Altman), Hitchcock had in common with the struggling director a passion for technical innovation and camera experimentation.

From: Richard A. Blake, S.J. (a Jesuit), "Finding God at the Movies ... And why Catholic churches produce Catholic Filmmakers", website: Woodstock Theological Center (http://www.georgetown.edu/centers/woodstock/report/r-fea79a.htm):

To an astounding extent that I had never suspected until I started to look into the matter, the movies are really a Catholic medium. While Jews have placed their mark on the corporate side of the industry, Catholics have been equally over-represented in the creative side. Think of some of the key filmmakers that even casual film audiences know by name: Hitchcock, John Ford, Frank Capra, Scorsese and Coppola, Leo McCarey, Robert Altman, Michael Cimino, and the master of teen-age horror films Roger Corman. In this ecumenical age we might even include Cecil B. DeMille, who was a high Episcopalian. Among the younger Americans, we have Kevin Smith, David Lynch, and Ed Burns. If we extend our reach to Europe, we find a similar pattern. Important directors and artistic movements arise far more regularly from Catholic cultures in France, Italy and Spain than from traditionally Protestant countries. Why is this?

...From an early age, Catholics learn to tame the mysteries of life and death with the hardware of the material universe. By dealing with the here-and-now rather than fleeing it, Catholic filmmakers allow their characters to seek a form of redemption in their day-to-day struggles. For Hitchcock, the workaday world contains unseen dangers, and one may even be threatened by a loss of identity, but the human person can prevail, eventually... All their characters seek personal integrity and redemption in the midst of a community. Their struggles are rarely couched in spiritual terms, but they are invariably religious quests with milestones along the way marked by Catholic images. The Catholic imagination is more than catholic, more than sacramental - it is profligate. It sees the workings of grace everywhere.

Richard Hell, "The Devil, Probably", text of talk given on 9 November 2002 at the YWCA Cine-Club in New York City prior to a screening of The Devil, Probably; reprinted on the "Robert Bresson" webpage on "Masters of Cinema" website (URL: http://www.mastersofcinema.org/bresson/Words/RichardHell_on_Bresson.html; viewed 29 June 2005):
Truffaut saw Hitchcock as a Catholic filmmaker.
From: Antoine de Baecque and Serge Toubiana, Truffaut, translated from the French by Catherine Temerson, Alfred A. Knopf: New York, NY (1999), pages 357-358:
Almost as soon as he arrived in Los Angeles, Truffaut received the news of Alfred Hitchcock's death, on April 29, 1980... On May second, Truffaut and Laura went to the little [Catholic] church on Santa Monica Boulevard, in Beverly Hills, where a Mass was held in honor of Hitchcock. This was the same church where one year earlier, "a farewell to Jean Renoir had taken place," Truffaut wrote, comparing the two ceremonies. "Jean Renoir's coffin had been placed in front of the altar. Family, friends, neighbors, film lovers and people off the street attended the ceremony. For Hitchcock it was different. There was no coffin--it had been removed to an unknown destination. The guests, who had been invited by telegram, were checked in at the door by Universal's security men. The police dispersed the crowd outside. It was the burial of a timid man who had become intimidating and who, for the first time, was avoiding publicity, since it wouldn't help his work--a man who, since his adolescence, had trained himself to be in control of the situation." With the deaths of the two directors he probably most admired in the world coming so close together, Truffaut knew he would no longer have the same pleasure visiting Hollywood, as he had been doing once or twice a year for some time.
From: Gene D. Phillips, Major Film Directors of the American and British Cinema, Associated University Presses: Cranbury, NJ (1990), page 58:
Alfred Hitchcock was born in London in 1899 and was brought up with a rather strict Catholic background notably at Saint Ignatius, a Jesuit preparatory school in London.
Phillips, page 74:
Hitchcock's last completed film, Family Plot (1976), a tale about the pursuit and capture of a master kidnapper, was a good film, but not on par with Frenzy. Nevertheless, like every Hitchcock film before it, Family Plot reflects the provocative personal vision of the creative artist who made it. Indeed, may [sic: many] filmgoers have come away from his movies, Newsweek once noted, with some sobering thoughts about human nature as Hitchcock viewed it: that people are not always what they seem, neither as good nor as bad as they might perhaps at first appear; that good and evil can bundle together, like sly lovers, in the same personality. Further, the more perceptive viewers might just realize that these same truths also appli in some degrees to themselves and not just to others. In Hitchcock's own words, if one has been brought up by the Jesuits, "as I was, these elements are bound to intrude."
From: Les Keyser, Martin Scorsese, Twayne Publishers: New York (1992), page 17:
The Hollywood Producers' Guild honored [Martin Scorsese's film] It's Not Just You, Murray! as the best student film of 1964, so the starstruck Scorsese flew to the West Coast and found himself seated at the podium with Alfred Hitchcock, who was receiving a Milestone Award. Scorsese and Hitchcock, directors linked by their Catholicism and their mutual interest in the dark side of humanity, in violence, guilt, and psychological terror, never spoke, yet their presence together mirrors the transition between young and old, the transition from the studio system to a new, freewheeling, deal-oriented Hollywood.

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