Modern Culture06 Oct 2010 04:57 pm
Even casual fans of Alfred Hitchcock are familiar with the director’s cameo appearances in his films, a quirk that began in 1927 with Hitch’s fifth film “The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog” and quickly became a defining trademark in his films. Hitchcock made cameo appearances in 39 of his 52 surviving major films over a 50 year period (from 1927-1976). For a brief moment, he would be seen for example boarding a bus, crossing in front of a building, standing in an apartment across the courtyard, or even appearing in a newspaper photograph (required for the film “Lifeboat,” which otherwise provided no other opportunity for him to appear).
With time, Hitchcock’s cameos became increasingly bold and inventive, and fans of the thriller filmmaker would often make a game out of trying to spot the rotund extra, eventually forcing Hitchcock to make his appearance early to avoid any superfluous distractions to the film. His most ingenious cameo appearances were in films with limited sets, as in “Lifeboat” (1944), “Rope” (1948), and “Dial M for Murder” (1954).
In “Lifeboat,” filmed entirely on a boat (thus making an in-person cameo a bit awkward, to say the least), it’s Hitchcock that appears in a weight loss ad in a newspaper. The director can also be seen in photographic form in a class reunion photo in 1954′s “Dial M For Murder.”
A list of all of Hitchcock’s cameos by film:
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.
BLACKMAIL (1929): Being bothered by a small boy as he reads a book in the subway.
MURDER (1930): Walking past the house where the murder was committed, about an hour into the movie.
THE 39 STEPS (1935): Tossing some litter while Robert Donat and Lucie Mannheim run from the theater, seven minutes into the movie.
YOUNG AND INNOCENT (1938): Outside the courthouse, holding a camera.
THE LADY VANISHES (1938): Very near the end of the movie, in Victoria Station, wearing a black coat and smoking a cigarette.
REBECCA (1940): Walking near the phone booth in the final part of the film just after George Sanders makes a call.
FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (1940): Early in the movie, after Joel McCrea leaves his hotel, wearing a coat and hat and reading a newspaper.
MR. AND MRS. SMITH (1941): Midway through, passing Robert Montgomery in front of his building.
SUSPICION (1941): mailing a letter at the village postbox about 45 minutes in.
SABOTEUR (1942): Standing in front of Cut Rate Drugs in New York as the saboteur’s car stops, an hour in.
SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943): On the train to Santa Rosa, playing cards.
LIFEBOAT (1944): In the “before” and “after” pictures in the newspaper ad for Reduco Obesity Slayer.
SPELLBOUND (1945): Coming out of an elevator at the Empire Hotel, carrying a violin case and smoking a cigarette, 43 minutes in.
NOTORIOUS (1946): At a big party in Claude Rains’s mansion, drinking champagne and then quickly departing, an hour after the film begins.
THE PARADINE CASE (1947): Leaving the train and Cumberland Station, carrying a cello.
ROPE (1948): His trademark can be seen briefly on a neon sign in the view from the apartment window.
UNDER CAPRICORN (1949): In the town square during a parade, wearing a blue coat and brown hat, in the first five minutes. Ten minutes later, he is one of three men on the steps of Government House.
STAGE FRIGHT (1950): Turning to look at Jane Wyman in her disguise as Marlene Dietrich’s maid.
STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951): Boarding a train with a double bass fiddle as Farley Granger gets off in his hometown, 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 the clock in the songwriter’s apartment, a half hour into the movie.
TO CATCH A THIEF (1955): Ten minutes in, sitting to the left of Cary Grant on a bus.
THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY (1955): Walking past the parked limousine of an old man who is looking at paintings, twenty minutes into the film.
THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1956): Watching acrobats in the Moroccan marketplace (his back to the camera) just before the murder.
THE WRONG MAN (1956): Narrating the film’s prologue.
VERTIGO (1958): In a gray suit walking in the street, eleven minutes in.
NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959): Missing a bus during the opening credits.
PSYCHO (1960): Four minutes in, through Janet Leigh’s window as she returns to her office. He is wearing a cowboy hat.
THE BIRDS (1963): Leaving the pet shop with two white terriers as Tippi Hedren enters.
MARNIE (1964): Entering from the left of the hotel corridor after Tippi Hedren passes by, five minutes in.
TORN CURTAIN (1966): Early in the film, sitting in the Hotel d’Angleterre lobby with a blond baby.
TOPAZ (1969): Being pushed in a wheelchair in an airport, half an hour in. Hitchcock gets up from the chair, shakes hands with a man, and walks off to the right.
FRENZY (1972): In the center of a crowd, wearing a bowler hat, three minutes into the film; he is the only one not applauding the speaker.
FAMILY PLOT (1976): In silhouette through the door of the Registrar of Births and Deaths, 41 minutes into the movie.
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