Sir Alfred Hitchcock was an English/American director whose intense films and television programs won immense popularity and critical acclaim over a long and prolific career. His films have a macabre sense of humor and a slightly pessimistic vision of humanity.
Mrs. Peabody (1922; sometimes known as Number 13) was Hitchcock’s debut picture as a director, but it was never completed due to a lack of money. Always Tell Your Wife (1923), which he co-directed with star Seymour Hicks but did not earn credit for, was his debut film. The dramatic The Pleasure Garden gave him his first solo credit two years later (1925).
In 1934, Hitchcock obtained a deal with Gaumont-British, and his debut film for them, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), was also his first international hit. The Lawrences, played by Leslie Banks and Edna Best, are a married couple on holiday in Switzerland with their daughter Betty.
Deception, mistaken identities, and chase sequences complicate and enliven the plots in Hitchcock’s flicks, which usually revolve around murder or espionage. This mix of cinematic elements is completed by wry touches of humor and occasional intrusions of the macabre. In Hitchcock’s works, three basic themes emerge. The most prevalent scenario is that of an innocent man who is wrongfully accused of a crime and must subsequently search out the true offender to clear his name. The second theme concerns a guilty lady entangled with a male protagonist and either destroys him or is saved by him. The third motif is that of the (often psychopathic) murderer, whose identity is revealed as the tale progresses.