Alfred Hitchcock

Religion, politics, and ideas ofAlfred Hitchcock

Summary

Hitchcock was a lifelong, devout Catholic.

Hitchcock wasn't outwardly political, though he did try to do his part to get the U.S. to back Britain during World War II.

Editorial

Alfred Hitchcock was born and raised in London, England. He died in Bel Air, California in 1980.

Hitchcock's upbringing was in a strict Catholic home, where young Alfred attended Mass every week, which was officiated by his cousin (though some sources say uncle[1] ), was briefly an altar boy, and graduated from a Catholic prep school.[2]

It never stopped for him either. Hitchcock's wife, Alma Reville, converted to Catholicism, the couple attended Mass every week,[3] donated large sums of money to the church and Catholic charities,[4] their daughter married the Archbishop of Boston[5] and Hitchcock's funeral was held in the Catholic tradition.[6]

That enough Catholic for ya?

Hitchcock was grateful for his Catholic education, but claimed that he had bucked the fear and guilt that came with the religion. He said:

[My Catholic upbringing taught me] organization, control, and to some degree analysis… I don't think the religious side of the Jesuit education impressed itself so much upon me as the strict discipline one endured at the time… but I've grown out of religious fear now.[7]

But all of that suspenseful darkness in his films must have come from somewhere and many film buffs argue that Hitchcock's movies are littered with references to Catholic dogma and imagery, particularly in their themes of guilt and sin as existing only in the minds of characters and redemption/salvation.[8]

Politics is for The Birds

Hitchcock was never a political man. In fact, as one astute author pointed out, out of the hundreds of interviews he gave, he wasn't ever caught giving an explicit political statement of any kind. ((Private Politics and Public Propaganda. Alfred Hitchcock Geek.))

However, he did have his ways. Hitchcock was a part of a small band of English film directors in Hollywood prior to the outbreak of World War II. These directors (others included Boris Karloff, Reginald Gardiner and Robert Stevenson) vowed to make films that would attempt to break the U.S. citizenry out of their isolationist neutrality and get behind Britain in the war in Europe. Among the films Hitchcock made to honor this pact were Foreign Correspondent in 1940 and Suspicion in 1941.[9]

One of his films (Lifeboat) seemed to have the opposite effect. The film featured a highly charismatic Nazi aboard a lifeboat with a series of characters who all hailed from various Allied countries. The Nazi was a natural leader and appeared to be portrayed as the protagonist. When Hitchcock was criticized for this, he insisted the film's intention was, in fact, the opposite, saying:

While the democracies were completely disorganized, all of the Germans were clearly headed in the same direction. So here was a statement telling the democracies to put their differences aside temporarily and to gather their forces to concentrate on the common enemy.[10]

So it seems that, despite political silence during most of Hitchcock's career, it is likely that he did harbor political opinions and ideals–as they appeared in his films. He probably just considered it something that was his own–and no one else's–business.

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