Aug 13, 2009

Hitchcock’s Famous Cameos

I can’t think of many directors who could get away with the number of cameos that Alfred Hitchcock made. Instead of being seen as an egotist for planting himself in front of the camera, audiences loved his blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearances, and would come to search for them. The cameos became so famous that Hitchcock began to put them in the early moments of his movies so that his audience wouldn’t be distracted from the plot. In celebration of Hitch’s birthday today, I thought I’d explore those cameos in more detail:

• Hitchcock appeared in 37 of his 52 available films (some sources claim 39)

• In most of his British films, Hitchcock was actually filling out the cast as an extra. He only started appearing in every film with the express purpose of making a director’s cameo when he began his American career with Rebecca in 1940.

• That appearance in Rebecca was the only cameo that came after the two hour mark.

• If you want to catch a Hitchcock cameo, pay attention in the first half hour—that’s when he made twenty-six of his appearances.

• Hitchcock broke tradition with The Wrong Man (1956) and addressed the audience directly in a prologue. He did this to emphasize that the movie was based on a true story. It would be the only time Hitchcock spoke in one of his movies.

• On rare occasions, Hitchcock would make two appearances in one movie. He is confirmed to have done this in Rope (1948), Under Capricorn (1949) and The Lodger (1926). It has also been rumored that Hitch made a second appearance in drag in North by Northwest about forty-four minutes into the movie, but this has never been confirmed.

For more information about Hitchcock’s cameos, check out Tim Dirk’s detailed list at Filmsite. There’s also a great gallery of the cameos at Empire magazine.

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