“Psycho” by Alfred Hitchcock

Psycho directed by Alfred Hitchcock has a focus on the male gaze. When the audience is first introduced to Norman Bates, the audience learns about his hobby, taxidermy. This is the practice of stuffing dead animals. When Marion Crane and Norman are having dinner they sit in a room with a lot of animals that have been stuffed by Norman. Alfred Hitchcock decides to include one shot in which it’s Norman looking at Marion with a stuffed owl with its wings out on top of him. The stuffed owl in this frame represents Norman Bates because the gaze of the owl is focused on Marion. Furthermore, Hitchcock intended for Norman to be seen as the owl in this situation. This single shot of the owl is important because it represents the male gaze on women. The eyes of the owl are focused on Marion which is the male gaze on women.In the film, this shot also foreshadows the death of Marion. Additionally, throughout this scene Norman compares Marion to a bird. He mentions that she eats similar to a bird. Norman is making this comparison because he feels that he has more power over Marion. Norman sees Marion as a small bird and he is the owl. The gaze of the owl is the gaze of a predator looking at its prey which in this shot is the bird. This highlights how men feel the need to have more power over women. And if they feel that their power is threatened by women then they will attack women. Therefore, this scene in Psycho is significant because it represents the male and the threat men feel about their masculinity.

“North by Northwest” by Alfred Hitchcock

In various films directed by Alfred Hitchcock, there is a lot of misogyny and gender stereotypes that are displayed throughout the film. In Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, there are multiple scenes that display Hitchcock’s misogyny. Roger follows Eve to the auction after she leaves the hotel room. At the auction, one of the guys says “He was in your room”(Hitchcock 1:26:00-1:27:00) and Roger replies “Sure. Isn’t everybody?”(Hitchcock 1:26:00-1:27:00). Additionally, Roger says “I’ll bet you paid plenty for this piece of sculpture” (Hitchcock 1:27:45-1:27:53). These quotes from Roger display Hitchcock’s misogyny. In the film, Roger is being misogynistic because he says “piece of sculpture”(Hitchcock 1:27:45-1:27:53). When he is referring to Eve. In this scene, Roger is objectifying Eve by saying this. This quote from Roger displays Hitchcock’s belief that women are sexual objects for men. Roger is upset because he feels that he has lost power because he feels that Eve has tricked him multiple times. Because Roger feels that his masculinity is in threat he makes misogynistic comments while looking at Eve in an attempt to gain power over Eve. Therefore, North By Northwest displays a lot of Hitchcock’s misogyny and beliefs of gender stereotypes.

Citation:

Hitchcock, Alfred, director. North by Northwest, 1959.

“Vertigo” By Alfred Hitchcock

After watching Vertigo by Alfred Hitchcock, I noticed the theme of the male gaze and always being watched. At the beginning of the film, Scottie follows Madeline to the art gallery and to the bay. He is watching her, and she has no knowledge that he is there behind her watching all her movements. These beginning scenes of Scottie watching Madeline demonstrate the male gaze because he is constantly watching her. Additionally, towards the end of the film the scenes of Judy changing her appearance demonstrate the male gaze. John makes Judy change everything about the way she looks just to satisfy John. He tells her to get different clothing, change her hair, and so much more. She does all this to satisfy John. This demonstrates the male gaze because John is requiring her to change everything about herself just so he is satisfied. Furthermore, after she undergoes all these changes John is still not satisfied because her hair is not perfect. These scenes towards the end of the film demonstrate the views that Hitchcock has on the male gaze and how he believes that women are meant to satisfy the gaze of a man. Even though Judy did everything that John asked her to do he was still not satisfied. Therefore, Vertigo highlights the misogynistic beliefs of Hitchcock on how women should satisfy the gaze of men.

“The Man Who Knew Too Much” By Alfred Hitchcock

After watching The Man Who Knew Too Much, the audience is able to see Hitchcock’s misogyny by looking at Ben and Jo. At the beginning of the film, when Jo and Ben are having dinner they talk about New York. Ben claims that he could not move to New York because his patients in Indiana would not be able to see him. However, he uses this as an excuse to prevent Jo from performing in New York and following her passions. Hitchcock believes in traditional gender roles in that women have to stay home and take care of the children while men go and work. Jo had to sacrifice her passion to stay home and take care of her son however, Ben could still work as a doctor and not have to stay home to take care of his son. This highlights Hitchcock’s belief in gender roles. Ben had to make no sacrifices because he can be a doctor and he can stay in Indiana. While Jo changed her entire life and made a lot of sacrifices. Additionally, when Ben discovers that their son was taken from them he decides to sedate Jo to tell her the truth. While sedated she is unable to express many emotions and she just looks at Ben. Hitchcock decides to make Ben sedate Jo because if she is sedated then she cannot express too much emotion. This highlights Hitchcock’s misogyny because Hitchcock believes that women are too emotional. Hitchcock believes in the gender stereotype that women are too emotional. Therefore, this film highlights Hitchcock’s belief in following gender roles.

“Rear Window” by Alfred Hitchcock

After watching Rear Window directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1954, I noticed how Hitchcock portrayed gender stereotypes throughout the film. One of the gender stereotypes that Hitchcock displays in the film is the stereotype that women are responsible for taking care of men. An example is at the beginning of the film when the audience first meets Stella she takes Jeffries’ temperature and takes care of him. Additionally, Lisa brings Jeffries food and she also takes care of him. Even though Jeffries was in the wheelchair, he was still the leader telling both Lisa and Stella what to do. This follows the gender stereotype that men are supposed to be leaders and women are supposed to take care of men and children. Hitchcock displays this stereotype throughout the film. Another gender stereotype that Hitchcock showcases in the film is the stereotype that women focus a lot on beauty. In the film, both Lisa and Jeffries are convinced that the wife was killed because all the makeup and jewelry remained in the apartment and they did not believe that the wife of Lars would leave without those things. Therefore, throughout the film, Hitchcock showcases several gender stereotypes.

“Strangers On A Train” by Alfred Hitchcock

After watching Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers On a Train, I was able to notice a theme that is similar to a theme in Rope. In both films, Hitchcock demonstrates his view on queerness. In Rope, the two protagonists appeared to be in a relationship. Similarly, in Strangers On a Train there are several scenes which show Hitchcock’s view on queerness. Hitchcock intended for Bruno to be gay because throughout the film Bruno has an obsession towards Guy. On the train where they first meet Bruno knows almost everything that is going on in Guy’s life. Additionally, he confesses his feelings towards Guy. Bruno says, “But Guy… I like you.” (Hitchcock 58:55-59:00). After Bruno said that, Guy punched him directly in the face. Guy’s punch is a rejection of the feelings that Bruno was confessing to him. This highlights Hitchcock’s homophobia. Additionally, the audience may agree that Bruno can be seen as the villain of the film. However, Hitchcock intended to do this because he wanted to highlight his view that queerness is wrong. Hitchcock uses Bruno throughout the film to show his negative views on queerness. Therefore, Strangers On a Train showcases Alfred Hitchcock’s perspective on queerness.

Reference:

Hitchcock, Alfred, director. Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train. Warner Bros., 1951.

“Rope” By Alfred Hitchcock

After watching Rope, by Alfred Hitchcock there is one theme that stood out the most in the film. This theme is Hitchcock’s view on social inequality. The main plot of the film is that the two main characters believe that they are able to get away with murder. The reason they believe this is because they believe they are superior and that they have the ability to murder someone who they consider inferior. Hitchcock is trying to portray his view on how higher social classes believe that they are able to get away with anything they want even at the expensive of lower classes. In society, the upper wealthy classes exploit the working class. Hitchcock is using this film to demonstrate how higher classes exploit the working class. Throughout the film, Brandon was confident that they would get away with it because he thought that he was superior. Hitchcock is showing his beliefs on social inequality. Additionally, the various angle shots of the movie demonstrate Hitchcock’s criticism of the upper and wealthy classes. Therefore, one important theme of the film is the criticism of upper social classes.

“Notorious” by Alfred Hitchcock

After watching Notorious, by Alfred Hitchcock I was able to notice a lot of symbolism throughout the movie. One important symbol in the movie was the key that Sebastian had to unlock the wine cellular. Hitchcock puts a lot of emphasis on the key because throughout the film there are various scenes with close ups of just the key that reads “Unica”. There are close ups of the key that sits on the desk when Sebastian is looking at it. Furthermore, in the scene where Alicia grabs the key she makes sure to hide the key when she hugs Sebastian. And there is a closeup of her holding the key and then dropping it. Sebastian’s key is likely a symbol for what Sebastian was intending to do with the sand that was found in the bottle. Hitchcock ensures that the audience is aware of the significance of the key through the various shots in the film.

Another theme I noticed in the film is the role that the mother has throughout the film. In the movie, Sebastian’s mother is protective of her son. For this reason, she hated when Sebastian married Alicia. In the film, she also never portrayed positive expressions towards Alicia. Except at the end where she pretended to care that Alicia was sick and needed to go to the hospital. Furthermore, she proposed the idea to poison Alicia when Sebastian discovered that she was a spy. She also said that she would handle the situation with Alicia. In Psycho, by Alfred Hitchcock, Norma Bates was also a protective mother for Norman. In both movies, Hitchcock decides to include an overprotective mother. In Notorious, Sebastian’s mother tries to poison Alicia in order to protect her son from being arrested.

“Shadow Of A Doubt” by Alfred Hitchcock

This week I watched Hitchcock’s film Shadow of a Doubt, and there were many interesting themes that I noticed throughout the film. The first theme I notice is Hitchcock’s use of suspense throughout the film. At the beginning of the film, we are introduced to Charles who seems to be running away from something. Hitchcock leads the audience to believe that Charles is being followed and the two men are out to hurt Charles. However, once the plot progresses there is a build up of suspense when we find out Charles is actually a murderer. Hitchcock’s use of suspense throughout the film draws in viewers and keeps them from being able to guess the ending of the movie. Additionally, one interesting scene throughout the film is when Saunders took a picture of Charles at the bottom of the steps. This scene builds up suspense, and it is also interesting because the use of stairs can be seen in various Hitchcock films including Psycho and Vertigo.

Another interesting theme of the movie is Hitchcock’s use of foreshadowing. One example of this is how much Herb and Joe would talk about how they would murder each other and be able to get away with it. For the audience, it was strange because out all the conversations that they can have they decide to talk about how they would be able to murder each other. They list putting poison in each other’s drink and other ways  This is foreshadowing because towards the end of the film Charlie will try to kill Charlie first with the stairs, then the garage, then on the train. However, Charlie did not try to kill Charlie using the ideas that Joe and Herb had.

Rebeeca

After watching Rebecca, I was able to notice many themes that were in the movie that are also reflected in many of Hitchcock’s other films. One of the themes of the film is always being seen or watched. This is a theme that is in a lot of Hitchcock’s films. In this film, the protagonist was always being watched and seen by others. An example of when this occurs is when she goes into Rebecca’s bedroom to look around. Mrs. Danvers walks into the room. Additionally, throughout the film Mrs. Danvers always gave the protagonist negative glances because she loved Rebecca and hated the protagonist. Hitchcock intended to increase the paranoia of the audience by always making the protagonist been seen by Mrs. Danvers or the other characters in the film.


Another theme that I noticed while watching the film is the way that he made Mrs. Danvers appears as a villain. Throughout the film, Mrs. Danvers constantly compared her to Rebecca and made comments that were intended to make the protagonist feel bad. Tania Modleski writes about this and says, “it becomes clear that Mrs. Danvers is really willing her to substitute her body for the body of Rebecca” (Modleski 48). Modleski makes this point because Mrs. Danvers was determined to make the protagonist feel terrible for trying to take the place of Rebecca. In one of the scenes of the film, Mrs. Danvers tells the protagonist to commit suicide because she could never be Rebecca. Mrs. Danvers was not the only character to do this because most of the characters compared to Rebecca. Hitchcock intended the audience to see how the protagonist was not like Rebecca. The protagonist is also never referred to by her name throughout the movie but from the very beginning the audience knew about Rebecca.

Citation:

Modleski, Tania. The Women Who Knew Too Much.