-exhibition to introduce Sunday’s Penicuik screening of The 39 Steps:



HITCHCOCK pictured by Penicuik Great photographer ALBERT WATSON








HITCHCOCK’S THE 39 STEPS doors open 7 for 7.30pm   £4  refreshments available


Cowan Institute (Penicuik Town Hall) 28-29 July 2008

Virginia Valli in The Pleasure Garden

(“Irrgarten der Leidenschaft” Germany-UK silent 1925 b/w)

Director Alfred Hitchcock for Emelka & Gainsborough, filmed at Emelka Studios in Munich and some locations in Italy.

 Hitch part-directs this co-production romantic melodrama. The Pleasure Garden is a story of two contrasting chorus girls, Geraghty a coquette, Universal star Valli prim, unfolding a tale of madness, murder and despair.

Ivor Novello in The Lodger -A Story of the London Fog

 (UK silent 1927 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock, Producer Michael Balcon for Picadilly.

 Hitch told François Truffaut that though he’d made films earlier, this was his true first effort. Novello’s star vehicle is based on a book on the Jack the Ripper killings identifying a lodger as the murderer. Hitch wanted an ambiguous ending, but the studio wanted Novello to emerge innocent.  Film includes an inventive “glass ceiling” sequence.  Hitch’s cameo: a desk in the newsroom early in the film; possibly also later in the crowd lynch scene.

Carl Brisson, Lilian-Hall Davis & Ian Hunter in The Ring

(UK silent 1927 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock, Producer John Maxwell for British International Pictures.

"The Ring" is for some Hitchcock's best silent film; it’s a sharp little romance that sprints alongwith typical Hitch touches - the camera gets "knocked out" in a boxing scene –comedy amid the tragedy  -the way he shows crowds at the fair  -the ambivalent attraction of the girl to both men  -the symbolism as the wife moving from one corner of the ring to the other as the fight progresses  -the position of characters in a scene  -the edit as the wedding ring is placed on her finger  -the title ambiguities of boxing ring and wedding ring.  All used with happy abandon by Hitch and clearly showing his early genius.

Ivor Novello in Downhill

 (UK silent 1927 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock, Producer Michael Balcon for Gainsborough Pictures.

  A tale of two schoolboys who made a pact of loyalty. One of them keeps his side of the bargain – but at a price. Wrongly accused of fathering a waitress’s baby, he is first expelled from school and then banished by his stern father, becoming a continental gigolo.  Hitchcock inventively depicts his pitiful descent into squalor as a social and moral outcast. The star, Ivor Novello, co-wrote the story and had already appeared in the stage play. But at 35 he was simply too old for the part.

Isabel Jeans in Easy Virtue

 (UK silent 1928 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock, Producer Michael Balcon for Gainsborough Pictures.  Larita Filton is named as correspondent in a scandalous divorce case. First line:- Prosecutor: “Mrs. Filton do you wish the Jury to believe the co-respondent never kissed you?”. Last line:- Larita Filton: [to news photographers] “Shoot! There's nothing left to kill.”  Hitch’s cameo: a man with a stick near the tennis court.


Lilian-Hall Davis in The Farmer’s Wife

(UK silent 1928 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock for British International Pictures.

 Charming rustic semi-romantic comedy. Hitch applies tender creativity and the attention to detail that he would later give to his suspense films, making a simple plot into a perceptive and touching movie. Characters' feelings and thoughts are communicated through masterful camera work. The most powerful recurring image is a pair of chairs near the fireplace, where Farmer Sweetland remembers his dear departed wife.

Betty Balfour in Champagne

(UK silent 1928 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock, Producer John Maxwell for British International Pictures.

A spoilt rich girl leads a life of luxury. When stocks crash she is forced to fend for herself!

Carl Brisson & Anny Ondra in The Manxman with Malcolm Keen

(UK silent 1929 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock for British International Pictures. Like The Ring this is a love triangle between a man, his wife and best friend, and the same lead, Carl Bresson. This is harsher, prefiguring film noir in disregard for characters' fates. Hitch puts the audience inside the scenario by making the film almost entirely point-of-view shots. Time and again Carl Bresson's big innocent face stares out, implicating us in the guilt of the other two leads. Very beautiful to look at, with exquisite location shots and great use of natural lighting, in ironic counterpoint to the darkness of the story, The Manxman is shot straightforwardly without expressionist camera techniques, and a smooth, flowing style uncluttered with too many title cards.

Anny Ondra, John Longden, Donald Calthrop in Blackmail

 (UK 1929 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock for British International Pictures.

  Hitch’s first sound film is typically inventive and forces the audience to explore the guilty ambiguities of each main character.  The word Knife sounds insistently above the conversation in the hearing of victim-culprit Annie Ondra. And Hitch sets a familiar national monument as thriller background (here the suitably silent reading room of the British Museum, later films the Forth Bridge, Westminster Cathedral, the Statue of Liberty, Lincoln Memorial, Golden Gate Bridge and Mount Rushmore).

Sean O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock

(UK 1930 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock, Producer John Maxwell for British International Pictures.

 Set during the Irish Civil War in the early 1920s this adaptation of the popular stage play is by Alma Reville, Mrs Alfred Hitchcock and shows the hardships of a poor Dublin family, They hear they have come into a big inheritance and start to  lead a rich and carefree life forgetting what the most important values are.  By the time they discover they will not receive the inheritance; the family is destroyed and penniless. They must sell their home and start living like vagabonds.  Question: Was long-suffering Juno an original for Dudley Watkins’ Ma Broon?


Herbert Marshall and Norah Baring in Murder

(UK 1930 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock, producer John Maxwell for British International Pictures.

  Police find the actress, Diana Baring, near the body of her friend. All evidence seems to point to her and at the end of a trial, she is condemned. Sir John Menier, an actor member of the jury, suspects Diana's boyfriend, who works as an acrobat wearing a dress. Sir John sets out to find the real murderer before Diana's death sentence is carried out. This is the first film where someone's thoughts are presented on the soundtrack. Cameo: about an hour into the movie Hitch walks past the house where the murder was committed.

Helen Haye and Edmund Gwenn in The Skin Game

(UK 1931 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock, producer John Maxwell for British International Pictures.

Pushy social climber Hornblower (Edmund Gwenn) buys land next to their estate from the aristocratic Hillcrist family, and promises the tenant family on the land can live there in perpetuity. Hornblower goes back on his word and evicts them. When the Hillcrists find their estate totally surrounded by the upstart Hornblower, Mrs. Hillcrist (Helen Haye) threatens salacious details of the Hornblower girls past life known unless the land is returned and tragedy results. Adapted from the stage and with some good moments, but far from Hitch’s best.

Henry Kendall and Joan Barry in Rich and Strange

 (UK 1931 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock, producer John Maxwell for British International Pictures.

Hitch's favourite British film was a box-office failure. Bravely leaving wordy mainstream adaptations and the thriller genre behind, this is a visual essay on the disintegration of a marriage. A suburban couple’s cruise shows how worthless riches can be (vacuous lives need more than money to fill them) and the last reel is a commentary on the absurd.


John Stuart and Leo M. Lion in Number Seventeen

 (UK 1932 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock, producers John Maxwell & Leo M. Lion for British International Pictures.

 This robbers-on-the-run flick was Hitch's last work as a director for BIP.  He’d wanted to direct a prestige production of John Van Druten's play "London Wall," but to punish him for the financial failure of "Rich and Strange", BIP head John Maxwell took him off "London Wall" and put him on "Number Seventeen" instead.

Esmond Knight, Jessie Matthews, Fay Compton and Edmund Gwenn in Waltzes from Vienna

 (UK musical 1934 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock, producer Michael Balcon for Gaumont British (Fr ver: Le Chant du Danube).

In 1933 Hitch found himself without a picture to direct and signed on for this unlikely musical just to keep himself working. It was his first effort back with his old friend Balcon at Gaumont British – and the film he liked least – "the lowest ebb of my career". Picture and sound quality were a big improvement, and the story, though limited, was pleasant enough.  Edmund Gwenn's vain and bitter Strauss Senior adds welcome darkness to the proceedings, but the most memorable thing is the infamous scene where Strauss Jr composes The Blue Danube amidst the rhythmic bread-throwing of a bakery.

Nova Pilbeam, Peter Lorre, Leslie Banks, Edna Best in The Man Who Knew Too Much

 (UK 1934 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock, producer Michael Balcon for Gaumont British.

  Lorre is here one of Hitch's great villains, like Rains in Notorious, Cotten in Shadow of a Doubt, Walker in Strangers on a Train or Mason in North by Northwest. Hitchcock always explores the villain’s perspective even if only briefly as in Tearle’s “You must consider my point of view” in The 39 Steps or Burr’s “What do you want?” in Rear Window. This Man Who Knew Too Much has the advantage of brilliant German-style cinematography and Lorre’s presence was - the possibility of good sales in German language version.

Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll in The 39 Steps

 (UK 1935 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock, producers Michael Balcon and Ivor Montague for Gaumont British.

 With all the classic elements of the master, 39 Steps sets the standard for later Hitchcock films. There’s Hitch’s classic theme of an average, innocent man caught up in extraordinary events beyond his control. And trust is another: between the crofter and his wife, the innkeeper and his wife, Hannay and Pamela. These motifs drive the film’s great story, pace, interesting and likeable characters, and sly wit.  It’s sharp, quintessential Hitchcock.

Madeleine Carroll, Peter Lorre, John Geilgud and Robert Young in The Secret Agent

UK 1936 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock, Producer Michael Balcon for Gaumont British.

Hitch convinced Gielgud to play the lead, describing the hero as a modern Hamlet. But Gielgud ended up hating his character’s enigma and felt Hitch made the villain more charming than the hero. Hitch reflected on Gielgud: "You can't root for a hero who doesn't want to be one." Cameo: Hitch comes down the ship's gangway.


Sylvia Sidney and Oscar Homolka in Sabotage

 (UK 1936 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock, producer Michael Balcon for Gaumont British (US title The Woman Alone)

Verloc, a cinema owner, is one of a gang of saboteurs in London,and lives with his wife Sylvia and her young brother Stevie who know nothing of this. Scotland Yard places an undercover detective next door to investigate. The gang’s leader assigns Verloc to put a bomb in the Underground and sends the innocent Stevie with the bag. What will be the outcome? This disturbing film was banned in Brazil.


Nova Pilbeam & Derrick de Marney in Young & Innocent

(UK 1937 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock, producer Edward Black for Gaumont British (US title The Girl Was Young)

  This breathlessly paced movie offers gripping suspense and melodrama as the hero tries to clear his name. The title deliberately reminds us of the young and innocent victim of the previous film, making audiences fear what Hitch will do here to his 18 year old star, Nova Pillbeam. Lots of Hitchcock tricks, and his amazing virtuoso extended zoom reveals all at the end.


Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave & Dame May Whitty in The Lady Vanishes

 (UK 1938 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock, producer Edward Black for Gainsborough GB Pictures .

 Many see this as Hitch’s best early work. It shows his growing talent for building suspense from an unlikely mix of the commonplace and the incredible. Post-Munich times were just right for nervous laughter and Hitch builds up his tension on a delicious foundation of slow burning comedy.


Charles Laughton, Robert Newton & Maureen O’Hara in Jamaica Inn

(UK 1939 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock, producer Erich Pommer for Mayflower Pictures.

  Reportedly one of Hitch's most unhappy directing jobs; caught between Charles Laughton and Laughton's business partners, Hitch said he did not so much direct the film as referee it. He made no cameo appearance and it was the last film he made in England before going to Hollywood under contract to David O. Selznick. A good part for Maureen O’Hara, and Robert Newton’s performance shows why Hollywood wanted him to test for Heathcliff.


Laurence Olivier & Joan Fontaine in Rebecca

(US 1940 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock for producer David O Seltznick.

Hitch’s first effort in US gained Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Cinematography.  Brilliantly directed, acted and photographed in deep focus (as later used in Citizen Kane) to create a memorable atmosphere of brooding menace.



Joel McCrea, Laraine Day, Herbert Marshall in Foreign Correspondent

(US 1940 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock, for Walter Wanger Productions.

Suspense is unrelenting, and builds to a spectacular climax with many dazzling Hitchcock sequences: the assassination in Amsterdam, the cathedral tower, the windmill scene, the hotel balcony, shooting down the plane. Plus Hitch’s trademark humour and strong characterisations, from George Saunders and Edmund Gwenn cast against type as friend and foe respectively. Hitch cameo: Man with newspaper on street.


Carole Lombard & Robert Montgomery in Mr & Mrs Smith

(US 1941 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock, producer Harry E Edington for RKO Radio Pictures.

  As a favour Carole Lombard asked Hitch to direct one of her comedy films. Wanting to work with her, he agreed.  Screwball comedy, but far from Hitch’s best.


Cary Grant & Joan Fontaine in Suspicion

 (US 1941 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock, producer Harry E Edington for RKO Radio Pictures.

A shy young Englishwoman marries a charming husband and begins to suspect him of trying to kill her. In the scene where Johnnie brings a glass of milk up to Lina, Alfred Hitchcock had a light hidden in the glass to make it appear more sinister Despite Hitch's efforts to stick to the original tragic ending, neither preview audiences nor the RKO studio were ready to accept Cary Grant as a murderer. So a hasty ending was put in, spoiling the craft (like the suspicious glass of milk) that led up to that point. Fontaine got an Oscar for best actress and Grant tries to make the amateurish dialogue in the final scene work. Cameo: Hitch mails a letter at the post office.


Priscilla Lane & Robert Cummings in Saboteur

(US 1942 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock, producer Frank Lloyd for Universal Pictures.

Fast paced chase of wrongly-accused man across America to find the real culprits. Otto Kruger steals the show as the villain, and the Statue of Liberty is the final backdrop. Original cameo censored (deaf-mute couple crosses road and one of them, Hitch, signs an improper suggestion to the other)


Teresa Wright & Joseph Cotton in  Shadow of a Doubt

 (US 1943 b/w) Director Alfred Hitchcock, producer Jack H Skirball for Universal Pictures.

Said to be Hitchcock’s favourite film - “putting murder back where it belongs, in the home”- this is a careful evocation of small town life (in Santa Rosa, California). It’s a film of trust and concealment. In the world of the innocent, police can pose a threat, newspapers remain hidden, and the public library is the key to revealing the world outside. We are at the half-way point in Hitchcock’s oeuvre. Year by year more great films were to come:












































Film poster image for Hitchcock's Frenzy














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