Alfred Hitchcock’s Figure in American Culture

1. Introduction

The purpose of this paper is to discuss Alfred Hitchcock’s figure in the American culture, based on Millington’s work “Hitchcock and American Character.”
First, I will talk about sexual deviation in North by Northwest. Second, I will analyze Alfred Hitchcock and Freud. Third, I will discuss the cultural-political climate of the 1950s. Finally, I will conclude with Hitchcock’s America.

2. Sexual Deviation in North by Northwest

North by Northwest is a 1959 American thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint. The film centers around an advertising executive (Grant) who is mistaken for a government agent and is pursued across the country by foreign spies (Saint and James Mason).
One scene in the film that has been interpreted as having homosexual overtones is when Cary Grant’s character is interrogated by James Mason’s character, who is trying to determine if he is a government agent. In the scene, Mason’s character asks Grant’s character if he has “ever had any peculiar sexual impulses.” When Grant’s character asks what Mason means by “peculiar,” Mason replies, “Well, you know… have you ever wanted to do something… pertaining to sex… that was out of the ordinary?” This line of questioning could be interpreted as Mason’s character trying to determine if Grant’s character is gay.
Another scene that has been interpreted as homoerotic is when Cary Grant’s character is chasing after Eva Marie Saint’s character on a train. In the scene, Grant’s character is trying to get close to Saint’s character, but she repeatedly rebuffs his advances. As he gets closer to her, she turns away from him and he ends up embracing her from behind. This could be interpreted as an attempt at rape or sexual assault.

3. Alfred Hitchcock and Freud

Alfred Hitchcock was an English film director who became one of the most famous and influential filmmakers of all time. His films often explore themes of sexuality and psychological trauma. Many of Hitchcock’s films were inspired by his own personal life experiences, as well as the work of Sigmund Freud.
Hitchcock was born in 1899 in London, England. His father was a strict Catholic who disapproved of his son’s interest in filmmaking. As a result, Hitchcock grew up feeling alienated from his family and often sought refuge in movie theaters. It was during this time that he developed a love for cinema and decided that he wanted to become a filmmaker himself.
Hitchcock began his career working in British silent films before making the transition to sound films in the 1930s. He achieved international fame with his first American film, Rebecca (1940), which won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Hitchcock went on to make many more highly successful films throughout his career, including Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963), and Rear Window (1954).

4. The Cultural-Political Climate of the 1950s

The cultural-political climate of the 1950s was shaped by a number of factors, including the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, McCarthyism, and the federal government’s crackdown on communism. These factors contributed to an atmosphere of paranoia and suspicion in the United States during this time period.
The Cold War was a period of tension and conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union that lasted from the end of World War II until the early 1990s. The Cold War began soon after the end of World War II and was marked by a series of proxy wars, as well as the development of nuclear weapons by both superpowers.
The United States government’s fear of communism led to the rise of McCarthyism, which was a period of intense anti-communist hysteria in the United States. This hysteria was directed at anyone who was suspected of being a communist, including government officials, Hollywood celebrities, and even ordinary citizens. The federal government also launched a series of investigations into alleged communist activity, which resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of many innocent people.

5. Hitchcock’s America

Alfred Hitchcock’s films often reflected the cultural-political climate of the United States during the 1950s. Hitchcock was interested in exploring the dark side of human nature and he often used his films to comment on social issues. For example, his film Rear Window (1954) was a critique of the McCarthy hearings, which were taking place at the time the film was released.
Hitchcock’s film Psycho (1960) is considered to be one of his most controversial films. The film centers around a young woman (Janet Leigh) who is murdered in a motel shower by an unstable man (Anthony Perkins). The film contains graphic violence and nudity, which caused shock and outrage when it was originally released. Psycho has been interpreted as Hitchcock’s commentary on the dark side of human sexuality.

6. Conclusion

In conclusion, Alfred Hitchcock’s figure in the American culture is complex and multifaceted. Hitchcock was a master filmmaker who used his films to comment on social issues and explore the dark side of human nature. His films continue to be popular and influential, despite the fact that they were made over half a century ago.


Hitchcock's work as a director contributed to the development of American cinema by helping to establish it as a legitimate art form. His films were well-crafted and demonstrated a mastery of the medium, which helped to legitimize cinema in the eyes of the public.

Some of Hitchcock's most iconic films include "Psycho" (1960), "The Birds" (1963), and "Vertigo" (1958). These films are representative of American culture at the time they were made, and offer insights into the social norms and values of America during that period.

Hitchcock's films often challenged societal norms in America during his time. For example, his film "Psycho" dealt with taboo subjects such as mental illness and violence, which were not typically discussed openly in society at that time.

Hitchcock's films had a significant influence on how Americans perceive themselves and their country. His films often portrayed America as a dark and dangerous place, which led many people to believe that this was an accurate portrayal of reality.

Alfred Hitchcock was a very private person, and not much is known about his personal life. However, we can learn about his personality from his movies, which often showed him to be a master manipulator who was able to control those around him for his own amusement or purposes.

After Hitchcock's death, his legacy has lived on in American popular culture through references to his work in other media such as television shows, movies, and books. Additionally, many modern filmmakers have been influenced by Hitchcock's work, and his films continue to be popular with audiences today.

It is unlikely that there will ever be another filmmaker like Alfred Hitchcock because he was a true pioneer in the medium of film. He pushed the boundaries of what was possible in cinema, and his influence is still felt today.