What more is there left to say about Alfred Hitchock? It seems that everything that needs to be said has already been said. But the Fundación Telefónica has managed to surprise us with their exhibition in Madrid which the team at Más Que Traductores couldn’t possibly miss.
Perhaps new generations don’t even know who the person referred to as “the master of suspense” really was as, sadly, television stations in Spain rarely show films made before the 21st Century. But anyone with a minimum of interest in cinema should know of him. And, of course, his art should be studied as part of secondary school education, because what this man used to do, (alongside his wife, Alma Reville) was art as part of cinema.
And the exhibition put to rest any doubts. We travel through the parts dedicated to Hitchcock’s mise-en-scene on to costume design. We view a room dedicated solely to “Psycho”, having to enter through a shower curtain (which in fact seems more like the entrance to a slaughterhouse, something perfectly appropriate that the master himself would have dreamt up for receiving guests). We see that he was ahead of his time in terms of marketing (just have a look at the trailer for “Psycho”). There’s also a part dedicated to his obsession for blondes, and another section devoted exclusively to his films’ on-screen kisses. All of this because the stories the British director narrated weren’t just about mystery and suspense or trying to achieve a disturbing atmosphere, and not just about surprising or even terrifying his audiences, they were also about masked eroticism. In fact, one of his films has the honour of having the longest kiss in the history of cinema. The film was “Notorious” where Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant, two of Hitchcock’s regular stars, were lip-to-lip for a whole two and a half minutes in one of the most sensual scenes cinema has ever seen. However, the endless kiss was actually comprised of short kisses, with each one lasting precisely three seconds, the maximum amount of time per kiss as stipulated in the Hays Code, which set the guidelines for censorship at that time in Hollywood.
And if we talk of Hollywood’s golden age, we should mention that the master worked with some of the greatest actors and actresses around. To those already mentioned, you can add James Stewart, Gregory Peck, Grace Kelly, Montgomery Clift, Paul Newman, Laurence Olivier, Maureen O´Hara, Joan Fontaine, Shirley Maclaine, Anne Baxter, Marlene Dietrich, Sean Connery, Kim Novak, Joseph Cotten, Julie Andrews, Doris Day and Tippi Hedren. The last-mentioned, in fact, has just recently revealed in her autobiography the nastiness of the director with whom she worked with on the two films which made her famous, “The Birds” and Marnie”. Other great Hitchcock titles include “Rebecca”, Spellbound”, “Suspicion”, Strangers On A Train”, “I Confess”, “The Man Who Knew Too much”, “Rear Window”, “North By Northwest”, “Vertigo” and “Torn Curtain”, all with intriguing titles from one of the best directors in history who, in his time, was looked down on as a craftsman.
The day +QT visited the exhibition, the queue to get in stretched all the way to Gran Vía. But it was definitely worth the wait. If you have committed the mortal sin of not knowing anything about Hitchcock´s films, this is the moment to do so. If you are already familiar with his work, you’ll enjoy enormously this exhibition, which is open until February. But watch out in case you notice a shadow following you as you climb the magnificent stairs of the Fundación Telefónica. Especially if the shadow has a knife in its hand…