This week’s list ended up being quite a bit longer than our usual, but it certainly is a must-read for film and Hitchcock fans!
Most film buffs would know that renowned filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock had this amusing practice of making brief cameos in his own films. In fact, it’s been regarded as one of his signatures. Throughout his more than 50-year career in the industry, Hitchcock was said to have made 39 cameos in all, including an “off-screen narration at the start of ‘The Wrong Man’” (1957). He was said to have appeared in all of his films from “Rebecca” (1940) up to his last oeuvre “Family Plot” (1976) – a total of 28 films in all – and in some of his earlier works, namely “The Lodger” (1927), “Easy Virtue” (1928), “Blackmail” (1929), “Murder!” (1930), “Number 17” (1932), “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1934), “The 39 Steps” (1935), “Sabotage” (1936), “Young and Innocent” (1937), “The Lady Vanishes” (1938), and “Foreign Correspondent” (1940). Hitchcock made one cameo in each of these films, with the exception of “The Lodger,” “Suspicion” (1941), “Rope” (1948), and “Under Capricorn” (1949) in which he made two appearances each.
According to Tim Dirks of AMC Filmsite, two recurring themes of Hitchcock’s cameos were that “he often carried a musical instrument” and that he “often used public transportation (buses, trains, etc.), and was seen as a casual passer-by in the crowd in the public place (train stations, at an airport, etc.).” Aside from this, Hitchcock has also appeared through a photo, an ad, and even as a silhouette! Dirks further added that his cameos were often mildly humorous and, later on, appeared early in the film (in an interview with filmmaker and film critic François Truffaut, as cited in Wikipedia, Hitchcock explained that he deliberately did this to avoid distracting his avid viewers from the plot).
Due to the huge number of his cameos, we’ve decided to consult a few Top Hitchcock film lists (i.e., by The Telegraph, What Culture!, Paste Magazine, and Alfred Hitchcock Films) to help us narrow down the five cameos that we’re presenting in this list. We simply took each of these lists’ top five and tallied the most mentioned ones and cross-checked them with the list of Hitchcock cameos in creating our own.
And so, without further ado, here they are!
5. “Notorious” (1946)
In this spy thriller that starred Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, and Claude Rains, Hitchcock made his cameo as a guest in a party at Rain’s character Alex Sebastian’s mansion. You can see it at around the 1:04:35 mark.
4. “Vertigo” (1958)
This psychological thriller centered on a former police detective who was afflicted with acrophobia and vertigo, played by James Stewart, and was hired by an acquaintance (Tom Helmore) to investigate on his wife’s (Kim Novak) strange behavior. Here, Hitchcock can be seen for about three seconds walking from one end of the screen to the other in a gray suit and carrying a horn or trumpet case, past an office.
3. “Rear Window” (1954)
This was a suspense thriller film that was based Cornell Woolrich’s short story, “It Had to Be Murder,” and starred James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, and Thelma Ritter. Hitchcock appeared in this movie in a scene inside the Songwriter’s apartment, where he was either winding or repairing a clock.
2. “North by Northwest” (1959)
This is yet again another spy thriller that starred Carey Grant, this time alongside Eva Marie Saint and James Mason. Hitchcock’s cameo here was one of his funnier ones, with him missing the bus, seen just right after the opening credits rolled in.
1. “Psycho” (1960)
This is arguably Hitchcock’s most famous work. Even those who have yet to watch it must have seen or at least heard about that ghastly shower scene, or at the very least heard that very famous jarring, horrific musical score that accompanied it (and, in the years that followed, heard in some horror films and other shows too). Anyway, Hitchcock’s cameo here was more discrete than the others – as Janet Leigh’s character enters the office, he could be seen from the back through the window standing on the sidewalk wearing a cowboy hat.
Now, for your viewing pleasure, here’s a video we’ve stumbled upon on YouTube that collated every cameo that the legendary filmmaker has ever made in an almost 10-minute long video. See if you can spot Mr. Hitchcock – if you’re having some troubles, though, the creator of this clip has provided a guide here!
All information in this article were sourced from Alfred Hitchcock Films, Alfred Hitchcock Cameos on AMC Filmsite, and List of Alfred Hitchcock cameo appearances on Wikipedia.
Like this article? Check out our Top Five List series in the Lomography magazine!