I never knew the great director Alfred Hitchcock was Catholic. I read an article today discussing how his Catholicism may have effected his movies.
Was Hitchcock a sexual monster? Or was he, as the French film makers Rohmer and Chabrol once claimed, a moralist whose films are steeped in Roman Catholic themes?
Whatever his achievement as a film maker, the personal reputation of Alfred Hitchcock remains the subject of heated dispute. Glance at biographies of the British director and two wildly differing Hitchcocks emerge. Donald Spoto’s highly readable The Dark Side of Genius: the Life of Alfred Hitchcock portrays a frustrated lecher who delights in torturing his leading blondes. Yet in Patrick McGilligan’s later, authoritative, 818-page Alfred Hitchcock: a Life in Darkness and Light, Hitchcock appears as an iconoclastic if ultimately devout Roman Catholic whose entire oeuvre is “suffused” with a profound Catholicism.
I remember watching “I Confess” years ago and being impressed that the denouement of the film involved the priest absolving a murderer who had tried to kill him. Gregorian chant underlies the soundtrack and crucifixes are present in many shots, all done tastefully. The priest was being framed but couldn’t tell what he knew of the murder because the killer had confessed to him his deed.
I just poked around the internet and found out that Hitchcock was a cradle Catholic who was educated by Jesuits. It’s funny because one of the stronger themes of Hitchcock’s work was the innocent man falsely accused of crimes. And quite often there’s not a real black and white-ness to his heroes and villains. The heroes are impure quite often, which is something they are forced to face during the hour-and-a half of suspense. Intriguing stuff. Next time I watch a Hitchcock movie I’ll pay attention to the religious themes. I’m thinking of one of my favorite Hitchcock movies called “Rope” starring Jimmy Stewart, a nihilist, who is confronted with the very real effects of his own philosophy in a tragic way. Now that I think of it, how did I miss this before?