This heavily visual approach takes us on a journey through both the life and the cinematic oeuvre of the 53 films made by the "master of suspense" – "master of the macabre" is another tag regularly attached to him – with an essay that brings into focus the techniques he used to attain his unique artistic statement and command of atmosphere.

Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone, Essex, England, on August 13, 1899 and he entered the film industry in 1919 as a title-card designer after training as a technical clerk and copy writer for a telegraph-cable company. Remember that his first handful of films, such as his debut "The Pleasure Garden" (1925), "The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog" (1927) and "Champagne" (1928) go back to the silent era, and here Duncan begins.

This complete guide traces Hitchcock’s career from these earliest silents right through to his last picture in 1976, "Family Plot". Along the way were triumphs such as "Rebecca", which won the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1940, and the highly regarded "Vertigo", "Rear Window" and "Psycho". These made Hitchcock one of the most influential filmmakers in the whole history of the craft, and he is credited with creating a new level of cinematic intrigue and fear through careful pacing, subtlety and suggestiveness.

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The corpulent and instantly recognizable director became as famous as any of his actors – who included Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, Kim Novak, Laurence Olivier and James Stewart – thanks to his many interviews, his cameo roles in most of his films, and his hosting and producing of the television anthology "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (1955–1965). Duncan gives us an illustrated list of each of the cameos, which eventually came early in the films because audiences were becoming distracted by waiting for Hitchcock’s brief appearances, so it was better to get them out of the way quickly.

Originally published by Taschen, of Germany, in 2011, the book is now updated with fresh images alongside the detailed entries for each and every film. Here at The Budapest Times we have watched a goodly proportion of them, and cannot disagree that Hitchcock, later Sir Alfred, is often imitated but rarely equalled. Like most artists, he made a few clunkers ("Number Seventeen" and "Jamaica Inn" spring readily to mind) but Mr Duncan gives full and deserved credit in a book that we couldn’t wait to see.

www.taschen.com


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