This two-part essay basically concerns Alfred Hitchcock’s relation to Catholicism. My thanks to Senses of Cinema for allowing its publication over two issues. If it challenges at all Raymond Durgnat’s estimation of Hitchcock’s essentially “fearful” vision, well and good.1 Although Hitchcock’s close colleagues agreed that he was indeed a fearful person, there is more to the matter, and specifically Psycho, than that!

The insensible bond, connecting your furthest apart and most different images, is your vision.
– Robert Bresson2

My literary preferences are for men who have enough of a visual angle to see the whole spectrum of human drama without blinders.
– Fernand Léger3

Within months of Psycho, William Castle’s Homicidal (1961) appeared. Time magazine’s estimation – “it surpasses its model in structure, suspense and sheer nervous drive”4 – now seems risible, but Castle’s film was not without merit. As a thriller, with its own touch of Grand Guignol, it often successfully mimicked its predecessor.5 In both films, a young blonde woman, fleeing a crime, drives into the night, and a rudimentary suspense is generated. Castle’s film, however, lacks appreciable vision. This lack in Homicidal is the more disappointing because the director had another notable model. For years both he and Hitchcock had admired Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Les Diaboliques (1955) whose deliciously seedy tone inflects a sequence where two women hide a murdered man’s body in the back of their van, then drive away. Later they pull into a roadside service station just as an al fresco dance is ending, and a nosey drunk seeks a ride. Psycho would replicate that tense moment in its California Charlie episode, even to a detail of fluttering pennants and the threat posed by a nosey cop.


Homicidal (William Castle, 1961)


Les Diaboliques (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1955)


Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)

However, I cite Homicidal and Les Diaboliques mainly for perspective: remember that all of these films, including Psycho, were unashamed “shockers”. Asked the “deepest logic” of his films, Hitchcock once replied: “To put the audience through it.”6 This essay will examine what he meant. Its departure-point is a gloomy, if erudite, piece by David Sterritt in the 2010 Hitchcock Annual, “The Destruction That Wasteth at Noonday: Hitchcock’s Atheology”. Sterritt thinks that the world of Hitchcock’s late films lacks hope, depicting “human experience as ultimately chaotic, unredeemed, and god forsaken”7 – and that Psycho was the watershed. Referencing the final shot, of Marion Crane’s car being hauled from a swamp, he says it shows “a stillbirth in a land of the living dead.”8 He can “see no room here, or in the final obliteration of Norman [Bates]’s selfhood by that of his hallucinated mother, for an Adventitious affirmation of life (re)membered via Christian discourse.”9 Robin Wood argued similarly when he once claimed that “there can be no Heaven corresponding to Hitchcock’s Hell.”10 However, I suggest that this is a misleading way to read the films. They are at once too rhetorical and too poetic – even surreal and self-contradictory – to have any “single vision” attributed to them.11 Furthermore, Hitchcock knew that a film is completed by its viewers. A director – Robert Bresson, let’s say – concerned to redeem audiences can at best show or invoke possibilities; after that, it’s up to us as individuals to respond as we see fit.

Stillbirth. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)

Stillbirth. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)

My position, then, is that Psycho surpasses the best of Clouzot (and Castle) and is finally much closer to Bresson, and that it is time we acknowledged a “whole spectrum of human drama” – with its attendant possibilities – that Hitchcock gives us. Notably, Psycho spans a range of aberrations, from Norman’s murderous psychopathy to Caroline’s taking tranquilisers supplied by her mother on her wedding day without telling husband Freddy. (When Freddy finds out, he is “furious”.) Meanwhile, oil millionaire Cassidy falsifies his tax statements the better to buy his “baby” daughter a house for her wedding (present). The pain or fear of being abandoned – whether a child’s or a parent’s – is as central to Psycho as to The Birds (1963).12 Marion (Janet Leigh), desperate to marry Sam (John Gavin), suddenly turns larcenous, but she and the stolen money get no further than the Bates Motel. There, she encounters the lonely Norman (Tony Perkins) whose own “dissociated” state he only seems to confront when he says, “I do mind – but I say I don’t.” In effect, Marion serves as our intermediary with these various personifications of an “aberrant” life-force; I will argue later that her death can help redeem us. Which brings me to what Jean-Luc Godard said of Bresson’s Au Hasard, Balthazar (1966), that it is “the world in an hour and a half.”13 The irony here is that contemporary critics made the sort of comment that Sterritt makes of Psycho. Only a few saw the film as redemptive. Tony Pipolo notes in his superb study of Bresson: “It is, I would argue, this fact – that the narrative is never impelled by virtuous action or positive behavior but entirely mobilized by moral infirmity – that convinced many commentators that Bresson’s universe had taken a turn for the worse.”14

The present essay will take inspiration from Pipolo’s book and from my attempts to understand Hitchcock’s Catholicism. The reader should remember, though, my suggestion that there is no “single vision” at work in Hitchcock’s films, and that despite the director’s controlling way with narrative, he ultimately relies on individual viewers to draw their own conclusions. So does Bresson. At the centre of Au Hasard, Balthazar is its titular character, the donkey Balthazar, whom Pipolo reads as a Christ-figure: “Balthazar reaffirms the otherness and uniqueness of [the suffering] Christ, his mysterious, unattainable perfection.”15 But the last shot, of the donkey’s body, may seem to negate hope of transcendence16 and suggest “the realization that everything that has preceded was illusory, mere allegory.”17 The viewer is confronted, to say the least. “That final image is shattering,” Pipolo writes, “in that two signature moments in the Christian parable are conflated and emptied of their original meanings: as Balthazar reaches his Calvary, he still carries the bags containing the contraband gold and perfume, which, here, drained of the value they possess in the biblical allusion, attest not to the coming of a savior but to the confirmation that the world remains enslaved to corruption and that it will always persecute the innocent.”18 So is Bresson’s vision, after all, desolate? Pipolo will not say that. He concludes: “It is an unmitigated vision of human existence, teetering on the edge of the abyss, yet capable of hoping – not necessarily believing – that the fall might be averted.”19 In effect, he suggests that Bresson offers the viewer a wake-up call.20


Unpretty. Au hasard, Balthazar (Robert Bresson, 1966).

Moreover, Hitchcock authority Charles Barr reads Au Hasard, Balthazar slightly differently. In a 1969 essay he makes no reference to the donkey as Christ-figure but focusses instead on the drunken old reprobate Arnold, one of Balthazar’s tormentors (who dies midway through the film, outside a bar, after celebrating an unexpected inheritance). “Arnold isn’t a Christ figure,” writes Barr, “but you could say that the sins he takes upon him and dies for are the sins of all men. He is Everyman […] His weakness can’t just be labelled alcoholism; Bresson uses it to stand for a more general human compulsion to submit to destructive forces.”21 Accordingly, “Arnold is guilty and punished; he is also innocent and redeemed.”[Ibid.] (Note that at one point the police interrogate Arnold about a murder, which goes unsolved.)

So here is a question for Sterritt: if Hitchcock’s film is so pessimistic, why does it leave most viewers exhilarated? (And what lessons may we draw?) Those viewers have surely felt something that Castle’s Homicidal does not offer them, something closer to the complexity, and challenge, of Au Hasard, Balthazar. Catholic friends remind me that the meaning of redemption is to be washed in the blood of the Lamb, which of course no film can literally offer. Nonetheless, it seems to me that Bresson – with his early links to the Surrealists22 – may have arrived at the next-best thing. Additionally, I think that Sterritt has seriously misread not just the last shot of Psycho (“no room here … for an Adventitious affirmation of life”), and Hitchcock’s methodology more generally, but has misunderstood what certain filmmakers have been attempting all along. Take, for example, Les Diaboliques. Its last shot seeks to impart at least a sense of uplift. Clouzot, a professing Catholic,23 respected his public although he could be scathing of its shortcomings (starting with Le Corbeau, 1943). The seedy tone of Les Diaboliques is less a pandering to the audience than a rhetorical strategy. At the end, after the death by heart attack of schoolteacher, and former nun, Christina Delasalle (Vera Clouzot), one of the schoolchildren is seen playing with his slingshot which had been confiscated. Asked who gave it back to him, the boy says it was Madame Delasalle – not the first time he has reported seeing someone the audience thought dead! Jokey? Yes, but it serves! Such an ending keeps the spirit in which I think most audiences view the film, that of watching an elaborate put-on. Arguably, Psycho works similarly. What else is implied by the endings of both Les Diaboliques and Psycho if not at least a parody of resurrection? That’s something which had already been invoked by the climax of Clouzot’s film – the dramatic reappearance of its “drowned” headmaster (Paul Meurisse) – and was implicit in Hitchcock’s film from its opening scene set in Phoenix, invoking the mythical bird said to rise from its own ashes. So as we watch Marion’s car being winched from the swamp, an elaborate set of emotions is called into play, involving “bodies” and the vanity of false hopes (versus the real thing). But also, as we shall see, elation.


Snowstorm. Von morgens bis mitternachts (Karlheinz Martin, 1920)

No less instructive is German Expressionism. Psycho’s drawn-out sequence in which Marion drives away from Phoenix, accompanied by Bernard Herrmann’s superbly portentous music, shows a likely German influence. Recently a DVD became available of the 1920 film, directed by Karlheinz Martin, of Georg Kaiser’s 1912 play Von morgens bis mitternachts/From Morn till Midnight,24 which has been called “the quintessence of German Expressionist theatre”25 and was first staged in Munich where Hitchcock would work in the 1920s. Kaiser was steeped in the rhapsodic thinking of Friedrich Nietzsche; even a précis of the play (and film) can show that it more than once foreshadows Psycho. The protagonist is a provincial bank cashier who steals 60,000 marks in order to seek a more meaningful life in the City. Setting out, he runs into a blinding snowstorm; later he encounters various women, both lower- and upper-class, whose faces invariably become grinning skulls before his eyes; and he attends a six-day cycle race where his frenzied excitement resembles madness. Finally, in a Salvation Army hall, he realises the worthlessness of money and hurls it amongst the audience who fight for it like wild beasts. Before a crucifix, the misguided cashier shoots himself, his dying words a sardonic “Ecce Homo”.


The worthlessness of money. Von morgens bis mitternachts (Karlheinz Martin, 1920)

Another Resurrection-parody, notice. What the German Expressionists sought was “authenticity”, and of course their mentor Nietzsche had been no friend of “slave morality”.26 Unfortunately for Kaiser’s cashier, his blind act of rebellion – like Marion Crane’s – had been ill-fated from the start. Such a case of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” has other literary antecedents, as we will see.27

However, it is to Bresson that I want to keep coming back in this article on Psycho. From the outset Bresson was prepared to employ non-rational effects to involve audiences. In his first feature, Les Anges du Péché (Angels of Sin, 1943), the initiate Anne-Marie (Renée Faure) is particularly keen to do well. The Order she joins, the Sisters of Bethany, specialises in caring for women prisoners, and even invites former convicts to join them. Such a person is Thérèse (Jany Holt) whom Anne-Marie takes an interest in and urges to consider becoming an initiate herself. One day in chapel Anne-Marie is reading aloud to her fellow nuns when she stops, convinced that Thérèse is at the door of the convent. But the other nuns have heard nothing and direct Anne-Marie to continue. She does so, then stops again. “Why don’t they answer the door?” Finally, she ceases reading altogether, closes the book and, her face aglow, announces, “I know it is Thérèse.” Cut to a shot of the main corridor along which Thérèse is being conducted by one of the nuns to the office of the Mother Prioress.


Les Anges du péché (Robert Bresson, 1943)

Pipolo notes that Anne-Marie’s “telepathic sense” reinforces “the bond motif”: “Thérèse’s arrival is registered not simply as the next step of the story, but indirectly, […] as if Thérèse were being summoned, unwittingly, by the same word that rules Anne-Marie.”28 Something ineffable is being invoked. Another detail noted by Pipolo “is that although Thérèse has arrived, she has come ostensibly to hide from the law, and though this seems initially to mock Anne-Marie’s naïve and presumptuous faith, it turns out otherwise.”29 Now, Bresson’s film dates from the same year as Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt – which proceeds in practically identical manner to establish a “bond motif” between its two Charlies, one of whom (Teresa Wright) has her own “telepathic sense” while the other (Joseph Cotten) has indeed come to hide from the law, yet whose bond to his niece is given great weight. (I will suggest later that in Psycho there is another such “bond”, if fleeting, between Marion and Norman.) True, Hitchcock employs an ambiguous joking tone more like that of Clouzot, thereby accommodating non-Believers. Yet the ironic church scene, in which a pastor lauds the deceased Uncle Charlie, a serial killer, ultimately functions much like Bresson’s chapel scene: over the heads of the worshippers, so to speak, the viewer is addressed directly. Importantly, both films were a product of wartime, made by directors well aware of the world’s evil but subject to different censorship. Thus Bresson chose to emphasise the nurturing power of the Sisters of Bethany and their place in a scheme of things governed by the “word”; Hitchcock chose to emphasise the reality of evil while showing the naïveté of pastor and congregation alike. (Already he was inclined to shock rather than enjoin audiences out of their torpor.)

But here’s the main point. Both Bresson and Hitchcock sought to privilege and involve their audiences, often at levels beyond the rational. This surely highlights the directors’ Catholicism and their supposition, with the English poet William Cowper (1731-1800), that “God moves in a mysterious way.”30 Thus empowered, they might choose to show us the irrational at work, as with the above-mentioned telepathy scenes or some of the curé’s intuitions in Bresson’s Journal d’un curé de campagne (Diary of a Country Priest, 1950) – or they might simulate the irrational the better to prompt our speculations. What else is intended by some of the ellipses in films like Un Condamné à mort s’est échappé (A Man Escaped, 1956) or Pickpocket (1959)? Similarly, in Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man (1957), composition and editing lend emphasis – albeit with the director’s usual ambiguity – to the possibility of a (belated) “miracle”. A variant is Vertigo (1958): there, when Hitchcock films the McKittrick Hotel scene without explaining how Madeleine (Kim Novak) mysteriously eludes Scottie (James Stewart), the effect is more Clouzot than Bresson. Nonetheless, both Bresson and Hitchcock share with Clouzot a common ground: a “master’s touch”. We can pun about the multiple meanings of that term: it reflects more than mastery of the medium of cinema per se and incorporates an adeptness at “mastering” audiences in the very flow of their innermost hopes and fears; at the same time, it paradoxically reflects those directors’ submission to being mastered by God. In English poetry, classics like John Milton’s sonnet “On His Blindness” (c. 1652) – whose last line is one of total submission, “They also serve who only stand and wait” – and Gerard Manley Hopkins’ commemorative ode about the death of five nuns, “The Wreck of The Deutschland” (1876/1918) – which begins, “Thou mastering me/God! Giver of breath and bread” – speak memorably and nobly of these things.

Back to Psycho. Milton’s line “They also serve …” is prominently misquoted in an early scene, much as a comparable passage from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Voluntaries” (1863)31 – “When duty whispers …”32 – is misquoted in Marnie. In both cases the original passage demonstrably illuminates its film. Furthermore, “On His Blindness” invokes the Resurrection. As we will see, the Milton allusion was one of Hitchcock’s favourite lines in an inspired screenplay by Joseph Stefano. Below, I attempt a “Miltonic” reading of Psycho that bears on that film’s surreal vision; then (in Part Two) I return to Bresson. My intention is to illuminate Psycho by showing how Hitchcock’s Catholic sensibility informed his dutiful desire to entertain audiences. And very palpably to leave each viewer room for hope.

* * *

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide,
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide,
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask; but Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man’s work, or His own gifts; who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best; His state
Is kingly …”
– John Milton, “On His Blindness”, ll. 1-12

In their metaphysical and moral assumptions about good and evil and human nature, Roman Catholicism and Puritanism form part of a common discourse.
– Adrian Schober33

In late 2005 I asked Phil Skerry, who was about to interview Psycho’s screenwriter Joe Stefano, if he would put to him a certain question. Citing the “angels” imagery in Hitchcock’s films – such as Secret Agent (1936), where a rebellious Elsa Carrington (Madeleine Carroll) insists that she’s “no ministering angel”, and Spellbound (1945), where a key scene takes place in Gabriel Valley – I said I thought Psycho was its apotheosis. Also, I had spotted how Psycho refers repeatedly to waste and (even more pointedly) blindness. Accordingly, I was intrigued by what Marion tells Sam in their hotel room in Phoenix: “I pay too. They also pay who meet in hotel rooms.” Surely this was an allusion to one of the great crisis-of-conscience poems, Milton’s “On His Blindness”, and specifically its famous last line referring to the highest order of angels, those who serve God in contemplative waiting?34 Could Stefano comment on this?

Without getting too far ahead of my argument, I should add that I had several related matters in mind. How, for example, in Psycho both Marion and her sister Lila (Vera Miles) are visibly likened to angels (while Norman is associated with such winged creatures as a crow and a black cupid). How both sisters are impatient – contra the personified Patience of Milton’s sonnet – so that Lila repeatedly complains about having to “wait” and how “patience doesn’t run in my family.” How Milton wrote “On His Blindness” out of a mood of despair and rebelliousness, likening his life to one that had prematurely ended and to money that had been wasted, made “useless” (the parable of the talents).35 How the poet initially dwells on “I” and “me” but then, heeding Patience’s admonition, acknowledges the grandeur of God (“His state/Is kingly”); and how the poet suddenly realises where his duty lies. (This exactly anticipates the lesson of the Emerson passage about God’s “grandeur” alluded to in Marnie.36) And how, with hindsight, we know that Milton went on to write his towering Paradise Lost (1667), thereby giving Psycho an implicit ambiguity (for one thing, Hitchcock would call the rebellious Marion “a perfectly ordinary bourgeoise”37). Finally, there are other striking overlaps of imagery between the sonnet and the film, such as their depiction of a “dark world and wide” where suddenly a “light” is put out. Such an event is the Psycho shower scene, with its virtual assault on the viewer’s eyes.38 Planning the scene, Hitchcock instructed his production designer, Robert Clatworthy, and set dresser, George Milo, to use “blinding white tiles”.39

In due course Dr Skerry met with Stefano in the latter’s villa overlooking Benedict Canyon Drive (as described in Chapter 1 of Skerry’s stimulating book Psycho in the Shower, 200940) and started by asking him about Marion’s line, “They also pay…” Yes, said Stefano, he had put that allusion in. “This was something I had in my head. I knew I was making a play on [Milton’s] line. I figured if I knew it, the audience might, too. I knew Hitchcock would get all my allusions and references.”41 Skerry elaborated to me: “Joe claimed that it was one of Hitchcock’s favourite lines [in the screenplay].” On the other hand: “I couldn’t get much more from Joe about how the line tied in with the angel references and visualizations.”42 Yes, well, that would be par for interviews with screenwriters! They can often explain how or why they had a particular idea, but not describe its underlying associations for them, associations that may nonetheless surface at points in the screenplay and then the film. Of course, by the latter stage it is the director who principally determines what the viewer brings away. I already sensed that Stefano’s observation, “I knew Hitchcock would get all my allusions and references,” was an understatement.


Halo imagery. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)

Extended flights of fancy came easily to Hitchcock, as his love of Cockney rhyming slang shows. In Donald Spoto’s biography of the director, he notes how, for Strangers on a Train (1951), its “doubles” imagery “was quite deliberately added by Hitchcock.”43 Indeed it was “dictated in rapid and inspired profusion […] during the last days of script preparation, finally [serving] to associate the world of light, order, and vitality with the world of darkness, chaos, lunacy, and death.”44 For the shower scene in Psycho, and its extensions, Hitchcock proceeded similarly: one of his coups was establishing the shower stall as a “heavenly” space,45 palpably inspired by imagery in Spellbound (and, indirectly, a passage I’ll quote from its original novel). Beneath a shower-nozzle that resembles a halo, Marion makes a prayer-like gesture with a cake of soap and prepares to wash away her guilt – only next minute to be knifed to death by a succession of brutal downward stabs. A literary antecedent occurs in Francis Beeding’s The House of Dr Edwardes (1927),46 the basis of Spellbound. In the novel, the ritual knife-sacrifice of an unsuspecting woman is described in a passage that begins: “And it seemed that she walked beside St. Theresa, the friend of Jesus, in her soiled nun’s robe […] towards the Radiance that was burning on the other side of the crest.”47 But Marion’s death is also foreshadowed in Psycho itself at the moment she enters Norman’s parlour and reacts to two of his stuffed birds. The first is an owl with outspread wings (straight from Goya’s “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters”48) which in subsequent shots seems to soar over Norman as if to suggest his domineering, and murderous, alter ego, Norma Bates. The other bird, lower down on the wall, is a crow with a knife-like beak – a beak emphasised by its shadow poised above a picture of a flight of angels ascending to Heaven. The prolepsis here is unmistakeable: Norman is the black crow, Marion one of the menaced angels. Further, Hitchcock at this time was taken with halo imagery! Psycho premiered in June, 1960. Straightaway, the director made an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, “Mrs Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat” (airdate: 27 September, 1960). In a typically playful introduction, he is distracted by a halo that comes and goes above his head. It would be just like Hitchcock to have been grooming Psycho audiences to be receptive to such imagery.49


Marion rises into frame in front of a framed picture of a flight of angels. Both appear threatened by the crow with a knife-like beak. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960).


“Mrs Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat”, 1960 episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

As for “On His Blindness”, Hitchcock possibly first encountered the famous sonnet, by fellow-Cockney Milton, during his boyhood years spent at St. Ignatius College in London. He may have had to learn it by rote. It is uncanny how every one of its fourteen lines bears on Psycho (you think of what Hitchcock said of the imagery in Strangers on a Train, “One could study it forever!”50), but let’s start with its conclusion, in which Patience tells the stricken poet about two orders of angels:

Thousands at His bidding speed,
And post o’er land and ocean without rest;
[But t]hey also serve who only stand and wait.

That is, God has no need either of what humans do or of the gifts (talents) He has bestowed on them, for He is served both by the many angels who travel the universe doing His bidding and by those who remain in Heaven to “wait” on Him, in the two senses of “stay expectant” and “attend”.52 The contrast between the speeding lower order of angels and the contemplative higher orders who “also serve” would be poignantly echoed in the subtext of the witty acceptance speech which the director delivered – if slowly and unsteadily – at the dinner held in his honour by the American Film Institute on 7 March, 1979, a year before he died. He spoke of his indebtedness to wife Alma and her absolute influence on his career. Had it not been for her, he said, “Mr Alfred Hitchcock might be in this room tonight, not at this table but as one of the slower waiters on the floor.”53 Probably few in the audience that night fully grasped their English guest’s precise, and punning, allusion to two orders of waiting (or the twist he had given it, so sardonic in the circumstances), but it is surely there,54, and enriches the intended note of calm acceptance, a very Miltonic quality. (The speech was penned for Hitchcock by veteran writer Hal Kanter.)

As commentators note, Milton’s sonnet sets side by side two halves of a central Christian paradox: (1) that God insists on humans engaging in the work of His kingdom; (2) that He needs nothing they can do or give.55 But poor Marion Crane, feeling that her life is wasted, decides on an impulse to steal $40,000 from her boss in Phoenix and heads for boyfriend Sam in smalltown California. The situation of both film and poem is like the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” one we saw in Kaiser’s play From Morn till Midnight. Marion’s motive is very human – she wants to get married and have a baby – and that particular money must have seemed to her wasted on someone else’s “sweet little baby”, the pampered daughter of oil millionaire Cassidy.56 The mistake she makes is the decidedly “un-Miltonic” one of clutching at “life”!57 Instead of “waiting,” she commits an act of blind folly and is cruelly repaid. (In this respect, her death beneath the halo-like shower nozzle corresponds to that of Kaiser’s cashier at the foot of a crucifix, declaiming “Ecce Homo”.) At the moment of her death, Hitchcock is sardonic: the camera dissolves from Marion’s stilled eye to the bath’s plughole, then pans to the now “useless” money concealed in a folded newspaper. (Something of this carries over to the film’s last shot with, arguably, a parallel in Au Hasard, Balthazar.) All very squalid. So much for Marion’s implicit wish, just before she entered the shower, to restore her soul by presenting her “true account”.58

Of course, Believers may hope and feel – on recovering from the shock of her death – that Marion’s soul went straight to Heaven. As in Milton’s poem, faith protects. Yet Milton, too, had shown himself human, and had wavered. Only after debate (the poem’s first eight lines) does he effectively forego “justification by works” in favour of “justification by faith”, concluding “who best/Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best.” There is a similar ambivalence in Psycho. In fact, Hitchcock’s films critique themselves, and thereby speak to many audiences, including those who are not religious. The rhetoric of Psycho is at once populist – thus sympathetic to the “bourgeois” Marion’s plight – and elitist, implying its own play on the word “talent”. In 1960 Alma Hitchcock praised her husband’s capacity to see the whole picture, telling an interviewer: “He is essentially an extremely placid person […] He has the most completely balanced mind I have ever known and has a talent for total objectivity.”59 This is a Romantic definition of genius, if not (quite) an exemplary Catholicism. At any rate, in Hitchcock’s protean relation to his audiences, he “played at” being God,60 so Milton’s high-mindedness would have come easily to him. Think, too, of the director’s television cameos where such a mind-set is often hinted at, or made fun of. “Mrs Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat” is surely a case in point.

Again, Hitchcock’s comprehensive vision informs Psycho’s texture and rhythm. Palpably, the film aspires to be both poetic and to tell a hard-nosed story set in a definite place at a specific time, beginning like a police procedural with successive titles: “PHOENIX, ARIZONA,” “FRIDAY, DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH,” “TWO FORTY-THREE P.M”. Objectivity and subjectivity, lucidity and blindness, take turns. Marion’s flight lands her at the Bates Motel, whose proprietor hastens to make himself agreeable and to offer her (and us) an insight complementary to Milton’s in the sonnet. “We all go a little mad sometimes,” he ventures (compare Milton’s “fondly”). However, Marion’s reply is fateful: “Sometimes just one time can be enough.” She rises to go back to her cabin – and now, proleptically again, the crow with the knife-like beak is next to her head. Norman makes another of his wing-like gestures with an upraised palm, then watches her leave. She trails her arm behind her, almost like a bird with a broken wing. Or, for reasons to be further suggested, like a crippled angel.


Wing-like. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)

Hitchcock will depict Lila, too, as an “angel”, or “saint” – ironically at the very moment she is most impatient. In the hardware store, Sam announces that he’s going to look for Arbogast (Martin Balsam) at the motel, from which the detective – investigating Marion’s disappearance – was supposed to report. Lila asks to come along but Sam points out that one of them should stay in case Arbogast returns. “Well,” says Lila, “what am I supposed to do? Just sit here and wait?” As she stands forlornly by the shop door, an “effulgence” of garden rakes arrays itself behind her head – which allows, in turn, a neat dissolve to a solitary Norman standing by a stunted tree with spindly branches. The chain of imagery linking Marion and Lila, and ironically Norman, is extensive, and I will discuss it later in relation to what Catholics call the communo sanctorum, fellowship of, or with, the saints.


Effulgence. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)

Now, if the characters in Psycho seem “trapped” in their subjective states – forlorn and solitary – “On His Blindness” points a way out. As noted, the movement of the sonnet is precisely from subjectivity to objectivity, from the poet’s morbid condition to acceptance of God’s grand plan. But how, in this day and age, to emulate Milton? I believe that Hitchcock – like Clouzot, like Bresson – thought that his filmmaking could help, and that by “putting the audience through it” he was offering us a wake-up call, the next-best thing to God’s intervention. By bringing audiences out of themselves, he was following the lesson of Milton and of good sense, not to speak of popular Catholic teaching about the importance of not being solitary. When Scottie in Vertigo remarks that some people prefer to live alone, Judy/Madeleine is quick to tell him, “No, it’s wrong.” To the extent that a Hitchcock character remains solitary, he/she is unredeemed, with a lesson for the rest of us. In I Confess (1953), the following instructive dialogue occurs at the end, as Father Logan (Montgomery Clift) confronts his armed sacristan, Otto Keller (O.E. Hasse):

KELLER: I am as alone as you are.
LOGAN: I’m not alone.
KELLER: You are. To kill you now would be a favour to you. You have no friends. What has happened to your friends, eh? They mob you… They call at you…

Having just shot his wife, thereby becoming a double-murderer, Keller is indeed as solitary a figure as Norman Bates will be; what is instructive is the inadequacy of his view of Logan. The latter, while he is certainly human (as the screenplay more than once emphasises), is the nearest equivalent in Hitchcock to the saintly curé of Bresson’s Diary of a Country Priest. Both are finally Christ-figures, undergoing their own Passion. An article by Richard Alleva, “The Catholic Hitchcock”, illuminates this critical moment, and corrects the dying Keller. It suggests that by giving Keller absolution, Logan ensures that both men cease to be alone: specifically, the action “unknots Michael Logan’s spirit, ends his [own] torment, and fulfils his duty to both God and man.”61 (Nonetheless, one remembers that Hitchcock’s preferred ending would have been truly shocking: the priest hanged, then proven innocent.) In the plurality of viewpoints on display here, and in the gulf between them, we may find further pointers to how we should best read Psycho.


Keller, dying after having been shot by the police, receives absolution from Father Logan. I Confess (Alfred Hitchcock, 1953)

Note, for instance, that “blindness” and its opposite – a “vision” that may entail dying – are already implicit in I Confess. In turn, Psycho locates a scene outside the Fairvale Church. One particular piece of business seems pointed. For much of the time that Sam and Lila are conversing with Sheriff Chambers (John McIntire) and his wife (Lurene Tuttle), who have just attended service, we see on the steps behind them a myopic individual engaged in conversation with the pastor.62 This seems to be Hitchcock’s way of characterising the congregation as a whole: unaware, like everyone else, of events at the nearby Bates Motel. But perhaps unaware, too, in a broader sense, like the good burghers of Quebec in I Confess who blindly would condemn Father Logan to death.

Not only is Psycho’s plot impelled by Marion’s act of blind folly in stealing from her employer, but – as often noted – a significant number of the film’s individuals are characterised by their eyes: such as the highway cop with his dark glasses, or Arbogast with his initial stare through the hardware store door, or Mrs. Bates mocking us with her empty eye sockets animated by the swinging light bulb in Norman’s cellar. In fact, all of these people are blind. The cop, for example, does not spot the stolen $40,000, and allows Marion to proceed. Just as fatally, Arbogast does not foresee his own death from a knife-slash that passes through his left eye.63 Wide-eyed Marion is again representative. Cassidy’s voice accuses her of coolly sitting there “while I dumped [the money] out. [She] hardly even looked at it! Planning!” Yet her gaze wilts when her boss sees her leaving town, and she is “blinded” on several occasions after that – by oncoming headlights, by the cop’s inscrutable stare, by the “blinding white tiles” in the bathroom – all of which prelude her death. Needless to emphasise, given the barrage of identification-techniques the film employs, many viewers feel something of them dies with Marion.

The white-tiled bathroom, Hitchcock would have sensed, makes a fitting final arena. For most people, the bathroom has always felt homely – if also, somehow, admonitory, stricturing. The Catholic Marshall McLuhan, in The Mechanical Bride (1951), which surveyed advertisements in the American popular media, decided that the feeling went back to infantile toilet-training, and commented dryly that “the puritan world has merely substituted soap for the confessional.”64 For good measure, he cited Margaret Mead on “the mother’s voice standing by saying: ‘If every rule of health is complied with, then you can enjoy life’.”65 It is likely that Hitchcock had read McLuhan. He prided himself on being up-to-date in most aspects of his field, including the wiles of advertisers. In any case, in implicitly linking Marion’s death under the shower to the confessional, Hitchcock’s Cockney wit matches Milton’s (whose punning “my light is spent” may allude to the Biblical parable of the wise and foolish virgins66). And, seemingly, for all its unexpectedness, the surreal intrusion of “Mother” into the shower carries its own echo!67

To recap: Milton’s “On His Blindness” holds out two paths (the active and the contemplative) and eventually settles on the latter. Yet the poet’s high-minded tone was never exactly populist – John Keats put Milton in his “egotistical sublime” category of poets68 – and therefore not wholly to Hitchcock’s purpose, although he himself may have identified with Milton’s position, and even jokingly owned to it at times. Milton biographer A.N. Wilson confirms the elitism of his subject, finding that he never wavered from his belief that vice is a form of stupidity. “The virtuous rise above the vicious through will-power and achieve a measure of Platonic deification.”69 This was indeed not Catholic orthodoxy, nor Puritan orthodoxy for that matter (to the extent that it disregards the Protestant/Puritan work ethic). “There is nothing here of the Atonement, or the Redemption, or the sense that though we are all sinners, some of us, or all of us, have been washed in the blood of the Lamb.” 70 Nonetheless, like many twentieth-century Catholic artists and intellectuals, Hitchcock was regularly drawn to paradox. He might refer to the “moron masses”71 while, at the same time, seeming to aspire – like Milton’s Satan – to rival God Himself, in the comprehensive world-design of his films.

Yet as a master filmmaker Hitchcock was only being true to his Nietzschean inclinations, as well as a “higher” form of Catholicism. No friend of slave morality, he nonetheless – like Bresson – clearly saw his place in God’s scheme of things. Part II of my essay, then, will largely be about Hitchcock and Bresson, with particular reference to the latter’s Diary of a Country Priest.


My particular thanks to Bill Krohn, Phil Skerry, Tag Gallagher, Stephen Rebello, Adrian Schober, Dan Shaw and Martin Paterson, most of whom receive at least one endnote here.

Special thanks to Inge Pruks, Peter Tammer, Richard Allen.

My gratitude, too, to others of my online correspondents, and to members of my “advanced” Hitchcock discussion group on the Internet. I would single out Richard Modiano in this context.

This essay is for Scott Murray.


  1. In 1974, Durgnat wrote that Hitchcock “seems to believe in a healthy fear. {…} Sade counselled bravado, Hitchcock mediocrity and a little bit of luck. His creative vision is in uneasy suspension between a Calvinist fear of God and an identification with a Calvinistic God, who {…} comes close to a Sadeian divinity.” Raymond Durgnat, The Strange Case of Alfred Hitchcock or, The Plain Man’s Hitchcock (London: Faber, 1974), p. 51. More than a quarter of a century later, little had changed. In A Long Hard Look at ‘Psycho’ (London: BFI, 2001), Durgnat now concludes: “Hitchcock’s best films achieve a ‘vitalism’ of fearfulness, and of ‘petty bourgeois prudence’, as a ‘transcendent’ human drive” (p. 230).
  2. Robert Bresson, Notes on the Cinematographer. Translated from the French by Jonathan Griffin (Copenhagen: Green Integer, 1997), p. 37.
  3. Fernand Léger, “The Machine Aesthetic: Geometric Order and Truth,” in Function of Painting (New York: Viking, 1965). Quoted in Brian Price, Neither God nor Master: Robert Bresson and Radical Politics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011), p. 94. Price claims: “Léger’s observations about Dostoevsky and Balzac {and their revolving perspectives} could just as easily stand as a description of Bresson’s montage style, their progeny in the age of film.”
  4. Time. 8 September, 1961. http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,872782,00.html
  5. Indeed, its most striking idea – the casting of a real transsexual (apparently) – was adopted in turn by Hitchcock’s Shamley Productions for a classic episode of the Alfred Hitchcock Hour, “An Unlocked Window” (airdate: February 15, 1965). But Castle had already pioneered Psycho’s core device – involving a case of “dissociation” – in Crime Doctor’s Man Hunt (1946), scripted by Leigh Brackett.
  6. Alfred Hitchcock, cited by John Forsythe during the American Film Institute’s “Salute to Alfred Hitchcock”, March 7, 1979. http://the.hitchcock.zone/wiki/American_Film_Institute_Salute_to_Alfred_Hitchcock_(1979)_-_transcript
  7. David Sterritt, “The Destruction That Wasteth at Noonday: Hitchcock’s Atheology”, Hitchcock Annual 16 (2010), pp. 102-126, here p. 123.
  8. Ibid., p. 112.
  9. Ibid. Sterritt was for many years the film reviewer for the Christian Science Monitor.
  10. Robin Wood, “Ideology, Genre, Auteur”, Film Comment 13:1 (January-February 1977), p. 51. http://the.hitchcock.zone/wiki/Film_Comment_(1977)_-_Ideology,_genre,_auteur
  11. An obvious citation is William Blake’s celebrated verses sent to Thomas Butts, November 22, 1802: “Now I fourfold vision see …”. http://www.blakearchive.org/exist/blake/archive/erdman.xq?id=b15.23
  12. Melanie Daniels in The Birds, whose mother ran off with “a man from the East” when Melanie was three, soon encounters the hostility of Mitch Brenner’s widowed mother, who fears being abandoned by Mitch; for a time, it looks like there will be no more mother-love for Melanie, from any quarter, and that Mitch, for his part, will only ever be a grown-up “mother’s boy”.
  13. Jean-Luc Godard, quoted in “Robert Bresson”, New World Encyclopedia. http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Robert_Bresson
  14. Tony Pipolo, Robert Bresson: A Passion for Film (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 196
  15. Ibid., p. 187.
  16. Pipolo notes (Ibid., p. 205) that by this time, “(n)o emphatic Schubert or tolling sheep bells” are to be heard. “Had Bresson been aiming exclusively for that transcendence thought to characterize his work,” he would have stopped with the previous shot. “But it is followed by one more, a decidedly unpretty picture of the donkey’s dead body.”
  17. Ibid., p. 205.
  18. Ibid., p. 206
  19. Ibid., p. 208. Emphasis added.
  20. Pipolo notes (Ibid., p. 206), that it is the very contrast between the final scene – where “only the sheep bear witness to Balthazar’s death” – and the stark final shot, of Balthazar’s body, that “underlines the distance between the Christian message and the world’s indifference.” In reading Psycho’s last scene (the courthouse cell) and last shot (of Marion’s car), at the end of Part Two of the present essay, I will suggest a somewhat analogous effect, of the audience’s emotional redemption – which may, or may not, make of Norman Bates a Christ-figure.
  21. Charles Barr, “Au Hasard, Balthazar”, in Ian Cameron (ed.), The Films of Robert Bresson (London: Studio Vista, 1969), p. 110.
  22. Price (op. cit.) includes a useful section on “Bresson and Surrealism” (pp. 16-22) in his chapter, “Crime as a Form of Liberation: Modeling Revolt in Pickpocket and A Man Escaped”. He notes, for one thing, that Bresson early moved in Surrealist circles, one of whose number, Roland Tual, produced his first feature, Les Anges du Péché (p. 17).
  23. Marc Svetov, “Henri-Georges Clouzot”, Noir City Sentinel, Winter 2010, p. 19. http://www.transatlantichabit.com/noir/Henri-Georges-Clouzot.pdf
  24. The All Regions (0) DVD released by the Austrian Film Museum has German intertitles, with the option of English, French, or Spanish subtitles.
  25. R.S. Furness, Expressionism (London: Methuen, 1973), p. 56.
  26. My thanks to Dan Shaw for sharing his knowledge of Nietzsche, which I have drawn on at several points in this essay. (The interpretations in the text are my own, though.)
  27. John Milton’s “On His Blindness” is a paradox, to be discussed in the present text. Ostensibly, the poet resigns himself to the contemplative life, but not before actively crafting the sonnet from his despair. For all Marion’s “figuring” (see note 58 below), no such resort is available to her, and thus Psycho pivots on a paradox inherent in “pure cinema” and the complexities of the filmmaker’s aloof/sympathetic relation to his audience. Speaking of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” I will also make reference to a passage from Emerson’s “Voluntaries” III (about a youth called on to enlist).
  28. Ibid., p. 37
  29.  Ibid.
  30. A sentiment spoken by the villainous Milly (Margaret Leighton) in Hitchcock’s Under Capricorn (1949), but implied, I would argue, in many of that director’s earlier and later films.
  31. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Collected Poems and Translations (New York: Library of America, 1994), p. 168.
  32. Ibid.
  33. Adrian Schober, Possessed Child Narratives in Literature and Film: Contrary States (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), p. ix.
  34. Maynard Mack (ed.), Milton (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1961), p. 77.
  35. Matthew 25:14ff
  36. The lesson of the Emerson passage from “Voluntaries” III invoked in Marnie, so similar to the lesson drawn by the blinded poet, Milton, in “On His Blindness” (and invoked in Psycho), is: “So nigh is grandeur to our dust,/So near is God to man,/When duty whispers low, Thou must,/The youth replies, I can.” Emerson, op. cit., p. 168. (The youth may thus wrap himself in glory but ultimately it is God’s.)
  37. Hitchcock, in François Truffaut, Hitchcock, with the collaboration of Helen G. Scott (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967, p. 211.
  38. Stefano’s screenplay (revised December 1, 1959) speaks of a knife “tearing at the very screen, ripping the film.” http://www.horrorlair.com/scripts/psycho.pdf, p. 51
  39. Stephen Rebello, Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho. New York: HarperCollins, 1991, p. 102. Cf. p. 70. Also, Stefano’s screenplay twice refers to how “the white brightness of the bathroom is almost blinding.” Op. cit., p. 51.
  40. Philip J. Skerry, Psycho in the Shower: The History of Cinema’s Most Famous Scene (New York: Continuum, 2009). My deep thanks to Dr Skerry for putting my question to Stefano.
  41. Stefano to Skerry, reported in Skerry’s email to the present author, December 13, 2005.
  42. Skerry email, December 13, 2005.
  43. Donald Spoto, The Life of Alfred Hitchcock: The Dark Side of Genius (London: Collins, 1983), p. 328.
  44. Ibid.
  45. A comparable flight of fancy can be seen in a Roald Dahl story originally published in The New Yorker and then in the collection Kiss, Kiss (1960), where the “heavenly” space is a lift containing a corpse. The story was called “The Way Up to Heaven,” and appeared in the same collection as “Mrs Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat,” the latter filmed in 1960 by Hitchcock for Alfred Hitchcock Presents (discussed in the present text). Meanwhile, Hitchcock’s Shamley Productions had filmed “The Way Up to Heaven” as a 1958 episode of the television show Suspicion.
  46. Francis Beeding (pseudonym of John Palmer and Hilary A. Saunders), The House of Dr Edwardes (New York: Little, Brown & Company, 1927). This was later published as Spellbound in 1945, to tie in with the release of the film (see note 47).
  47. Francis Beeding, Spellbound (Cleveland and New York: World Publishing, 1945), p. 128. The reference to “the friend of Jesus” suggests that the St. Theresa mentioned here is St. Teresa of Ávila (1515-82) who taught that friendship with Jesus was the key to contemplation and the spiritual life. She in turn inspired St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-97), a model for the curé in Diary of a Country Priest.
  48. Francisco Goya, “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters”, etching, c. 1799. This was the 43rd, of 80, in the satirical series Los Caprichos. The same owl detectably leads the avians against Melanie in the attic climax of The Birds.
  49. Hitchcock threw himself into the film’s promotion, neglecting no aspect. In the graphic media, he replicated the fractured typeface of the Robert Bloch book cover (which Hitchcock and Saul Bass had already adapted for the film’s titles sequence). See Rebello, pp. 147-48.
  50. Hitchcock, in Truffaut, op. cit., p. 144
  51. “On His Blindness”, ll. 12-14. In Mack, p. 77. Mack also notes this imagery.
  52. Ibid.
  53. “American Film Institute’s Salute to Alfred Hitchcock”, March 7, 1979. Emphasis added.
  54. Cf., say, the knowing, and witty, reference to Milton’s famous line in the Preface to John Buchan’s The Power-House, 1913
  55. Mack, op. cit., p. 77. Here, Puritans and Catholics may have differed in their emphasis. (In “On His Blindness”, Milton appears torn!) The Puritans put especial store on working hard at one’s job – consequently the parable of the talents was very important to them – whereas Catholics, after the Council of Trent, 1545-63, believed God’s grace was paramount: a soul shall be saved or not, regardless of “works”, although to merit grace one must press on devotedly. Of course, the “Puritan ethic” remains strong in the USA and elsewhere. Psycho plays on it.
  56. That Patsy (Virginia Valli) in The Pleasure Garden (1926) wants a baby and so marries the ne’er-do-well Levett (Miles Mander) is implicit in their honeymoon scene at Lake Como where she casts yearning looks at other women’s babies. As for individuals who incur sudden good fortune, as when they strike oil – thereby potentially or actually arousing the envy of others – that motif figures elaborately in To Catch a Thief (1955). Francie Stevens (Grace Kelly) stands to inherit millions from oil found on her late father’s land. She incurs the enmity of Danielle (Brigitte Auber), both because of her privileged lifestyle and because of her intimacy with John Robie (Cary Grant) who had once been a Resistance colleague of Danielle’s father, the latter now a waiter (of the more earth-bound kind). Danielle complains that “some of us {must} continue to work like idiots for a loaf of bread.”
  57. Petulant, bourgeois Fred in Rich and Strange (1932) complains, “I want more life – life I tell you.” When he inherits money, he proceeds to squander it on a phoney “princess” – finally returning to England chastened yet seemingly no wiser. William Rothman sees “clutching” as a signature motif of Hitchcock’s films, and quotes Emerson (who admired Milton) that it constitutes “the most unhandsome part of our condition.” William Rothman, Must We Kill the Thing We Love: Emersonian Perfectionism and the Films of Alfred Hitchcock (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014), p. 214.
  58. Before stepping into the shower, Marion is shown figuring how much money she has spent and must make up to repay the stolen $40,000. Then she flushes the evidence of her figuring down the toilet.
  59. Mrs Alfred Hitchcock (Alma Reville), “When the Master of Suspense Bolts His Own Door at Night” (interview), The Straits Times, August 7, 1960. There is an online version available from here: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/newspapers/Digitised/Issue/straitstimes19600807.aspx.
  60. The director of the fiction film, Hitchcock said, resembles a god and “must create life. {…} There are lots of feelings, forms of expression, and viewpoints that have to be juxtaposed.” Hitchcock, in Truffaut, op. cit., p. 70
  61. Richard Alleva, “The Catholic Hitchcock: A Director’s Sense of Good & Evil”, Commonweal, July 16, 2010, pp. 14-19, here p. 19.
  62. This bespectacled man is almost certainly the character actor Olan Soule, who had appeared in North by Northwest (chewing the top off his pencil in the art gallery scene) and made several appearances – not all of them credited – in Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. For the scene on the church steps, I can imagine Hitchcock saying, “We need Olan Soule here.” However, the actor is not included in the “verified as complete” Psycho cast list published on the IMDB (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054215/fullcredits?ref_=tt_cl_sm#cast).
  63. Compare the death of the farmer in The Birds, whose eyes are pecked out.
  64. Marshall McLuhan, The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man (Boston: Beacon Paperback, 1967), p. 61.
  65. Margaret Mead, Male and Female (1949). Cited in McLuhan, The Mechanical Bride, p. 62.
  66. Mack, p. 77. The parable in question in The Gospel of St. Matthew immediately precedes the parable of the talents. See Matthew 25:1-13.
  67. Also, Hitchcock admired Ingmar Bergman, and mentioned him knowledgeably in his entry on “Film Production” for the Encyclopedia Britannica, 14th ed., in 1965. So one thinks of the shock revelation in The Seventh Seal (1957) that Death (Bengt Ekerot) has overheard the confession of Antonius Block (Max von Sydow).
  68. Keats originally applied the term, unfavourably, to Wordsworth: letter to Richard Woodhouse, October 27, 1818. But as at least one commentator notes, “In rejecting the egotistical sublime, Keats was also rejecting {both} Wordsworth’s and Milton’s style and choices of form.” Laura Dabundo (ed.), Encyclopedia of Romanticism: Culture in Britain, 1780s-1830s. (London and New York, Routledge, 1992), p. 183.
  69. A.N. Wilson, The Life of John Milton (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984), p. 51.
  70. Ibid.
  71. John Russell Taylor, Hitch: The Life and Work of Alfred Hitchcock (London: Faber, 1978), p. 181.

About The Author

Ken Mogg, muffin@labyrinth.net.au, is author of The Alfred Hitchcock Story (1999; 2008) and has published widely on Hitchcock matters. He is currently preparing a study of children/childhood in Hitchcock’s features and television shows, with emphasis on the motif of “growing up” (or not).

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