Alfred Hitchcock had a tendency to use the same actors over and over again in his masterpieces. He was famous for his “Blonde Women,” but he also repeatedly used many actors. Who were some of Hitchcock’s famous leading men?
Albert Basserman, the German actor, was nominated for an Oscar in the Hitchcock movie The Foreign Correspondent, but did not win. Basserman spoke no English, so all of is lines had to be spelled out phonetically for him to read. This movie was Hitchcock’s second American film. Filming was completed in London just five days before the Germans bombed it.
Michael Chekov was a Russian actor who was in Hitchcock’s Spellbound. This was his best known role, and one for which he received an Academy Award nomination.
Bruce Dern worked with Hitchcock three times. The first was in a minor role as the sailor in Marnie. He also did two episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Finally, in 1976, he starred in Hitchcock’s final film, Family Plot. Hitchcock was extremely ill during the making of this movie, and died in 1980.
Dern is the ex-husband of actress Diane Ladd, with whom he fathered daughter, actress Laura Dern. She is married to musician Ben Harper.
Cary Grant even wanted to be Cary Grant. He was the ultimate persona and highly sought after for movies. Hitchcock used him several times: To Catch a Thief, Notorious,Suspicion, and North by Northwest. IMDB quotes Hitchcock as once saying, “Cary Grant is the only actor I ever loved in my whole life.” Supposedly, Hitchcock wanted to also do a version of Hamlet, with Grant in the title role. Hitchcock also often took Grant’s recommendations for improving a set or another aspect of a film.
Cary Grant had mutual affection for his director. He had retired from acting in 1953, as Hollywood was making a move toward method acting, which he despised. Hitchcock coaxed him out of retirement to film To Catch a Thief, and Grant continued to act in films until 1966.
Grant was once considered for the role of the professor in Rope, but turned it down. Some say it is because he had another conflict. Others claim he rejected it due to the homosexual undertones of the role. There was concern on what the possible effects of this type of role could have on his career.
Hitchcock also wanted Grant to star in Torn Curtain. Grant turned him down, feeling that he was too old for the part. Instead, he cast Paul Newman.
Grant never played a true villain in any of his roles. His character in Suspicion had several diabolical scenes and in the original version, was a murderer. But the test audiences could not accept Grant as a murderer, so the script was altered.
James Mason is first mentioned as portraying a great villain in Hitchcock’s movie Rope. Mason didn’t actually portray a villain in a Hitchcock film until North by Northwest. He also appeared on the TV show, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.
Anthony Perkins became famous for his portrayal of the Norman Bates character in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. In fact, he reprised the role for three sequels, none of which involved Hitchcock. Norman Bates is considered to be one of the greatest villains ever in cinematic history. Perkins considered Bates to be the “Hamlet of horror roles,” as well as being one of his favorites. He felt a special empathy for the character, as he was a tragic soul. He also referred to Psycho as being a tragedy first and horror movie second.
Psycho was Hitchcock’s last movie for Paramount, as well as being his last movie filmed in black and white. He did black and white for two reasons. One was concern that the bloody shower scene would be too gory in color. (Ironically enough, moviegoers swore the scene actually showed red blood going down the drain. In reality, it was Bosco chocolate syrup.) The other was that so many bad horror movies were successful in the theatres at the time. He thought that if these “B” movies would have been shot in color, they would have flopped. So, he wanted to show them how it was done properly.
Claude Rains had a supporting role in Notorious, with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. During the filming, it as obvious that he was shorter than Bergman, so Hitchcock made him wear platforms. He also performed in episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
James Stewart was another Hitchcock favorite, starring in movies such as Rope, Vertigo, The Man Who Knew Too Muchand Rear Window. Vertigo was Stewart’s last movie for Hitchcock. When the movie was originally released, it was a critical and commercial flop. Hitchcock blamed this on Stewart looking too old. This cost Stewart the role of Roger Thornhill in North by Northwest, which ultimately went to Cary Grant, four years his senior.
All four of these movies were part of the “Five Lost Hitchcocks.” They had all been bought back by Hitchcock, to leave to his daughter Patricia as part of her legacy. They were finally re-released to theatres in 1984, after being “missing” for 30 years.
The Man Who Knew Too Much was also one of Hitchcock’s own remakes. His original version of the film was done in 1934. This remake was in 1956.
Stewart’s role in Rope was originally for Cary Grant, who turned it down. Later, Stewart said that he felt miscast in this role.
Rope was also Hitchcock’s first color film, and is famous for its long takes. The entire movie appears to have been shot all at once. In fact, it required ten rolls of film, due to the time constraints of the cameras of the time. Clever editing gave it its single take appearance.
Albert Basserman on IMDB http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0060168/
Alfred Hitchcock on IMDB http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000033/
Anthony Perkins on IMDB http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000578/
Bruce Dern on IMDB http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001136/
Cary Grant on IMDB http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000026/
Claude Rains on IMDB http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001647/
James Mason on IMDB http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000051/
James Stewart on IMDB http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000071/
Michael Chekov on IMDB http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0155011/
The Official Alfred Hitchcock Website http://www.alfred-hitchcock.com/index.html