Synopses & Reviews
This provocative study traces Alfred Hitchcock's long directorial career from Victorianism to postmodernism. Paula Cohen considers a sampling of Hitchcock's best films Shadow of a Doubt, Rear Window, Vertigo, Psycho
as well as some of the more uneven ones Rope, The Wrong Man, Topaz
and makes connections between his evolution as a filmmaker and trends in the larger society.
Drawing on a number of methodologies including feminism, psychoanalysis, and family systems, the author provides an insightful look at the paradox of a Victorian era. His career, she argues, can be seen as an attempt to balance "the two faces of Victorianism": the masculine legacy of law and hierarchy and the feminine legacy of feeling and imagination.
Also central to her thesis is the Victorian model of the nuclear family and its permutations, especially the father-daughter dyad. She postulates a fundamental dynamic in Hitchcock's films, what she calls a "daughter's effect," and relates it to the social role of the family as an institution and to Hitchcock's own relationship with his daughter, Patricia, who appeared in three of his films.
Cohen argues that Hitchcock's films reflect his Victorian legacy and serve as a map for ideological trends. She charts his development from his British period through his classic Hollywood years into his later phase, tracing a conceptual evolution that corresponds to an evolution in cultural identity one that builds on a Victorian inheritance and ultimately discards it.
About the Author
Paula Marantz Cohen, professor of humanities and communications at Drexel University, is the author of The Daughter's Dilemma: Family Process and the Nineteenth-Century Domestic Novel and many articles on literature and culture.
Table of Contents
1 The Rise of Narrative Film
2 Novel into Film: Sabotage
3 Psychoanalysis versus Surrealism: Spellbound
4 The Father-Daughter Plot: Shadow of a Doubt, Stage Fright, Strangers on a Train
5 Digression: Rope, I Confess
6 The Daughter's Effect: Rear Window, The Man Who Knew Too Much
7 Transition: The Wrong Man, Vertigo
8 The Emergence of Mother: Psycho
9 Beyond the Family Nexus: Topaz, Frenzy, Family Plot
10 After Hitchcock