Category Archives: Hitchcock Homage

Hitchcock in Mad Men

The popular television series Mad Men is a period drama  set in the 60’s about the corrupt executives of an advertising agency and their personal lives. It has won many awards and received critical acclaim for its intelligent writing and themes of identity, corruption and gender roles. The creator of Mad Men, Matthew Weiner, stated that Hitchcock’s films were a significant influence on the show’s visual style. This is perhaps most noticeable in the opening sequence, which is animated very similarly to Saul Bass’s artwork.

The silhouette of a businessman, presumably the main character Don Draper, falling to his death is highly reminiscent of the dream sequence in Vertigo. The skyscrapers the silhouette falls past also resemble the skyscrapers from the opening of North by Northwest.

Birdemic: a “Tribute” to Hitchcock

There are some terrible movies that can only be described as an experience. You might sit and laugh at the horrible acting and effects, or maybe sit with your head in your hands wondering how humanity created such a bad film. These were the reactions when my friends and I watched Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010). Inspired by Hitchcock’s The BirdsBirdemic features the best acting, graphics, and audio that a $10,000 budget can apparently buy (which isn’t much, evidently). The film focuses on environmentalism and the dangers of global warming, as director James Nguyen stated he was inspired by Al Gore as well as Hitchcock.

The trailer for the film really says it all:

With 1.8 stars on IMDb, I’d recommend this film to anyone who enjoys watching bad movies for fun.

James Nguyen attempts to mimic Hitchcock’s promotions

Bob’s Burger’s and Hitchcock

Bob’s Burger’s is a common, young adult, animated series, about a man who owns a burger restaurant and his crazy, yet realistic family. Recently an episode aired for Thanksgiving that could only be referencing one thing, The Birds. It was time for the Thanksgiving feast and the town decided to honor thanksgiving that they would have a “Running of the Birds.” Yes, it’s exactly at is sounds, the town released tons of birds into the streets and encouraged the townspeople to run with them. Everything takes a turn for the worst when the birds begin to attack the people. Soon the town is in utter chaos. As you can see in the clip below, instead of creepy crows and ravens, there are turkeys and chickens but the idea is still very much the same.

At the end of the

episode the situation is resolved in a slightly different manner than the Hitchcock film however.Instead of the birds leaving Linda, the mother, discovers that there is a serious pecking order between the birds, literally, and that they are all fighting to get to the top of the pecking order. Linda then pecks the other birds and her family forcing the birds to accept her dominance. The birds then leave and Thanksgiving was a success. Therefore, even with some drastic changes it is still very evident as to what Bob’s Burger’s drew their inspiration from.

Hitchcock in Psych

The popular TV show Psych has a season 4 finale entirely centered around Hitchcock films, called “Mr. Yin Presents…” Even the title is a reference to the TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents which aired from 1955 to 1965.

*Spoilers!*

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The episode involves a mysterious serial killer named Mr. Yin who bases his murders and clues off of classic Hitchcock movies. The protagonists of the show must decipher the messages left for them and catch the killer before he strikes again, playing along with the movie scenarios that he is referencing.

While watching the episode, I managed to find references to Frenzy, Vertigo, Rear Window, Psycho, The 39 Steps, North by Northwest, The Birds, Lifeboat, Marnie, and The Man Who Knew Too Much. This is going to be a long post!

1. Frenzy

The first murder the killer commits and the detectives are investigating was committed via strangulation by necktie.

During a dream sequence the main character, Shawn Spencer, has, he sees a woman strangled with a necktie in a similar fashion.

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2. Vertigo

A scene directly from the movie plays on a television.

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Shawn Spencer falls asleep while watching Vertigo, starting a dream sequence similar to that in the movie.

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The killer casts one of the other main characters, Juliet O’Hara, as Madeleine in his plan to recreate several Hitchcock movies at once. Her clue is the sign for Ernie’s Restaurant, the one that the characters frequent throughout the movie.

 

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A staircase that leads to the top of a clock tower where Juliet is being held hostage is very reminiscent of the bell tower’s vertigo-inducing steps.

 

The killer’s entire setup to kill Juliet invokes multiple elements of Vertigo – deadly falls, grey suits, and tall towers.

3. Rear Window

The killer casts Shawn as L.B. Jeffries in his plan to recreate several Hitchcock movies at once. His clue is a wheelchair in a window, like the one that Jeffries was confined to due to his broken leg.

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4. Psycho

The characters watch Psycho in a theater at the beginning of the episode, and the shower scene can be seen in the background.

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Juliet takes the place of Marion Crane in the shower scene during Shawn’s dream sequence.

Another main character, Detective Lassiter, humorously portrays “Mother” in the same dream sequence.

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The mysterious killer paints a red “O” next to the Psych logo on the front window, spelling out “Psycho”.

 

 

The killer recreates Arbogast’s murder scene by stabbing the character Mary Lightly at the top of a flight of steps. The moments leading up to his death are intercut with parts of the original film sequence.

 

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5. The 39 Steps

A hint left by the killer reads, “Take 39 steps by 12:05, coordinates north by northwest, make a wish.”

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This clue leads them to the 39th step of an actual staircase.39

6. North by Northwest

While following the clue left behind by the killer, Lassiter is chased by a model airplane in a shout-out to the famous crop dusting sequence.

Part of the hint left by the killer mentioned above give the directions “coordinates north by northwest,” which ends up being the north line bus.

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7. The Birds

Graffiti of several birds sitting on a wire appear in one scene.

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The killer casts Lassiter as Mitch Brenner in his plan to recreate several Hitchcock movies at once. His clue is an old-fashioned car similar to the one that Melanie Daniels is attacked in.

 

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8. Lifeboat

The killer casts one of the other main characters, Gus, as Joe Spencer in his plan to recreate several Hitchcock movies at once. His clue is a life preserver on a door.

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9. Marnie

The killer casts Shawn’s father, Henry Spencer, as Mark Rutland in his plan to recreate several Hitchcock movies at once. His clue is also the old-fashioned car.

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10. The Man Who Knew Too Much

A crossword puzzle that contains a clue from the killer is signed “Ben McKenna”, a character from the 1956 version of the movie.

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That’s all that I could find! Whew, what a list! The episode also contains music from the original scores of several movies, most notably Psycho and Vertigo. Overall, a great homage to The Master of Suspense.

 

Hitchcock and. . . LADY GAGA?

Yes, that’s right folks.  Lady Gaga has a habit of referencing Hitchcock (not always in the best ways).  For example, the song “Bad Romance”.

 

Let’s take a look at the lyrics:

 

I want your Psycho,

your Vertigo  stick

Want you in my Rear Window,

baby you’re sick.

It’s a horrible, horrible reference to anal sex (much like Hitchcock tends to reference homosexuality in his films),  You get the idea.

Now, let’s take a look at the video for “Born This Way”.

Does the opening track sound familiar?  Well, it should.  That is the theme from Vertigo.  Not only that, but Gaga appears as an ethereal creature while also taking a distinctly human form (and others, but then again she can’t stick with one look), another possible reference to Hitchcock.

Pulp Fiction and Hitchcock

In Hitchcock’s famous slasher movie, Psycho, Marion Crane is shown driving in many scenes; this is also a famous motif Hitchcock uses in many of his other films. The driving in this film however, is more prominent because that is what takes her to the Bates Motel and leads to her death. In Pulp Fiction, Bruce Willis’s boxer Butch driving and stopping at the traffic lights after pulling off a big money swindle. That scene is very similar to when Marion takes the money and instead of going to the bank, like she tells her boss, she drives away with it. When both Bruce and Marion are at the stop light they see someone who knows they lied. It immediately makes them guilty and fearful of what is going to happen to them later.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Yt8tlt-kCVs[/youtube]

This is a link to see Bruce and Marion in their escape scene next to each other to compare how similar they are.

Hitchcock in modern television

Abc family’s tv series “Castle” recently embraced the Hitchcock influences that other popular shows like “The Simpsons” had already incorporated into their programs. In the Castle episode from season 5 “The Lives of Others,” the lead actor has suffered from a knee injury and is homebound for six weeks. Across the street he gets involved in a possible homicide between an adulterous woman and her husband. Throughout the episode, the protagonist, using a pair of binoculars, tracts the apartment to uncover clues about the missing wife. Anyone who has even remotely heard about the basic plot of Rear Window would recognize the basic references to Hitchcocks film. This reference is just one of thousands that have praised Hitchcock, his works, and his legacy.

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Auteurism

Hitchcock has been mentioned to be an auteuristic director, creating a style so powerfully associated with him that viewers know right away who the director is. Christopher Nolan is an example of a current auteuristic director. His style is so specific that almost everyone knows only a couple minutes into the film who directed it. His works like The Dark Knight, Inception, and the new film Interstellar have a feel about them that makes it impossible to believe someone else could’ve directed it. Nolan incorporates things such as a psychological effect on the viewers and the internal struggle of characters throughout his work much like how Hitchcock incorporated motifs or underlying themes. Christopher Nolan is following in Hitchcock’s footsteps by creating a style that is recognizably his own.

A Cartoon Tribute

Aside from being two of the most popular late night cartoons on television, Family Guy and The Simpsons have something else in common: both shows have had numerous Hitchcock references in their many episodes.  Although these homages are obviously made in jest, both cartoons honor Hitchcock’s name in their comedy.  They show writers wouldn’t write the gag if they weren’t sure people would recognize it, which means they know how renowned his films truly are.

Although The Simpsons has many more references to many of Hitchcock’s films than Family Guy, they both are alike in their homage to North by Northwest.

The Simpsons – for the whole scene, click here

Family Guy – for the whole scene, click here

Family Guy reference to the Hitchcock Silhouette

–For all of the Hitchcock references The Simpsons have made over the years, click here

Shutter Island: Hitchcokian film, but not Hitchcock

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Shutter Island, directed by Martin Scorsese, feels like a Hitchcock movie that Hitchcock was not able to make. Martin Scorsese, an Academy Award winning director and renown Hitchcock fan took a style that he so emulated and turned it into a suspense thriller that the “Master of Suspense” would have to love. The film is an atypical suspense that includes many of the features and characteristics that Hitchcock would have used if he had made the film. Similarities include the icy blonde, conspiracies, obsession, and and even a macguffin in the form of a lighter. There are many similarities between the film Shutter Island and Alfred Hitchcock, but for the film, those similarities are pure signs of homage from Scorsese to Hitchcock.