Category Archives: Hitchcock Homage

Hitchcock in the Simpsons

 

The Simpsons is known to parody many things in popular culture, but Hitchcock appears many times and sometimes episodes explicitly mirror plots of movies, such as Rear Window. I recognized some themes in films we screened in class that I’d seen previously from the Simpsons.

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Hitchcock in pop culture

Barbie Collector 2008 Black Label - Pop Culture Collection - Alfred Hitchcock's THE BIRDS Barbie Doll, Tippi Hedren     Hitchcock The GirlFiner Feed: HBO Gets its Hitchcock On, KFC Loves the Gays, and Ryan Lochte's Never Changing Olympic Face  The image of the Tippi Hedren doll is an advertisement for collectible pop culture dolls on Amazon. The other two pictures are of Sienna Miller playing Tippi Hedren and Toby Jones as Alfred Hitchcock in the 2012 film, The Girl. It is a film about the making of The Birds, and the controversial relationship between Hedren and Hitchcock.

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Modern Pop-Culture take on Hitchcock

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Gallery: Pop Culture Artists Pay Tribute to Hitchcock’s Legendary Films

“Gallery 1988 — purveyors of all things pop culture — is hosting a gathering full of gallows humor and shadowy mayhem. The Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, is the subject of the California gallery’s latest exhibit, which features over 100 artists paying tribute to one of cinema’s most iconic directors. Suspense & Gallows Humor: A Tribute to the All-Time Greatest focuses on the pioneering filmmaker’s psychological thrillers and twisted tales of terror — including Psycho, North by Northwest, The Birds, and more.”- By Alison Nastasi on Apr 2, 2012 6:00pm

 

Also

“Bates Motel is an American drama thriller television series developed for television by Carlton Cuse, Kerry Ehrin and Anthony Cipriano, produced by Universal Television for A&E.[1]

The series, being a “contemporary prequel”[2][3] to Hitchcock‘s 1960 film Psycho (based on Robert Bloch‘s novel of the same name), depicts the life of Norman Bates and his mother Norma prior to the events portrayed in Hitchcock’s film, albeit in a different fictional town (“White Pine Bay, Oregon,” as opposed to the film’s “Fairvale, California“) and in a modern setting. The series begins after the death of Norma’s husband, when she purchases a motel located in a coastal Oregon town so she and Norman can start a new life.” (Wiki)

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Hitchcock inspired art in pop culture

For this post I wanted to look more into the influence Hitchcock has had on art in the past decade, and I found two interesting examples.  I wanted to show how even more than half a century later his work is still being referenced; it hasn’t lost its relevance in pop culture as the years go by.  The audience that is able to recognize it off hand may be getting smaller, but it doesn’t lesson the impact Hitchcock and his films has had on not just film culture, but our culture as a whole.

While scrolling through tumblr a while back I found a series of pictures featuring today’s celebrities portraying scenes from classic Hitchcock films.  It turns out it was “The Hitchcock Hollywood Portfolio” from a 2008 issue of Vanity Fair magazine, their website has captions for each of the pictures that talk about the film and Hitchcock himself.

 

I also found a Texas based art company, Mondo, that creates limited edition screen printed posters for classic and contemporary films.  Several were created to look like movie posters for some Hitchcock’s films.

 

Hitch for Kids

Hitchock homages are everywhere. One of the weirdest homages (and probably the least-understood by the audience) are homages in kids’ entertainment. Here are two examples of homages to one of Hitchcock’s most famous scenes:

(Skip to 1:44-2:06)

 

“Psych” and Hitchcock

Psych is a popular T.V. show on the USA network. The season four finale is basically dedicated to Hitchcock and is filled with references to Hitchcock movies. The episode references Psycho, The 39 Steps, and North by Northwest to name just a few. Although I can not put all the Hitchcock allusions from this episode in this post, I highly recommend viewing this episode to see how many Hitchcock mentions you can find.

 

Hitchcock in Today’s World

Hitchcock’s legend (and his profile silhouette) live on today via his films, story books, and television series. In fact, his unique personality has been lovingly recreated and used in some unexpected ways. Whether it is a remake of one of his classics, or an imitation of one of his films as a cartoon, Hitchcock is still in the public eye as an easily recognizable cult figure.

As a child I used to watch Arthur episodes, and one of my favorites was “The Squirrels”, which was based on Hitchcock’s “The Birds”. At one point in the episode when the kids are watching “The Squirrels” on television, squirrels gather and take over the jungle gym at the playground, just as the birds did in Hitchcock’s film. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiXJyoKwWUI

Hitchcock’s famous persona was also used in the 1960’s hit animated series, “The Flintstones”. The character in one of the episode utters the famous “Good Evening” greeting in the same long, drawn out manner of speech he used, and is patterned directly on his seemingly ominous and suspenseful character. In real life he was somewhat of a practical joker and would undoubtedly have wholeheartedly appreciated his having been made “immortal” by such a popular television series.

High Anxiety and Hitchcock

Mel Brooks’ film High Anxiety is famously dedicated to Alfred Hitchcock, referencing scenes from Spellbound, Vertigo and Psycho.  The film is a compilation of different movies, re-done with a modern take.  Mel Brooks directed and stars in this film as Dr. Richard Thorndyke, and we follow him to his institution where we see many encounters similar to what we would see in a Hitchcock film.

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Taken from Vertigo

 

Another famous scene Brooks recreated is the infamous Psycho shower scene, only this time the weapon of choice is a newspaper.

High Anxiety Shower Scene

The Birds jungle gym scene

The Birds jungle gym scene

More famous scenes from Hitchcock’s films are mentioned in High Anxiety, including The 39 Steps and North by North West.  This is really a film everyone should watch as Brooks captures the Hitchcockian techniques, such as the McGuffin and the essence of staircases.

Hitchcockian References

There is one animated television show that I know has multiple Hitchcock references. I have been watching The Simpsons since I was very little and I never realized how much Hitchcock culture I was being introduced to, until this year. After watching movies like Strangers on a Train, Psycho, Rear Window, The Birds, Spellbound, and many more of Hitchcock’s works. When watching Strangers on a Train I caught the reference from The Simpsons when the statement “criss cross” came into play. It automatically reminded me of Bart Simpson saying “Criss cross” to his sister Lisa.

Bart Simpson “Criss Cross”

There are actually references to 8 different Hitchcock works. The majority of the references are from Strangers on a Train. What I thought was cool about this episode (which I went back and watched after watching Strangers on a Train) is how they not only made references to Hitchcock’s movies, they also snuck Hitchcock in himself.

Hitchcock’s cameo in the Simpsons episode Treehouse of Horror XX

Hitchcock’s real cameo from North by Northwest

Reference to Hitchcock’s silhouette from Hitchcock Presents

To see more references to Hitchcock’s films in the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror XX

And to see a list of other Simpsons episodes that contain Hitchcock references and or specific films that the Simpsons reference to: http://www.hitchcockwiki.com/wiki/Category:Hitchcock_references_in_The_Simpsons

Another popular animated TV show that makes references to a Hitchcock film is Family Guy. There is actually an episode that is a spinoff of North by Northwest. It copies a lot of the visual shots from the film and even the title is “North by North Quahog”

Here are some of the images that match the original film:

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for more about this episode: http://www.hitchcockwiki.com/wiki/Family_Guy:_North_by_North_Quahog

For  even more homages outside of the animated TV series: http://www.hitchcockwiki.com/wiki/Spoofs,_Parodies_and_Homages_of_Hitchcock_Films

 

Bonus: I really enjoyed this Simpsons episode where Bart is stuck in a cast, like LB Jefferies in Rear Window. Bart breaks his leg at the peak of summer and is stuck in bed while everyone else plays in the new Simpson pool. To keep himself occupied he uses his sister’s telescope to take a look around Springfield. We even catch a glimpse of Jefferies himself!

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All images and links thanks to The Alfred Hitchcock Wiki