Few directors have influenced the way films are made as much as Alfred Hitchcock. The shots. The cuts. The sequencing. Lighting. Music. Performances.
Pretty much everything the man did has been built on or outright copied by the generations of directors who have followed him.
But one thing he did always annoyed the crap out of me.
The director’s cameo.
Oh, it was harmless at first. When nobody knew who he was. Just some tubby, balding gentlemen among the faces in the crowd.
But later it became a “thing”. Each new Hitchcock film was preceded by questions about how the director himself would appear on screen.
Even Hitchcock was aware that this was the kind of thing that momentarily kicked audiences out of the story and broke the willing suspension of disbelief to remind them they were just watching a movie.
So once he was well known, those moments usually occurred early on, before the plot had begun to take control.
But like everything else he did, Hitch’s cameos became an approved method for other directors to get in front of their own cameras. And a lot of them didn’t give a lot of thought to what the impact on the overall story might be.
“Hey, here we are building to the climax and there’s Quentin Tarantino!” (for example)
Now the vast bulk of most audiences would never have a clue who most of these guys were. But put yourself in the place of a TV series producer with a stable of directors appearing in dailies four a five times per season per director.
It always knocked me out of what I was trying to accomplish in the edit suite. And that drove me nuts.
Of course there was one guy who insisted in doing his appearances in the nude. But that’s another story.
Responding differently -- Hitch’s cameos became the jumping off point for a new homage to the great man by filmmaker Fabrice Mathieu.
In “Master of Suspense” Mathieu has built an entirely new story from all the elements that made Hitchcock the creative genius he was.
And this time Alfred Hitchcock is not just some background player. He’s the star.
Perhaps its what the master and all those other directors doing cameos wanted to be all along.
Enjoy Your Sunday.