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Drama is life with the dull bits cut out

From the silent movie era through to the 1970s, legendary British film director Alfred Hitchcock was unafraid to break the rules to create cinematic gold.

“Give them pleasure – the same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare,” he once said of his plans for his audience.

His spine-tingling psychological thrillers were famous for their jump-out-of-your-seat moments, from the shower scene in Psycho, to the crop duster chase in North By Northwest and the terrifying avian attack in The Birds.

Though not an actor, he was also the first director to become a widely recognisable star in his own right. He hosted his own TV show, Alfred Hitchcock Presents… and famously made a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo appearance in every one of his 50 or so films.

In later films, he made these cameos increasingly easy to spot, as he was worried he was distracting his audience from properly watching them.

A greengrocer’s son born in London, Hitchcock began his film industry career in 1920, starting out by designing sets and had his first opportunity to make a film in 1923, when he stepped in to oversee the shoot when the director of a silent movie called Always Tell Your Wife fell ill.

Knighted in 1979 just a year before he died The Master of Suspense said his own favourite film was Shadow of a Doubt, a suspenseful thriller about a man who tries to get away with murder. Perhaps it is telling that the director who pioneered the suspense-horror genre had begun his career in the days before movies had sound.

“If it’s a good movie,” he said, “the sound could go off and the audience would still have a perfectly clear idea of what was going on.”