Levels of Suspense

Out of the many prominent motifs Alfred Hitchcock uses in his films, staircases are the key to understanding his view of the world. Coming from a lower-middle class family himself, Hitchcock uses stairs to indicate differences in societal class. In the 1927 film The Lodger, Ivor Novello’s character lives above the family who rents the house out, indicating to the audience that he is of higher societal stature than the rest of the family. The lodger’s class is also indicated when he purchases a very expensive dress Daisy, the landlady’s daughter, models for him. The viewer must pay careful attention to visual clues, like the staircase, which hint at the lodger’s class in Hitchcock’s early silent films.

Then, adding sound, in his 1929 film Blackmail, Hitchcock uses an elaborately created staircase set design to show their important significance. In this film, the stairs to Crewe’s apartment are like venturing into another world, where everything delves into chaos. Hitchcock shows us the long walk up with Alice and Crewe using a side angle, and then Alice’s lone journey back into the real world after she has defended herself against Crewe. Hitchcock gives us a downward view of Alice running down the staircase, an angle which he will be known for in his 1958 film Vertigo.

Overall, in Hitchcock’s films, stairs are a tool to build suspense and dramatic effect, and to symbolize a journey for the characters.

 
 

The Lodger (1927)

 
 

Blackmail (1929)

 
 

The 39 Steps (1935)

 
 

Rebecca (1940)

 
 

Suspicion (1941)

 
 

Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

 
 

Spellbound (1945)

 
 

Notorious (1946)

 
 

I Confess (1953)

 
 

Dial M for Murder (1954)

 
 

Rear Window (1954)

 
 

To Catch a Thief (1955)

 
 

Vertigo (1958)

 
 

Psycho (1960)

 
 

Marnie (1964)

 
 

Topaz (1969)

Advertisements

Insatiable Photojournalist

Salvador Dalí

 
 

Tippi Hedren and Alfred Hitchcock

 
 

Paul Newman

 
 

Marlon Brando

 
 

Spanish bullfighter Luis Miguel Dominguín and Pablo Picasso

 
 

Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Peter Seeger

 
 

Charles Aznavour

 
 

João Gilberto

 
 

Dalida

 
 

Ruwenzori Mountains

 
 

<Muhammad Ali

 
 

Martin Luther King

 
 

kennedyJohn Fitzgerald Kennedy

 
 

Washington March

 
 

Enrique Meneses (1929 – 2013) was born journalist because of his father. He grew up and studied in France, Portugal and Spain because of the Spanish Civil world. He devour life, looking for being wherever something that could be tell happened, becoming along 30 years the most international Spanish reporter. He worked for agencies such as Fotopress or Delta Press, and media like Paris Match, Time, Life or ABC.

He is the author of iconic photographs of the XXth century that illustrate a time, with portraits of historic characters such as Ché Guevara, Fidel Castro and company when they where trying to defeat that dictator Batista, Salvador Dalí, Marlon Brando, Mel Ferrer, Paul Newman, Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali), Melina Mercouri, Charles Aznavour, João Gilberto o Henry Fonda. As many other historic moments like the fight for civil rights in the USA, the Washington March with Martin Luther King, the tension with the Soviet Union or the Ku Klux Klan.