Hitchcock: The War Years

In 1939, after a highly successful career in Britain, Alfred Hitchcock moved to Hollywood to direct a film version of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca for David O Selznick, which proved to be a huge success. Although he was unfit for military service his decision provoked criticism in the UK and he was keen to make some form of contribution. His wartime films all reflected concerns about the period.

After Foreign Correspondent (1940) he made Saboteur (1942) which reworked The 39 Steps as a double chase spy thriller across America with a stunning climax on The Statue of Liberty. This was followed in 1943 by the masterful Shadow of a Doubt in 

which “Uncle Charlie” (an outstanding Joseph Cotton) embeds evil roots into small town America as an allegory for fifth columnists. It was Hitchcock’s favourite film.  A year later he explored wartime morality and ethics in the ingenious Lifeboat (1944) a survival story entirely set aboard one and based on a novella by John Steinbeck.

Hitchcock also made two propaganda shorts Bon Voyage and Aventure Malgache (1944) – screened as part of the season – and edited the harrowing documentary Memories of the Camps after the liberation in 1944.

Films in this season