Dirk’s Five – Hitchcock Cameos

I wanted to mark the Hitchcock week with a fitting alternative list and I have been through a number of iterations that seemed well-worn and a little boring to be honest. Are you really interested in Dirk’s opinion on the best Hitch murder? Are you really interested in what is considered the best Hitch maguffin? Are you really interested when so much has been written already?

There are hundreds of books offering a revealing personal insight into Hitchcock from an number of different critical perspectives. Dirk’s archive has 20 different books relating to his films. Browse through Amazon and you’ll find loads of books on PSYCHO alone, never mind the rest of his significant output, so there’s more than enough opinion out there.

I thought that I would do a Friday Five literature survey, but despite my fairly wide reading on Hitchcock, I haven’t read enough to be an authority on the books available. There are the obvious: Spoto’s Darkside of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock is indispensable as is the remarkable interviews with Truffaut, while John Russell Taylor‘s Hitch:The Life and Times of Alfred Hitchcock is a solidly written prima, I like the comprehensive The Alfred Hitchcock Story (Ken Mogg) better because it is filled with great pictures, but the best I have read recently is the personal memoir It’s Only A Movie by Charlotte Chandler who gives an interesting perspective on her memoir with Hitch as a backdrop.

There’s nothing more to add.

It strikes me that he was the first and last true icon of cinema who was a director. I mean icon in a truer sense that his own image became a signifier that was in a sense stronger, more vivid and fascinating than the films he made. He still attracts interest because he is so recognisable.

Therefore, this week’s Friday Five (appearing on a Friday for a change) reflects the imagery of the man himself and his signature appearances.


1) LIFEBOAT (1944) The second appearance in a Friday Five for this excellent film. Hitch is in a diet advert. Before and after.

2) THE BIRDS (1963) One of the classic appearances as the master of suspense leaves a pet shop with a couple of lap dogs, one of them is Tippi Hedren. It is so famous that it was parodied in The Simpsons

3) SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943) I had to get this one. Joseph Cotton as nice Uncle Charlie is keeping his cards close to his chest, as is Hitch!

4) THE LODGER (1927) His first cameo appearance is in this silent ‘Story of the London Fog‘ which still remains genuinely creepy. He is leaning on the fence in a crowd …


5) MARNIE (1964) At the height of his television series ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS he enjoyed presenting the programmes in a variety of self-parodying situations. In this appearance he breaks the forth wall to looking knowingly at his audience in a nod to his television persona. Hits the wrong note.

What are your favourites?

6 responses to “Dirk’s Five – Hitchcock Cameos

  1. i do love the cameos and trying to spot them, some are very close to the start, Like him trying to get a double bass on a bus over the titles in North By Northwest and they are not in all his films, but I do like his appearance in Rebecca(as he walks past a telephone box near the end) and Psycho (standing outside the estate agent’s office near the beginning) because it took many viewings to find them!

  2. I read somewhere that he put the cameo for North By North West in early because he wanted the audience to concentrate on the plot rather than looking out for his appearance.

    I was trying to think of other directors who have appeared in the frame. I like the appearance of Scorsese sat, loitering outside the campaign offices. It is an odd one as he has a speaking part later in the film!

  3. Yes, it is, as well as his mother and father in several films, I think I am right in saying he appeared in Robert Redford’s “Quiz Show”, now there is one, directors who act in other director’s films? Spielberg in The Blues Brothers, Woody Allen in The Front, Erich Von Stroheim in Sunset Boulevard (and La Grande Illusion, Five Graves To Cairo), Otto Preminger in Stalag 17, any more?

  4. Truffaut in ‘Close Encounters..’
    John Huston in ‘Chinatown’
    Roger Corman in Godfather II, Silence Of The Lambs, and other Jonathan Demme films.
    Orson Welles in ‘Transformers: The Movie’

  5. I suppose everyone has thankfully forgotten Tarrantino’s turn in DESTINY TURNS ON THE RADIO, which for many, was the beginning of the shine coming off …

    I’ve just remembered that Terry Gilliam makes a cameo in BRAZIL

  6. Hitchcock was a great director especially using the camerain a voyeuristic way, a lot of his films are to old even for me but The Birds and Psycho are classics. In the birds he cameos with 2 terriers in the pet shop scene with Tippi Hendren and in Psycho through an office window wearing a cowboy hat I read he cameos in 39 of his films and he is given a guest cameo in Psycho 2 1983 showing his famous shadow on a wall. A great man who probably gave a lot of inspiration to later directors.

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