With a career catalog jam-packed with classics like Vertigo, Psycho, North by Northwest, Read Window, and dozens of others, Alfred Hitchcock—who was born in London in this day in 1899—is one of the most celebrated and revered film directors of all time. One of the great delights of Hitchcock is that he himself could have been a film character; incredibly dry, deadpan, dark and larger than life—both physically and in personality—these 10 quotes illustrate why Hitch has become a legend.
1. ON PACING
“The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.”
2. ON THE ART OF WATCHING TELEVISION
"Seeing a murder on television ... can help work off one's antagonisms. And if you haven't any antagonisms, the commercials will give you some."
3. ON BAGPIPES
"I understand the inventor of the bagpipes was inspired when he saw a man carrying an indignant, asthmatic pig under his arm. Unfortunately, the man-made sound never equaled the purity of the sound achieved by the pig."
4. ON DIRECTING ACTORS
"When an actor comes to me and wants to discuss his character, I say, 'It's in the script.' If he says, 'But what's my motivation?, ' I say, 'Your salary.'"
5. ON THE ROLE OF TELEVISION
"One of television’s great contributions is that it brought murder back into the home, where it belongs."
6. ON THE ONE THING THAT SCARED HIM MOST
"And then I’m frightened of eggs, worse than frightened; they revolt me. That white round thing without any holes, and when you break it, inside there’s that yellow thing, round, without any holes… Brr! Have you ever seen anything more revolting than an egg yolk breaking and spilling its yellow liquid? Blood is jolly, red. But egg yolk is yellow, revolting. I’ve never tasted it."
7. ON HIS PENCHANT FOR CASTING BLONDES
"Blondes make the best victims. They’re like virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints."
8. ON HIS RESPONSE TO A WOMAN WHO COMPLAINED THAT THE SHOWER SCENE IN PSYCHO HAD CAUSED HER DAUGHTER TO STOP SHOWERING
"Then, Madam, I suggest you have her dry cleaned."
9. ON HIS DISAPPOINTMENT IN A MURDER SCENE FROM DIAL M FOR MURDER
“But there wasn’t enough gleam on the scissors, and a murder without gleaming scissors is like asparagus without the hollandaise sauce – tasteless.”
10. ON THE ONE SCENE HE WISHES HE HAD FILMED
"If I were to make another picture in Australia today, I'd have a policeman hop into the pocket of a kangaroo and yell 'Follow that car!'"