Monday, December 19, 2011

Alfred Hitchcock Presents "Class Struggle"

By Mervyn Nicholson
Monthly Review
December 2011

Class struggle is the last thing most people would associate with Alfred Hitchcock, probably the most famous director of them all. But there is a connection, nevertheless. No one would call Hitchcock a socialist; he emphasized that all he wanted was to entertain people—not instruct them. He was proud of his commercial success (and so were the studios that employed him). He made cynical-sounding remarks about manipulating audiences, and he never bothered with deep-level interpretation of his films.

It is true that his movies of the war period (1939–45) are conspicuously antifascist, Lifeboat most of all, but the common view is that Hitchcock is essentially apolitical. “You generally avoid any politics in your films,” the French director Fran├žois Truffaut said to him, and Hitchcock’s reply sums up his attitude: “It’s just that the public doesn’t care for films on politics.” He has nothing against it, but it is not what the public wants. It is significant that even Lifeboat was accused by some critics of supporting the Nazis.

Academics typically discuss everything about Hitchcock, except class—class not in a quasi-cultural sense, but in the technical and Marxist sense of class, with related themes of surplus extraction, alienation, immiseration, and revolution, implied in the term. As John Grant puts it, “the notion of ‘class’ is a dirty word in today’s America.” Critics notice the “dark side” of American society, plainly depicted in Hitchcock’s Hollywood movies; they discuss the alienation and cynicism, the satire, even nihilism, in his films.

Read more HERE.

1 comment:

  1. I’ve been a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock since my mom got me into his work starting with Rear Window when I was like 6 or 7. A lot of the shows are out on DVD now but I can’t always afford to buy the boxed sets, so as a DISH customer and employee I’ve been spending a lot of time at…they have over 150 episodes of Hitchcock Presents and over 50 episodes of the Hitchcock Hour…definitely recommend checking em out.