Warning: this post may be infested with spoilers; enter at your own risk.
I had the privilege of being introduced to classic films at a young age. Doris Day in With Six You Get Eggroll… James Stewart and June Allyson in The Glenn Miller Story… and Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain. Few children have this privilege and many are raised on other various filmic mediums. I’ll be honest… I don’t believe Little Einsteins will create genius children better than Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies. It’s just impossible. He gives his viewers a thirst for knowledge; not just film knowledge, knowledge in general. Anyhow, my parents raised me with a healthy love for all things classic and if you’re going for the classic thriller… it’s gotta be Hitchcock.
Alfred Hitchcock is known as the master of suspense and is widely known as one of the greatest directors of all time. If you’ve somehow managed to float through your (meaningless) life thus far without seeing a Hitchcock film… GO! Stop reading this blog, go now and watch one before it’s too late! If you have seen Hitchcock’s films, I’m curious if they were spoiled for you? A major issue with spoilers is the notion of time. I spoke about Fight Club and The Sixth Sense , but they are films of the last 25 years. What about films that stand the test of time and remain a part of our culture?
Remember the last trillion times you’ve probably heard the shrieking violins of the shower scene in Psycho? Do you ever remember a time when you had no idea what that meant? Probably not. Psycho is indelibly etched in our minds due to cultural references. The genius about Hitchcock is his memorable scenes spoil nothing for the viewer. The shower scene occurs halfway into the film and does not spoil the big reveal at the end. What’s so special about Cary Grant running through a corn field with an airplane dive-bombing him? Absolutely nothing! In my mind, the beauty of the master of suspense is the cinematic moments that people talk about as they are leaving the theatre… the twist at the end is just icing on the cake. Obviously, I’m not saying the ending will remain free from the clutches of spoilers… but! There is beauty in cinematic wonderment which detracts from spoiling plot lines. To me, that is great directing.
As an ironic sidenote, I attended a Turner Classic Movies event a few weeks ago with Tippi Hedren (the actress in Hitchcock’s The Birds and Marnie). She was participating in a Q&A for the eventual screening of Marnie. One of the questions asked was about the psychological thriller aspect of the film and how it upset many of the viewers during the era of its release (1960s). In retrospect, the critics adore the psychological thriller aspect of the film and the plot twist is well revered. However, my roommate… who had never seen Marnie (or read Harry Potter) had the ending spoiled for her by the actress in the film. In my opinion, that’s the only exception to spoiling a film: you must star in it.