Stripping the Mask from the Master of Suspense

Studio publicity photo of Alfred Hitchcock. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen; I’m Alfred Hitchcock.” He introduced himself before every episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents in his playfully pompous voice, and made cameo appearances in many of his films. But how well do we really know the man behind the famous silhouette? John Fawell, professor of humanities, revealed the sympathetic side of the auteur director in his talk “Through the Eyes of Alfred Hitchcock: Rear Window” on October 20, 2012, during Parents Weekend.

Rear Window, in which a man confined to his bedroom witnesses a potential murder in the facing apartment, was one of the director’s most technically complex and inventive films, as well as his most intimate. In his lecture, Fawell peered through Rear Window into the director’s personal life and stripped away the myths surrounding the “master of suspense.” The talk was preceded by a screening of the classic film, starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly.

On the same day, Thomas Whalen, associate professor of social science, presented a lecture on a subject imbued with a different kind of suspense: the fall 2012 election. Whalen examined President Barack Obama’s chances for reelection in his lecture “Back to the Future: History as Guide to the 2012 Presidential Race.” With a little detective work, he traced the historic pattern followed by the five presidents since 1900 who failed to achieve a second term—William Howard Taft, Herbert Hoover, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush (Hon.’89)—and predicted that President Obama would be victorious.—Lara Ehrlich