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The television work of Alfred Hitchcock

By Neill Potts


The thesis uses close textual analysis to study and evaluate the television work of Alfred Hitchcock. The corpus consists of the twenty shows personally directed by Hitchcock, including his appearances before and after those shows. In response to most previous writing, which tends to compare the programmes with Hitchcock’s films (often unfairly) the thesis emphasises them as products of television. Programmes are evaluated on the basis of their perceived success as television- if they harness conditions related to television production and integrate them with narrative themes or to create meaning. Hitchcock is considered to be the major creative force in each programme.\ud \ud Chapter One provides a variety of important contexts including a brief history of US television of the 1950s, key literature on Hitchcock and analyses of contemporaneous programmes not directed by Hitchcock. The textual analysis chapters (2-8) consider aesthetic or thematic programme aspects. Chapter Two studies the various roles played by Hitchcock’s appearances as series host. Chapter Three considers the impact of censorship on programmes frequently dealing with murder, violence and insanity. Chapter Four analyses Hitchcock’s implementation of varieties of voice-over narration, a common device in short dramatic forms. Chapter Five studies Hitchcock’s use of point-of-view shots, particularly in relation to their role in the delivery of the narrative twist. Chapter Six considers the key Hitchcock theme of detachment from the world. Chapter Seven looks at moments from the programmes which demonstrate how aesthetic is influenced by television production conditions.\ud \ud Hitchcock created a number of television masterpieces. His achievements in television are in many ways comparable in quality and consistency to his theatrical films. Even when considered in the context of other 1950s US anthology dramas, the Hitchcock-directed programmes are superior on many levels. Elements of his film style were highly suited to television production. Many of his greatest achievements embrace and harness television production conditions in their presentation strategies to create an integration of style and meaning

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