At heart, [Alfred Hitchcock is] a practical joker, a cunning and sophisticated cynic amused at the French critical vogue for his work, contemptuous of the audience which he treats as the collective victim of a Pavlovian experiment, perennially fascinated by his own ability to exploit the cinema's resources. His narcissism and its concomitant coldness have damaged those films whose themes have called for warmly sympathetic treatment: The Ring, I Confess, and The Wrong Man are obvious examples of stories which, demanding humanism, have been treated with a heartless artificiality.
The mechanics of creating terror and amusement in an audience are all Hitchcock properly understands. The...
(The entire section is 930 words.)