Alfred Hitchcock is renowned as one of the single greatest pioneers behind modern film, particularly in suspense, horror, and sexual features of film such as forced voyeurism through one of his very own types of shots where one views the film through the eyes of one of the characters. Hitchcock is honoured as being an innovator in film through his specific and wide variety of shots and angles and innovative uses of film technology and lighting effects as well as being critically acclaimed for many of his different contextual, circumstantial and societal views and methods throughout his filmography. One of the most critically acclaimed yet also criticized methods is that of the ‘modern’ views of the time towards women and their roles and stance in the society of the day.
Hitchcock would often use different camera angles and shots as well as different habits and features of the women in his films to elaborate and further express the situations, views, and the standing of women on the societal ladder of the time. This was one of the very many controversial techniques Hitchcock used and was even more so in the time considering the Women’s Lib’ movements throughout most of the Western world. And this is a commonly occurring technique used by Hitchcock throughout his films and does not appear in just a few gimmicks and minor scenes throughout Hitchcock’s films it is rather a central theme of them. E.g.
In most of Hitchcock’s films the female protagonists are often Blonde stylish types focused upon the usual stereotypical things of the time such as fashion and finding wealthy and well to do men for themselves etc. In Rear Window for example, this occurs in rear window in one of the initial scenes where Jeff labels all women as people who stay at home and nag all the time and that only when they are in the highest areas ‘possible for them’ are they perhaps civilised and educated to a point beyond ‘nagging’. It also occurs with the female protagonist ‘Lisa’ where Jeff turns most things she says into a stereotypical woman’s habit or role of the time such as an implication of getting married to serve or that her life revolves around her next dress and suitor. This is a particularly good example as it shows the changing roles and societal standings of women at the time yet the refusal of men to accept them as any higher than that.
Another prime example is in both Vertigo and Rear Window where James Stewart’s Character’s personality and nature does not tend to change much particularly in his views and thoughts towards women, dominating over them as well as treating them like general crap. In this Hitchcock has actually done a relatively subtle display saying that ‘Despite the man, the character, the experiences the history and the different views, the man views the woman as the same near lesser being’.
In Hitchcock’s films, the views and expressions directed towards women come in many different forms. These occur not just in the different shots and camera angles used in scenes, although it is a large factor, but also in the actual locations of the women and how they are talked to. This happens particularly in ‘Psycho’ from things as in your face as the wealthy homebuyer flaunting his wealth towards Marion at her place of work and how Marion and her colleague pine and paw over the man simply for his wealth, to things as minor and subtle as Lila standing between two large men such as Arboghast and Sam. Again, referring to the way the female protagonists are structured and made out, also contributes to this technique greatly. And again this occurs in many different forms as well.
For the main fact, they are more often than not blonde going by the (false) stereotype of being a tad clueless and heavily girlish. Also, the women in most Hitchcock films are often very short or Hitchcock heavily uses short petite women in his films and towering built men to assert a male dominance over women in scenes where both are included. Also throughout most of Hitchcock’s films, the female characters are given a very ‘helpless’ persona. E.g. when a woman is in danger, a man is or has to be there to save her and get her out of the predicament. Often the predicament being caused from the woman making a completely obvious bad call.