The Role Of Villains In Hitchcock's Film

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Apart from Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Psycho (1960) is the only picture where the central figure is a villain. Hitchcock delineates the memorable villain Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotton) in such a way that he demands public sympathy as he is never shown in the act of killing the widows. Uncle Charlie, a killer with an ideal feels that his mission is to destroy. Even though the widows might have deserved such a punishment but he was not to undertake it. The film has the moral judgement that the killer ultimately gets killed here in the form of his own niece having the same name. Hitchcock in his interview with Truffaut says that “villains are not all black and heroes are not white; there are grays everywhere” (153). Even though Uncle Charlie…show more content…
Villains are human, vulnerable, frightening and at the same time they are afraid observes Truffuat in the context of the film Notorious which is applicable for the rest of Hitchcock’s films too. Notorious, Shadow of a Doubt, and Strangers on a Train remain three great movies due to the presence of three best villains namely Claude Rains, Joseph Cotton and Robert Walker. Hitchcock’s film Stage Fright (1950) breaks the cardinal rule that the more successful the villain, the more successful the picture. This seems to be the great weakness of the film where Richard Todd the cowardly villain is a flop and so the film. Rope (1948) follows two wealthy bachelors as they plan and execute “a murder for murder’s sake”. One of the villains Granger is appealing in Rope but not in Strangers on a Train. This seems intentional by Hitchcock as he wanted Granger to be seen as an opportunistic playboy. Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker) in the film gives us the distinct impression that Hitchcock preferred the villain. The more attractive and poetic portrayal is suggestive of Hitchcock’s adroitness in casting villains. In Vertigo (1958), Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore) who worked with Hitchcock in the film The Ring (1927) played a challenger to the hero Scottie (James Stewart) and
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