Alfred Hitchcock – Catholic

Who can fathom the graces God offers as death draws near to us?

Some people are given the great gift of courage not to wait too long to become a Catholic, sometimes after a long time thinking about it.

John Wayne… Oscar Wilde…

I read that Dave Brubeck, who died recently, because a Catholic later in life.

Today I read that Alfred Hitchcock because a Catholic in his end times.
The WSJ has the story HERE.

Alfred Hitchcock’s Surprise Ending
A biographer said that the director, at the end of his life, shunned religion. Not true. I was there.

By MARK HENNINGER [a Jesuit]

I remember as a young boy watching the black-and-white “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” on TV and being enthralled from the start by the simple nine-stroke line-drawing caricature of the famed movie director’s rotund profile. The mischievous theme music set the mood as Hitchcock appeared in silhouette from the right edge of the screen, and then walked into the center replacing the caricature. “Good evening.” There followed his droll introductions, so unlike anything else on television.

Such childhood emotions came over me again when in early 1980 I entered his home in Bel Air to see him dozing in a chair in a corner of his living room, dressed in jet-black pajamas.

At the time, I was a graduate student in philosophy at UCLA, and I was (and remain) a Jesuit priest. A fellow priest, Tom Sullivan, who knew Hitchcock, said one Thursday that the next day he was going over to hear Hitchcock’s confession. Tom asked whether on Saturday afternoon I would accompany him to celebrate a Mass in Hitchcock’s house.

[...]

Read the rest there.

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18 Responses to Alfred Hitchcock – Catholic

  1. dcheney says:

    Twice in your comments you have “because” when you probably meant “became”.

    Interesting story too :-)

  2. Charles E Flynn says:

    Thank you, Father, for I have been informed.

    One of my fondest childhood memories is of watching Hitchcock’s “The Birds” on TV, with my mother, in the furnished basement of our house, with a storm raging outside. That memory, and the memory of being so scared as a child by “The Wizard of Oz” that I hid behind the couch and peeked over the top when the wizard appeared, are memories I hope will always be with me,.

  3. Christine111 says:

    Hitchcock’s “I Confess” is one of the best “Catholic” films of all time, and certainly my favorite among all his films.

  4. robtbrown says:

    Superb article. I knew he had been educated by the Jesuits, but I didn’t know that he had stopped practicing.

    I’m a huge Hitchcock fan and have the DVD’s of Vertigo (my favorite), Psycho, Frenzy, Family Plot, North by Northwest, and To Catch a Thief. Also seen many of his others, e.g., The Trouble With Harry, Strangers on a Train, Dial M for Murder, Spellbound, Suspicion, Rebecca, Notorious, Shadow of A Doubt, I Confess, Rear Window, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Torn Curtain, etc. IMHO, only John Ford is his equal as a Director.

    Alfred Hitchcock was a very bright man, who in Dick Cavett’s interview, casually mentions Rutherford’s splitting of the atom. He was unusual–a highly creative man with the mind of an engineer. Every scene of every film had been meticulously planned and storyboarded–but actors were given a good deal of freedom to make minor changes to dialogue. Scenes had been pre-edited before the cameras rolled, an approach Karen Black described as “almost supernatural”. Consequently, comparatively few feet of film was shot. And there were no late nights on the set. It was 9 to 5.

    Unlike other directors Hitchcock never looked through a camera. He sat off to the side, but knew exactly how low, high, and wide the shot was framed.

  5. AReluctantSinner says:

    I believe Hitchcock and his wife, Alma Reville, married at the Brompton Oratory in December 1926.

  6. Supertradmum says:

    I have the sort of memory where I cannot watch scary movies. I saw The Birds a very long time ago and still remember the scary parts. My parents did not let us kids watch his television show and I never desired to watch it. (We had restricted tv in our house.) But, the few things I saw as an adult seemed “moral”, that is, involving questions of cause and effect for guilt and sin. North by Northwest is in color, and I personally think for murder mysteries or any kind of mystery, black and white is a better medium. I really like 39 Steps, but the book is much better than the movie. I am glad he converted, as I am glad John Wayne, Oscar Wilde (God bless him), and Alec Guinness among others in film or drama, became Catholics. Gregory Peck and Gary Cooper were Catholic, as well as Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons are, sort of-these last two needing our prayers, I think.

  7. mike cliffson says:

    BTW How soever much harm made have come from his inclusion of “popular” (ie unmarried heroes , etc someone wrote a long essay some years back )culture, his film about the priest falsely accused of murder must have done a lot of good- I know it sparked some people with anticatholic minsets and shibboleths into accepting that Catholic confession really was an unbreakable seal-, and however unpriestly insiders (ie priests) found montgomery cliff, at least it was a portrayal of a manly priest – but how good is the provenance for the story that Hitchcock wanted the film to end with his execution and the studio wanted a happy ending for commercial reasons?

  8. Father K says:

    The number of actors who were Catholic during the “Golden Age’ of Hollywood is quite surprising. Actually Gary Cooper became a Catholic towards the end of his life. His wife Rocky was a Catholic and very long-suffering! Likewise Bob Hope became a Catholic towards the end of his life and his wife Delores was a very devout Catholic. Frank Sinatra, like many Italian men became molto pio as he saw the Grim Reaper beckoning. These three examples serve to show the importance of praying for our loved ones who from a human perspective seem to get no nearer the Kindom of God.

  9. Mary Ann says:

    R.I.P. David Warren “Dave” Brubeck (December 6, 1920 – December 5, 2012) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faJE92phKzI

  10. Boniface says:

    Father, my understanding was that Hitchcock was a life long Catholic who had attended a Catholic (Jesuit?) high school, and supported Catholic institutions financially during his life. So this would not be much of a “return” to the faith a la the deathbed conversions of Wilde and others, but a continuation of it.

  11. Boniface says:

    … I mistyped – obviously, Wilde became a convert on his deathbed – he did not “return” to the faith.

  12. robtbrown says:

    Supertradmum says:

    North by Northwest is in color, and I personally think for murder mysteries or any kind of mystery, black and white is a better medium. I really like 39 Steps, but the book is much better than the movie. I am glad he converted, as I am glad John Wayne, Oscar Wilde (God bless him), and Alec Guinness among others in film or drama, became Catholics. Gregory Peck and Gary Cooper were Catholic, as well as Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons are, sort of-these last two needing our prayers, I think.

    Gregory Peck is a complex case. He was pro abortion and pro ordination of women.

    Gary Cooper is interesting. Before he converted, he had an affair with Patricia Neal, but later his daughter Maria and she became friends. Maria is close to Dolores Hart, who as a young, successful actress decided to become a Benedictine nun at Reginia Laudis in Connecticut (cf Latin liturgy). Patricia Neal spent some months staying with the nuns, later became a Catholic, and is now buried at the monastery.

    You tube has various interviews with Mother Dolores.

    BTW, General Patton’s grand daughter, who converted with her sister, is also a nun at Regina Laudis.

  13. robtbrown says:

    Father K says:

    Likewise Bob Hope became a Catholic towards the end of his life and his wife Delores was a very devout Catholic.

    In 1977 I was visiting friends in Palm Springs and on Saturday walked to Church for mass (Our Lady of Solitude, if I remember). There was Rosary after mass. While leaving the church, I started talking with a very nice older lady, who gave me a ride home and introduced herself as Dolores Hope. During the ride she would point out celebrity homes (“William Powell lives there, Mary Martin there”). When the conversation turned to Bing Crosby, she said, “You can be certain he was in a state of grace when he died.”

  14. Minnesotan from Florida says:

    This seems to have developed into remembrances of Catholic motion-picture actors and actresses. So here’s my question. Am I right in understanding Rosalind Russell to have been a Catholic (and also to have been married lifelong to her one and only husband)? The picture “Auntie Mame” (from the stage version, not the musical), in which she played the title role, is I think one of the finest pictures of all time.

  15. Eric the Read says:

    Dave Brubeck wrote a contemporary Mass– you can find what appears to be the Agnus Dei here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2FNC66gBJ8 and the Alleluia here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAulYHwFEQw

  16. jhayes says:

    That’s the wrong link for the Agnus Dei. Try here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mI3bxFZdyxE

    The 15 sections that make up the complete Mass are here:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/JiaYow

  17. Marie S. says:

    I just watched ‘I Confess’ today. Great movie! Someone had recommended it, and I didn’t even know it was a Hitchcock movie until the credits came up. If someone asks about the seal of confession in RCIA, I would certainly recommend this film as a dramatic illustration.

    How wonderful that he reconciled with the Church. There’s hope for all our fallen-away family members – keep praying!

    A trivia note – the wife of the killer in the film, who ends up saving the priest from a mob, was named Alma, same as Hitchcock’s wife. I wonder if she had any other cameos by name or person in his films?

  18. pfreddys says:

    There may be ALOT of wishful thinking on my part here; but there seems to be substantial evidence that George Washington made a death-bed conversion.