Jacobs, Steven
The Wrong House



The Wrong House: The Architecture of Alfred Hitchcock

In the films of Alfred Hitchcock (1899-198o), architecture plays an important role in various ways. Having worked as a set designer in the early 19205, Hitchcock remained intensely concerned with the art direction of the fifty odd films he directed between 1926 and 1976. In close collaboration with prominent production designers such as Wilfred Arnold, Robert Boyle, Henry Bumstead, Thomas Morahan, Van Nest Polglase, and Lyle Wheeler among many others, Hitchcock created a series of memorable cinematic buildings that included Victorian manors, suburban dwellings, modernist villas, urban mansions, apartments, and penthouses. Furthermore, it became a Hitchcock hallmark to use famous buildings or monuments, such as the National Gallery, the Statue of Liberty, or the Golden Gate Bridge, as the location for a climactic scene.

In addition, the “master of suspense” made some remarkable single-set films, such as Rope, Dial M for Murder, and Rear Window, that explicitly deal with the way the confines of the set relate to those of the architecture on screen. Spaces of confinement also turn up in the “Gothic plot” of a series of motion pictures made during the 1940s, such as Rebecca, Suspicion, Shadow of a Doubt, The Paradine Case, Notorious, and Under Capricorn, but also in later master-pieces such as The Birds. In these films, the house is presented as an uncanny labyrinth and a trap. Last but not least, Hitchcock emphatically and repeatedly used several architectural motifs such as stairs and windows, which are closely connected to Hitchcockian narrative structures, such as suspense, or typical Hitchcock themes, such as voyeurism.

In the first two chapters of this book, Steven Jacobs deals extensively with these issues. Following the conventions of architectural monographs, Jacobs also adds a third chapter in which he discusses at length a series of domestic buildings and their furnishings with the help of a number of reconstructed floor plans especially made for this publication. As well as referring these fictitious buildings to the history and theory of architecture, Jacobs discusses the way Hitchcock sculpted his cinematic spaces and how they relate to the narrative, the characters, and the mise-en-scene of his films. Steven Jacobs is an art historian who has published widely on the photographic and cinematic representations of architecture, cities, and landscapes. He has taught at several universities and art schools in Belgium and the Netherlands. He currently lectures on film history at Saint Lukas College of Art, Brussels and the Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent, and on the urban studies at Erasmus University Rotterdam.

The Wrong House, Steven Jacobs, 010, 2007

Decimo. Paperback. Like new.