About Me / Contact

By day, I work in the marketing department at DC Comics. By night, I raise a family, watch old movies and new TV shows and write some. Every week in 2010 I will watch and write about a movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock. My wife is the famous life coach Julia Roberts. Learn more about her and her book at http://motherhoodtootherhood.com.

Follow me on twitter at twitter.com/arphilips!

Email me at arphilips@comcast.net!

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14 responses

3 02 2010
tamaramanor

Oh no, not marketing!!!! I used to work at DC’s Licensing but don’t hold that against me. Question: I know that McGuffin was a term coined by Hitchcock , but what Hitchcock movies do we actually see a McGuffin being used? Just curious. The only movie I know for sure that uses one is Mel Brooks’ ‘High Anxiety’…
Tamara

3 02 2010
adamphilips

Hi Tamara – Yeah, I knew I remembered you from way back when…

There are lots of Hitchcock movies with McGuffins in them… “Notorious” and “North by Northwest,” for example. Here’s what Hitch told Francois Truffaut about them:

“It might be a Scottish name, taken from a story about two men in a train. One man says, ‘What’s that package up there in the baggage rack?’ And the other answers, ‘Oh that’s a McGuffin.’ The first one asks, ‘What’s a McGuffin?’Well,’ the other man says, ‘It’s an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands.’ The first man says, ‘But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands,’ and the other one answers ‘Well, then that’s no McGuffin!’ So you see, a McGuffin is nothing at all.”

Hitch used the McGuffin in thrillers (not murder mysteries, generally) as something the hero supposedly had, or had a clue about. He called them that because often he wouldn’t quite know what it was going to be as the script developed, even though he was shooting the film.

Some film scholars have said that the very first McGuffin was The Avenger, the serial killer from “The Lodger,” way back in 1925. After all, his actions put the plot into motion; he’s discussed endlessly, but he’s never seen.

So, long answer to your question – but I’m going to talk about McGuffins where applicable as I go along. Thanks!

3 02 2010
tamaramanor

I know what a McGuffin IS, something that has nothing to do with the plot but moves the plot along for no apparent reason. I just thought it was funny that I learned what it meant in a film class. We were screening Citizen Kane–Rosebud-the ultimate McGuffin..We also screened Rear Window so I was interested in more AH movies and I love Mel Brooks, so I watched “High Anxiety” and thought it was really cool to be let in on the joke and it was SO blatant that they said “A Mr. McGuffin called..”. Laughed hysterically. See if I hadn’t taken that class I would have had no idea…AH was crafty!

3 02 2010
adamphilips

Um, since the meaning of Rosebud is what pushes the entire plot of “Citizen Kane” along, I think it has a lot to do with the plot – it’s the revelation of what it is that doesn’t mean much. Rosebud coulda been anything, right?

I love “High Anxiety” – that plaid car alone is great.

18 02 2010
BobRo

Hey, Adam, some entertaining reading here. I’ve always enjoyed a good Hitchcock movie and you’ve given me some oldies to look for.

By the way, I don’t think Rosebud is a McGuffin at all. It could have been something else, but it had to be something that represented Kane’s childhood.

18 02 2010
adamphilips

Thanks, Bob!

I won’t claim to be a McGuffin expert – but what I meant was that Rosebud could have been a pet, for example – something else that represents his childhood. Considering only the audience ever finds out what Rosebud is, its meaning doesn’t ultimately have much impact either way on the reporter’s progress as he learns about Kane’s life.

10 11 2010
Ron Hobbs

Hey Adam,

Did you ever get that Hitchcock portrait I sent you?

Ron

11 11 2010
adamphilips

I did, Ron! It’s really awesome – thanks for sending! I’ll have to find some opportunity to run it on the blog!

19 03 2011
joanna

Hey Adam, cool blog! Since you are a big Hitchcock fan and so are your readers. I though you should know that Tippi Hedren will be signing autographs at our next Expo, Saturday Nightmares Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Expo, June 3rd – 5th, we will be also screening The Birds with Q&A and interview with Tippi! Please spread the word, we invite all interested.

Thanks,

-Joanna

20 03 2011
adamphilips

Hi Joanna –

Sounds very cool. Where does the show take place? I’d love to be there if it’s in the Northeast.

Thanks for checking in!

25 03 2011
adamphilips

Hey, I found it – it’s in East Rutherford, NJ!

25 03 2011
Eric San Juan

Adam,

Great project. A friend pointed me to it today. I’m enjoying reading your take on these classic films. You’re doing a great job of delving into Hitchcock’s work – and so close to the finish line!

I can relate to the journey you’re taking. A friend and I took a similar journey a few years ago. The result was our book, A Year of Hitchcock: 52 Weeks with the Master of Suspense. May the fruits of your labor be just as rewarding as ours.

Keep up the good work,

Eric

PS – I’m also a longtime comic geek and a Jersey guy. Go figure.

25 03 2011
adamphilips

Thanks for the comment, Eric!

10 01 2012
Kevin J Last

Much the rarest of Hitchcock’s produced but not directed TV films are the following:

The Jail (1962) with John Gavin and Barry Morse – a sci-fi one hour episode about banks of computers assessing evidence in a big brother society. This was shown on Alcoa Premiere, an anthology series that lasted one season.
It is described as a pilot but I don’t think it was ever intended as more than a one off. Fred Astaire hosted this story about soul exchange

The other was intended as a pilot, possibly to replace the expired Alfred Hitchcock Hour. The program features Leslie Neilsen, complete with dwarf assistant, as an investigator in 1890 San Francisco and was probably too weird to be made into a series. Instead Dark Intruder (1965) had its moment of fame as co-feature to Joan Crawford’s I Saw What You Did.

Occasional copies of these come up but these are rare. Greetings from the UK!

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