Learning From Icons: Characters in Alfred Hitchcock Films

Hitch (as he was called by friends) also brought an array of impressive and complex characters to life in his many films. While he had a well-known penchant for leggy blondes (and mistaken identity ... and nice people committing theft ... and bird cages for some reason), Sir Alfred Hitchcock has given us compelling men, women, and even child characters over his decades in film.For this list, we limited our selections to one character per film. You'll notice that a few of these characters are not the stars of the films, nor are they the most morally upright characters.


Key characters require side-kicks or a supporting actors (corresponding personalities at various degrees. Coaches, confidants, rivals. And even an additional hero-partner.

- Supporting cast members all come with baggage, so need to be chosen meticulously. A great actor will certainly bring some more conflict for the hero.

- Villains typically operate completely alone. If they do have henchmen or minions, one might show up to the audience as being the bad guy, concealing the actual one behind the scenes - although this has actually been used too much lately and become a cliche.

- The villain must be matched well with the hero - resourceful, determined and also as multi-dimensional. The villain pushes the protagonist to the max, over and over once, winning all the way up to the supreme showdown. She should deserve the audience’s hatred, but with a Hitchcockian 'compassion for the bad guy’ - an understanding of why they are so bad.

- The anti-hero. Movies nowadays setup viewers expectations that there should be good winning over evil ending. Nowadays, tv series extol the anti-hero, who exceeds expectation, seeks revenge, is a rebellious character and has numerous traits that do not generally make him a total hero. Anti-heroes must still conjure up the viewer’s sympathy and also understanding - by demonstrating society's and humanity’s dark side.