27 March 2009

The films of Hitchcock

Readers of this blog are aware of my longstanding interest in the films of Alfred Hitchcock, some of which I have reviewed here and others on the Internet Movie Database website. Writing for Breakpoint's Worldview magazine, Gina R. Dalfonzo has her own take on Hitch's cinematic oeuvre: Crime and Punishment: Christianity in the Films of Alfred Hitchcock.

One scene I have yet to see commented on in this vein is that in Foreign Correspondent in which Edmund Gwenn's cheerful but sinister character takes Joel McCrea to the top of London's Byzantine-style Westminster Cathedral, from which he intends to dispose of him. As they are about to ascend the tower, we hear through the open door of the church a choral rendition of the haunting Dies Irae from the older version of the Requiem Mass, a tune that has found its way into numerous musical compositions over the centuries. The allusion to impending death is obvious here, as is Hitch's debt to his Catholic upbringing and education, though it would almost certainly be lost on non-Catholic audiences.

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