Alfred Hitchcock's French Films and the Limits of Propaganda

Page 1Page 2Page 3Page 4    by Dr. Kenneth Rivers -- page 4 of 4

Clarousse continues to direct the resistance movement from his cell in Aventure Malgache.
(© 1993 British Film Institute. All rights reserved.)


Hitchcock did his best to turn a pair of political action stories into something memorable, but the results were exactly the opposite of what his employers wanted. Perhaps it is to Hitchcock's credit that he turned out to be incapable of producing decent propaganda. Any hack director would probably have done what he was told to do and given us something much less rich to consider. Hitchcock may not have helped out the British Ministry of Information, but what did the authorities expect? Do not geniuses have better things to do than take orders from bureaucrats? If nothing else, Hitchcock's experience proved the folly of setting a filmmaker at cross purposes with his own inclinations and abilities. It has often been asserted by critics that propaganda films make bad entertainment; Hitchcock demonstrated that good entertainment can make equally bad propaganda.

Works Cited

Ellul, Jacques. Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1965.

Jackell, Robert, ed. Propaganda. New York: New York University Press, 1994.

Keen, Sam. Faces of the Enemy: Reflections of the Hostile Imagination. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1986.

Kemp, Philip. [Reviews of] "Bon Voyage and Aventure malgache." Sight and Sound Vol. 3, no. 11, Nov. 1993: 57.

Lasswell, Harold D. "Propaganda." Published in Jackell.

Ogle, Marbury B. Public Opinion and Political Dynamics. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1950.

Sloan, Jane E. Alfred Hitchcock: The Definitive Filmography. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Webster's New World Dictionary. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990.

Wood, Bret. "Foreign Correspondence: The Rediscovered War Films of Alfred Hitchcock." Film Comment 29, July 1993: 54-8.

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