What does Alfred Hitchcock’s average recording length say about his films?

The master of tension … and shot lengths.

Alfred Hitchcock knows how to look into the hearts of men and women. The original master showman before Spielberg took the crown, Hitchcock loved playing with the audience and making his films evoke visceral responses.

But what does his shot length have to do with it?

A recent tweet from Vashi Nedomansky went into the details of Hitchcock’s recording length in some of his films. Other directors were mentioned in the tweet, and we’ll be looking at each director individually, but this article obviously focuses on Hitchcock.

Hitchcock worked in many genres, but obviously preferred mystery and thriller films. These films tend to have slower cuts and sneak around, so let’s take a look at what types of attitudes Hitch’s films had.

Recognition: Vashi Nedomansky

First, I like to look at what has the longest shot length. Even if the sound Breath of a doubt is captivating, it was shot in 1943 and was part of a studio system that valued editing less than we do in modern times. So I don’t know if I believe the fact too much Breath of a doubt, Rebecca, and The 39 steps all fall along the longer side.

I find it rather interesting that Hitchcock didn’t have that much variance from film to film. It is really a two second difference and that margin can be explained away by From north to northwests action scenes and the frenetic cutting Psycho.

The pace in rear window always amazes me when I see it. Do you remember the long hustle and bustle in the neighborhood that somehow lulls you? It’s interesting to see it almost halfway here, how Hitchcock can calm you down in a movie before hitting you, how he does the edits when the flashes go out in the meantime rear window‘s final confrontation.

dizziness is a movie that I thought would be in the nine-second range. It shows how skilled Hitchcock is with varying lengths of takes, even in such a stylized film.

What were your main takeaways from this list? Let me know in the comments.

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