Who inspired Alfred Hitchcock? -- The directors, including F.W. Murnau, D.W. Griffith, and Sergei Eisenstein, who shaped the legendary movie-maker

By Tim Purtell
Updated January 15, 1993 at 05:00 AM EST

From Brian De Palma to Danny DeVito, every director who has tried a crane shot has been labeled ”Hitchcockian” — and it’s true, Alfred Hitchcock was certainly one of the movies’ most influential innovators. What nobody points out, though, is that even Hitch was influenced by other directors. Notably:

F.W. MURNAU His purely visual storytelling approach inspired Hitchcock, beginning with the 1926 thriller, The Lodger.

D.W. GRIFFITH Hitch appropriated chase and last-minute rescue motifs for many films, from Blackmail (1929) to Family Plot (1976).

LUIS BUNUEL Hitch’s penchant for dream sequences came from surrealism, particularly Bunuel’s 1928 Un Chien Andalou (made with Salvador Dalí, a collaborator on 1945’s Spellbound).

SERGEI EISENSTEIN To Catch a Thief‘s (1955) crosscuts between amorous couple (Grace Kelly and Cary Grant) and fireworks pay homage to Eisenstein’s use of montage.

HENRI-GEORGES CLOUZOT Reportedly envious of Clouzot’s 1955 thriller, Diabolique, Hitchcock fashioned Psycho (1960) as a similarly bleak black-and-white film.

MICHELANGELO ANTONIONI Blown away by Blow Up in 1966, the aging master of suspense began regularly screening current films. Discovering a new freedom, Hitch included nudity and a graphic strangulation in 1972’s Frenzy.