“[...] That millions of people every day pay huge sums of money and go to great hardship merely to enjoy fear seems paradoxical. Yet it is no exag­geration. Any carnival man will tell you the rides that attract the greatest clientele are those that inspire the greatest fear. It is self-evident that the poloist, the steeplechaser, the speedboat racer, and the fox hunter ride for the thrill that comes only from danger. The boy who walks a tightrope or tiptoes along the top of a picket fence is looking for fear, as are the auto racer, the mountain climber, and the big-game hunter. And that is only the beginning. For every person who seeks fear in the real or personal sense, millions seek it vicariously, in the theatre and in the cinema. In darkened auditoriums they identify themselves with fictitious characters who are experiencing fear, and experience, themselves, the same fear sensations (the quickened pulse, the alternately dry and damp palm, etc.), but without paying the price. That the price need not be paid – indeed, must not be paid­ – is the important factor. Take, for example, one of the classic fear situations: the legendary, though now sadly obsolete, circular bandsaw approaching the bound and gagged heroïne. If this distressing contre­temps were to exist in real life, the emotional expe­rience of the helpless young woman as the saw ap­proached would be anything but pleasant. Even if one merely viewed a real person thus jeopardized, it would be most displeasing. The suburban matron whose eyes all but pop out of her head with ecstatic excitement as she watches the cinematic blade ap­proach the cinematic neck would no doubt faint dead away if she encountered a similar situation in her home. Why, then, does she enjoy it in the movies? Precisely because the price will not be paid and she knows it. The saw will never reach its intended target. The plot may, and indeed should, indicate that the heroine’s rescue is totally impossible. But deep in the subconscious mind of the spectator is the certainty, engendered by attendance at similar dramatic works, that the totally impossible will occur.”

Alfred Hitchcock1


Anthony Macklin: A lot of people have said that the audience for Frenzy is supposed to sympathize in a sense with the killer. They want him to get away.

Alfred Hitchcock: Audiences are very strange. For example, if you see a burglar in the bedroom of a well-to-do woman and he’s stealing her jewelry, and you cut to the front door of her coming in . . .

They want him to get away.

They want him to get away. “Quick, you’re going to get caught.” They don’t sympathize with the victim at all. It’s like in the murder situation. The victim is the last person they ever think about. They’re always thinking about, “Will the murderer get off? Will he get life?” Everything about him is looked into and examined, but the poor victim is just disposed of.

Alfred Hitchcock in an interview with Anthony Macklin2


“To make his intentions clear, Hitchcock supplied his own music notes. These became increasingly detailed and imaginative as he worked with composers through four decades. [...] Some of Hitchcock’s most precise notes are for Frenzy, where he was determined to make a comeback after three successive flops. In the hotel scene, he instructs Ron Goodwin (who replaced the fired Henry Mancini) to ‘continue the music into a very unusual agitato (if at all possible) – right through until the police throw open the door, and we see the empty room – in silence.’ In the hospital escape, he calls for music that is ‘furtive, but humorous.’ ‘Dear Mr. Musician – Please do not make the mistake that this is a heavy dramatic scene of escape.’ Typically, Hitchcock cues tempos, moods, spotting, and sudden silence, one of his most powerful signatures; he is also clear on what the music should not do.”

Jack Sullivan3

  • 1Alfred Hitchcock, “The Enjoyment of Fear,” Good Housekeeping, February 1949.
  • 2Anthony Macklin, “It’s the manner of telling. An interview with Alfred Hitchcock,” In: Hitchcock, Alfred, Gottlieb, Sidney. Hitchcock on Hitchcock, Volume 2. iBooks, 178.
  • 3Jack Sullivan, “Hitchcock and Music,” in: Thomas Leitch, Leland Poague (ed.), A Companion to Alfred Hitchcock (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), 228.
UPDATED ON 18.12.2018