Happy Birthday, Alfred Hitchcock!

If Alfred Hitchcock was alive today, he’d be cutting the cake for his 113th birthday. Unfortunately, party-goers would likely be at a loss for gift ideas.

After all, Hitchcock, one of Hollywood’s most celebrated and revered directors, surely had no trouble acquiring any material possession he craved. And as far as accolades go, it’d be difficult to find an award that the master of suspense didn’t already have shined up and sitting on his mantle. Consider that Hitchcock has received:

  • A “Best Picture” Oscar for Rebecca (1941)
  • 10 other Oscar nominations
  • Multiple lifetime achievement awards, including the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award and the Cecil B. DeMille Award
  • Several Golden Laurel Awards
  • A pair of Golden Globes
  • TWO stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
  • A knighthood

Of course, Hitchcock never won a Best Director Oscar, but the vast amount of praise heaped upon him in other forms surely took the sting out of that snub.

However, Hitchcock did receive an early birthday present this year, when the British Film Institute (BFI) recently announced that his film Vertigo toppled perennial champion Citizen Kane to take the No. 1 spot in its prestigious Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time list.

Unlike most other pop culture lists, the BFI rankings are generally taken quite seriously. Published once every 10 years, the list has been crowned by Orson Welles’ classic since 1962. This year, “846 critics, programmers, academics and distributors have voted – and the 50-year reign of Kane is over,” the Institute’s website boasted.

Ian Christie, who wrote the introduction to this decade’s list, noted, “- it does mean that Hitchcock, who only entered the top 10 in 1982 (two years after his death), has risen steadily in esteem over the course of 30 years, with Vertigo climbing from seventh place to fourth in 1992, second in 2002 and now first, to make him the Old Master.”

While no one disputes the brilliance of Welles’ film, Hitchcock’s stock is clearly on the rise in film circles, and the much-publicized dethroning of Citizen Kane should serve to bring Sir Alfred greater exposure to a generation of film fans, whose sense of what passes for thrills and suspense partially stems from movies about love triangles between a girl and her vampire and werewolf suitors.

“I’m a typed director,” Hitchcock once noted. “If I made Cinderella, the audience would immediately be looking for a body in the coach.”

He may have felt typecast, but ultimately, when it came to the final cut, Hitchcock got it right. And on his 113th birthday, he can rest easy knowing that the world’s foremost authorities on film agree.

-Mike Crisolago