When looking at the works of Alfred Hitchcock there are many recurring themes. Wrong man, classic Hitchcock villains, and the use of staircases are just three of the many attributes you see when watching a Hitchcock film. My favorite, however, would have to be Hitchcock's portrayal of the mother. Whether she is there for comic relief as we see in Shadow of a Doubt, or as the root of all evil as you see in Strangers on a Train and Notorious, the mothers he creates are far from ordinary. Either their naïve nature or pure hated for others help to link these movies to one another.
Notorious, which was produced in 1945 but not released until 1946, has an extraordinary mother figure. She is a skinny frail woman with a heart of lead. She is controlling and evil at heart and seems to be the cause of all trouble yet never gets any of the blame. When they discover that the girl is working for the FBI, the mother takes matters into her own hands and convinces her son to do away with the girl. You never see her saying much, yet you can see what she is thinking as she stares with those vacant eyes of hers. You can actually see the evil which is inside of her with one look in her eyes. She is by far one of the scariest and uncaring mothers we have seen thus far.
The mother in Strangers on a Train (produced in 1950, released in 1951) has a slightly less aggressive role. Even though she is less active in what Bruno does now that he is grown, she is still the reason and cause for the way he has grown. Hitchcock sets up her control and her personality from the very first time you lay eyes on her. The camera closes in on her in the study with her son and she is giving him a manicure. From this you know that he will do whatever she says and trust her completely. Even so, he is slightly tilted away and leaning back, giving the impression that he has something to hide from her. He thinks she will never know about, but this is not the case. She knows much more...
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