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Page 3 Profile: Alfred Hitchcock, film director


Ah yes, the master of suspense

Yesterday a poll of 846 film experts confirmed him in the top spot. Hitchcock's Vertigo was voted number one by the International Critics Film Poll, held every ten years. In 1952, when the poll began, Bicycle Thieves, a study of poverty in post-war Rome, was the winner, but in every list since then, Orson Welles's Citizen Kane has come top.

So why did it take so long?

When it first arrived in cinemas in 1958, the critics weren't too kind. "The plain fact is that the film's first half is too slow and too long," opined Variety, while the Los Angeles Times moaned about the "maze of detail". How times change. Nick James, editor of Sight & Sound magazine, which commissions the poll, described Vertigo, which stars James Stewart and Kim Novak, as the ultimate critics' film, "full of spellbinding moments of awful poignancy that show how foolish, tender and cruel we can be when we're in love".

Any others we need to see?

Too many to name: The Birds, Psycho, Rear Window and North by Northwest would be a good start. Hitchcock had a strict, methodical approach that infuriated some actors, but produced career-best performances from others.