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Hitchcock and the Oscars

Alfred Hitchcock directed several great films, including Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), and Psycho (1960), but none of these won the Best Picture Oscar. The only movie directed by the British-born Hitchcock to win the Academy Award for Best Picture was Rebecca (1940), the very first film he directed in the United States. Of course, the Oscar for Best Picture doesn't go to the director-it goes to the producer. Hence, it was not Hitchcock who picked up the Oscar awarded to Rebecca for Best Picture-it was David O. Selznick.

Rebecca, based on a popular novel by Daphne du Maurier, starred Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine. The story is about a shy young woman (Fontaine) who meets an older widower (Olivier) on the Riviera and hastily marries him. But when she returns with her new husband to his estate in England, she runs up against a housekeeper who is obsessed with making the memory of the landowner's late wife Rebecca the dominant influence on the household. As the mystery surrounding Rebecca's death slowly unravels, the new bride is driven to the edge of despair.

Hitchcock was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director for his work on Rebecca, but the Oscar that year went to John Ford for The Grapes of Wrath. Later, Hitchcock was nominated for the Best Director Oscar four more times -- for Lifeboat (1944), Spellbound (1945), Rear Window (1954), and Psycho (1960) -- but the statuette was always taken home by another director. Although Hitchcock never won an Academy Award for any specific movie, in 1968 the Academy gave him the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for consistent high-level achievement. When Hitchcock went up to accept the award, he expressionlessly delivered an acceptance speech consisting of exactly two words: "Thank you." Then he turned and walked away.



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