Sir Alfred Hitchcock would have turned 119 on August 13.
Alfred Hitchcock, John Michael Hayes, and Grace Kelly on set of To Catch a Thief, August 1954
Photograph courtesy of John Michael Hayes Collection
In Dobbs Ferry, Mercy College film professor Steven DeRosa is bringing the artistry of Sir Alfred Hitchcock from its storied place in the pantheon of silver screen legends to new generations earning credits in the classroom, with his new course, Hitchcock Disciples.
“I prefer [my classes] watch the films together, preferably on a big screen, with a larger audience,” says DeRosa, who partners with the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Yonkers so that his students can get the full effect of the of the master filmmaker’s craft.
The inspiration for the course came following an article by DeRosa published in the Worchester Review, titled “John Michael Hayes and the Making of Rear Window.” Coupled with DeRosa’s 2001 book, Writing with Hitchcock: The Collaboration of Alfred Hitchcock and John Michael Hayes, DeRosa focused on the partnership between Hitchcock and the screenwriter who penned four Hitchcock films, including To Catch a Thief, The Trouble With Harry, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and 1954’s Rear Window, a film that is thought to have reinvigorated Hitchcock’s career.
“There’s a warmth to those collaborations,” says DeRosa, whose Hitchcock scholarship is referenced by both Wikipedia and IMDb.com. “Hayes concentrated on character and dialogue,” leaving Hitchcock to put relationships at the center. In Rear Window, for example, the connection between Jeff (James Stewart) and Lisa (Grace Kelly) is a focal point.
“The students really grabbed on to the fact that Hitchcock’s women are so strong. The timing was perfect,” DeRosa says, referring to such recent cultural movements as #MeToo and #TimesUp. “If you take the female character out of the story, nothing happens.”
So far, the popularity of the course has exceeded the temporal boundaries of the semester, with scheduled screenings of Hitchcock classics occurring well after the course has ended.