Themes and Plot Devices in The Films of Alfred Hitchcock - Food and Death

Food and Death

Food and death are often interrelated in Hitchcock’s films. It features most prominent in his second-to-last feature, Frenzy: the killer runs a fruit and vegetable stall, the body of his second victim is found in a potato truck, and, in a comic sub-plot, the Chief Inspector is forced to endure his wife’s experiments in cooking. It recurs in a number of earlier films, also:

  • A bread knife is the murder weapon in Blackmail, and Alice panics while trying to use one during breakfast the next day, as she keeps imagining she hears the word knife when others are talking.
  • In Sabotage, Mrs Verloc kills her husband with a knife she has used to serve dinner.
  • In Shadow of a Doubt Mr Newton and Herb discuss murdering each other during dinner
  • In Rope, Brandon decides to serve dinner on top of the chest where he is hiding the body of his murdered friend, David.
  • In Strangers on a Train Bruno asks a judge what it's like to give someone the death penalty and then go home and eat his dinner
  • In To Catch a Thief, Robie and Hughson discuss the ethics of murder and the death penalty while eating dinner.

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Famous quotes containing the words death and/or food:

    At noon, you walk across a river. It is dry, with not this much water: it is just stones and pebbles. But it rains cats and dogs in the mountains, and towards afternoon, the water descends wildly and she ravages all in its path, the madwoman. That is how death comes. Without our expecting it, and we cannot do a thing against it, brothers.
    Jacques Roumain (1907–1945)

    From my experience with wild apples, I can understand that there may be reason for a savage’s preferring many kinds of food which the civilized man rejects. The former has the palate of an outdoor man. It takes a savage or wild taste to appreciate a wild fruit.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)