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Getting inside Alfred Hitchcock’s Head – Well Almost!

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Alfred Hitchcock - Site of Gainsborough Studios

 Master of Suspense by Antony Donalson (2003)

The other week in my unending homage to Alfred Hitchcock I went to have a look at his head. The huge, steel, semi submerged head designed by Antony Donaldson, measuring 25m/ 82f x 11m/ 36f x 9m/ 29f, stands in a courtyard surrounded by apartment blocks on the site of the former Gainsborough Studios where Hitch directed some of his early films. 

Alfred Hitchcock - Site of Gainsborough Studios

Originally built as a power station the building, in the early 1920s was transformed into a two stage studio.The refurbishment of the old film studios by architects Munkenbeck and Marshall has created a contemporary mixed used development with both retail space and residential units. Note the the Gainsborough sign on the roof.

Alfred Hitchcock - Site of Gainsborough Studios

Poole Street entrance

Hitch initially worked there as a title card designer, an important job in the days of silent films. Later when the studios were sold to Gainsborough, it became known as the Islington Studios, and  a versatile Hitch was quickly promote to the position of director. However the first two films he directed, The Pleasure Gardens and the Mountain Eagle, were filmed at the Emelka Studios in Munich, Germany.

Alfred Hitchcock - Site of Gainsborough Studios

In 1926 The Lodger, Hitch's third film was recorded at Gainsborough. It was his first thriller and tells the story of a family who take in a mysterious lodger who may be a serial killer. The film is often referred to as "the first Hitchcock movie" as it introduces the audience to what would become Hitch's trademark style such as his unconventional camera angles (like the brilliant glass ceiling sequence, below).

 It also saw the first of what would become regular cameo guest appearances by the director himself.

 

Alfred Hitchcock - Site of Gainsborough Studios

While at Gainsborough Hitch also directed Downhill, Easy Virtue andThe Lady Vanishes (see trailer below).

Alfred Hitchcock - Site of Gainsborough Studios

Surprisingly at the back of the sculpture there are offices. So you see I very nearly did get inside Hitch's head!

Alfred Hitchcock - Site of Gainsborough Studios

A side on view

Alfred Hitchcock - Site of Gainsborough Studios

If you enjoyed reading this you might like reading my blog about the Hitchcock Mosaics in Leytonstone or joining us on our new tour Hitchcock's Leading Lady - Exploring Hitch's West End.

Practical Information 

Address:  At the junction of New North Road, N1 and Poole Street, N1

Nearest Tube and Train Stations:   Old Street tube in Travelcard zone 1 or Essex Road Train Station zone 2. I travelled to Highbury and Islington tube, zone 2, and then took a short ride on the number 271 bus to Baring Street.

The author of this blog is a qualified City of London and City of Westminster Tour Guide who leads guided walks combining world famous landmarks with hidden treasures often missed by the crowds