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Video - Alfred Hitchcock Explains MacGuffins

Here's a fantastic video by Isaac Niemand with animation by JealousGUY that features Alfred Hitchcock's explanation of a MacGuffin. Though in terms of dramatic structure, the device is as old as the hills, Hitch is known for coining the phrase, which dates back seven decades.

Just about any discussion of Hitchcock's work involves a MacGuffin because he used them so frequently. In Psycho, for example, it's the money Marion Crane steals from the bank. To show its popular use over the years, think of the briefcase in Pulp Fiction or even The Maltese Falcon itself.

I'm guessing this audio is taken from the Truffaut interviews with Hitch from the 1960s, but it could be a spiel he'd rehearsed over and over again and it just came from another speaking engagement. Of course, Hitch himself is the MacGuffin in this video. Watch for the animation; it's top flight.

Reader Comments (5)

Thanks for posting this.

The audio was actually taken from an interview on the Dick Cavett show in 1972.

Sunday, July 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterOtto

Brilliant little clip. Thanks very much.

Sunday, July 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJeanette

Thanks, Otto. The monologue must have been pretty rote by '72; Hitch had been doing that bit about the train for several years already...

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