Shakespeare said “All the world’s a stage.” With Alfred Hitchcock, you might rephrase that to “Most of the world is a soundstage.” The director had a rather agoraphobic approach to filmmaking, preferring the controlled environment of the set whenever possible. However, in a time of films like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia and even the new James Bond movies, when audiences were accustomed to seeing actors performing against the backdrop of real, exotic locales, the seams of Hitchcock’s stage-bound style were beginning to show. Never was this more apparent then in his 1964 film Marnie, especially with the obvious painted backdrop behind the street where Bernice Edgars lives.
Silence of the Lambs was a rule breaker from the start. Contrary to convention, its primary relationship is between its diminutive female heroine and an urbane serial killer. It cleaned up at the Academy Awards despite being essentially a highbrow horror film that was released in mid-February, approximately eight months before the start of “Oscar season.” Moreover, Anthony Hopkins won Best Actor despite being on screen for about 16 minutes.