While watching films of Alfred Hitchcock, one would note that there are several recurring themes, out of which the noted ones include beautiful blond actresses, disturbed antagonists, display of staircases in distorted camera angles, stylish cameos… My favourite, however, is his portrayal of mothers! The mothers he created are far from ordinary. His antagonist (or protagonist) is always found struggling in their relationships with their mothers.
In North by Northwest, Cary Grant is an innocent man ridiculed by his mother for insisting that shadowy, murderous men are after him. In The Birds, Rod Taylor, an innocent man, finds his world under attack by vicious birds, and struggles to free himself of a clinging mother. The killer in Frenzy has a loathing of women but idolizes his mother. The villain Bruno in Strangers on a Train hates his father, but has an incredibly close relationship with his mother. Sebastian in Notorious has a clearly conflictual relationship with his mother, who is suspicious of his new bride Alicia Huberman. The most incredible is however, Norman Bates troubles with his mother in Psycho!
Many wouldn’t like the characterization of these ladies. But like it or hate it, Hitchcock himself had conflicting relationship with his mother. He rightly uses mother to get inside the minds of his characters, giving the viewer a deeper look into their past, actions and minds. As the legendary dialogue of Psycho still sends shivers down my spine- “A boy’s best friend is his mother!”