It's always a little bit unusual to celebrate the birthday of somebody who has already passed away, but in this case an exception is necessary. On August 13, 1899, a boy was born to a fruit importer and a poultry merchant named Hitchcock. They named their son Alfred, and over the course of his life, he would reinvent the cinema more than any director in film history. His body of work reads like an essential film library: "Notorious," "Shadow of a Doubt," "Rope," "Suspicion" and "Lifeboat" are all classics, and they only represent a fraction of his output in the 1940s alone. The most incredible thing about Hitchcock is the fact that he lived through (and was a part of) most every film development of the 20th century, moving from the very invention of cinema to the introduction of sound to the development of color. He lent depth to huge Hollywood stars like Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart. He brought horror to the mainstream with "Psycho" and pushed the limits of what the popular cinema could talk about (look at all of the ideas lurking underneath "Rope," and then remember that said movie came out in 1948).
Hitchcock directed over 50 films in his career, wrapping up with the woefully underrated dark comedy "Family Plot" in 1976. It's hard to pick a "signature" film ("North by Northwest," "The Birds" and the aforementioned "Psycho" could all make a case), but few of his films have been ripped off the way "Vertigo" has. In fact, film buff Mike Patton and his band Faith No More's video for "Last Cup of Sorrow" (from their 1997 record Album of the Year) is a funny but faithful homage to one of the finest films in cinema history. Happy (posthumous) birthday, Hitch. Enjoy "Last Cup of Sorrow."