Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


History and American Studies

First Advisor

Ferrell, Claudine L

Second Advisor

O'Brien, Bruce

Major or Concentration



Throughout a career that lasted for almost half a century, Sir Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) directed fifty-three feature films, many of which are still watched and regarded today as epitomes of classic English and American film. One of his most revisited genres is the espionage thriller, which compromises twelve out of the fifty-three films he directed in England and the United States and includes two short films. In analyzing fourteen films, beginning with the English-made The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) and concluding with the American Topaz (1969), this paper argues that Hitchcock's spy thrillers are products of their time and reflect the sentiments and fears of English and American societies before and during World War II, as well as during the Cold War. However, although the espionage thrillers reinforce and utilize the politics of their times, they are not one-sided in their politics or ideals, and they speak to bigger questions of human morality.

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