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Astrological Profiles

Alfred Hitchcock's Fate Was In His Stars [by David Lehman]

Hitch profile At 3:15 in the morning, in London, England, one hundred and twenty-three years ago today, the great film director Alfred Hitchcock was born, a solid Leo with a macabre imagination (moon in Scorpio). Hitch and Blonde When August 13 falls on a Friday, as in 1993,1999, and 2021,you may expect bats to fly in through the slightest opening in the bathroom window, and the phone will ring at 11 PM and it will be someone you have never met, who asks you for a job and sounds drunk. Hitchcock was short (5'5) and stout and perhaps unaware that he shared his birthday with both Annie Oakley and Fidel Castro.

There is a tremendous amount of fire in his natal chart (see below): more than 50%. This accounts for his energy, drive, ambition. The water in his chart, topping 18%, indicates a man of subtlety and sensitivity. He has three times as much yang as yin in his personality, and no one should be surprised to learn that a man whose dominant planets are the sun, Venus, and Mars may luxuriate in bathtubs in the English manner and have an almost phobic distrust of showers, which comes through in such movies as "Vertigo" (in which Kim Novak does not drown in the Pacific Ocean) and "Pyscho" (in which Janet Leigh meets her shocking fate behind a torn curtain). Leo, Sagittarius, and Scorpio are the predominant signs of a man whose self-confidence can lead him to commit the sin of pride. I hear that Janet Leigh greatly prefers baths to showers and has ever since working with Hitch.

Hitch and Birds A picture of the master of suspense emerges from a study of Hitchcock's chart. He is a Roman Catholic; a lover of blondes (especially American blondes); and a prankster of the imagination who knows that a straight face is best for effects either comic or scary and that the best way to get an actor and an actress to understand their parts as quarreling lovers is to handcuff them together and lock them in a room overnight, as in the filming of "The 39 Steps."

When he was a boy, Hitchcock's dad sent him to the local police constabulary with a note instructing the officer on duty to lock the boy in jail for a few hours. This experience had the desired effect on the lad, who worked out his guilt complex by dispatching heroes, heroines, and villains to their deaths from the top of a church tower, or from a moving train, or in a wood stove, or by an attack of killer birds, or in an out-of-control merry-go-around at an amusement park, or by a nasty piece of goods who uses his necktie as a strangling device, or sometimes with a gun, a knife, or a pair of handy scissors. The leonine Hitchock had his sun and his Venus in Leo. This makes him a most logical man, a constant man, generous in his affections but domineering, and almost tyrannically loyal to his lovers and friends.

Given this man's stellar combination of assertive confidence and deep-seated guilt, it comes as no surprise to students of the great man's chart that (1) the great Hitchcock actors (male) tend to be old-fashioned types (James Stewart, Cary Grant) rather than the method-trained new breed; (2) in some (not all) of the best Hitchcock movies, the villain is either more interesting than the hero (Robert Walker versus Farley Granger in "Strangers on a Train") or at least exceptionally complicated in an attractive way (e.g., Joseph Cotten in "Shadow of a Doubt," James Mason in "North by Northwest," Ray Milland in "Dial M for Murder," the birds in "The Birds"); and (3) the perfect Hitchcock heroines are Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman, Kim Novak, Doris Day, Janet Leigh, Teresa Wright, and Tippi Hedren. Hitch shows us the craziness inside every man and his (almost invariably) blonde fantasy lady.

A tip of the old fedora to Bernard Herrmann, who wrote the music of Hitchcock's mind-- DL

Note: Readers of "astrological profiles" know that the use of astrological terms is laid on pretty thick but with tongue in cheek, firmly so, on the nervy assumption that the horoscope -- like the "haruspicate or scry," "sortilege, or tea leaves," playing cards, pentagrams, handwriting analysis, palm-reading, and the "preconscious terrors" of the dreaming mind in T. S. Eliot's "The Dry Salvages" -- may be a bust at prediction bur may turn out to be not only "usual pastimes and drugs" but the means of poetic exploration.

from the archive; first published August 13, 2015

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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