You wouldn’t think of the filmmaker responsible for Psycho, The Birds, and Vertigo as having any phobias, let alone one as rare as ovaphobia. And yet the Master of Suspense once admitted on the record that he was “worse than frightened” of eggs, which he said revolted him — so much so, in fact, he refused to ever taste egg yolk, which he found particularly repulsive: “Have you ever seen anything more revolting than an egg yolk breaking and spilling its yellow liquid?” (Anyone who’s seen such lesser-known Hitchcock works as Frenzy and Family Plot might say yes, but the point stands.)
The breakfast staple wasn’t his only fear. As fate would have it, Hitchcock was as afraid of his own films as most of his viewers were. “I’m frightened of my own movies,” he said in a 1963 interview. “I never go to see them. I don’t know how people can bear to watch my movies.” So if you’ve yet to muster the courage to watch Psycho, take solace in the fact that Hitchcock himself would understand your reluctance.
You might not know them by name, but you’re almost certainly familiar with MacGuffins, a term likely coined by British screenwriter Angus MacPhail. Think of the glowing suitcase in Pulp Fiction, the eponymous statue in The Maltese Falcon, or even the Dude’s rug in The Big Lebowski — if a physical object kick-starts a movie’s narrative but doesn’t serve any true purpose in and of itself, it’s a MacGuffin. Hitchcock made frequent use of MacGuffins, in everything from The 39 Steps to North by Northwest, and held a unique view of them; namely, that the best MacGuffins are those that end up being utterly useless. “The main thing I’ve learned over the years is that the MacGuffin is nothing,” he said to fellow auteur François Truffaut in 1962. “I’m convinced of this, but I find it very difficult to prove it to others.”