Over the course of his career, Alfred Hitchcock directed more than 50 feature films. In our modern-day world, he has become a force of influence to contemporary filmmakers like Brian De Palma and Quentin Tarantino. Nearly four decades years after his death, this award-winning director remains one of the most eminent and celebrated filmmakers around the globe.
Dr. George Mengert, Pace Academy’s former Artistic Director of Theatre, recalls the first time he became fascinated with Hitchcock’s films.
“I taught a film course at Pace that focused on major American directors of the 20th century,” George said. “Hitchcock was included in the course. I taught on the film ‘Vertigo.’ I came to really admire the brilliance of Hitchcock in that film.”
Hitchcock’s works are renowned for their tremendous oddity and complex characters. There is a certain intricacy to all of his enthralling films. The filmmaker was even nicknamed the “Master of Suspense” for using a kind of psychological uncertainty that provides the audience a distinct experience. Hitchcock revolutionized the film industry with his works and pioneered many of the elements of suspense we see in movies today.
For those who have yet to see Hitchcock’s landmark thrillers, a brand-new class is coming to OLLI in October. The class, taught by George, will introduce Hitchcock, his body of work and the big-screen movies that transformed the world of film.
“If they have not experienced Hitchcock before, they are in for a wonderful, thrilling movie time,” George said. “Students will learn about the biography of Hitchcock, his life and his major themes. They will revisit and gain a new appreciation of some of his major films. If they already know some of Hitchcock’s films, they will grow to love them even more.”
George comes to OLLI with an array of remarkable accolades. In 44 years as a faculty member at Pace Academy, George launched the school’s first Advance Placement Course. He served as the school’s director of admissions and launched the schools nationally renowned debate program. While all these accomplishments are significant, George’s life’s work was creating a top-notch theatre program at Pace Academy. He even helped design the Fine Arts Center, which opened in 1991.
George began teaching at Pace Academy just 13 years after its founding. He’d planned to teach for a year or two while completing his Ph.D. in literature, philosophy and theology at Emory University. However, he remained at Pace Academy for his entire career.
When asked about his favorite memory of working at Pace Academy, George smiled and said, “Working with students in the shows that I have directed throughout the years. Many of them have gone into professional theater. Those are my happiest memories.”
During his tenure at Pace Academy, George staged more than 120 productions, but not all were performed in a theatre. Some of his earlier shows took place in local churches and the school’s cafeteria. One thing that is certain: The degree of professionalism in each production was the same time and time again.
So, what can OLLI students expect in his class?
“I am looking forward to sharing my knowledge about the person who is Alfred Hitchcock,” George said. “Someone who enjoys classical films and wants to know more about the genius of Hitchcock’s technique will truly enjoy this class.”
“The Art of Alfred Hitchcock”, led by Dr. George Mengert, begins on Oct.19 and runs for 8 consecutive Wednesdays. The cost is $129, and class time is from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Among the films discussed in class will be: “39 Steps,” “Strangers on a Train,” “Rear Window,” “Vertigo,” “North by Northwest,” and Hitchcock’s most popular film, “Psycho.”