1 Hitchcock: Mother, Momism–Recurrent Character; Types of Mothers

Research in Progress: June 26, 2021

However, the most noticeable theme in almost all of Hitchcock’s films is obsession with mothers. Films like Psycho, Notorious, and The Birds all feature characters defined by having severe issues with their mothers. These issues may seem minor and inconsequential at a first glance. However, the mommy issues in Hitchcock’s films have major impact on the narrative structure, plot, character and closure in the films.

The Dark Side of Motherhood may be the result  of Hitchcock’s  experience of America rather than a function of his own personal background and upbringing.

Norman Bates, Psycho

“A son is a poor substitute for a lover.”

Slavo Zisek, p. 5:

The male hero to whom maternal superego blocks his access to normal sexual relations:

The Birds: Mitch; neurotically clinging mother

Frenzy; necktie murderer (does he have name?)

Man Who Knew Too Much only positive, unambiguous mother, but needs pills

Marnie: love-withholding, guilt-ridden mother

NBNW: Roger Thornhill; Clara, his mother is caustic, skeptical, obstructs efforts to avoid getting killed

Roger is  hindered and mocked by his ageing and thoroughly stubborn mother;

Her continual hindrance and possessiveness is the most cynical portrayal of a mother figure in H’s work.

Psycho: Norman

Rear Window: Jeffrey

Shadow of a Doubt: nervous, pathetic, well-meaning Emma; she sheltered and spoiled her younger brother

Strangers on a Train: Bruno

To Catch a Thief:

Types of Mothers

Silly Older mothers (frumpy housewives)

Shadow of a Doubt

Stage Fright

Strangers on a Train


Unfavorable Mothers

Three mothers of psychotic killers:

Mrs. Bruno Anthony (Strangers on a Train)

Mrs. Bates (Psycho)

Mrs. Rusk (Frenzy, brief role)

Sensitive Mothers

Brief Roles


Mrs. Mason, the mother of Kane’s friend, who died in the explosion accident at the factory.

She has one scene, in the first reel, when Kane pays her a visit and offers apology and condolences

The Wrong Man:

Henry Fonda’s mother (Esther Minciotti), an Italian-American immigrant (one of few ethnic minority figures in Hitchcock’s work.