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Is that Alfred Hitchcock in a dress? In Focus by Richard Crouse METRO CANADA May 07, 2010

birds-hitchcock-cameoIron Man 2 director Jon Favreau says the reason he cast himself in the role of Tony Stark’s bodyguard Happy Hogan is “me being selfish and me wanting to be an actor in it.”

One of his cast mates, however, thinks there might be an alternate reason. Gwyneth Paltrow, who plays Pepper Potts for the second time around in this weekend’s Iron Man sequel, wonders if Favreau has a secret crush on her. You see, in the comic book series the film is based on, Hogan and Potts become a romantic item.

“He marries this character in the comic book,” she says, “so you never know. We’ll see! If he wants to make out…”

Whatever the reason, many directors make a regular habit of placing themselves in their movies.

Alfred Hitchcock honed the art of the cameo to a science, turning up in 41 of his films.

Usually his appearances were limited to a quick hit, sometimes just as a silhouette, often as a face in the crowd, but a careful study of his films reveals the clever ways he inserted himself into the story.

The strangest cameo is one that may never have happened. In North by Northwest, Hitch can be seen missing a bus during the opening credits but fans claim there is a second cameo later in the film.

Forty-four minutes in, there is a scene with a woman in a dress speaking to the police on a train, a woman rumoured to be the director in drag.

Hitchcock was so well known for his sneaky appearances in films he even made one following his death. In Psycho II, made three years after his passing, his famous silhouette can be seen in shadow just outside of Mother’s bedroom.

The portly British director had the art of the cameo down to a science, but he’s not the only one. The usually reclusive Terrence Malick plays an unexpected visitor a thet door, credited as Caller at Rich Man’s House in his masterpiece, Badlands, and Oliver Stone can be glimpsed as the officer with a phone at the U.S. base’s bunker when it is blown up in Platoon.

One of the most memorable but unrecognizable director cameos comes in Alien. When John Hurt looks into a transparent egg, the facehugger was “played” by director Ridley Scott’s gloved hands.

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