That association was sealed when his 1938 film The Lady Vanishes netted him the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director.
Former MGM mogul David O Selznick had vacillated over reeling in Hitch, but the award clinched it.
As for Hitch, he didn’t think much of Britain’s grey skies or grey film industry, though he did return during World War Two to make a couple of films.
“He’s not a bad guy,” Selznick said of Hitch. “Though he’s shorn of affectation and not exactly a guy to go camping with.”
Neither was Selznick, and he and Hitch chafed on many occasions, the Brit helmer taking offence at his boss’ hands-on producing methods.
A renowned tinkerer, Selznick ran script-revision sessions late into the night and recut the film before release.
He also wanted Rebecca to end with the smoke from her burning house, Manderlay, spelling the letter ‘R’ in the sky.
Hitch thought it was cheesy and compromised by inserting a shot of a pillow burning, an embroidered R being licked by flames.
Still, Rebecca won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1941 and Hitchcock then made one of his best films under Selznick: Notorious (1946), a dark psychological love story disguised as a Nazi espionage thriller starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman.
Perhaps complications and disputes brought the best out of him.
It certainly seems that way when you compare his other movies of the period to the Selznick pictures: Rope (1948) and Under Capricorn (1949), the two films Hitch made with his own production company, Transatlantic Pictures, fell some way short of Rebecca and Notorious.
Or maybe it was simply coincidence.
After all, the best of Hitch was still to come and this time it was the director himself who set the challenges, pushing himself to greater heights.
Next: Master Of Suspense