There were murder, mayhem and a morbid sense of fun at work in the films of Alfred Hitchcock. For many of his fans, half the fun was in finding the new and imaginative ways he could incorporate himself in the twist and turns of his famously thrilling plots. Whether in a magazine ad in Lifeboat or walking a pair of pooches in The Birds, he always found a way, if only for a brief moment, to work himself into the action.
A favorite trick of directors, the cameo has been around almost as long as movies themselves. As early as 1912, D.W. Griffith was occasionally showing up in his own movies and, though hardly a cameo, the great Chaplin directed all of his Little Tramp features. Here are a few more movies by directors who found work both in front of and behind the camera:
TAXI DRIVER (1976): Director Martin Scorsese shows up twice, outside an election campaign headquarters and as a jealous spouse plotting his wife's demise from the back seat of the taxi driver's hack.
THE MAN WHO LOVED WOMEN (1977): Francois Truffaut shows up early, outside the cemetery gates as the film's leading man is laid to rest. The rest of the film is Truffaut-free, but there's some symbolism in having the auteur showing up in the beginning, which is actually the end.
THE SIXTH SENSE (1999): I've always believed that director M. Night Shyamalan believed himself to be the spiritual descendant of the great Hitchcock. Certainly, his penchant for inserting himself into his movies is a tribute to the man. In his breakout hit The Sixth Sense, he plays the doctor who treats the film's young protagonist after a disastrous birthday party.
APOCALYPSE NOW (1979): Appropriately, director Francis Ford Coppola shows up behind a camera when he steps in front of the camera. He plays a newsreel photographer catching the action as Robert Duvall and company invade a costal village.
THE FLY (1986): At the urging of Mr. Scorsese, who believed he looked like a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, Canadian director David Cronenberg appeared in this re-imagining of the classic '50s science-gone-wrong tale. In the film, he plays an OB/GYN charged with bringing little Fly Jr. into the world.
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.