I love Director cameos, even if they are often ego-strokes. Peter Jackson in Braindead, the Zuckers in Airplane!, even Stephen King in the brilliantly terrible Maximum Overdrive. The less said about M Night Shyamalan’s acting attempts the better. There is no more personal way for a Director to sign his work, than to appear in the frame himself, and no more satisfying feeling for an audience member to spot the cameo when the average movie-goer misses it.

Of course, no-one did this more frequently and flagrantly than Alfred Hitchcock. His 37 cameos range from the passive standerby (“Psycho”, “The Man Who Knew Too Much”, “Vertigo”) to the hilarious (“North by Northwest”, “Topaz”). In some of his films however, he had to find more subtle methods to place himself in the picture. “Rope” and “Dial M for Murder” spring instantly to mind, being set in a single location for the duration of the film.

North By Northwest Cameo Dial M For Murder Cameo Frenzy

In my opinion his smartest cameo, and probably the greatest Director cameo ever, is his ingenious appearance in “Lifeboat”.

For those of you that don’t know, the tense and entertaining “Lifeboat” is – like the aforementioned Rope and Dial M for Murder – set in a single location, which in this case is the lifeboat of the title. Being stuck in the middle of an ocean for 90 minutes isn’t really conducive to a trademark appearance from our inimitable Hitch. Throwing away the idea of floating past the boat as a corpse, he managed to shed 100 pounds during production of the film, and posed as the “before and after” figure in a newspaper advertisment for the fictional weight-loss product “Reduco” :

The inventiveness of this technique, the amazing change in his profile, and the sheer determinism of Hitch to make sure he appeared somewhere, is what makes this my favourite Director cameo of all time.

Anyone out there think another Hitchcock cameo is better? Is there anyone who can name a better appearance from another Director?