Jerome Silbergeld introduced an art history approach into Chinese film studies with China into Film: Frames of Reference in Contemporary Chinese Cinema in 2000. Hitchcock with a Chinese Face goes further. Like an art historian selecting three seemingly disparate paintings and demonstrating their links, Silbergeld chooses a film each from Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China, but argues that they pursue similar aesthetic and political directions. The result is a virtuoso display of intense textual and inter-textual exegesis, informed by an in-depth knowledge of the pre-modern Chinese arts, contemporary Chinese political culture, and globally circulated Western culture (including Hitchcock). It is also a challenge to the discipline of film studies itself.
The three films Silbergeld selects for analysis are Lou Ye's 2000 film from mainland China, Suzhou River (Suzhou he); Yim Ho's 1994 Hong Kong film, The Day the Sun Turned Cold (Tianguo nizi); and the final part of Hou Hsiao Hsien's 1995 Taiwan trilogy, Good Men, Good Women (Hao nan, hao nü,). He acknowledges that the project began as a personal indulgence allowing him to explore further some of his favourite films. However, his engagement with the films leads him to argue that each one, in its own way, deconstructs the commonly circulated idea of a unified Chinese culture, engages powerfully with morality, is narratively complex and anti-commercial, mobilizes a cosmopolitan knowledge of world cinema, and displays an unusual degree of interest in individual psychology and oedipality. The latter elements help to ground the comparisons to Hitchcock (as well as to Hamlet, Dostoevsky, Faulkner and others).