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Slices of Cake

Gilberto Perez: Alfred Hitchcock, 19 August 1999

Hitchcock’s Secret Notebooks: An Authorised and Illustrated Look Inside the Creative Mind of Alfred Hitchcock 
by Dan Auiler.
Bloomsbury, 567 pp., £20, May 1999, 0 7475 4490 5
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... Alfred Hitchcock is famous for planning everything beforehand, shooting his films in his head, never looking through the camera because he knew exactly what he would find. But the photographs in Hitchcock’s Secret Notebooks show him always sitting by the camera. He may not have looked through the viewfinder but he identified with the camera: the eye that knew exactly what it would find, the gaze for whose benefit everything would perform according to plan ...

Hiatus at 4 a.m.

David Trotter: What scared Hitchcock?, 4 June 2015

Alfred Hitchcock 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Chatto, 279 pp., £12.99, April 2015, 978 0 7011 6993 0
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Alfred HitchcockThe Man Who Knew Too Much 
by Michael Wood.
New Harvest, 129 pp., £15, March 2015, 978 1 4778 0134 5
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Hitchcock à la carte 
by Jan Olsson.
Duke, 261 pp., £16.99, March 2015, 978 0 8223 5804 6
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Hitchcock on HitchcockSelected Writings and Interviews, Vol. II 
edited by Sidney Gottlieb.
California, 274 pp., £24.95, February 2015, 978 0 520 27960 5
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... Hitchcock​ liked assembly lines. In the long, consistently revealing interview he gave to François Truffaut in the summer of 1962, he described a scene he had thought of including in North by Northwest (1959), but didn’t. Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) is on his way from New York to Chicago. Why not have him stop off at Detroit, then still in its Motor City heyday? I wanted to have a long dialogue scene between Cary Grant and one of the factory workers as they walk along the assembly line ...

In the dark

Philip Horne, 1 December 1983

The Life of Alfred HitchcockThe Dark Side of Genius 
by Donald Spoto.
Collins, 594 pp., £12.95, May 1983, 0 00 216352 7
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Howard Hawks, Storyteller 
by Gerald Mast.
Oxford, 406 pp., £16.50, June 1983, 0 19 503091 5
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... he held out no greater token of a need for forgiveness than this piece of social small-change. Alfred Hitchcock would have been pleased and frightened by this incongruity, as he was by so many others. The representative of evil in his films usually appears to exemplify orderliness and cordiality; the power to deceive makes his wickedness conveniently ...

Mother! Oh God! Mother!

Jenny Diski: ‘Psycho’, 7 January 2010

‘Psycho’ in the Shower: The History of Cinema’s Most Famous Scene 
by Philip Skerry.
Continuum, 316 pp., £12.99, June 2009, 978 0 8264 2769 4
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... in both senses – was filmed by a television crew, while being directed by the A-listed Alfred Hitchcock, by then responsible for huge and glossy Hollywood hits like Rebecca, To Catch a Thief and North by Northwest. He was at the end of his contract with Universal, who were either not taken with the subject or disappointed by ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Rebecca’, 20 July 2006

directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
June 2006
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... It’s not a Hitchcock picture,’ the master told François Truffaut. He was being a little cagy, but in one sense he was right. Rebecca, now showing in a brand-new, sharp-focus print at the National Film Theatre and the Screen on the Hill, was a David O. Selznick film, ‘a picturisation’ as the title credits have it, of a very successful novel ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Lodger’, 30 August 2012

The Lodger 
directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
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... The Lodger (1926) was Alfred Hitchcock’s third film, following The Pleasure Garden (1925) and the lost Mountain Eagle (also 1926). He made six more silent films before turning to sound. He told Truffaut that The Lodger was his first exercise in his own style, adding: ‘In truth, you might almost say that The Lodger was my first picture ...

Rainy Nights

Sylvia Clayton, 1 March 1984

Sidney Bernstein 
by Caroline Moorehead.
Cape, 329 pp., £12.95, January 1984, 0 224 01934 1
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... entertainment industry this century. He has never, however, been an innovator, like his friends Alfred Hitchcock and Noel Coward; he has helped-creative talent to flourish, but always as a promoter, a showman. It was his idea to hang a picture of P. T. Barnum in every office in Granada Television. He is arguably the most successful of the television ...


Philip Purser: On Jack Trevor Story, 27 January 1994

... of each novel. His most famous title is still his first, The Trouble with Harry (1949), thanks to Alfred Hitchcock, who acquired the film rights for $500 but made a classic film out of a shabby deal. The history of my copy of The Trouble with Harry is typical of the fate of most of Story’s books. I picked up the 1970 Penguin for 50p in a local library ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Les Diaboliques’, 3 March 2011

Les Diaboliques 
directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot.
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... This is murder as one of the fine arts, as De Quincey called it, and here as in the films of Alfred Hitchcock it can only mean an unholy conspiracy between the criminals and the moviemakers, especially the writers, in this case Clouzot and three others. Only an artist, in life or in the cinema, could be so much more interested in staging death than ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘North by Northwest’, 9 July 2009

North by Northwest 
directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
July 1959
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... Rushmore? Film where the notion of real-life probability is not just abandoned but lampooned, Hitchcock’s finest attack on the very notion of cause and motive? ‘Here, you see’, he said to Truffaut, speaking about this movie, ‘the MacGuffin has been boiled down to its purest expression: nothing at all!’ He is saying that the espionage that drives ...


David Thomson: ‘Vertigo’ after Weinstein, 21 June 2018

... to a piercing dream of male supremacy and female servitude carried to the point of murder. It was Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, and plainly the critics did not vote in pre-emptive defiance of last year’s outbreak of dismay at the way men have run movies at the expense of women. Nevertheless, as Vertigo has its sixtieth anniversary, it is worth ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘It Follows’, 9 April 2015

... when you might think you were watching an Enid Blyton story worked over for the Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Presents. A group of teenagers, three girls and two boys, try to solve the mystery of what is happening in their town. The case is urgent because it is happening to one of them – but only to her, and she is the only one who sees the horror ...

El Diablo in Wine Country

Mike Davis, 2 November 2017

... In​ 1942 Alfred Hitchcock recruited the author of Our Town, Thornton Wilder, to write the screenplay for Shadow of a Doubt, an innocence-versus-evil thriller set in an ‘idyllic American town’. After considering various candidates, Hitchcock and Wilder selected Santa Rosa, a picturesque agricultural community of 13,000 people, 55 miles north of San Francisco in Sonoma County ...
Cary Grant: A Class Apart 
by Graham McCann.
Fourth Estate, 346 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 1 85702 366 8
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... his double had dandruff. In the wardrobe he finds a suit. He takes off his impeccably tailored Hitchcock-grey jacket and pulls on the other man’s. He shrugs uncomfortably to make the collar sit, then lets his arm hang in mid-air as he stares with distaste at the shortness of the cuffs. He holds the trousers up to his waist. They couldn’t be less his ...

Making a Costume Drama out of a Crisis

Jenny Diski: ‘Downton Abbey’, 21 June 2012

Downton Abbey: Series One and Two 
Universal DVD, £39.99, November 2011Show More
Upstairs Downstairs: Complete Series One and Two 
BBC DVD, £17.99, April 2012Show More
Park Lane 
by Frances Osborne.
Virago, 336 pp., £14.99, June 2012, 978 1 84408 479 1
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Habits of the House 
by Fay Weldon.
Head of Zeus, 320 pp., £14.99, July 2012, 978 1 908800 04 6
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... when used by that other official (though, like Cooke, miscategorised) quintessential English gent, Alfred Hitchcock. Good evening. Beginning in 1974, for the benefit of American television viewers, Alistair Cooke introduced every episode of the five original series of Upstairs, Downstairs. It wasn’t offered as slush or soapy escapism, but as classy and ...

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