Hitchcock on Hitchcock, Volume 1: Selected Writings and Interviews
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Sidney Gottlieb not only presents some of Hitchcock's most important pieces, but also places them in their historical context and in the context of Hitchcock's development as a director. He reflects on Hitchcock's complicated, often troubled, and continually evolving relationships with women, both on and off the set. Some of the topics Hitchcock touches upon are the differences between English and American attitudes toward murder, the importance of comedy in film, and the uses and techniques of lighting. There are also many anecdotes of life among the stars, reminiscences from the sets of some of the most successful and innovative films of this century, and incisive insights into working method, film history, and the role of film in society.
Unlike some of the complex critical commentary that has emerged on his life and work, the director's own writing style is refreshingly straightforward and accessible. Throughout the collection, Hitchcock reveals a delight and curiosity about his medium that bring all his subjects to life.
murder with a knife, ran home as fast as she could, crept upstairs to change her clothes, and came down to breakfast with the family as though nothing had happened. While she eats, a talkative old woman comes to the door and gossips outside about the murder. “Such a horrible thing” she says, “and done with a knife too,” “it’s just not British to kill people with a knife . . . something only a foreigner would do . . . no it’s not like using a brick or something British like that, a knife
Because the roofs of the buildings closest to the apartment were three-dimensional and built to scale, there was still another problem to solve. For verisimilitude, smoke and steam trailed toward the sky from the tiny chimneys. Pipes under the rooftops supplied this steam, but we discovered that the vapor left the chimneys too fast and rose too high for accurate perspective. The normal speed of the jetting steam was completely out of synchronization with the miniature. One of the prop men rose
in the context of their origin and development, rather than in the context of recollection and repetition that Truffaut for the most part provides. The film-by-film organizational structure of Truffaut’s book focuses Hitchcock’s comments specifically but somewhat narrowly, and though it gives an overview of an entire career, it also tends to substitute chronology for history. Hitchcock’s essays, though, return us to the particular events and debates out of which his ideas and techniques emerge
quite slow. “Situation follows situation at a leisurely pace, and it is only the amount of detail which I pack into each sequence that makes my films appear to move so quickly. “Working in this way, I can create scenes of great intensity and violence. But if you suppose that I consciously evolved this technique you are quite wrong. “It emanated naturally from my own personality. It grew up automatically from my innate love of a dramatic situation and from my desire to generate excitement in
dimension by Hitchcock, the titles of many of his films appear to be that much more witty and significant. What becomes apparent as we read through the pieces in this section is Hitchcock’s dedicated and thoughtful but also disarming way of talking about the art of film. This takes a number of different forms. Sometimes it surfaces in critical disavowals of “artiness,” although as we have seen such statements are not as simple as they first appear. At other times what is most disarming is