An Authorized and Illustrated Look Inside the Creative Mind of Alfred Hitchcock
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From The Mountain Eagle to Lifeboat to the never-produced Kaleidoscope, a rare and invaluable (yet also sometimes clumsy) fly-on-the-wall look at Hitchcock at work. Drawing on his authorized access to Hitchcock’s files and notes, Auiler (Vertigo: The Making of a Hitchcock Classic, 1998) has assembled a fascinating trove of materials illuminating the master director’s creative process. Hitchcock has always mattered immensely to auteur theory, for few directors have exercised his kind of control (or “authorship”) over so many aspects of the movies. Here we can almost see him shaping and refining all the stages of production. From script changes to publicity stills to story boards to Hitch’s notes on scoring, and even including his conversations with actors regarding character development (traditionally thought to have been one of his few weaknesses), the range and breadth of this collection is as astounding as the genius it so clearly reveals. Auiler has had to do a lot of culling to get the mass of material down to a manageable size; one only hopes that he hasn—t omitted too many gems (a few of his selections are so perfunctory as to be nearly worthless). He largely and deliberately skims over most of Hitch’s early career in England, and he completely ignores such films as Vertigo and Psycho (their creation has already been chronicled in other books). Auiler’s own explanatory efforts are usually clunky and unremarkable. Like scratches on a film print, though, they may irk yet don—t intrude too much. Still, you have to be familiar with Hitchcock’s oeuvre for much of this to make sense. Scene-by-scene comparisons of various script versions, for example, are only worthwhile if you are already reasonably familiar with the movie in question. For fans and film buffs, then, a no-questions-asked must-have. (photos and illustrations)

Pub Date: March 9th, 1999
ISBN: 0-380-97783-4
Page count: 576pp
Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1999


NonfictionAGATHA CHRISTIE by John Curran
by John Curran