THE LAST DAYS OF ALFRED HITCHCOCK by David Freeman

THE LAST DAYS OF ALFRED HITCHCOCK

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KIRKUS REVIEW

About a year before Hitchcock's death in April 1980, screenwriter Freeman spent six months working on a script with the great director--in frequent sessions at Hitchcock's Universal Studios bungalow. Here, then, he offers a brief memoir of the aged Hitch, along with the complete--and annotated--screenplay. The memoir, though less than 70 pages long, includes several chunks of padding: Freeman's humdrum thoughts on some major Hitchcock films, a summary of Hitch's famous cameo appearances, etc.--all of it material that will be over-familiar to a Hitchcock-minded readership. Still, there are more than a few compelling bits of observation and conversation in this reminiscence: the sympathetic portrait of ill, half-senile, depressed Hitchcock--drinking heavily to dull severe arthritic pain; an inkling, in a visit to the Hitchcock home, of Hitch's approval-seeking relationship with invalid-wife Alma (""I felt as if I were intruding on someone's first date""); Hitchcock's creepy crushes on comely receptionists, his fantasies about Ingrid Bergman (""Mad for me all her life""), his free-associative, sometimes kinky monologues. And, in both the memoir and the scene-by-scene script annotation, Freeman provides strong examples of Hitchcock's still-emphatic talent and technique: the constant movement from the general to the particular, the ""density of felt detail,"" the ""thoroughness and penetration with which he attacked characterization."" (The screenplay itself, The Short Night, is a sturdy revenge/love story, set mostly in Finland, full of potential for memorable Hitchcock-style sequences.) In sum: amusing, sad glimpses of a giant in decline, yet very much himself--stretched out to book-length with marginal matter.

Pub Date: Dec. 3rd, 1984
Publisher: Overlook--dist. by Viking