Even if the argument sometimes seems like an endless series of digressions, however, it never makes less than an...


A wide-ranging, though eccentric, tour of Alfred Hitchcock’s agreeably scary cinema.

Conrad (English/Christ Church, Oxford; Modern Times, Modern Places, 1999) will have no truck with the extensive literature already published on the Master of Suspense, which he dismisses as “pseudo-scientific” and “bogus cerebration.” Nor, evidently, does he have much patience with the division of Hitchcock’s work into discrete films from The Pleasure Garden through Family Plot. Instead of considering the films one by one, he has pulverized them all into a puree in which, for example, an excursis about the director’s preoccupation with bathrooms (in which he set scenes in The Lodger, Number Seventeen, Secret Agent, The Lady Vanishes, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Spellbound, The Trouble with Harry, and Psycho) can range freely over half a dozen examples before moving on to films mysteriously without bathrooms, from The 39 Steps to Lifeboat. Although his determination to avoid earlier critics leaves Conrad spending a fair amount of time reinventing the wheel, his investigation, organized loosely around the question of how Hitchcock makes fear entertaining, yields some piquant insights, such as Hitchcock’s affinity with Surrealists like André Breton to the self-portraits he left in the fat men who peopled his films. But Conrad’s cavalier annexation of literary sources for the films to provide further examples, as if Hitchcock had created Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and Robert Bloch’s Psycho as well as the films he based on them, creates an unhappy confusion of boundaries, as if he could not decide whether Hitchcock was remarkable because his films were so distinctive or because they were so exemplary. In the end, all but the largest contours of Conrad’s analysis become blurred as well, sunk beneath reams of absorbing detail.

Even if the argument sometimes seems like an endless series of digressions, however, it never makes less than an entertaining and illuminating case for the unity of Hitchcock’s half-century of films. (20 b&w photos)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-571-20023-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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