Suspense, paranoia and the evil that lurks within us all: These are the hallmarks of Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest productions. of course, his films also benefited from iconic actors, tense screenplays, masterful cinematography, and lots and lots of stabbing. among other things.
It’s fair to assume that a man as macabre as Hitch would call the 30th anniversary of his passing a fine time to celebrate his legacy; conveniently, it’s also the 50th anniversary of Psycho, arguably his most celebrated film. either way, the timing’s right to let the master put a little more “boo” into your Halloween this year.
Best crime-deterrent strategy
“in films, murders are always very clean. I show how difficult it is and what a messy thing it is to kill a man.”
Best wedding proposal (to his future wife, Alma, when she was seasick)
“She groaned, nodded her head and burped. It was one of my greatest scenes — a little weak on dialogue, perhaps, but beautifully staged and not overplayed.”
Best photographic collection
Hitchcock: Piece By Piece
Hitchcock’s family vaults were raided to present hundreds of quality, glossy photos of Hitch and his actors in this month’s massive book release. Fans luck out with such a diversity of on-set photos, including close-ups of well-known scenes, faraway shots of Hitch staring down sets from his chair, and showing downtime with actors to look over notes or play with dogs. a good number of personal photos rounds out the collection, most complete with Hitch’s odd sense of humor (particularly those of him holding a replica of his own “severed” head).
The text that accompanies the photos is a harder sell. Longtime Hitchcock devotee and documentary maker Laurent Bouzereau knows his stuff, but he spends too much time retelling film plot-lines. Too often, the most interesting stories — such as meetings with actresses like The Birds’ Tippi Hedren or explanations behind specific filming techniques — are told too briefly or wind up buried in otherwise droll details. Fans looking for an encyclopedic peek into Hitch’s brain may prefer Hitchcock’s Notebooks: An Authorized and Illustrated Look Inside the Creative Mind of Alfred Hitchcock (Harper Collins, from $10), a massive collection of scattered clippings by Dan Auiler.
Still, Piece by Piece’s stories will please casual fans, as will the reproduced memorabilia tucked into the pages — such as Hitch’s official knighting notice from Queen Elizabeth II and a panicked telegram to an associate (“answer this plaintive cry of your devoted servant who has lost a lot of weight through anxiety and diet”).
Best compliment for a Hitchcock leading lady
“[Grace Kelly] always was, and still is, a snow-covered volcano.”
Best approach to villains
“it’s a mistake to think that if you put a villain on screen he must sneer nastily, stroke a black mustache or kick a dog in the stomach. … The really frightening thing about villains is their surface likableness.”
Psycho Last year’s 50th-anniversary release of North By Northwest on Blu-ray sees an even bigger follow-up this month in Psycho. its massive digital remastering (including HD 1080p video and 5.1 surround sound) is particularly striking, given that the film was originally made by the low-cost crew from Hitchcock’s television series, not to mention the low-budget cameras. You’ll never view the famed shower scene’s 50 frantic camera cuts in higher fidelity.
Best advice for a parent whose daughter refused to take baths or showers after seeing ’60s horror scenes like Psycho’s
“Send her to the dry cleaners.”