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Hitchcock's Notebooks: An Authorized and Illustrated Look Inside the Creative Mind of Alfred Hitchcock (1999) by Dan Auiler

author Dan Auiler
publisher Bloomsbury (1999)
ISBN 074754588X
links LibraryThing

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  • Also published as "Hitchcock's Secret Notebooks"


Based on authorized access to Hitchcock's files and notes, this work creates a portrait of a master at work: building his screenplays from scratch; working on sets and storyboards during pre-production; filming the movies; and putting it all together and adding music in post-production. The book also shows how Hitchcock put together the storyboards for "Lifeboat" and for the crop duster sequence in "North by Northwest." It details his meeting with Tippi Hedren to discuss her character in "The Birds" and how he attended the screen tests for Rebecca's title role. It also takes the reader behind the scenes on the sets of "Strangers on a Train", "Dial M for Murder", and "Foreign Correspondent", and one can read Hitchcock's notes on the story that would become "Shadow of a Doubt."


Dan Auiler is undoubtedly the luckiest Alfred Hitchcock devotee alive. With the permission of the director's family, he sifted through the Hitchcock archives at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to create a multi-faceted portrait of the artist at work. If this book has a fault, it's that the sheer mass of information makes it a little hard to digest, but taken in small doses its richness becomes a virtue, offering unique insights into the complicated processes that led to some of the greatest films ever made. Auiler divides the creative act into three parts: "Building the Screenplay", "Preparing the Visual", and "Putting It All Together." In each section he provides documents, including memos, script excerpts, sketches and storyboards from a selection of films. Most interesting are those relating to Kaleidoscope a project from the late 60s which, Auiler contends, would have been a groundbreaking film had the studio not forced Hitchcock to abandon it. This collection also gives full credit to Alma Reville, the director's wife and lifelong collaborator, and her influence on the development of Hitchcock's style is evident throughout. Other gems include a transcript of discussions between Hitchcock and Tippi Hedren about her character in The Birds, and a set of production stills from an early, lost movie The Mountain Eagle. There's an enormous amount to take in, but what quickly emerges is a sense of Hitchcock's meticulous approach to crafting a film. He frequently sent script treatments to other writers and filmmakers, asking for their critical comments, and Auiler reproduces several of these correspondences, including Francois Truffaut's detailed analysis of Kaleidoscope. At the other end of the creative journey the book closes with the script for an never produced Spellbound trailer in which Hitchcock playfully evokes the magic of movies: "That screen up there is like a mind...we here in Hollywood can make anything happen there." Hitchcock's Secret Notebooks is a testament to the powerful vision and sheer hard work that lay behind that magic.

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