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American Cinematographer (1993) - Soul in Suspense: Hitchcock's Fright and Delight




Review of "Soul in Suspense: Hitchcock's Fright and Delight" - by Neil P. Hurley


Soul in Suspense: Hitchcock's Fright and Delight byNeilP. Hurley Scarecrow Press, 364 pages.

The late Alfred Keller, ASC often remarked that one of the true connoisseurs of movies was a Jesuit priest, Fr. Neil P. Hurley, S. J. His opinion is bolstered by this complex work, which differs significantly from any of the other literature that has accrued about the "master of suspense." There's quite a shelf‑full, by the way: biographies, filmographies, psychological analyses, a book "revealing" homosexual motifs in his films, and even a lurid exposé of his "dark side." Many writers have touched lightly upon possible influences of Hitchcock's schooldays at St. lgnatius College, near London, in 1910‑13, but never to this extent.

Well into the book, the author notes that "Although Hitchcock worked with a wide range of diverse collaborators in his over 50 years of filmmaking, his films bear his stamp indelibly. I would argue that this stamp owes not a little to his childhood Jesuit training." This, in simplest terms, is the core of Fr. Hurley's thesis, propounded after making a detailed study of the director's life and works. He reveals numerous examples of religious symbols, allegories and parables that flow above and under the surface in all Hitchcock films. Hurley makes a strong case for seeing Hitchcock's total filmography "as a kind of mass entertainment sacrament."

Anyone who is interested in Hitchcock's works will find plenty to ruminate upon in Soul in Suspense.