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American Cinematographer (1995) - Hitchcock on Hitchcock: Selected Writings and Interviews





Hitchcock on Hitchcock: Selected Writings and Interviews Edited by Sidney Gottlieb University of California Press, 363pps., cloth $29.95

What, another Hitchcock book? Yes, but take heart: this is not another rehash of previous tomes. Most of it is Hitchcock in his own words from a short story written in 1917 and selected articles, speeches and interviews from 1927 until late in the director's life. Even allowing for the inevitable changes wrought by interviewers, editors, publicists, and "as told to" writers, this is the largest compendium of words by (rather than about) him since Francois Truffaut's indispensable 1967 tome Hitchcock.

Truffaut's book of interviews was labeled the "definitive study of Alfred Hitchcock," and to find fault with it is somewhat like examining the teeth of a presentation horse. To be frank, however, it was definitely compromised by being limited to Truffaut's particular interests and his insistence upon steering Hitchcock away from topics he obviously wanted to talk about. Many of the missing pieces can be found in the Gottlieb compilation.

A lot of important information emerges through the timeliness of contemporary articles as opposed to responses to interviewers of a later time. Understandably, the director's comments made in 1936 tell us more about, say, Secret Agent, than do his answers to questions asked 30 years later. Much of this exhumed material involves cinematography, visual effects, production design and other details of interest to AC readers.

The only bad news is that there are only eight pictures in the book. It is, nonetheless, a treasure for the Hitchcock connoisseur.