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Library Journal (2008) - Spoto, Donald - Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies




Review of "Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies" - by Donald Spoto


Spoto, Donald. Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies.

Harmony: Crown. Nov. 2008. c.352p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 97B-0-307-35130-2. $25.95.

While this could have been a serious study of Hitchcock's obsessions and predilection for filming blondes, best-selling biographer Spoto offers only a few paragraphs on these subjects; the balance of his work chronicles Hitchcock's alleged sadistic treatment of actresses. Whether it's physical torture during filming or sexual harassment behind the scenes, Spoto relates every incident on a film-by-film basis, and his writing becomes repetitious if not tedious. He does a disservice to the master of suspense by ignoring his ability to get award-winning performances out of his stars and his success with bold and innovative cinematic techniques. In Spoto's 1983 "The Dark Side of Genius", his meticulous analysis brings out the seldom-seen character of a complex filmmaker. Subsequently, there have been scholarly studies such as Tania Modleski's "The Women Who Knew Too Much that provide an in-depth understanding of Hitchcock's misogyny. Unfortunately, this latest effort by Spoto is an unnecessary sequel to his earlier, accomplished work, although it may satisfy readers who have an appetite for scandalous anecdotes. An optional purchase for public libraries.

—Victor Or, Surrey P.L. & North Vancouver City Lib., B.C.