New York Times (10/Apr/1983) - Letters: Hitchcock
- article: Letters: Hitchcock
- author(s): Hume Cronyn
- newspaper: The New York Times (10/Apr/1983)
- keywords: "The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock" - by Donald Spoto, Alfred Hitchcock, Donald Spoto, François Truffaut, Hume Cronyn
I have not read Donald Spoto's "The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock" (March 6) so I cannot take issue with your reviewer, Richard Grenier, on his interpretation of its content. However, the "Hitch" that I knew was not "a figure of uncommon loathesomeness, a cruel, ungenerous, cowardly man, unable to thank or praise, filled with hate and fear" - and without friends. I was one among many of the latter and am proud of it.
I worked with Hitch on four films: two as an actor and two as a writer. This association began in 1942 and ended only with his death. That Hitchcock was complex, perverse, lonely and horribly vulnerable is probable but those characteristics, if accurate, do not deserve the description quoted above. I found him to be quite the opposite and I certainly don't qualify as one of those "Hollywood giants" for whom "his manner was totally different."
Hitch did say that "all actors are cattle" and then proceeded to treat them, at least in my experience, with enormous consideration. Mr. Grenier's first assumption that "there was a measure of geniality in the remark" is far closer to the mark than his ultimate conclusion "that it was an attitude based on envy and malevolence."
Mr. Grenier acknowledges an almost total disinterest in the whole body of Hitchcock's work. That's his problem. But among the "inhibited, adolescent future French film critics" who - apparently in error - praised Hitchcock's work, would he include such inhibited adolescents as François Truffaut?
If Mr. Spoto indeed "dutifully records all the meanness and malignity of Hitchcock's character," please allow this old friend to emphasize his generosity, kindness, professional courage, sympathy and the debt I owe him for support and opportunity.
"The evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones."
Hume Cronyn, Rego Park, N.Y.