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The Daily Bruin (24/Feb/2005) - In-depth biography captures Hitchcock

(c) The Daily Bruin (24/Feb/2005)

In-depth biography captures Hitchcock

Even if Martin Scorsese doesn't win the Oscar this year, he’ll be in good company: Alfred Hitchcock was nominated five times for Best Director and never won.

“(Hitchcock) was disappointed that he didn’t get it; he used to say to me that he didn’t get it because he didn’t seem like an artist because he was too fat and hadn’t starved in a garret,” said Charlotte Chandler, author of the soon-to-be released “It’s Only A Movie: Alfred Hitchcock: A Personal Biography.”

But the only thing too large with Chandler is the number of celebrities she has interviewed throughout her lifetime. From charming actors Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart to directors Hitchcock and Federico Fellini, Chandler has wined and dined with Hollywood’s finest in the past few decades. She has enjoyed personal relationships with them, resulting in some of the most complete biographies ever written on these celebrities.

Her book on Hitchcock will be released March 2, the same day the UCLA School of Film, Theater and Television is hosting a “Celebration of Alfred Hitchcock” in honor of her biography and the director’s body of work. The event features an impressive list of speakers, from Martin Landau, cast member of Hitchcock’s 1959 film “North By Northwest,” to his daughter Patricia Hitchcock.

Chandler’s biography stands out from the rest largely because of her innumerable interviews with those surrounding Hitchcock – his family, the actors and technicians in his films, and close friends. The result is a work not only about Hitchcock himself, but about those who influenced him, such as his wife, Alma.

“(Alma) was always important in advising him. He always asked her what she thought, even when she wasn’t credited,” said Chandler. “At the end of his life, when she was very ill, it really was sort of the end of the films because they shared them so much and he really needed her.”

While Hitchcock’s career may have ended too soon, he still touches all generations. Once at a party, Chandler discussed his films with some 8-year-old girls.

“Their mother said (to me), ‘Oh, you’ve written a book about Hitchcock,’ and they began to discuss the movies they’d been seeing on television, and they were 8 years old!” Chandler laughed. “They (even) said they’d like to meet him.”

Hitchcock fans can be found on campus, harboring fears from viewing films too early. Chandler Ohl-Trlica, a third-year political science student, first viewed “The Birds” at age 6. Fifteen years later, he is able to recognize Hitchcock’s genius in the horror film genre.

“Hitchcock had the ability to tap into fears we never knew we had, and then would proceed to scare the hell out of us as viewers,” said Ohl-Trlica. “Who isn’t at least a little afraid of those menacing seagulls at the beach?”

Despite never winning that Oscar, Hitchcock crafted a body of work that still stabs its way into viewers’ hearts.

“What’s extraordinary is that Hitchcock is really so much everybody’s favorite now,” Chandler said. “It’s been years since he died, but he’s the most recognizable person – you don’t need his name; just the profile, the picture of him, is totally recognized. It’s the 21st century, and here he is, as famous as ever, maybe more."